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Getting to know Ishrat Rauff

Mohamed Adnan Ishrat Rauff, better known as Ishrat to his friends and family, is a prodigy in the world of Islamic finance. He has spent the past 23 years of his life in the financial sector and is now the Managing Director/ CEO of two companies. He has traveled across many continents and he shares his experiences with Crescentrating.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I have been in the financial sector most of my working career. The past 13 years have been in the area of Islamic Finance. Initially, I had stints in conventional banking as well as stock-broking. My undergraduate degree was in Civil Engineering but I have never regretted the shift.

Tell us about your companies and how they came to be. What is the purpose of Saif/ ADL Capital? What are some of the short term/ long term goals of each company?

I am the Managing Director/CEO of SAIF Capital and Adl Capital, both of which are in the Islamic Banking and Finance (IBF) industry. SAIF is an advisory arm whilst Adl is licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka as an Investment Manager. Both commenced operations within a year of each other and are actively engaged in the areas of Private as well as Public equity, which are areas not traditionally associated with Islamic Banking in Sri Lanka. Thus, we have been able to carve out a niche in this dynamic market for ourselves.

Please share some of your company's recent accomplishments/ updates with our readers.

In a short span of time we have built up an impressive array of clients. These include listed companies, licensed commercial banks and large charities. We have also secured a license from the SEC and recently launched the first-ever open-ended Shariah-compliant fund in Sri Lanka. These have all taken place within a short time frame, Alhamdulillah.

You cater to a mostly Muslim clientele. What are your thoughts on the Halal/ Islamic Businesses industry professionally, personally and Islamically? What are some differences you see in the industry from when it began to expand to its current status?

It is still a very nascent industry but has tremendous potential for growth. It is interesting to note the large number of players that are now seeking to enter the industry. This was not the case at the very inception, where there were seemingly insurmountable obstacles that the incumbents had to face. Alhamdulillah, the market has evolved since then and the regulatory framework is also much more conducive. We should be grateful that the regulators had the foresight to bring about change, despite the fact that Sri Lanka is a country with a Muslim population of less than 10%.

On a personal note, I cannot be more excited and feel more passionate about the industry in which I am involved in. Alhamdulillah, the most satisfying feature is that it is an industry that is deemed "Halal", thus making ones earning also Halal.

What are your thoughts on the Halal travel industry in general? What are your opinions on Muslims traveling - has it become easier, harder, etc.?

It is getting easier with the industry becoming increasingly cognizant of the need to address the specific needs of a Muslim traveler. However, there is still a long way to go. I am confident that the need to remain competitive would ensure that the hospitality industry would cater more closely to the needs of the Muslim traveler, thus ensuring that we have less to complain about with the passage of time.

As you know, Crescentrating is a company focused on Halal friendly travel and making it easier for Muslims to travel with peace of mind. What are your personal opinions on Crescentrating?

I have always said that it is conceptually brilliant and a dire need for today's Halal conscious traveler.

Are you familiar with our site, www.crescentrating.com? Have you ever used it for your own journeys? What do you feel is the best feature of www.crescentrating.com?

Yes, I am. I must admit that I have yet to use it for my journeys, though. However, I can see myself using it more in the future.

Surely you must have traveled to various places for business/ leisure. Could you share some of the locations you've traveled to?

Alhamdulillah, I have been very blessed in having been able to visit many countries. My travels have extended to all the continents, from the USA and Mexico right across to Australia. I have visited the UK, countries in mainland Europe, several countries in the Middle East including many GCC countries, Egypt and Mauritius (in Africa), our neighbors, Maldives, India and Pakistan, and numerous visits to South East Asia extending to the Philippines.

Which of these is your most favorite location and why? Were you able to find Halal food and other facilities easily?

Malaysia. Mainly because of the ease with which one could find Halal food as well as the value for money proposition - comfortable hotels at reasonable prices, low transportation costs, reasonably-priced food.

What are some things you still struggle with as a Muslim traveler? Which location do you feel is the least Halal-friendly? What are some general facilities you wish to see in the future?

I still have trouble finding Halal food. USA and Australia are places which I feel could improve their Halal-friendly facilities although my experience dates back several years. Prayer rooms in all airports, malls and public areas and at least some choice of Halal food outlets would be a good start.

What is your most preferred mode of transportation? Flight, train, vehicles? Why?

I prefer traveling by flight since travel times are shorter.

As a respected individual in the field of Islamic-related businesses, what are some tips you can offer to budding entrepreneurs in the same field?
  • Never compromise on your integrity.
  • Be different.
  • Lead rather than follow.
  • Take risks but try and manage/mitigate them.
  • Ensure you have sufficient cash to sustain your business - you will be amazed at how fast this dries up, despite your best attempts at being frugal.
  • Balance your time well - make sure you have time for family and the more spiritual aspects.
  • Be humble and don't forget to give thanks to your Creator.

Inspiring closing words from a respected individual - Ishrat Rauff, we thank you for everything you're contributing to the Islamic Finance industry and we wish you all the best in the future.