Centennial College is aiming to enhance Toronto’s global standing as a financial services hub with the launch of an Islamic finance course this May.

The school is the first training provider to offer the course in association with the London-based Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI). The 60-hour online course will be the required first step for individuals looking to obtain their Islamic Finance Qualification (IFQ), an internationally recognized accreditation administered by CISI.

According to a 2005-2006 annual report by the Islamic Development Bank, Islamic financial institutions manage more than $800 billion worldwide — a figure expected to rise considerably in the coming years. “This particular financial sector is currently experiencing an unprecedented growth rate within the global financial market,” says course professor Rehan Saeed.


The Introduction to Islamic Finance and Investment course will provide general knowledge of the principles of Islamic law, or sharia’a, and its application to Islamic banking and finance. One key aspect of Islamic finance is that it does not charge interest, which is seen as punitive to the borrower.

However, this does not mean that it is a profit-free form of financing. “It’s just how you structure the transition that makes it sharia’a compliant,” says Saeed. Amongst other topics, the course will cover the concept of wa’d (promise), the use of letters of credit and guarantees in Islamic finance contracts and prohibited industries such as alcohol, arms and pornography.

After completing the course, students are eligible to separately register for and write the IFQ Exam through the CISI.

John Harris, a program chair at the college’s School of Business, says the college’s diverse population was a key factor in the decision to introduce the course.

“Centennial College is really one of the most multicultural of colleges,” he says, noting that more than 80 different languages are represented on campus. “So certainly it’s consistent with our reach to the international market to offer a course like this.”

Originally scheduled to begin this fall, the course will now launch with a summer run due to the high level of interest, says Harris.

Centennial is part of the OntarioLearn network, which will enable students to enrol anywhere in the world. The college is recognizing the course as a credit against full-time programs in accounting and others.

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