Sharia Expertise Sought By Investment Banks

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As western investment banks work to serve a growing client base among devout Muslims, they're seeking financially literate Islamic scholars.

According to the Financial Times, leading investment banks are scrambling to find Islamic experts who can issue religious edicts, or "fatwas," approving new Islamic-compliant financial products.

Devout Muslims will buy only instruments approved by recognized and respected Sharia scholars, but there are very few who understand the complexities of global structured financial products.

In addition, investment banks are expanding their business in the Middle East, and the increased demand has triggered intense competition for Sharia advice.

Humayon Dar, managing director of the Dar Al Istithmar institute, a London-based sharia consultancy, told the FT, "There is a real shortage."

Some banks in England have paid up to 265,000 - about $498,094 - for advice on large capital markets transactions, the FT said, a dramatic increase from the levels seen a few years ago.

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