IAIS Malaysia’s Achievements in 2015
The year 2015 begins with an interesting Roundtable Discussion on Extremism, Terrorism and Islam: Toward Better Understanding of Issues which was held to consider the root causes of extremisms. The Round Table Discussion featured prominent speakers including Prof. Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali, the Founding CEO of IAIS Malaysia, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, the President of the International Movement for a Just World, Prof. Dato’ Paduka Mohamad Abu Bakar from University of Malaya, and Ahmad El-Muhammady, lecturer of International Islamic University Malaysia.
On 30th January 2015, IAIS Malaysia had the honour to host a Public Lecture by the renowned international Muslim public intellectual, Prof. Tariq Ramadan on the topic of Understanding Reform from an Islamic Perspective. He reframed the discourse on reform by emphasizing reform of the self as the prelude and prerequisite to social reform, inspired no less than the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him!) himself, who “prayed at night to transform the world during the day”. This personal reform should culminate in a sense of personal security (salamat al-nafs) in the individual, a state necessary to attain to the Qur’anic ideal of the “tranquil soul” (nafs al-mutma’innah). The event was jointly organized with the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), Akademi Intelektual Muda and WAP TV.
IAIS Malaysia was also invited as a partner organizer for the International Islamic Banking & Finance Law which was organized in early February, by the Malaysia Current Law Journal and the Bar Council Malaysia. The conference was aimed at building up a strong knowledge base for the different industry players, with focus on regulatory requirements and its implications, current industry challenges in shaping a comprehensive and internationally competitive Islamic finance ecosystem, and the mechanics that are required to sustain the dynamics of the environment in the region.
In the same month, IAIS Malaysia with Al-Maghrib Institute organized a Public Lecture featuring Shaykh Abu Eesa Niamatullah on the topic of Logical Progression – Based on al-Sharh al-Mumti’. Another Public Lecture was also organized in March with an interesting topic “Reflections of an English Muslim”. The lecture was presented by Mr Ahmad Keeler, the Visiting Fellow of the Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge. It was an inspiring and visually compelling presentation, where Ahmed Keeler charts his journey and reflects upon the changing cultural worlds of the West and Islam.
The following event was the Public Lecture on “Social Innovation for Peaceful Coexistence: Intercultural Activism from Rumi to Gülen” by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ihsan Yilmaz from the Fatih University, Istanbul. The Institute co-organized this event with Malaysian Turkish Dialogue Society (MTDS).
In April, IAIS Malaysia conducteda seminar on Shariah Courts in Malaysia: Major Themes and Development. Two distinguished speakers were invited, namely Professor Dr. Ahmad Hidayat Buang, Lecturer, Department of Shari’ah and Law, Academy of Islamic Studies, University of Malaya, who talked on “Transformation of Shari’ah Courts in Malaysia: Issues and Developments” and YAA Dato’ Dr. Haji Mohd. Na’im Haji Mokhtar, Chief Judge, Department of Shari’ah Judiciary of Selangor who presented on “Role of Family Support Division in the Enforcement and Execution of Shari’ah Court Maintenance Orders”.
The next programme was a Forum conducted in Bahasa Malaysia, on the topic of Perlaksanaan Hudud di Malaysia: Ideal dan Realiti. Panelists invited were Prof Emeritus Dato’ Paduka Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Abdul Majid from the Department of Fiqh & Usul al-Fiqh, Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Associate Professor Dr. Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil, the Deputy CEO of IAIS Malaysia and Mr. Musa Awang the President of the Syariah Lawyers Association of Malaysia.
In the same month, a Public Lecture was delivered by Prof. Dr. Muhammad Humayon Abbas Dar, an Islamic Banking Expert, from United Kingdom. He delivered a presentation on the topic of Need for Quantification of Demand for Islamic Banking and Finance: Evidence from Pakistan and Implications for Malaysia. The programme was followed by another Public Lecture presented by Shaykh Safia Shahid on the topic of Dismantling Terrorism: An Islamic Obligation.
On 5th May 2015, IAIS Malaysia in collaboration with the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), Malaysian Youth Council (MBM) and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) organized a Round Table Discussion on the Future of Muslim Youth. The discussion explored some of the characteristics of contemporary youth and the challenges they face towards making a difference in society. One crucial observation about contemporary youth is, notwithstanding national, cultural and religious differences, youth across the globe appear to exhibit several common features that bind them togetherand leading to the possibility of contemporary youth playing pivotal roles towards bridging cultural divides.
In conjunction with the Enthronement of the Sultan of Perak, a special Banquet & Royal Ulama Lecture was held at the Dewan Banquet SUK, Bangunan Perak in Ipoh, Perak, featuring Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ninowy from Madina Institute, USA. The topic of the lecture was “In the Footsteps of the Khulafa : Role Models of Rulers in Islam”, moderated by Orang Kaya-Kaya Imam Paduka Tuan Shaykh Dato’ Afifi Al-Akiti. This event was jointly organized by IAIS Malaysia, Al Naqiy Islamic Solutions and a few other organizations.
