MANAMA: The standards set up by the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) have become the core of the re-engineering process of Islamic finance.
They provide the basis for innovation within the framework of Islamic teachings, Housing Minister and AAOIFI chairman Shaikh Ibrahim bin Khalifa Al Khalifa told delegates at a conference yesterday.
"Ultimately this will hopefully enhance users' confidence in Islamic practices and encourage growth of demand," he said.
"The confidence in the AAOIFI stands behind its worldwide application.
"The standards are now being followed, either as part of a regulatory requirement or as internal guidelines, by all leading Islamic financial institutions across the world including the Middle East, Asia Pacific, South Asia, Central Asia, Europe and Africa," he said.
"In order to facilitate the adoption and technical application of the standards, AAOIFI has, over the past few years, made significant progress on the implementation of the certified Sharia adviser and auditor development programmes," he added.
He said AAOIFI had now 86 standards in total in the areas of accounting, auditing, ethics, governance and Sharia. In the past year alone, AAOIFI successfully issued a number of new standards and revised another good number of existing ones.
A total of 400 delegates from more than 30 countries took part in the conference at the Crowne Plaza yesterday.
"This is an event where scholars and practitioners can hold very democratic discussions and express ideas," said AAOIFI secretary-general Dr Mohamad Nedal Alchaar.
"It allows people to criticise each other's ideas. There are different schools of thought in a number of areas. Through standardisation we can see more harmonisation. That is essential.
"The principle is simple. We are one religion and we want one set of standards," he said.
"This is an expanding industry and we all have to work together on standardisation to move forward," he said. "In the current climate Islamic finance sets standards that are now seen as a positive choice not just for Muslims but also for non-Muslims because we have shown that our financial system is viable in turbulent times," he said.