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Sukuk (Arabic: صكوك‎, plural of صك Sakk, "legal instrument, deed, check") is the Arabic name for financial certificates, but commonly refers to the Islamic equivalent of bonds. Since fixed-income, interest-bearing bonds are not permissible in Islam, Sukuk securities are structured to comply with the Islamic law and its investment principles, which prohibit the charging of and/or paying interest. This is generally done by involving a tangible asset in the investment. For example, giving partial ownership of a property built by the investment company to the bond owner accomplishes this purpose, since the bond owner is then able to collect his profit as a rent, which is allowed under Islamic law.

According to Global Islamic Finance Report 2014 [1], $1.813 trillion of assets are being managed according to Islamic investment principles. Such principles form part of Shari'ah, which is often understood to be ‘Islamic Law’, but it is actually broader than this in that it also encompasses the general body of spiritual and moral obligations and duties in Islam. In the Persian Gulf region and Asia, Standard & Poor's estimates that 20 per cent of banking customers would now spontaneously choose an Islamic financial product over a conventional one with a similar risk-return profile.[citation needed]

Such religiously inspired non-interest loan systems can be quite mystifying for outsiders. Here the universe of investable securities is limited by certain criteria based on moral and ethical considerations. Islamic finance is also a subset of the global market, and there is nothing to prevent the conventional investor from participating in the Islamic market.


The use of the word "sukuks" when referring to Islamic bonds in the plural is incorrect, because "sukuk" is actually a plural word. The correct forms are: "sakk" (singular) and "sukuk" (plural). However, the word "sukuk" is often used both as singular as well as plural.


In the classical period of Islam, Sakk (sukuk)—which is cognate with the European root "cheque" from Persian '(چک) pronounced check'—meant any document representing a contract or conveyance of rights, obligations or monies done in conformity with the Shariah. Empirical evidence shows that sukuk were a product extensively used during medieval Islam for the transferring of financial obligations originating from trade and other commercial activities.

The essence of sukuk, in the modern Islamic perspective, lies in the concept of asset monetization—the so-called securitisation—that is achieved through the process of issuance of sukuk (taskeek). Its great potential is in transforming an asset’s future cash flow into present cash flow. Sukuk may be issued on existing as well as specific assets that may become available at a future date.

In 2004, Euromoney published the first book exclusively on sukuk investments, Islamic Bonds: Your Issuing, Structuring and Investing in Sukuk. It was co-authored by the Islamic banking specialist Nathif Jama Adam.[1]


Sukuk can be structured alongside different techniques. While a conventional bond is a promise to repay a loan, Sukuk constitute partial ownership in a debt (Sukuk Murabaha), asset (Sukuk Al Ijara), project (Sukuk Al Istisna), business (Sukuk Al Musharaka), or investment (Sukuk Al Istithmar).

The most commonly used Sukuk structures replicate the cash flows of conventional bonds. Such structures are listed on exchanges, commonly the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange in Europe, and made tradable through conventional organisations like Euroclear or Clearstream. A key technique to achieve capital protection without amounting to a loan is a binding promise to repurchase certain assets; e.g. in the case of Sukuk Al Ijara, by the issuer. In the meantime a rent is being paid, which is often benchmarked to an interest rate like LIBOR (which is disliked by Sharia Scholars).

From a Sharia perspective, certificates of debt are not tradable (although a different view is held by many in Malaysia).

The most accepted structure, which is tradable, is thereafter the Sukuk Al Ijara. Debt certificates can only be bought before the finance occurs and then held to maturity, from an Islamic perspective. This is critical for debt trading at market value without incurring the prohibited Riba (interest on money).

As Shari’ah considers money to be a measuring tool for value and not an asset in itself, it requires that one should not receive income from money (or anything that has the genus of money) alone. This generation of money from money (simplistically, interest) is "Riba", and is forbidden. The implication for Islamic financial institutions is that the trading and selling of debts, receivables (for anything other than par), conventional loan lending, and credit cards are not permissible.

