Economics and Business

Meeting the Needs of Islamic Finance at the Undergraduate Level: The Double Degree

B.Economics (Hons.) with Concentration in Finance/Islamic Economics and B.Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage

Introduction

It has now been accepted by nearly all scholars that in order to produce the type of human resources needed to develop the discipline and practice of Islamic economics, banking and finance, we have to have curricula that integrates between our Islamic heritage and modern economics/finance. In this brief note, we will try to present the double degree effort introduced in the last decade at the Department of Economics, IIUM, that was an additional step seen to be necessary to make a more meaningful contribution to the development of Islamic economics, banking and finance.

Background

Since 1983, the Department of Economics has been offering a B. Economics (Hons.) that claimed to be creating graduates that had the necessary professional expertise, combined with Islamic values and understanding of Islam. Over the first 15 years, many changes occurred to the curriculum in terms of the content, approach adopted and hence, the output that was being produced at the end of the 4 year programme. These changes also have to be seen as part of the changes occurring in the education system of Malaysia and developments in the country as a whole.

In 1997/1998, a major review exercise was conducted to see why the economics programme was not attracting students. This was especially necessary since most of the ‘Islamic perspective’ given to students in the Kulliyyah as whole, was perceived to be done at the Department of Economics, for various historical reasons. Based on the review exercise, the present structure of the B.Economics programme was introduced and these changes may have contributed to the present status, which by any measure, has to be seen as an improvement to the pre 1998 situation.

The ‘Islamic perspective’ and Islamic heritage is conveyed to students in three different ways:
1. University level courses giving students general exposure to Islam and its different dimensions
2. Kulliyyah and Department level Islamic Economics/Banking, fiqh and usul al-fiqh courses
3. Kulliyyah and Department level economics/finance courses presented in a comparative/critical manner from Islamic perspectives

No. 1 above was greatly reduced in number and scope in the early 1990s. While No. 2 actually increased, No. 3 decreased mainly due to human resource constraints, i.e. the number of academic staff who could confidently convey conventional economics and finance critically and to evaluate conventional economics and finance from Islamic perspectives, greatly decreased. We are still trying to find qualified academic staff but with so many institutions being set-up in the country, resources are very thinly scattered.

The Double Degree Option

An ‘innovation’ introduced at the time was the possibility of B.Economics students doing a double degree in Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage. Due to the curriculum of the B. Economics programme, it was possible to transfer quite a large number of courses over to the B. IRKH degree, and just by doing another 13 courses, a student could theoretically get the second degree.(1)  So far about 60 or so students have graduated. Some have continued to further their education at the Masters level (in both economics/finance and some in shari’ah studies) while most have found jobs in the private sector. (2) 

The following important points need to be addressed with regards this double degree..
1. One important feature of the double degree was that it does not limit itself to any one particular department in the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge, especially the Department of Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh (as was suggested in the early meetings discussing about the double degree). The main idea behind this was that economics/finance students should not only get exposure to fiqh and usul al-fiqh, but should have a wider grounding in Islamic Revealed Knowledge, including usul al-din, philosophy etc. While fiqh and usul al-fiqh are important dimensions of our heritage, the overly legalistic nature of these disciplines today may not necessarily serve the needs of economics and finance. Remember, we want to develop economics and finance, hence, we need foundations for this area of social life i.e. usul al-Iqtisad

  1. There is no reason why students from B. Business Administration or someone from a Finance degree cannot opt for the double degree. In fact queries have been received on this. Obviously, depending on what courses are taken by these students, the ‘transfer’ to the B. IRKH may differ, leading to students having to do more than 13 courses as is the case with economics students. However, for B. Accounting students, it may be more difficult to finish the second degree in less than 2 years or more.
     
    3. All students have to have a much higher Arabic language proficiency if they want to do the double degree since nearly all courses are taught in Arabic.
  2. Having this double degree increases the quantity of courses in the Islamic heritage/Islamic revealed Knowledge, but it does not guarantee effective transmission of the subject material or relevance of the material to students. Many students have said that while they appreciated the exposure in the B. IRKH degree, it was conveyed in a ‘different language’ with a different orientation. Hence, an issue that needs to be addressed is how to make the heritage studies, courses in the sources of knowledge, etc. relevant to students in economics/ finance. This poses a huge human resource problem.
  3. There is a serious need to have, in the Kulliyyah of Economics and Management, people who are able to teach Islamic revealed knowledge, especially courses relating to shari’ah, fiqh etc. who can transcend the overly legalistic mode/approach and be able to present ‘decision-making’ rules and guidelines in a more comprehensive way.
  4. If there is going to be a huge demand for Islamic banking and finance people in the future, surely we must pay attention to creating and developing the teachers of Islamic economics, banking and finance. Some ‘bridging programme’ for staff coming from the shari’ah background needs to be conducted to cater for short-term needs. For longer term needs, the integrated education from the undergraduate level is the way forward.
  5. Cooperation between existing institutions such as IIUM, IIUI, IRTI and similar institutions, involving experts who have managed to ‘master’ various disciplines must be enhanced. One could also think of creating a post graduate certificate/Diploma for lecturers to be organized every year (either intensive or regular) so that we help promote and sustain interest in this area.
  6. Finally, we must have the funding and guidance given to creating the next generation of Islamic economists and finance teachers/researchers. If there is one area that has been neglected, this would be one.

