Congratulatory note for Datuk Dr Abdul Halim
We are immensely proud that our founding Managing Director, Datuk Dr Abdul Halim, has been conferred the Royal Award of Islamic Finance during the Global Islamic Finance Forum 2014 held recently. The award recognizes his relentless commitment, leadership and contribution in establishing Islamic finance in Malaysia, particularly for his role in setting up the first Islamic bank and the first Takaful company as well as the issuance of the first Islamic Sukuk in the country. Under his vision and stewardship, the Islamic finance industry flourished, making it an increasingly attractive sector, complementing conventional finance.
Bank Islam is the first Shariah based banking institution in Malaysia and South East Asia; and has been playing the leading role in the development of the nation’s Islamic banking industry. In fact, it has provided technical assistance in the setting up of several Islamic institutions in the Asian region such as Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Incorporated in 1983, it was originally established with the sole purpose of assisting with the financial needs of the Muslim population of Malaysia. Since then, Bank Islam has extended its services to the wider, non-Muslim, population fulfilling its “Banking-for-All” principle.
Today, with over 70 innovative and sophisticated Islamic banking products and services, Bank Islam offers a comprehensive range of Shariah compliant banking and financial solutions to its more than five million customers. Primarily a retail bank with consumer banking constituting more than 70% of total financing, Bank Islam’s list of products ranges from the traditional financing, savings and investment solutions exclusively for individual customers, to banking and financial solutions designed to fulfil the fast-changing financial needs of customers from all categories including those related to micro financing, wealth management, capital market, treasury and structured products. The variety of financial services offered by the Bank has come a long way since its early days when it acted as the lead arranger for the world’s first Sukuk issuance of RM125 million in 1990 by Shell MDS Sdn Bhd.
In serving its ever expanding customer base, Bank Islam currently has the widest dedicated Islamic banking network in Malaysia with 145 branches and more than 1,000 self-service terminals nationwide.
A pioneer in the industry, Bank Islam believes in the importance of innovation and has produced some of the most innovative banking solutions for the market. A strong advocator of ethical and responsible financing, Bank Islam’s pioneering status has also given it an advantage by having a strong brand name and franchise that significantly differentiates it from its competitors – creating an appealing image of being the purest Islamic bank which has attracted and continued to attract a growing, loyal customer base. In addition, the Bank has always been committed to corporate social responsibility, not just by giving back to the community in which it operates but the Islamic finance industry as a whole through knowledge sharing and becoming the source of reference. In the recent years, the Bank not only had exhibited significant improvements in terms of financial performance but applied robust risk management as well to ensure sustainability of growth.
Bank Islam’s vision to become ‘A Global Leader in Islamic Banking’ illustrates its commitment to the expansion of Malaysia’s brand of Islamic finance into the global markets. By placing importance to the service excellence culture, Bank Islam continues to offer only the best and cater to the differing needs of the customers as it strives to uphold its status as the symbol of Islamic banking in Malaysia.
“The inception of Bank Islam in Malaysia is not a manifestation of the Muslim people’s pride and haughtiness or a symbolic attempt to portray Islam in this country. The formation of Bank Islam is an effort to demonstrate that Islamic assimilation in our country’s economy shall not evoke any economic catastrophe. What is needed here is neither a ‘gesture’ nor ‘symbol’ but the trusted expertise to establish and manage which will determine that an Islamic banking system can play its role successfully in today’s modern economy.”
Excerpt of speech by YABhg Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, in his capacity as the Prime Minister of Malaysia then, commemorating the official launch of Bank Islam’s operations (1 July 1983)
1 July 1983 is a date of historic significance. It was when Bank Islam Malaysian Berhad or Bank Islam, in short, was officially established, marking the beginning of Islamic banking not just in Malaysia but also within the ASEAN region. As the pioneer of the industry, Bank Islam has since set the benchmark for innovations with a number of groundbreaking Shariah-based banking products and services. It has grown from a banking organisation providing purely Islamic banking products and services to an institution that provides comprehensive, end-to-end financial solutions. Today, Bank Islam is transforming the country’s economic landscape, leading the way in the development of Malaysia as one of the world’s major Islamic financial hub.
Islamic banking business is defined as “banking business whose aims and operations do not involve any element which is contrary to the Religion of Islam.”
Report by the National Steering Committee on the establishment of an Islamic bank in Malaysia
The establishment of Bank Islam can be traced even way back before World War II where Muslims in the country were already looking for an alternative financial system that would comply with the Shariah (Islamic jurisprudence) requirements. It was not until 1969 however that the Pilgrims Management and Fund Board (Lembaga Urusan dan Tabung Haji or “Tabung Haji”) was established as one of the first Islamic financial institutions, primarily to encourage savings and investments among the Muslims and help depositors perform Hajj.
At the international level, the call for the establishment of an Islamic banking system had been gaining in momentum but it was only in 1975 that the first Islamic bank was established in Dubai. The bank was formed after 15 years of extensive research and joint effort by professional Islamic economists, financiers and officers from various world Islamic organisations.
The inception of Bank Islam in 1983 was the culmination of intense determination, inspired by the Bumiputera Economic Congress in 1980, followed by a seminar on the Concept of Development in Islam in 1981, and the tireless efforts of Tabung Haji, PERKIM (a non-governmental organisation committed to looking after the welfare of Muslims across the country) and the National Steering Committee for Islamic Bank (“National Steering Committee”).
Starting with 30 pioneering staff, Bank Islam’s first year of operation was conducted by its temporary headquarter at the first floor of Kompleks Jemaah Haji at Subang, Selangor. By the end of its first financial year, Bank Islam has four (4) operating branches at Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bharu and Alor Setar, with 272 employees.
Via the innovative application of Waqf land development, today, Bank Islam’s headquarter is the pristine Menara Bank Islam, located in the midst of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Kuala Lumpur. As at end of 2013, Bank Islam has 133 branches nationwide with a workforce of more than 4,200.