The global Islamic finance industry lost another pioneer in internationally respected Sharia’a scholar and advisor Dr Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah, who passed away aged 80 on Friday 23 October 2020 in Canada. Sheikh Dr Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah was one of the world’s leading legal scholars in the field of Islamic finance.
The softly-spoken Dr Ghuddah, symbolised by his reflective and genteel demeanour, was the ‘Sharia’a Scholars’ Shariah Scholar’. He had an acute mind underpinned by his education and training in Sharia’a and Fiqh (Jurisprudence) at two of the premier institutions in Islamic studies in the world – Al Azhar University and Damascus University.
Syrian-born Dr Ghuddah, who lived in Qatar, was an active member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Islamic Fiqh Academy in Saudi Arabia, and the Deputy Chairman of the Shariah Board of the Manama-based Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI).
Dr Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah started his career as a lecturer at Imam Al-Da’wa Institute in Riyadh, the Religious Institute in Kuwait, and Shariah College of the Law Faculty of Kuwait University. Dr Ghuddah obtained BA degrees in Islamic Law and in mainstream Law from Damascus University, before going on to earn his MA degrees in Shariah and Hadith Sciences and his PhD in Shariah (Comparative Jurisprudence) from Al-Azhar University in Cairo.
He was a prolific writer and authored numerous books, research papers and articles on Islamic finance, banking, economics, Fiqh Al Muamalat (Islamic Law relating to Financial Transactions) and other Islamic sciences, and served on more than 50 Shariah Supervisory Boards during his remarkable career. These included BNP Paribas, Al Rayan Bank, Aljazira Capital, S&P Dow Jones, Jordan Islamic Bank, Masraf Al Rayan Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi, Bank Nizwa, Medgulf Takaful, Solidarity Bahrain, and many more.
He was responsible for the research and compilation of the Encyclopaedia of Fiqh, which was sponsored and published by the Kuwait Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs and was a former member of that Ministry’s Fatwa Board from 1982-1990.
He was the Secretary General of the Unified Sharia’a Supervisory Board of Dallah Albaraka Group in Jeddah, held the position of Shariah Advisor and Director of the Department of Financial Instruments at Al Baraka Investment Co. of Saudi Arabia, and served as the Chairman of the Shariah Supervisory Board of Albaraka Bank South Africa for some 20 years.
Shabir Chohan, CEO of Albaraka Bank South Africa, paid tribute to Dr Abu Ghuddah stressing that the broader Islamic finance industry has lost one of its pioneering Shariah scholars.
“Whilst the bank’s Board ensures that all Shariah matters regarding Al Baraka Bank are dealt with professionally and in strict accordance with Shariah standards set out by AAOIFI, it is the onerous responsibility of the Shariah Supervisory Board to review and analyse each product in detail to ensure compliance with Shariah and to conduct regular audits of the bank’s business operations and to form, based on its findings, an independent opinion – a responsibility Dr Ghuddah undertook most diligently and with great professionalism in all his years as Chairman of our bank’s Shariah Supervisory Board,” he added.
The brilliance and deep insight of Dr Ghuddah, he said, would be sadly and greatly missed by Al Baraka Bank and the global Islamic finance industry. However, his immense legacy and contributions will continue to be relied upon and referred to by scholars and industry practitioners at large.