World Bank’s ‘Islamic Banking Database’

The World Bank’s diagnosis of a malady presently afflicting and holding back Islamic banking and finance is correct. The treatment the World Bank proposes is insufficient.

Diagnosis: ‘Considering the rapid growth of Islamic finance, its significant role in enhancing financial inclusion among Muslim populations, its increasing popularity also in non-Muslim countries, and its emerging role in global financial industry, it is important to have a publicly available database with up-to-date and reliable institution-level data on Islamic financial institutions around the world. Surprisingly, there is a lack of comprehensive and consistent data on important aspects of Islamic finance[…]’[1]

Treatment: ‘The Islamic Banking Database, available through this site, aims to provide some basic data on the subject, in an easy-to-access format. The creation of the dataset relates to the work on Global Financial Development Report 2014: Financial Inclusion, which provides new analysis on the linkages between Islamic finance and financial inclusion[…]’[2]

IDRAK’s prescription:

  • interactivity: dialogue supplants monologue
  • rules without principles are bodies without minds
  • an accumulation of superficialities is not one fundamental
  • the economy of meaning, taking meaning as measure
  • compliance fails fidelity
  • words, language, significance; the gaps left by spreadsheets
  • cycles in place of epicycles

[1] World Bank 2014 online publication: ‘Islamic Banking Database.’ Continuing:  ‘Illustrating this point are wide differences among estimates of the global Islamic banking assets, ranging from $1 and $1.5 trillion as of 2012. These variations underscore the lack of standardized, up-to-date, and reliable data on the subject. Although some databases provide annual financial data on some of the world’s leading Islamic financial institutions, their methodology and comprehensiveness have been challenged by researchers, industry experts, and policymakers. Furthermore, the bank level data underlying these estimates are often publicly unavailable or available only at high subscription premiums, making it difficult for the majority of researchers, policymakers, and industry experts to access.’

[2] op cit. ‘The Islamic Banking Database compiles the names of about 400 Islamic financial institutions from 58 countries. It presents financial data for more than 120 of these institutions and it excludes insurance (takaful) institutions. The information presented in the database is obtained from financial institutions themselves, central banks, Islamic Development Bank, and other regulatory and supervisory institutions.’ See the 2014 database (the last produced by the WB) .


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