The Islamic Finance Project

Islamic finance and investment is a young and growing field, with new areas of study and new opportunities. It is based on laws and ethics taken from Islamic law, with interesting parallels in the ethical investment industry and the corporate social responsibility movement in the West. According to the Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance (London), the total assets of the two hundred institutions offering Islamic financial services globally stand at over US$ 200 billion, with yearly growth rates of up to 15%.

ILSP's involvement in the study of Islamic finance and banking stems from the establishment by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, in 1994, of the Harvard Islamic Investment Study, which culminated in the publication in 1998 of Islamic Law and Finance: Religion, Risk and Return by Profs. Frank Vogel of Harvard Law School and Samuel Hayes of Harvard Business School. In the winter of 2004, ILSP returned to this research focus by adding Dr. S. Nazim Ali as Research Associate to its staff to conduct research in Islamic finance now with a focus on legal and Shari`a points of view. Nazim Ali had headed the Harvard Islamic Finance Information Program at CMES since 1996. Under ILSP auspices, he analyzes contemporary scholarship, encourages collaboration among scholars from within and without the Muslim world, and assists students and other researchers with advice and direction as to the best resources to use in the study of Islamic finance.

The first event Dr. Ali organized at ILSP was the Harvard University Sixth Forum on Islamic Finance, which took place in May 2004. Its theme was "Islamic Finance: Current Legal and Regulatory Issues." The Forum featured 30 papers and brought together over 200 scholars, practitioners, and students for dialogue on the present and future of Islamic finance and investment. A collection of selected and edited papers was published by IFP during the 2004-2005 year. The decision was then taken to hold biennial Forums, each with a separate theme and publication. In April 2006, the Harvard University Seventh Forum on Islamic Finance, with as theme "Integrating Islamic Finance in the Mainstream: Regulation, Standardization, and Transparency," was held at Harvard Law School.

Dr. Ali is also occupied with the compilation of an ongoing bibliographical databank of Islamic finance, which is expected to be of exceptional benefit to the scholarly community working in the field. In addition, Dr. Ali answers requests about research in the field and provides information on Islamic finance from different parts of the world.

For more information, contact:

Islamic Finance Project (IFP)
Islamic Legal Studies Program
Harvard Law School
347 Holyoke Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel.: (617) 496-2296 or 6-2297
Fax: (617) 496-2373