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According to different estimates, the number of these religious experts is between 100-200.However, there are about 12 of them who are the most sought after. As reported in FinancialTimes, they are making millions of dollars in yearly income. There have been mutterings notonly about these scholars serving on too many shariah boards, but also about their advising directcompetitors. In order to address this issue, Malaysia, in 2005, restricted scholars from serving onmore than one board or committee.As shariah can be given different interpretations, the shariah committees, at times, giveconflicting rulings. A product approved by one committee can be rejected by another boardwithin the same jurisdiction. For instance, in Jordan, a prominent shariah scholar criticised thepenalty imposed on a defaulting client in murabaha, and declared that it is a kind of riba.Similarly in Britain, a famous Muslim scholar advises against taking out Islamic mortgages dueto the structure being interest-bearing debt in disguise. Difference may also arise and existbetween countries or regions. For example, in Malaysia, Islamic financial restrictions areconstrued more liberally than in the Middle East.There are bodies and organisations--- Accounting and Auditing Organisation for IslamicFinancial Institutions (AAOIFI) is one of them--- that are trying to address this lack of Islamicstandardisation. However, without a consensus of religious experts there cannot be a binding,universal set of Islamic banking rules. In fact, there is a proposal to set up a supreme shariahboard. Indonesia serves as a good example where a national shariah board issues rulings that aremandatory for all shariah boards in the country.Malaysia has also proposed that a meeting be held in Kuala Lumpur for setting up globalstandards for Islamic banking and finance. The prime ministers of Malaysia and Qatar recentlydiscussed this at a meeting in Doha. Such standards would eliminate confusions and resolveissues with a common approach.Another shortcoming confronting Islamic banking is the shortage of qualified professionals at alllevels. There are not many people who are equally skilled in conventional banking and Islamiclaw. A person well acquainted with conventional banking can easily understand any Islamicproduct; however, one cannot successfully develop or market such a product without knowingthe rules and institutions unique to Islam.Originating in the 70s--- Dubai Islamic Bank was the first Islamic bank established in 1975---Islamic banking has developed into a global industry and has assets exceeding $900 billion.Though the share of Islamic banking is very small in the worldwide banking industry, it isshowing an impressive growth, i.e., 15-20 per cent per year. According to an estimate byMoody
s, it could hit $4 trillion in five years. Islamic banks have been set up not only in Muslimcountries, but also in non-Muslim jurisdictions, like England and the US that have Muslimminorities.Islamic banks take pride in the fact that, unlike their conventional counterparts, they haveemerged relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis. In fact, in England, two Islamicbanks, European Finance House and Gatehouse Bank, were launched in 2008, whilegovernments in Europe were busy bailing out their banks. And while Lehman Brotherscollapsed, Islamic Bank of Britain launched an Islamic residential mortgage.