Conclusion

This brief note has tried to make the case for introducing a double degree programme as a way to help solve the human resource needs of Islamic banking and finance. It does not preclude many of the other programmes being offered at the certificate, diploma and graduate level. The brief note has also highlighted the need for all stakeholders to pay extra attention to creating sufficient number of teachers of Islamic economics, banking and finance.  

MAH- 29/04/08

Notes:

  1. See Appendix 1 for the graduation requirements for the double degree. Taken from the Department of Economics Handout for the Double degree Programme. 
    2.  The Department is just about to conduct a study on these gradautes and to initiate a gathering of all alumni of the double degree programme.

 

Appendix 1

Double-Degree in Economics and IRKH&S Requirement

  1. University Required Courses
  2. General Studies Courses (12 credit hours)
  3. RKGS 2030 The Islamic Worldview            3
    2. RKGS 2040 Islam and Knowledge             3
    3. RKGS 2050 Fiqh for Everyday Life             3
    4. RKQS 2010 Sciences of Quran                 3
  4. Languages (5 credit hours)
  5. LE 4000 Language for Academic Purposes                      3
    2. LQ 181 Elementary Quranic Language I for Economics      0
    3. LQ 182 Elementary Quranic Language II for Economics    0
    4. LM 1010 Bahasa Malaysia for Foreign Students 1             0
    5. LM 1011 Bahasa Malaysia for Foreign Students 2             0
    6. LM 2015 Komunikasi Perniagaan for Malaysian Students    2
    7. TQ 2000 Tilawah (for Muslim students)                         0

  6. Kulliyyah of EMS Required Courses (36 credit hours)
  7. ECON 1140 Statistical Methods                                   3
    2. ECON 1150 Business Mathematics                               3
    3. ECON 1510 Principles of Microeconomics                      3
    4. ECON 1610 Principles of Macroeconomics                     3
    5. ECON 1710 Foundation of Islamic Economics                3
    6. MGT 2010 Principles and Practice of Management         3
    7. INFO 2010 Information Technology                            3
    8. ACC 2055 Financial Accounting 1                                3
    9. ACC 2056 Financial Accounting 2                                3
    10. ECON 3510 Transactions in Islamic Economics 1          3
    11. ECON 3511 Transactions in Islamic Economics 2          3
    12. LE 4600 Language for Occupational Purposes             3


iii. Department of Economics Required Courses (36 credit hours)

  1. ECON 2110 Intermediate Microeconomics 1                      (Pre-req: ECON 1510) 3
    2. ECON 2111 Intermediate Microeconomics 2                      (Pre-req: ECON 2110) 3
    3. ECON 2310 Intermediate Macroeconomics 1                     (Pre-req: ECON 1610) 3
    4. ECON 2311 Intermediate Macroeconomics 2                     (Pre-req: ECON 2310) 3
    5. ECON 3010 Malaysian Economy                                       (Pre-req: ECON 2311) 3
    6. ECON 3110 Econometrics 1                          (Pre-req: ECON 2110, ECON 2310) 3
    7. ECON 3410 Money and Banking                     (Pre-req: ECON 1510, ECON 1610) 3
    8. ECON 3430 Islamic Banking & Finance             (Pre-req: ECON 1710, ECON 3410) 3
    9. ECON 3450 Public Finance                             (Pre-req: ECON 1510, ECON 1610) 3
    10. ECON 3550 Usul Fiqh 1                                                 (Pre-req: ECON 1710) 3
    11. ECON 3551 Usul Fiqh 2                                                 (Pre-req: ECON 3510) 3
    12. ECON 4010 History of Islamic Economic Thought             (Pre-req: ECON 1710) 3


Department of Economics Elective Courses (36 credit hours)

Students are required to select at least four courses from one of the four packages.  The packages are Finance, International, Development and Islamic Economics.

Students who opt for specialization in Finance, International or Development Economics will register for the following :
a. 4 courses in the chosen area of specialization.
b. 3 courses in Islamic Economics package.
c. 5 courses in IRK package as given in (v) below.

Students who opt for specialization in Islamic Economics will register for the following :
d. 4 courses in the area of Islamic economics.
e. 6 courses in IRK package as given in (v) below.
f. 2 courses of other electives as specified by the Department of Economics.


