Getting Real About Islamic Finance

Dr Beeferman & Dr Wain

This essay is most immediately about reliance on and the relationship among three discourses framed with reference to that which is deemed or thought to be “real”. One involves arguments within the context of pension-fund decision-making as to the potential importance of investment in “real assets,” among them, infrastructure as a real asset. Another pertains to debates about the role of “finance” in an economy, especially at the extreme insofar as it entails what some have referred to as “financialization” specifically as it is cast in terms of a problematic relationship between the sphere of finance and that of the “real economy.” A third involves discussion about investment decision-making undertaken with a conscious reference to settling upon them in light of an understanding of what Islam requires, permits, or bars – an exercise which falls under the broader rubric of “Islamic finance” – more particularly, the significance of “real assets” to that understanding.

Dr Larry Beeferman
Director Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project Head of MEEMA (Middle East, Emerging Markets, Asia),

Dr Allan Wain
Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School, Hastings Funds Management, Harvard University