Purpose – To vindicate whether or not there are signs of social and developmental role in the current practice of Islamic banking in Sudan, a criterion required by the rules guiding the Islamic circulation of money and investment. Design/methodology/approach – The objective of the paper is to draw attention to this important, but neglected aspect of Islamic finance, by assessing some indicators of Islamic banking in Sudan such as: the geographical distribution of Islamic banks (ISBs), short vs long-term investment, credit by modes of financing used, sectoral distribution of financing, role in poverty alleviation, harmonization of the Shari’aa rules with economic thinking to cope with today's modern and global world development constraints, and the developmental role of ISBs within globalization. Findings – Many banking indicators in Sudan are signs of the weak size of the financial sector and financial liquidity, low confidence in the banking system, and low and poor credit performance. Banks are also characterized by unti-developmental signs of regional inequality of distribution of branches, use of sales modes; uneven, short-term and modern-sector-biased distribution of investment, high share of demand deposits and shortages of long-term funds. Practical implications – The developmental role of ISBs needs to entwine economic development with social development by gearing production priorities towards common needs, via specialized branches, partnership modes, short and long term investment plans. It also requires the renewal of fiqh in the course of Ijtihad to devise new rules, or to change rules in accordance with globalization, and harmonization of economic and fiqh thinking. Originality/value – The analysis here is valuable in drawing attention to Islamic banking practitioners that the link between Islamic finance and development objectives (including social development) is still under trial, and some work needs to be undertaken despite the many years which have elapsed since the introduction of Islamic finance.