This paper aims to investigate the economic substance of Islamic banks’ transaction as perceived by the employees and regulators of banks and the effect of such substance on the need for special accounting standards for Islamic banks. If there is a distinctive “Islamic economic substance”, then special accounting practices may be necessary such as the standards of the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions.
A qualitative inquiry on one of the leading Islamic banks in the Middle East was conducted to investigate the economic substance of the bank’s main two transactions; the deposit system and Murabaha financing, as perceived by informants within one of the earliest Islamic banks and its regulators.
It is found that despite the belief that the transactions under examination were different from equivalents within conventional banking, practice within the bank was not consistent with such a belief. Informants largely perceived the economic reality of the investigated transaction as being not different from conventional banks’ transactions, and this would affect the need for special accounting and regulatory frameworks.
This investigation is confined to informants working within one Islamic bank; their views and perceptions may not coincide with those working in other Islamic banks in the world.
The results of this investigation provide policy implications for Islamic banks, regulators and standards setters in regard to the need for special accounting standards for Islamic banks.
The paper is one of the first papers that uses a qualitative inquiry on the main transactions of Islamic banks and the related need for special accounting practices. The paper provides a new perspective on the debate over whether Islamic banking is genuinely innovative or is merely a replicate for conventional banking.
The authors thank Professor Christopher Napier and anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.
Maali, B.M., Fendi, U.A. and Atmeh, M.A. (2021), "The economic reality of Islamic banks’ transactions: a qualitative inquiry", International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 286-300. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMEFM-04-2020-0172
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