Islamic Finance

My tribute to Sheikh Saleh Kamel – Iqbal Khan

Sheikh Saleh Kamel, one of the pioneers of the modern Islamic banking industry, passed away last week on May 18. He is widely and generally considered to be a visionary leader in Islamic banking and finance as well as in other areas of business. (Read about his leadership roles here.) Salaam Gateway has received several tributes to him, one of which is this, written by Iqbal Khan, CEO of Fajr Capital.


Sheikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel returned to our Creator on the 25th day of the holy month of Ramadan. May his soul rest in peace and may Allah (swt) forgive him and grant him the highest praise in the Jannat ul-Firdous.

I had the privilege of knowing Sheikh Saleh for the last three decades and always found him to be constructively engaged, positive, and forward-looking and always thinking about humanity, about the Muslim community, about his fellow citizens in Saudi Arabia and, above all, the City of Makkah.

He loved Makkah and spent most of his Ramadans praying in the Harram from his apartment. One of my distinct privileges for the last so many years was to spend one Ramadan iftar, taraweeh and qiyam every year with Sheikh Saleh at his apartment overlooking the Harram. In between the breaks, we would talk about the future of philanthropy, the progress in getting democratization of savings and investments in the Muslim world and above all, how we as Muslims can contribute to the rest of humanity.

Those nightly prayers performed overlooking the Harram in the month of Ramadan and our conversations will always stay with me and will InshaAllah continue to inspire me to follow in his footsteps and take the Islamic finance industry to the next stage of its evolution.

Sheikh Saleh’s contributions were in many areas, in Islamic finance, sustainable urbanism, media, culture, leadership, just to name a few. He always articulated in conceptual terms and demonstrated practically about new business designs, new opportunities and new ways to make this world a better place for all.

He never allowed anything to stand in the way of progress, including his own failing health. He was a very kind and caring man and he always insisted that I bring my family with me whenever I visited him.

With Sheikh Saleh’s passing, the light on the Islamic finance industry has diminished and it is for all of us to try and follow his footsteps so that he can be remembered fondly, and his legacy is preserved and built upon.

We pray for his children Br Abdullah and Sr Hadeel and the rest of his family to have the patience to bear with this loss. May Allah (swt) guide us all to preserve his legacy to build upon it to make this world and his beloved country, Saudi Arabia, and Makkah, a better place.

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Iqbal Khan