15 March 2018
Dr Hanudin Amin
GENERALLY speaking, the degree of closeness of relationship between banker and banker typically determines the atmosphere of working environment at branches of Islamic banks.
But, if it is placed correctly, any act of searching a sense of belonging among bankers is easily fabricated, which may also lead to a search of a sense of urgency as a repercussion.
Out of spillover effects of this consideration, we can expect to build up a cogent banker and customer relationship, which then builds up a customer and customer relationship.
The latter may tell us about the power of positive words of mouth that has a propensity to shape the formation of favourable attitude and receptiveness of Islamic banking products.
Following this assertion, all good relationships established among folks are sown in Islam.
To better understand this notion, I propose a theory that is called the Theory of Divine Relationship.
This theory provides a course to understand the quality and nature of relationships among quarters in the Islamic banking industry and their rapports with God and nature.
In the theory, three relationships are explained, viz., habluminallah (Man-Allah SWT), habluminannas (Man-Man) and habluminalalam (Man-Nature). The details are provided.
The first relationship is between Man and Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) says: I created jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me (51:56).
This nature of relationship helps to create a spiritual atmosphere that improves our ability to control unethical behaviours through the upgrading of key values in Islam – sincerity, perseverance, gratefulness, trustworthiness and accountability at work place.
Piety is, somehow, the key indicator that gathers these values to strengthen the quality of discipline and productivity among staff out of God-fearing and God-loving (2Gs) that invite a feeling of happiness as a return.
The second relationship is between Man and Man. This relationship explains that we gain respect by being respectful to others.
This includes generosity to others, mutual respect and brotherhood. Through an act of exemplary example, discriminations, bad attitudes and incompetency in serving the customers’ need, are easily sensed and adjusted accordingly.
Of course, one is of encouraging and flourishing to many should he have a good submission to Allah (SWT), implying a maxim of altruism as Islam upholds.
The third relationship is between Man and Nature. This relationship defines the hereafter as the ultimate and final destination. All facets of the nature are meant to prepare for the journey to the hereafter.
As Islamic bankers, they must be rationale to approve only financing applications that meet Shariah principles to protect the interest of nature.
If this act is managed properly, two blessings are upheld – be it the improvement of ummah quality of life because of the preservation of nature or the perfection of bankers’ well – being to run banking businesses happily. Both are equal.
Of the relationships explained, Man and Man relationship is regarded as challenging. I explicate three reasons but are not confined to:
Firstly, people have a different level of property of knowledge that leads to their discrepancies in terms of mind-sets and comprehensions.
Secondly, people are different in terms of the degree of iman that may explain why some folks are varying in performing certain religious obligations.
Thirdly, people have developed a sort of barricade in their relationships that confines their interactions to a particular group of people at the expense of others.
This separation is a problem, which needs to be tackled accordingly in preventing the occurrence of a small scale of hostility, in turn, can circumvent the second that is expected to be strenuous (i.e. the cessation of the brotherhood).
Furthermore, unethical practices in the industry like inadequate disclosure, falsification of document, discrimination in approving clients’ financing for personal gains, inter alia, are in the hearts of evil persons.
In the unguarded moment of temptation, however, these practices are also gradually grown in the hearts of good men.
The similar case can be happened among good bankers who deal with customers at varying levels.
In this case, the theory is useful to address such unethical issues based on three deliberations.
Firstly, the inculcation of a taqwa value (TV) – In this case, any work is perceived as a trust from Allah (SWT) that defines ourselves as a trustee.
God-fearing is included to promote integrity, which curbs wrongdoings in an effective way.
One who has a good relationship with Allah (SWT) tends to follow His commandment in all fairness of his doings.
This makes himself honest before others and becomes a role model of a truthful person – allowing others to follow his footsteps of beautiful action and thought.
Secondly, the Islamization of attitude (IOA) – The Prophet Muhammad’s (p.b.u.h) ethical values like caring, commitment and dedication, among others, can be considered as part of policies of the bank or developed formally as codes of ethics for compliance.
In truth, however, attitude determines an individual’s well–being through good actions that encourage others to repeat the same behaviours to defeat hostility for more blessings between quarters involved.
Thus, talent management program, if any, should look at the inclusion of this measure in the formation of the champion in the industry.
Thirdly, the formation of an Islamic knowledge culture (IKC) – Better knowledge of good conducts should be shared.
This culture can shape the development of favorable behaviours of individuals as the implication is also doable to Islamic bankers in the Islamic banking industry.
Knowledge that houses Islamic values like honesty, transparent and mutual respects can be shared through internal memo or by any means to tap into the cogent and of good quality of relationship via the correction of intent and focus for an improved quality of work and communications.
Going forward, I believe that there will be more scholars who will work on it from different angles toward grasping its fullest potential.
This idea, however, is still at its infancy stage that needs more empirical investigations to justify its usefulness and generalization not only to well-versed Islamic bankers alone but also to dexterous customers, where Islamic worldview comes into play.
This write-up is funded by Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS): FRG0438-SS-1/2016, Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), Malaysia. Dr Mohamad Rizal Abdul Hamid is the member of the Research Grant.
Associate Professor Dr Hanudin Amin is lecturing in Labuan Faculty of International Finance, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Labuan International Campus. He can be contacted through e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.