“Islamic Finance and Development”
March 24 and 25, 2012
Harvard Law School
The Tenth Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance is scheduled to be held at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts on March 24 and 25, 2012. The theme of the conference will be “Islamic Finance and Development.”
The Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance was conceived in 1997 to engage scholars, practitioners and regulators in productive dialogue about the then- nascent field. Recent forums have focused on questions of innovation and authenticity, the global recession and connections with other ethical finance initiatives. The Tenth Forum sets the evolution of the Islamic financial industry within the context of the economic and political development of Muslim majority markets.
Papers are requested in the following areas:
CAPITALISM AND ITS CRITICS
Global finance today is virtually unimaginable without capitalism, and the contemporary Islamic financial services industry has emerged and demonstrated commercial success within a capitalist framework. Even so, questions remain about the wisdom and viability of this arrangement.
• How compatible are Islamic financial principles with global finance today? Is a truly Islamic capitalism possible, or is a radical rethinking of economic paradigms required?
• Industrial age capitalism is being challenged by fundamental shifts in technology, society and consumer power. What will the future of capitalism (or capitalisms) look like?
• How can socioeconomic objectives like sustainability, shared value and human welfare be reconciled with traditional financial metrics like profitability, shareholder value and market share?
DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION
Product development in Islamic financial services has generally been limited to the reengineering of conventional products to meet the formal requirements of Islamic commercial contract law. Making a substantive contribution to the development of Muslim majority markets may require a wider view of Shari‘a compliance and, accordingly, a new generation of products.
• Who is responsible for monitoring the macroeconomic and social impact of Islamic financial services? What can we learn from frameworks such as the UN Global Compact and Principles for Responsible Investment?
• Can the current process of product development and approval be restructured or reimagined to support a new generation of products?
• What role have Islamic financial services played in large economic development projects? How conducive are Islamic project financing structures to the needs of projects of this scale and tenure? Case studies are welcome.
• Which product structures best lend themselves to poverty alleviation and the democratization of wealth in Muslim societies: musharakah, takaful, zakah, awqaf or others? Case studies are welcome.
Whether as regulators, investors or patrons of industry, state actors have traditionally played a leading role in setting economic development agendas. They must also navigate the political implications of economic policy—an inconvenient fact most recently highlighted by the 2011 “Arab Spring” movements throughout the Middle East.
• How can regulatory frameworks be amended to level the playing field for Islamic financial services providers and equity- or leasing-based Islamic financial products?
• What are the merits and prospects of a ‘narrow banking’ model in Muslim majority markets?
• What are the implications of the Basel III Capital Accord for Islamic financial services and Muslim majority markets?
• Do the recent social and political movements across the Arab world signal an opportunity for the Islamic financial industry?
• Case studies of sovereign investment strategies, public-private partnerships, or significant regulatory changes as they pertain to Islamic financial services (e.g., Qatar Central Bank in Feb 2011, Oman Central Bank in May 2011) are welcome.
EMERGING ACADEMIC RESEARCH
As in previous Forums, a section will be devoted to encourage advanced graduate student research in Islamic finance, investment, economics and law. Students are encouraged to submit their work for consideration. Preference will be given to work falling within the themes of this year’s Forum.
Persons wishing to present at the Tenth Forum are requested to submit the following, in a Word document, to
• abstract of the proposed paper (up to 200 words)
• biographical sketch (up to 200 words)
• list of candidate’s relevant publications (up to one page)
We expect Forum papers to be original work of publishable quality and written exclusively for presentation at the Tenth Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance. Papers identical or substantially similar to those already presented elsewhere will not be accepted. For reference, please refer to the proceedings from past Forums, which can be purchased by contacting IFP (
). IFP will notify candidates whose papers are accepted for presentation at the Forum by December 1, 2011. All such papers and their supporting material become the property of the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School and may not be reproduced in any form or submitted elsewhere without prior written permission. No submissions will be returned.
abstract, biographical sketch and list of publications: August 1, 2011
draft of paper: October 1, 2011
final paper (if accepted for presentation): February 1, 2012
Islamic Finance Project (IFP)
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