Market risk management in Islamic finance : an economic analysis of the rationale, permissibility and usage of derivative hedging instruments
Ayoub, Sherif El-Sayed
The examination of the topic of market risk management in Islamic finance is a complex endeavour. At a basic level, the subject matter, being multifarious in a manner that mixes religion and economics, requires the conjoining of religious faith with scientific objectivity in order to ascertain the truth contained in the scripture as it pertains to the Mua’amalat (dealings between individuals) matter of entering into financial contracts with others to manage market risk exposures. Moreover, the complexity is compounded due to the need to disentangle the ambiguity that has beset the discourse on the topic due to historically being mostly legal-centric with a focus on debating the contractual elements rather than attempting to comprehensively address the myriad issues that relate to market risk management in contemporary contexts. These issues, for the most part, revolve around the reliance on market risk transfer as a strategy and derivative contracts, with monetary underlying variables, as tools to implement that strategy. Thus, the journey of investigating the rationale, permissibility, and usage of derivative hedging instruments for market risk management in Islamic finance is, essentially, an undertaking that seeks to engage in a wide-ranging and multi-layered examination of the subject matter as well as the exploration of new areas of relative significance. This, in turn, and subsequent to the analysis of data generated from documentary sources and forty-one interviews which were collected from numerous sources within four locations, led to the elaboration of the contention that market risk management through derivative instruments for legitimate hedging purposes should not be prohibited in the Shari’a, albeit with certain conditions that limit unproductive behaviour. The basis for the aforementioned contention is built on the fact that market risk management has undergone a paradigm shift in how exposures are identified and measured as well as in the emergence of innovative tools which can result in a better ability to address the opportunities and challenges facing institutions that provide value to society (i.e., the real sector). Moreover, there is little substantive evidence that proves that the utilization of derivative instruments for hedging purposes leads its users to partaking in transactions that circumvent the prohibition of Riba (usury), Gharar (excessive uncertainty), and Maysir (gambling). In effect, the derivative instruments used for the management of market risks are not only disassociated from usurious debt transactions, they are also transacted in the financial markets in a manner that is transparent to all the parties involved. Along the same lines, the prohibition of Maysir, which is apparently an overarching concern, should be conceptualized with the focus on the proscription of the act of gambling, not necessarily the instruments (e.g., derivatives) and/or any particular framework (e.g., zero-sum arrangements). Ultimately, one should be cognizant of the fact that the true intentions of Islamic jurisprudence in Mua’amalat (as a manifestation of divine guidance) always centre on human well-being. Accordingly, the religious prohibitions are, in essence, within the realm of acts that adversely affect human well-being. This is a constant theme that is present throughout the thesis; and is one that exists at the heart of a wider aspiration of its adoption to a greater extent than is currently present in the Islamic finance discourse.