This principle is widely understood to mean uncertainty in the contractual terms and/or uncertainty in the existence of an underlying asset in a contract, which causes issues for Islamic scholars when considering the application of derivatives. Sharia also incorporates the concept of maslahah or "public benefit", denoting that if something is overwhelmingly in the public good, it may yet be transacted – and so hedging or mitigation of avoidable business risks, may fall into this category, but there is still much discussion yet to come on this issue.

Characteristics of Islamic Sukuk

The characteristics that distinguish sukuk from other Islamic instruments of other investment vehicles and which have contributed to its widespread prevalence are:

  • Based on the principle of participation in profit and loss: The appropriate posts underlying principle of Sukuk issuance in terms of the relationship between the participants is to participate in the profit and loss regardless of the investment formula in place, which gives the owner a share of the profit, not the proportion of predefined nominal value, and the share of bondholders of the profits from the project or activity which is funded by a percentage determines when hiring, Fmakouha captured from participating in the agreement as set out in the prospectus, and bear Grmha by owned by each of them, according to the base of profits and losses sharing.
  • Documents issued on behalf of the owner of categories of equal value: issued instruments categories of equal value because they represent the common shares in the assets of a particular project or activity of a special investment, so as to facilitate the buying and trading of these instruments, and it looks like an instrument of Islamic stock issued denominations equal and represents a common share in the net assets of the company to contribute, as he meets with the conventional bonds, which are issued denominations equal.
  • Issued and traded in accordance with the terms and conditions of Shariah: allocate the proceeds of instruments to invest in projects in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic Sharia, as it is based on a contract basis and legitimacy according to Islamic modes of finance and speculation Kalmharkat and other controls governing the issuance and circulation.

Represents a common share in the ownership of assets or benefits or services to be provided, and do not represent our source for bondholders.

Sukuk Secondary Market

Sukuk securities tend to be bought and held and, as a result, little of the securities enter the secondary market (allowing them to be traded). Furthermore, only public Sukuk are able to enter this market, as they are listed on stock exchanges.

The secondary market whilst developing remains a niche segment with virtually all of the trading done at the institution level. The size of the secondary market remains unknown, though LMC Bahrain state they traded $55.5 million of Sukuk in 2007.[2] The European Islamic Investment Bank (EIIB) in an interview published on stated "Secondary market trading volume has contracted significantly in the first half of 2008 when compared to 2007 where Sukuk with a nominal value of approximately $0.5bn was traded."[3]

"Sukuk bonds" are designed to get around religious laws banning the payment of interest for money lending. But one of the most volatile debts in the Dubai World standstill is a $3.5bn Islamic bond due to be repaid in December.

HSBC estimates there is $822bn Islamic finance debt outstanding in the world.[4]

Countries using Sukuk


Bahrain is a major issuer of sukuk.



On 8 May 2013, the Egyptian President approved a law allowing the government to issue sukuk, however as of May 2013 the relevant regulations have not been specified.


In 2007, Gambia replaced Sudan as one of the ten countries issuing sukuk. It has one of the lowest amount of sukuk issuance, with $12.6 mil as of 2008.



Although the first use of Islamic financial instruments in Iran goes back to 1994 with the issuance of Musharakah sukuk by Tehran Municipality to finance Navab project, the enactment of Iran securities market law, and new instruments and financial institutions development law was done respectively in 2005 and 2010 to pave the way for the appliance of such instruments to develop financial system of the country. The First Ijarah sukuk was issued in Iranian Capital Market on January 2011 for financing Mahan Airline Company with the value of 291,500 million Rials. From April to December 2011, financing through Ijarah sukuk in capital market was reached to 3,673,750 million Rials.


