A safe haven...
Islamic banking has grown significantly in recent years, particularly since the banking crisis in 2008, and consequently the area of Islamic Finance Law has too. It is the role of lawyers who operate within this area to ensure that the financial transactions of their clients comply with Shari’a - often termed ‘Shari’a Law’. Shari’a is the body of law derived from the Quran and from secondary religious sources known as the ‘Hadith’. What is unique about Shari’a jurisprudence is that it is not confined to a specific country or state. As it is a body of law drawn from religion, it resides within the individual as religious faith does; a Muslim is expected to abide by Shari’a wherever he or she lives in the world. So, with 1.6 billion Muslims trading and travelling around the world, that’s a lot of potential clients!
What does it involve?
Lawyers must look at transactions from all angles, identify potential conflict of other laws with Shari’a, and write or rewrite contracts so that they are compliant. They must use their expertise in typical financial transactions and combine it with in-depth knowledge of Islamic financial practice.
What are the skills I need?
The types of law that an Islamic Finance Lawyer uses within their practice are Capital Markets, Commercial, Contract and Civil. You need to have broad knowledge of commercial law and then specialise in Islamic finance. In terms of qualities, it is especially important to have the ability to think innovatively and laterally. Many of the challenges faced will be new ones. It is also important to be a self-teacher and to have an open mind, because moral judgements upon practices that do not align with your own must remain at the side.