Adil Hussain, Partner and Global Head of Islamic
Finance at Clyde & Co, is the ISFIRE Personality of
the December issue. He is an accomplished lawyer
with wide-ranging experience of structuring Islamic
financial transactions. Clyde & Co was the proud
winner of the Best Law Firm in Islamic Finance
for the Year 2019 at the recently held 9th Global
Islamic Finance Awards held in Cape Town, South
Africa. In this brief interview, we ask him some
personal and Islamic finance related questions.
PLEASE SHARE WITH OUR READERS HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN ISLAMIC FINANCE.
My route into Islamic finance was slightly
unconventional, although in recent years I have
seen many other lawyers take a similar path. I
actually qualified into the real estate department
of a City law firm and had no knowledge about
the Islamic finance world. I first discovered Islamic
finance two-years post qualification when I
was required to assist with conveyancing work
where the purchaser was taking out an Islamic
mortgage. I was immediately fascinated by the
structure, documentation and the Islamic finance
sector as a whole. Discovering Islamic finance
came at the perfect time for me, as I was losing
interest in the real estate work that I was doing
at the time. I decided to apply for junior Islamic
finance roles, which all happened to be in the
Middle East. At the time, I thought that it was
going to be impossible for me to find a suitable role, as each position advertised required prior
Islamic finance experience and my experience was
limited. However, perseverance paid off and I was
eventually offered an Islamic finance associate role
in Bahrain at a leading international law firm.
IF YOUR 18-YEAR-OLD SELF FINDS YOU DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW PROFESSIONALLY, WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HIS REACTION?
Wow, this is a difficult question. I am not quite sure
if I can remember what I was like at 18. It was so
long ago! However, I was not in a good place. My
mother, who was only in her early forties, had just
suffered a severe stroke, and I had decided not
to take my A levels that year. I wanted to spend
as much time as possible with her and to assist in
her recovery. With this context in mind, I hope the
18-year-old Adil, would also be as grateful as I am today, for all that I have been blessed with. Back
then, I wasn’t even sure whether I would be able to
sit my A levels the following year, let alone go on to
pursue a career in law.
YOU ARE A SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL. WHAT FACTORS (PERSONAL, FAMILY, EDUCATION, MENTORS, ETC.) HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR SUCCESS?
First of all, Alhumdulilah (all praise is to God). I
firmly believe that, as individuals, all we can do is
try our best and put in as much effort as possible.
Whether we succeed or not (success being relative
to our own circumstances), this is from God. This
belief and strength in faith has enabled me to enjoy
the professional success that I have been gifted
with and also deal with setbacks.
There have been many other factors that have
contributed to my professional success. Not sure
I would be where I am today without the prayers
of my parents and the understanding of my wife
and children. In order to achieve success, you have
to sacrifice and your family sacrifices just as much,
if not more. I have an incredibly supportive family
who understand how passionate I am about my
work and allows me to focus one hundred and ten
per cent on it.
IF YOU ARE GIVEN ONE WEEK TO FIX PROBLEMS WITH ISLAMIC FINANCE, WHAT WOULD BE ON YOUR TO-DO LIST?
- Implement all regulatory, tax and legal changes
required across the globe to create a level
playing field for Islamic finance to flourish;
- Increase awareness of Islamic finance (at
grassroots level) across the Muslim world
in particular as a viable alternative to
- Create a global Islamic leadership committee
comprising of elected representatives of
Shari’a scholars, bankers, lawyers, economists,
academics and government officials to drive
the global Islamic finance agenda.
WHO SHOULD LEAD THE GLOBAL ISLAMIC FINANCE AGENDA?
As alluded to above, it has to be a combination of
Shari’a scholars, banking and legal practitioners,
academicians, economists and governments. All
stakeholders must be represented and should
work together in order to develop substance based
Islamic finance products and create an equal
playing field globally for Islamic finance to flourish
QUALIFICATION OR EXPERIENCE, WHAT
IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR A SUCCESSFUL
CAREER IN ISLAMIC FINANCE?
Both are important but as a lawyer, I would say
experience. There are some things that you just
cannot learn from books.
WHERE WOULD ADIL HUSSAIN BE AT AGE 65?
God willing, I hope that I will be passing down
some of my experiences and knowledge through
teaching or coaching students, junior lawyers, or
other Islamic finance practitioners. Also, I hope to
travel across the globe doing charity work.
WHO IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR SUCCESS: FAMILY, FRIENDS OR PROFESSIONAL COLLEAGUES?
I cannot underplay the importance of the
contribution that professional colleagues play
towards the success of an individual. I have
been blessed to have worked with some truly
outstanding professionals and team players. In a
funny sort of way, your professional colleagues
become your family too. So “family” in this broader
sense has to be more important.
ISLAMIC FINANCE IS A SHAM. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THESE CRITICS?
Islamic finance is not perfect, but calling it a
sham is disrespectful to all those scholars, market
participants including end-users who genuinely
believe that Islamic finance is a better alternative
to conventional finance.