Malaysia is one of the few countries that makes it mandatory for sukuk and other debt papers to be rated.[5] RAM Rating Services Bhd CEO Foo Su Yin says the total issuance of sukuk corporate bonds in 2012 was RM 71.7 billion while conventional bonds totalled RM48.3 billion.[5] As at 2011, Malaysia was the highest global sukuk issuer by issuing 69 percent of world's total issuances.[6]


In June 2012, Kazakhstan finalized its debut sukuk which will be issued by the Development Bank of Kazakhstan (DBK) in the Malaysian market. The DBK, which is 100% owned by the government of Kazakhstan, is working with HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to manage the ringgit-denominated issuance which is effectively a quasi-sovereign offering. The issuance will be listed on the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange, which has developed the infrastructure to list Islamic financial products such as Ijara and Musharaka Sukuk and investment funds.[7]




Qatar authorities and government related companies are looking into funding for its infrastructure projects by issuing Sukuk. In 2011 Qatar issued 11 percent of global Sukuk.[6]

Saudi Arabia


Singapore was the first non-Muslim majority country to issue a Sovereign Sukuk in 2009. Called the MAS Sukuk domestically, it is issued via a wholly owned subsidiary of the Monetary Authority of Singapore - Singapore Sukuk Pte Ltd. The Singapore MAS Sukuk is treated similarly to the conventional Singapore Government Securities ("SGS")in aspects such as compliance with liquidity requirements.

Since then there have been several Sukuk issuances in Singapore by local and foreign issuers. Singapore City Development Limited issued the first Ijara Sukuk in 2009, and Khazanah Shd Bhd issued a SGD1.5bn Sukuk in 2010 to finance its acquisition of parkway holdings. In 2013, there were 2 new Sukuk Programmes arranged for Singapore listed companies - Swiber Holdings & Vallianz Holdings, with the former issuing a SGD150mn 5 year sukuk in Aug 2013.


The Somalia Stock Exchange (SSE) is the national bourse of Somalia.[8] In August 2012, the SSE signed a Memorandum of Understanding to assist it in technical development. The agreement includes identifying appropriate expertise and support.[8][9] Sharia compliant sukuk bonds and halal equities are also envisioned as part of the deal as the nascent stock market develops.[8]


Turkey issued its debut sukuk in October 2012. The October 2012 issuance was a double issuance, with one being in US Dollars (issued on 10 October 2012 for $1.5B), and one being in Turkish Lira (issued on 2 October 2012 for 1.62LRY). According to data from, the US Dollars issuance was oversubscribed and was initially planned to be for $1B, but because of strong demand from the Middle East it was increased to $1.5B.[10]

Turkey returned to the Sukuk market in October 2013 with a $1.25B issuance.

United Arab Emirates

As of January 2015, NASDAQ Dubai has listed 18 sukuk valued at a total $24 billion. The latest of these is Fly Dubai.[11]

United Kingdom

On 25 June 2014, HM Treasury became the first country outside of the Islamic world to issue a Sukuk. This £200 million issue was 11.5 times oversubscribed and was was priced at the same level as the equivalent UK Gilts (UK government bonds) at 2.036% pa.[12] The Sukuk was linked to the rental income of UK government property.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has issued two sovereign Sukuk as of middle of 2015. It issued its first issuance consisting of a 5 year $1 billion Ijara Sukuk in September 2014 offering a profit rate of 2.005%.[13] It issued its second sovereign Sukuk in June 2015 also for $1 billion with a 5 year maturity which used a innovative Wakala structure offering a profit rate of 1.894%.[14]


Sukuk are widely regarded as controversial due to their perceived purpose of evading the restrictions on Riba. Conservative scholars do not believe that this is effective, citing the fact that a Sukuk effectively requires payment for the time-value of money. This can be regarded as the fundamental test of interest. Sukuk offer investors fixed return on their investments which is also similar in appearance to interest in that the investor's return is not necessarily dependent on the risks of that particular venture. However, banks that issue Sukuk contend that Sukuk investors are investing in assets—not currency. The return on such assets takes the form of rent, and is evenly spread over the rental period. The productivity of the asset forms the basis of the fixed income stream and the return on investment. Given that there is an asset underlying the value of the certificate, there may be, depending on the value of the asset, more security for the investors involved, accounting for the additional appeal of Sukuk as a method of financing for investors.

