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Middle-income customers and their perception of Islamic banking in Sylhet: one of Bangladesh’s most pious cities

Md. Mizanur Rahman (Department of Business Administration, North East University Bangladesh, Sylhet, Bangladesh)
Mohammad Ashraful Ferdous Chowdhury (Department of Business Administration, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh)
Md. Mahmudul Haque (International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Mamunur Rashid (School of Business and Economics, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei)

International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management

ISSN: 1753-8394

Article publication date: 16 September 2020

Issue publication date: 6 April 2021




Owing to religious and economic preferences in Muslim-dominated countries, middle-income customers are at the heart of banks’ strategic targeting. This study aims to investigate selected middle-income Islamic bank customers from Sylhet, one of Bangladesh’s top religious and cultural cities, to examine their perceptions of the Islamic banking services.


This study forwards three determinants of overall satisfaction. These are perceived relative advantage (PRA), perceived risk management (PRM) and perceived customer engagement (PCE). The study has used structured questionnaire and collected complete data on 300 middle-income Islamic bank users. The data was analysed using exploratory factor analysis (EFA), confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modelling (SEM).


While all the three selection factors significantly influence overall satisfaction, PCE has greater positive impact on overall customer satisfaction, followed by PRA and PRM. “Convenient location”, “competitive charges” and “return on deposit despite low earnings” are the top three instruments measuring “PCE”. Religion did not qualify as a standalone selection factor. The results are robust across tests conducted by using EFA, CFA and SEM.

Practical implications

Gross purchasing power of middle-income class in Bangladesh grew from 7% to over 30% during the past decade, and the purchasing power of this class stood at US$100bn. Having a greater portion of this population as Muslims, banks can design products and marketing campaigns by using the three selection criteria that offer a combination of faith and non-faith-based variables.


Similar studies on the middle-income customer group have been rare, especially from the Islamic banking perspective. These findings offer a concise list of three factors for the bank managers to build their strategies. With respect to the Vision 2021, these findings carry greater socio-economic significance given the transition of Bangladesh to a middle-income country.



Rahman, M.M., Chowdhury, M.A.F., Haque, M.M. and Rashid, M. (2021), "Middle-income customers and their perception of Islamic banking in Sylhet: one of Bangladesh’s most pious cities", International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 230-246.



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