IAIS Malaysia organized two lectures in May. The first was delivered by Mr. Hussein Heiri, a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He shared his lecture on the topic of Investor Protection Rights in Islamic Countries. The second lecture was delivered by another renowned intellectual, Dr Jasser Auda, the Executive Director at the Maqasid Institute based in London. He presented a great lecture entitled Youth and Moderation: Promoting Harmony and Global Peace.
One of the highlights of the year 2015 was the International Conference on the Applications of Maqasid Al-Shariah in Public Policy and Governance which was jointly organized by IAIS Malaysia, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) and Razak School of Government and partnered with Al Naqiy Islamic Solutions Sdn Bhd and the Muslim Youth Association of Malaysia (ABIM). The goals for the two-day conference were to advance applicable maqasid-based theories in the form of policies related to good governance on a global scale. Several participants presented, making up seven sessions in total. The guests ranged from fellow academics to government officials, policy consultants and students.
In July, IAIS Malaysia was blessed to again host Dr Jasser Auda on another important topic entitled: Maqasid Al-Shari’ah & The Challenges Facing The Muslim Youth.
In August, IAIS Malaysia and MISG Alumni jointly organized the Book Dissection and Discussion: Prophet Muhammad, The Hallmark of Leadership, which was presented by Dr Azman Hussin from the MISG Alumni and discussed by Dr Maszlee Malik from IIUM.
Then, IAIS Malaysia organized a Round Table Discussion with an interesting topic entitled ‘Islamic Perspectives on Sustainable Development’. The panelists were Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali (Founding CEO of IAIS Malaysia), Dr. Daud Abdul Fattah Batchelor (IAIS Malaysia), Dr. Chandra Muzaffar (President of International Movement for a Just World), Associate Professor Dr. Azilah Sarkhawi (International Islamic University Malaysia), Professor Gemini Herath (School Business of Monash University, Malaysia), and Mr. Ahmad Shaiful Alwi (on behalf of Dr. Adi Setia Md. Dom, IIUM). The objective of the discussion is to bring– focus the attention of leaders, stakeholders and scholars on critical issues related to sustainable development from the regulatory, industry, NGO, and educational viewpoints.
IAIS Malaysia was also invited as co-organiser in the World Islamic Countries University Leaders Summit (WICULS 2015). The event was held at Marriot Hotel, Putrajaya and officiated by His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, Sultan of Perak Darul Ridzuan. WICULS attempts to mainstream a worldview with emphasis on 3 main pillars: Access and Equity in education, the relevance of culture, wisdom and ethics and the articulation of education for sustainable development in Muslim universities and the ummah worldwide.
The world is facing various imperative issues related to sustainability that demand concentrated efforts including the climate change, pollution of the atmosphere, global warming, sea level rise and land degradation. The International Conference on Islam, Science and Sustainable Development: Maqasid al-Shari’ah and Humanity’s Well Being was held in October to seek for a collective resolution by bringing together academics, experts, policy makers and activists to integrate the efforts for achievement of our sustainable development goals. It was launched by YB Senator Dato’ Dr. Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, Deputy Minister (Religion Affairs) Prime Minister Department. Other eminent speakers included Prof. Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Prof. Datin Azizan Baharuddin, Prof. Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak and Prof. Mohamed Aslam Haneef. Throughout the conference, several key Islamic concepts were repeatedly highlighted; namely the ‘Oneness of Being’ from the core Islamic principle of Tawhid, the divinely-ordained responsibility as trustees and vicegerents encapsulated in the principle of Khilafa, and lastly, the aiming towards ‘optimal balance’ guided by Mizan and Wasatiyyah.
The Malaysian Legal and Corporate Conference 2015 (MLCC): The Corporate Perspective was jointly organized by IAIS Malaysia, Malaysian Current Law Journal (CLJ) and Bar Council Malaysia. This event, themed 'Changes & Challenges: The Corporate Perspective', brings to the fore recent legal and corporate developments within the region and explores the effect of these on both sides of the divide. The MLCC provides a dynamic and provocative platform for discourse on emerging issues that are dominating current events, and offers the perfect opportunity for all stakeholders to hear from thought-leaders in the industry.
