Differences in accounting treatment of Ijarah: a case study of UAE Islamic banks
Purpose - This paper aims to discuss the accounting treatment of one of the most popular instruments of financing in Islamic banks, which is Islamic leasing or Ijarah. This research undertakes an empirical investigation of the accounting practices of Ijarah followed by UAE's Islamic banks. The main objective of this paper is to compare the accounting practices followed by UAE Islamic banks and accounting practices recommended by Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) for the accounting treatment of Ijarah. Design/methodology/approach - This study also aims to examine the justification and explanation behind this practice and clarify the accounting treatment of Ijarah as defined in the regulatory framework and standards. Findings - The author has found that the accounting treatment of Ijarah practiced by four UAE Islamic banks, it is clear that all of them are following IAS-17 and not FAS-8 of AAOIFI. The main difference is: FAS-8 issued by AAOIFI suggests that the accounting treatment for both Ijarah and Ijarah Muntahia Bittamleek be similar to operating lease transactions with certain exceptions. On the other hand, these Islamic banks are accounting for Ijarah as a financing transaction, just like finance lease - in accordance with IAS-17. Research limitations/implications - Taking out the right information from banks officials regarding Ijarah was a big hassle. Practical implications - After considering the above-mentioned points, according to the researcher, Western accounting standards are not appropriate to be applied in Islamic financial institution because of their different nature and treatment of financial instruments. Therefore, Islamic banks and other Islamic finance professionals should consider making the standards of AAOIFI mandatory, and they should stick to these standards for information disclosure, building investors' confidence, monitoring and surveillance. These standards would also ensure the integration of Islamic financial markets with international markets. Social implications - This study also aims to examine the justification and explanation behind this practice of bankers when the researcher approached these four banks, their officials mentioned that Ijarah contracts are similar to conventional form of financing, and it does not involve the central tenet of Islamic capitalism, i.e. to share risk and profit; therefore, they are justified and convinced to adopt IAS-17 in accounting for Ijarah transactions. Originality/value - It is an original case study based on secondary research data.