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Heavyweights join Raqami Islamic’s Shariah Board

Islamabad, 31 January,2024 (GNP): Raqami Islamic Digital Bank (RIDB) obtained a no objection certificate (“NOC”) and in-Principal Approval (IPA) from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to establish an Islamic digital retail bank in Pakistan under the Licensing and Regulatory Framework for Digital Banks (the Framework).

In keeping with its vision to provide Shariah-compliant financial services, the bank has succeeded in putting together a high-powered Shariah Board, led by Dr. Mufti Muhammad Imran Ashraf Usmani as Chairman and Mufti Hassaan Kaleem as Deputy Chairman.

Other members on RIDB’s five-member Shariah Board include Muhammad Ashja Khan, Resident Shariah Board Member; Mufti Azfer Iqbal, Board Member; and Mufti Muhammad Muaz Ashraf, Board Member.

Sheikh Dr. Mufti Imran Usmani graduated with a specialization in Islamic Fiqh from Jamia Darul Uloom, Karachi and also holds an LLB and PhD in Islamic finance.

Presently Dr. Imran Usmani serves on the boards of multiple local and international financial institutions and is also a member of the Steering Committee on Implementation of Islamic Banking and Finance, chaired by the Finance Minister and the SBP Governor.

Mufti Hassaan Kaleem has vast experience in matters of Shariah teachings and advisory and is on the Shariah boards of several local and international financial institutions, including the Islamic Development Bank. Mufti Hassaan is also Trainer of Shariah Standards at Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), Bahrain and visiting faculty member of National Institute of Banking and Finance (NIBAF).

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Muhammad Ashja Khan completed 10 years’ religious studies in Islamic Jurisprudence (Dars-e-Nizami) from Wafaqul Madaris Al Arabiya, Pakistan. Mr Ashja also pursued a 3-year specialisation in writing Shariah rulings (Takhassus-fil-Ifta) from Jamia Darul Uloom, Karachi and obtained certification as a Certified Shariah Advisor & Auditor from AAOIFI Bahrain. Mr. Ashja is registered as a Shariah Advisor with the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

Mufti Azfer Iqbal, a registered Shariah Advisor (SECP), completed his Shahadat ul A’alimiyyah from Wifaq-ul-Madaris al-Arabiah, Pakistan. In 2004, he completed his Takhassus-fil-Ifta from Jamia Darul Uloom, Karachi and achieved his MPhil (Islamiat) degree in 2020 from the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science, and Technology.

Muhammad Muaz Ashraf is a Certified Shari’ah Advisor & Auditor (CSAA-AAOIFI Bahrain), Certified Halal Lead Auditor (Malaysia/Pakistan) and Registered Shariah Advisor with Security & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

Muhammad Muaz Ashraf completed his graduation as a Shariah Scholar (Shahadat-ul-Almiyah) and specialization as a Mufti (Takhassus Fil Ifta) from Jamia Darul Uloom, Karachi.

In addition, he has completed his Mphil in Islamic Banking & finance from The University of Management & Technology and is perusing a PhD in Islamic FinTech.

Highlighting the need for Islamic and digital financial services in Pakistan, Dr. Imran Usmani remarked, “Raqami bank will play a very important role in promoting Islamic banking and economic system for sustainable and inclusive development.

The Sharia Board will provide guidance and supervision to ensure banking operations and transactions are Shari’ah compliant at all times, InshAllah.”

Mufti Hassaan Kaleem said, “I expect from Raqami Islamic Digital Bank to play a role in eradicating Riba from the small-ticket size segment and to introduce halal alternatives seamlessly to those who are more deserving and less connected.”

Mr. Nadeem Hussain, Coach Raqami Islamic Digital Bank said, “As we build our operational readiness as a fully Shariah-compliant digital bank, we remain committed to learning from the best!

I and team Raqami are indeed fortunate to have teachers like Raqami’s Shariah Board to guide our journey as we push the needle on responding to the aspirations of Pakistanis and crafting inclusive and socially responsible banking services.”

Speaking about Raqami’s newly constituted Shariah Board, the Chairman of Raqami Islamic Digital Bank,  Abdullah Al-Mutairi stated, “The global Islamic Financial Services Industry (IFSI) demonstrates a notable acceleration in its yearly growth trajectory, as indicated by the Islamic Finance Services Board’s annual stability report, which estimates the global IFSI’s value at USD 3.25 trillion in 2022, compared to USD 3.06 trillion in the preceding year.

Within this dynamic landscape, Pakistan emerges as a paramount market for Islamic finance products, given its substantial estimated population of 240 million. The country boasts a robust Islamic banking industry with assets soaring to an impressive figure exceeding PKR 8 trillion as of June 2023, constituting nearly 20 percent of the local market share.

It is with great satisfaction that I note Raqami Islamic Digital Bank’s commendable progress in aligning with the trajectory of this burgeoning industry.

The bank has garnered the support of distinguished Islamic scholars in Pakistan, renowned for their expertise in Islamic finance. This strategic collaboration positions Raqami Islamic Digital Bank effectively to address the escalating demand for Islamic financial services within the country, while simultaneously establishing a benchmark for digital innovation and customer responsiveness.”

As Raqami gears up to establish a digital retail bank, it is committed to building a customer-centric approach providing tailored Islamic financial services to a diverse customer base, with focus on five segments—SMEs, agri sector, freelancers and blue-collar workers, women and youth.