Certain common structuring elements for Sukuk were criticised by Sheik Muhammad Taqi Usmani President of the Shariah Council of the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) in a paper entitled "Sukuk and their Contemporary Applications" released in November 2007.[15] Sheik Usmani identified the following three key structuring elements that differentiate Sukuk from conventional bonds:[16]

  • Sukuk must represent ownership shares in assets or commercial or industrial enterprises that bring profits or revenues
  • Payments to Sukuk-holders should be the share of profits (after costs) of the assets or enterprise
  • The value payable to the Sukuk-holder on maturity should be the current market value of the assets or enterprise and not the principal originally invested.

Sheik Usmani stated that by complex mechanisms Sukuk had taken on the same characteristics as conventional interest-bearing bonds, as they do not return to investors more than a fixed percentage of the principal, based on interest rates, while guaranteeing the return of investors' principal at maturity.[17] Sheik Usmani estimated that 85% of all Sukuk in issuance were not Shariah-compliant due to the existence of guaranteed returns and/or repurchase obligations from the issuer.

Following Sheik Usmani's criticisms the global Sukuk market shrunk from US$50bn in 2007 to approximately $14.9bn in 2008,[18] although how much of this was due to his criticisms[19] or the Global Financial Crisis is a matter of debate.[20]

In 2011, Safari[21] conducted various statistical and econometrics tests to check the argument that sukuk securities are merely the same as conventional bond. However, his results on the comparison of yield to maturity of sukuk and that of conventional bonds show that sukuk securities are different from conventional bonds.

See also

External links


  1. Nathif Jama Adam bio, Association of Ethics Officers, 3 July 2014
  2. Trades executed in the secondary market, Liquidity Management Centre
  3. Doug Bitcon (16 July 2008). "EIIB: Secondary market volume has contracted significantly". Retrieved 2008-11-02. [dead link][dead link]
  4. "Castles in the sand" by Dan Roberts, The Guardian, 27 November 2009
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Malaysia to maintain stronghold in global sukuk market, says RAM", The Saun Daily, Malaysia, 12 February 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Asian demand to drive Qatar sukuk". 9 Jan 2013. Retrieved 10 Jan 2013. 
  7. "Kazakhstan Finalizing its DBK Sukuk Introduction". The Gazette of Central Asia (Satrapia). 11 June 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Diplomat to start Somalia's first stock market". Reuters. 8 August 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  9. Minney, Tom (14 May 2014). "Nairobi Securities Exchange plans to offer 38% of shares in June IPO". Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  13. Mohammed, Naveed (2014-09-11). "Hong Kong Sukuk Issuance of 2014". Sukuk. 
  14. Mohammed, Naveed (2015-06-03). "Hong Kong Sukuk Issuance of 2015". Sukuk. 
  15. Usmani, Muhammed Taqi (November 2007). Sukuk and their Contemporary Applications (PDF). AAOIFI. 
  16. Usmani p. 3-4.
  17. Usmani p. 4.
  18. Frederik Richter (28 January 2009). "Gulf sukuk market revival seen unlikely in 2009". Reuters. 
  19. Jason Benham (29 October 2008). "Islamic bond market "wrecked" by critical remarks". Arabian Business. 
  20. Daliah Merzaban (15 April 2009). "Scholar critique spurs ijara Islamic bond". Reuters. 
  21. Safari, Meysam (2011), "Are Sukuk Securities the Same as Conventional Bonds?", Proceedings of Foundation of Islamic Finance Series, Second Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 8–10 March 2011 , Accessible at