Chicago Journal of International Law


Commercial interests from all religious backgrounds have a vested interest in holding the world together, and it is no surprise that global banking is emerging as an arena for cooperation between Muslim and Western business leaders even as their politicians and citizens seem to drift further apart. Western nations have many good reasons for encouraging the success of Islamic banking and smoothing its integration into a more stable global economy. Progress toward financial harmonization could pave the way for cooperation on other issues, including the far more contentious fields of politics and security. Islamic finance will need all of the international assistance it can solicit because it is at a crossroads that will force the entire movement to reinvent itself. Five years from now, its landscape will be unrecognizable to the cluster of institutions and personalities that view themselves as today's unassailable industry leaders. This Article examines mounting pressures that are driving the current revolution in Islamic finance. Islamic bankers must now adapt to simultaneous challenges on three fronts: integration with the global financial system; coordination with the leading international organizations of the Islamic world; and penetration of mass markets in dozens of countries with conflicting cultural, political, and economic conditions. To complicate matters, all of these audiences are moving targets, experiencing upheavals at least as profound as the metamorphosis of Islamic finance itself. [CONT]