The Need for Shari’ah-Compliant Awqa ̄f Banks

Abstract: Bridging global economic inequalities calls for effective financial alternatives such as awqa ̄f banks to better attend to the needs of the poor and underprivileged. This is expected to address the root causes of poverty and ensuing economic gaps, improving much of the living standards whether pertaining to education, health, shelter, employment or basic social services while reducing the state’s economic and financial burden. We envision awqa ̄f banks as institutions which are established through cash awqa ̄f and which operate multiple awqa ̄f funds alongside an assortment of financial instruments. The main use of their awqa ̄f funds are the issue of low-cost credit to the poor, economically disadvantaged and underprivileged, instead of focusing solely on generating and maximizing shareholder profits. This is to support the economy through of steady and sustainable growth, effectively raising the lower bar on per capita income and lifting multitudes out of poverty and need. This paper explores how low-cost credit can be provided to the poor or lower income demographics through awqa ̄f banks, while addressing relevant issues such as Shari’ah compliance, services rendering, investment and awqa ̄f distribution. This paper also examines current studies on awqa ̄f in relation to finance and banking, the basic functions, and characteristics of the Shari’ah-compliant awqa ̄f bank, as well as evaluations of awqa ̄f banks. Current studies show that there is a legitimate need for Shari’ah-compliant awqa ̄f banks which not only providing services for its beneficiaries but also manage investments and awqa ̄f funds that contribute to overall national development and economic growth. This study would be of high relevance to experts, practitioners, financial managers, regulators, and policy makers in the fields of awqa ̄f, banking and finance.

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