Get access

Islamic Banking in Malaysia: Unchartered Waters


Mohamed Ariff, INCEIF, Menara Tun Razak, Jalan Raja Laut, 50350 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Email:


This paper explores the Islamic banking business in Malaysia since its beginning in 1983. The Islamic banking sector has achieved its target of 20% market share in assets and deposits in 2010. To boost the industry's competitiveness and efficiency, the demands of the market forces will have to be delicately balanced with the dictates of the Shari'ah. The search for niche Islamic banking products warrants enhancements in the current regulatory, legal, and fiscal infrastructure for Islamic banking, without which these products cannot be a viable alternative to the conventional ones. While the prevailing infrastructure is conducive to Islamic banking products that hold similar characteristics with interest-bearing loans, Shari'ah compliance can be a futile exercise when the purpose of the law (maqasid al-shari'ah) is overlooked, for there is much more to Islamic banking than the elimination of interest.