Assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, and a very good evening to all of you.
Ahamdulillahi bi ni’matihi tatimu ssalihat: Praise be to Allah who takes things towards perfection.
I would like to thank Your Majesty, the Honourable members of the jury, and the Government of Malaysia for bestowing this honour, and for inviting my wife and me to join such a distinguished gathering here tonight.
Listening to the announcement of this award, I am reminded of a prayer that my late father taught me when I was young. It was the prayer of Sayyidna Abu Bakr radiyallahu ‘anhu, the first Caliph of Islam, who when praised said, “O Allah, all praise belongs to you and we lay no claim on it. However make me better than what is said of me and expected of me.”
And so I am honoured and humbled to receive this award on behalf of the many people who stand behind me and with me in working for the development of the Islamic financial services industry.
Enormous credit is due to the Shari’ah scholars, economists, regulators and industry-building organisations and the many committed Islamic Bankers who have made our work possible.
I would also like to thank my past and present colleagues. One of the great joys of my career has been the opportunity to work with bright, passionate minds with committed hearts who are now mashaAllah taking the industry forward to the next stage of its evolution.
And a very special thanks to my dear wife Shaista, our six children and our family members for their love, support and prayers without which I would not have been standing before you.
It was Jalaluddin Rumi who said that our work is placed in our heart when we are born.
Allah subhanahu wa ta‘ala out of His mercy gave me parents who inspired me to believe in the Almighty’s infinite bounty and in the innate goodness of the human fraternity. My parents instilled in me at an early age a realisation that Islam, like all other religions before it, has a beautiful history of corporate social responsibility.
I believe that Islamic finance is an extension of that history.
My mother provided the inspiration to focus on Islamic banking, while my father introduced me to one of his colleagues, Dr Nejatullah Siddiqui a promising young economist whose pioneering work on Islamic banking had a deep impact on me.
I share this story because I believe that the inspiration we offer to our younger generation today will prepare them for their own contributions in the decades to come insha’Allah.
I would also like to say a few words about the cause which I have been privileged to be a part of for most of my professional career.
Islamic finance is not simply about finance. It can and should be a force for good. This is especially true in turbulent times. Islamic finance has the ability to unify and stabilize our communities and economies. When you make financial services available to more people, you broaden the stakeholders in that society. When more people become homeowners and business owners without compromising their faith, it develops the middle class, democratizes wealth and leads to stability. And as the sector grows, it puts more money in the real, value producing economy thereby increasing the embedded capital of the countries in which it operates.
I am greatly honoured to receive this distinction, but our work has just begun. The Islamic finance industry has to continue to create competitive and authentic products, build role model institutions and economies to have a demonstration effect across the world. Giving capitalism a moral compass and building economies with a heart is a vision we can all commit ourselves to.
It is my personal belief that whoever embraces Islamic finance, their lives will be blessed beyond measure. We’ve seen this happen to individuals, corporations, and municipalities, and with God’s grace it can and will happen to countries and nations of the world. This is the promise of God, and the promise of all of His messengers . Wa haqqan wa’dallah wa haqqan wa’dar rasul: and true is the promise of God, and true is the promise of the Messenger.
Thank you, and assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.