Courses in Finance Package
1. FIN 3010 Financial Management 1
(Pre-req: ACC 2055, ACC 2056, ECON 1140, ECON 1150, 
ECON 1510, ECON 1610, INFO 2010, MGT 2010) 3
2. FIN 3011 Financial Management 2                                           (Pre-req: FIN 3010) 3
3. FIN 4020 Investment Analysis                                                (Pre-req: FIN 3011) 3
4. FIN 4040 Corporate Finance                                                  (Pre-req: FIN 3011) 3
5. FIN 4710 International Finance                                              (Pre-req: FIN 3011) 3
6. ECON 4130 Forecasting for Economics & Business 
(Pre-req: ECON 1140, ECON 1150) 3
7. FIN 4030 Principles & Practices of Takaful & Re-takaful 3

Courses in International Economics Package
1. ECON 3710 International Economics                      (Pre-req: ECON 2111, ECON 2311) 3
2. ECON 3720 Globalization & Regional Economic Powers                (Pre-req: ECON 3710) 3
3. ECON 3730 Islamic Countries in the Global Economy                  (Pre-req: ECON 3710) 3
4. ECON 4730 International Monetary Economics                          (Pre-req: ECON 3710) 3
5. ECON 4740 International Trade & Development
(Pre-req: ECON 3710, ECON 3230) 3
6. FIN 4710 International Finance                                                   (Pre-req: FIN 3011) 3

Courses in Development Economics Package
1. ECON 3230 Economic Development                      (Pre-req: ECON 2111, ECON 2311) 3
2. ECON 4220 Industrial Economics                                             (Pre-req: ECON 3230) 3
3. ECON 4230 Human Resource Development                              (Pre-req: ECON 3230) 3
4. ECON 4240 National Economic Accounting                               (Pre-req: ECON 3230) 3
5. ECON 4280 Environmental Economics                                      (Pre-req: ECON 3230) 3
6. ECON 4740 International Trade & Development
(Pre-req: ECON 3710, ECON 3230) 3

Courses in Islamic Economics Package
1. ECON 3512 Transactions in Islamic Economics 3                        (Pre-req: ECON 3511) 3
2. ECON 4020 Contemporary Economic Thought & Policy     
                                                                           (Pre-req: ECON 2111, ECON 2311) 3
3. ECON 4510 Issues in Islamic Economics                                    (Pre-req: ECON 3512) 3
4. ECON 4530 Objectives of Shariah                                            (Pre-req: ECON 3551) 3
5. ECON 4540 Al-Iqtisad fi’l Qur’an & Sunnah                                (Pre-req: ECON 3551) 3
6. ECON 4550 Economics of Zakat                                              (Pre-req: ECON 3512) 3

  1. IRK Courses (see list below)

Students pursuing double-degree in Economics and IRK&H are required to take a total of 13 courses offered by the KIRKHS - a maximum of 6 of which are counted for both degrees, and an additional of 7 for the second degree in IRK&H.  Listed below are the IRKH required and elective courses.

Required Courses
1. RKQS 4210 Takhrij al-Hadith                                                                   3
2. RKQS 4140 Methodology of Mufassirin 1                                                   3
3. RKQS 4220 Principles of Dealing with Sunnah                                            3
4. RKQS 4240 Al-Jarh wa al-Tacdil (Criticism of Transmitters)                           3
5. RKQS 2020 Sciences of Hadith                                                                3
6. RKFQ 4150 Fiqh al-Siyar (Islamic Political System & International Relations)     3
7. RKFQ 4140 Modern Islamic Legal Studies                                                  3
8. RKUD 4999 Research Methodology                                                          3
9. RKUD 3210 Islamic Call : Principles & Methods                                            3
10. - Other courses (IRKH or ECON) which may be deemed relevant                3


Electives - Choose 4
1. RKQS 4230 Contemporary Trends in Sunnah Studies                                 3
2. RKQS 3160 Tafsir Mawdudi (Thematic Exegesis)                                       3
3. RKQS 4120 Quranic Discourse (Al-Khitab Al Qurani)                                   3
4. RKQS 4150 Methodology of Mufassirin 2                                                  3
5. RKFQ 4130 Islamic Legal Maxims and Concepts                                         3
6. RKUD 3320 Formal & Symbolic Logic                                                       3
7. RKUD 4350 History of Islamic Philosophy                                                  3
8. RKUD 4310 Philosophy of Science (in English)                                          3
9. RKUD 4120 Issues in Contemporary Islamic Thought (in English)                 3
10. RKFQ 3130 Fiqh al-Usrah                                                                     3
11. - Other courses ((IRKH or ECON) which may be deemed relevant             3


v. Arabic Language
Students are required to register for LQL 414, LQS 415, LQR 414 and LQW 415

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