In this section, The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) will interview the head of specific departments in the Islamic banking and finance industry, and it will focus on the behindthe- scenes actors in Malaysia and abroad.
TMR: What are your key responsibilities within your corporation? What is Shariah audit?
Wan Rizaidi: Shariah audit was introduced within the Shariah Governance Framework by Bank Negara Malaysia.
At Hong Leong Islamic Banking Bhd (HLIBB), Shariah audit forms part of the group internal audit whose major function is to conduct periodical and independent assessments of the Islamic bank, and to add value and improve on the degree of compliance in relation to the Islamic bank’s business operations. As the head of Shariah audit, it is also my main objective to ensure sound and effective internal control systems are in place to make certain that we adhere to Shariah-compliance.
TMR: What are some of the challenges in your role with regard to Islamic finance?
Wan Rizaidi: Shariah is the heart of Islamic banking and misunderstanding of its fundamental rulings will always be a challenge as it affects the business as a whole.
Unfortunately, the main challenges I face would be in dealing with the most basic element of Shariah which is the awareness and understanding of its principles and method of implementation.
Because this is such a subjective area, confusion in interpreting the principles is bound to occur, and it is the job of the Shariah auditor to make sure these oversights are identified and rectified.
TMR: What led you to choose a career in Islamic finance?
Wan Rizaidi: As a young man in school, I was initially in the science stream. My inclination towards a career in Islamic finance began when I was exposed to the beauty and elegance of Islamic knowledge, history and civilisation. I have to give thanks to the management and lecturers of the International Islamic University who had encouraged me to complete my Bachelor of Economics instead of other streams, specialising in Islamic Economics.
If it were not for them, I don’t think I would be where I am today.
TMR: What are some of the in Shariahcompliance issues in Islamic finance?
Wan Rizaidi: From a personal point of view, the common issues with regard to Shariah- compliance relate to the difficulties stemming from making absolutely sure that Islamic banks are participating in Shariah-compliant activities and business in terms of financing and investment.
Islamic financial institutions have the responsibility of making sure that each aspect of the bank’s activities complies with Shariah law.
Moreover, in a mixed economy, such as the one in Malaysia, and for HLIBB, a subsidiary of a conventional bank, this certainly is a challenge as we have to scrutinise all business dealings carefully to ensure we do not disregard Shariah law.
TMR: How do you ensure that you are always on top of the issues/changes in your area of responsibilities?
Wan Rizaidi: Being an avid reader, I make sure I keep in touch with the latest updates on Islamic finance and audit by voraciously reading whatever articles I can get my hands on!
Even the first message which was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad PBUH in the holy Quran beseeches us to read, as verse 96:1 says, “Read in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who Created”.
The amount of information available out there is both wide and varied. There are so many sources and academic writeups to choose from but the problem that often crops up is finding the time to read and assimilate the glut of information available. I am further blessed to have the opportunity to hone my knowledge and expand my horizons through intellectual discourse with experts in the industry.
In this first interview, we have Wan Rizaidi Wan Mamat Saufi, head of Shariah audit at HLIBB, talking about his experience in the business.