Mr. Shah Abdul Hannanís Interview with
Daily New Nation

Almighty Allah, the Creator of the universe, has His own system to regulate and maintain all of His creations. We are the human beings, the classic creation of Him. So, He is so much prompt for the well-being of ours. In this regard, He always sends to us prophets with the code of conduct that we should follow in our short stay of worldly life satisfying Him and to pass into the life of eternity destined for us. If we follow those codes of conducts accordingly, we could avail of the peace in our earthly duration. Therefore, all the Muslim population should try to lead life according to the code of conduct send by Allah through the Quran and Sunnah.


Economic approach and system, being the key factor among all the worldly activities by human being, should also be systematically regulated as per sanctions of the Quran and Sunnah. To the believers of the Quran and Sunnah, financing must be interest free. Keeping in mind this reminder, some national and international Islamic organizations and Muslim business organizers ventured to establish the Islami Financial System through Islami Shariah based bank. Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited is the first of its kind in Bangladesh. At present, the Board of Director is chaired by Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan, a former Secretary to the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.


The Chairman of the Bank (IBBL) was generous enough to meet the New Nation in an exclusive interview recently. The excerpts:


New Nation: When did Islami Bank get started in Bangladesh?

Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan: Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited was incorporated on 13th March 1983 under the Company Act, 1913. The bank started functioning with effect from 30th March 1983.

NN: Would you please tell us about the evolution of the bank?

Mr. Hannan: In August 1974, Bangladesh signed the Charter of Islamic Development Bank. Bangladesh committed itself to re-organize its economic and financial system as per Islamic Shariah. In January 1981, at the 3rd Islamic Summit Conference, Late President Ziaur Rahman suggested to have a separate banking system for every Islamic country of its own. Earlier, in November 1980, Bangladesh Bank sent a representative to study the working of Islamic banks abroad. In November 1982, IDB came forward to establish a joint venture Islamic bank in the private sector. Two professional bodies, IERB and BIBA made a significant contribution to Islamic banking in the country. They trained up top bankers and economists and held seminars, symposia and workshops to mobilize public opinion for Islamic banking. Their professional activities were reinforced by a number of entrepreneurs who concentrated mainly in mobilizing equity capital for the emerging Islamic bank. At last, the long drawn struggle to establish an Islamic bank in Bangladesh became a reality and Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited was established. Now, there're many Islamic banks, insurance companies and business enterprises around us.

NN: What is the distinction between Islamic and General Banking?

Mr. Hannan: Islamic Banking is based on Islamic Sahriah and completely free from interest, which is prohibited in Islam and also pursues Islamic socio-economic objectives. But, on the other hand, interest is the main-basis of conventional banks.


NN: What is the out look of our people to the Islami Banking system?

Mr. Hannan: It's highly positive. As interest is strictly prohibited in Islam and since most of the people of our country are Muslims and religious, they try their best to get themselves away from any prohibition in Islam. Moreover, Shariah banking system itself is a scientific system. Close supervision over the investment and investment-clients could avoid cropping up of unwanted bad investment, that's a major crisis in our present banking system of the country. Participation in profit instead of interest would give an investment-client a relief from the burden of interest.

We are now working with our 3101 employees of various tiers through 121 branches at the important locations throughout the country. It's the glittering evidence of utmost acceptability of the people of the Shariah based banking system.


NN: Would you please tell us about your various depository and investment projects?

Mr. Hannan: We have the following deposit and investment schemes:


(i) Deposit Schemes: Besides Al-Wadeeah Current Account, Mudaraba Savings account, Mudaraba Term Deposit Account: 3 months/6 months/12 months/24 months/36 months terms, Mudaraba Special Notice Account.

Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited has introduced some specialschemes, such as- (a) Mudaraba Hajj Savings scheme (a specialaccount to facilitate performance of Hajj by fixed income groups) 1 year to 25 years term, (b) Mudaraba Special Savings (Pension)Account - 5 years and 10 years term, (c) Mudaraba Savings BondScheme- 5 years & 8 years term, (d) Mudaraba Foreign CurrencyDeposit (Savings) scheme, (e) Mudaraba Monthly Profit DepositAccount, and (f) Mudaraba Muhor Savings scheme.


(ii) Welfare Oriented Special Investment Scheme: (a) Household Durables Scheme, (b) Housing Investment Scheme, (c) Real Estate Investment Program, (d) Transport Investment Scheme, (e) Car Investment Scheme, (f) Investment Scheme for Doctors, (g) Small Business Investment Scheme, (h) Agriculture Implements Investment Scheme, (i) Micro-Industries Investment Scheme, (j) Rural Development Scheme, and (k) Mirpur Silk weavers investment Scheme (for details the readers are requested to read our literature).


NN: Can the Non-Muslim get the benefits of Shariah-based banking since it's Islami?

Mr. Hannan: Here I wish to say that our first investment client is a Non-Muslim. He is still operating his business with us. Non-Muslims can avail of our Banking without any difficulty.

NN: How are you ensuring the service standards for your valued clients?

Mr. Hannan: We have taken some modern technological systems for easy, convenient and reliable clientele service. Some of them are: Our own Web-site, SWIFT System for remittance and LC, Reuters Information System & Foreign Exchange Dealing Room for foreign exchange & trade, ATM E-Cash Service Computerization with the using of Own Software and Locker service.


NN: Last year Islami Bank made a big business success. What are the special factors worked behind it?

Mr. Hannan: The success of our bank is because of honesty and sincerity at all levels of our employees, the cooperation of the people and the superiority of the Islamic system.


NN: Would you please tell us about the role of Islami-Shariah Bank on the economic development of our country?

Mr. Hannan: Our banking operation is extended to the whole of the country. It is taking part through industrial financing in the development of the country. It has also significant investment in garments, rural and real estate sectors. It is also helping the poor through its Islamic Bank Foundation outlet.


NN: We have an idea that in a move for introducing Shariah-based Bank in Bangladesh, Islami Bank is a milestone. What's the opinion you bear about it?

Mr. Hannan: It is a pioneer in this field and paved the way for opening of more Islamic Banks and insurance companies. Islami Bank has earned the confidence of the businessmen, industrialists and general people. People have total confidence on the truth and efficiency of Islamic Banking.