The introduction of Islamic Financial Services Act (IFSA) 2013 in June 2013 has affected the Islamic banking and finance landscape in Malaysia and the understanding of its salient features and the changes it introduces is very crucial. . Therefore, IAIS Malaysia organized the Training Programme on Regulatory and Compliance Framework in Islamic Finance Under IFSA 2013. The two-day training programme was conducted by our own expert course instructors, Dr Hakimah Yaacob and Sis. Apnizan Abdullah. The objectives of the training were to expose the participants to the regulatory framework of Islamic Finance in Malaysia with special reference to Islamic Financial Services Act (IFSA) 2013 and to equip the participants with an understanding of the application of laws, rules and standards governing the Islamic Finance industry in Malaysia and internationally. By the end of the training, the participants had a clear understanding on the regulatory framework of Islamic Finance, the applicable laws, rules and standards in Islamic Finance, the dispute resolution mechanism in Islamic Finance and many more. The programme received positive feedbacks from the academias, policy makers, regulators and key players of Islamic finance and banking industry in Malaysia.
Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMMF) together with IAIS Malaysia, Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT), Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) and Foreign Policy Study Group (FPSG); had organized a Distinguished Lecture by Prof Emeritus Alex P. Schmid, the Director of Terrorism Research Initiative on the topic “Counter- and Alternative Narratives as Part of a Comprehensive Strategy to Combat ISIS”. Schmid in his presentation, proposed several strategies for combating ISIS. Centring himself on the need to limit ISIS’s ability to disseminate their ideology, Schmid first suggested (perhaps rather contentiously) government censorship of the public media in order to end the destructive ISIS-journalist relationship. Secondly, and closely tied to this he suggested responsible media self-censorship (inclusive of social media). He reasoned that ISIS could only be defeated in the long-term by a Muslim-led counter-narrative that would both invalidate and degrade ISIS ideology.
In November, IAIS Malaysia was graced by the willingness of His Royal Highness, Sultan Nazrin Muizuddin Shah, the Sultan of Perak to officiate the event, Book Launch: The Middle Path of Moderation in Islam, a great work written by Prof. Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Founding CEO of IAIS Malaysia. The event was jointly organized with Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMMF) and it was attended by ambassadors, respected personnels from various bodies and organizations.
By the end of 2015, IAIS Malaysia was invited as a partner for the 12th Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum 2015 from 1st to 3rd December 2015. And the final event was the Expert Discussion on “TPPA: The Positive & Negative Impacts on Malaysia”. The presentation was given by Dr. Haniff Ahamat from International Islamic University Malaysia.
Ahmad Syarief bin Fadhli
IAIS Malaysia’s Achievements in 2014
2014 has been a year full of trials and tribulations for many Muslims around the world, not forgetting the series of surprises and tragedies befalling Malaysia and its people. Malaysians under leadership of the government have been spirited and united for the sake of peace, good livelihood and mutual respect. Indeed man is in a state of loss, as the Holy Qur’an says, “Verily man is in a state of loss, except those who believe, and those who enjoin upon one another truth and enjoin upon one another patience,” (Al-‘Asr: 2-3), if he or she no longer believes in the mercy of the Almighty and stops striving for the truth or forsaking patience in his or her actions. IAIS Malaysia went through the year sharing every sense of sorrow felt by the citizens of Malaysia, trying best to raise the knowledge of Islam and expose its potentialities for self-improvement of Muslims and the state of our relations with other civilisations.
IAIS Malaysia arrived at the beginning of 2014 with several plans for international conferences and programmes. The Institute started the year with a two-day International Conference on Shariah Objectives (Maqasid al-Shariah) in Muamalat and Contracts. The conference was co-organised with the Securities Commission of Malaysia, Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM) and International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA). It was a major success with close to 200 participants and good attendance in sessions. The conference programme addressed issues related to maqasid al-shariah in the ever-expanding sector of global Islamic banking and finance. The programme was well received by both world renowned academicians and experts in Islamic banking and finance, as well as seasoned practitioners and regulators in the industry.
The second international conference organised by IAIS Malaysia was the International Conference on Developing Synergies between Islam and Science & Technology for Mankind’s Benefit held on 3-4 October. IAIS Malaysia along with six other collaborators cooperated for a busy and highly successful two-day conference programme wherein 37 papers were presented in parallel sessions. The conference also attracted internationally-renowned keynote and invited speakers and specialists in the field of Islamic Science. Conference collaborating institutions included the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), International Institute of Muslim Unity (IIMU), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Universiti Malaya (UM), Sultan Omar Ali Saifudeen Centre for Islamic Studies (SOASCIS), Brunei, and the National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies (NCEIS), Griffith University, Australia. The conference was multi-themed covering many aspects of the relationship between religion and science with a special focus on ethical issues in bio-ethics and biotechnology. Leading conference speakers suggested that this conference provided a sound base for IAIS Malaysia to continue with a second in a series of conferences on Islam and Science & Technology in the future. Selected papers are planned to be published as a book of Proceedings by Springer publishers.
Conferences and seminars at IAIS Malaysia have not only attracted prominent scholars but also dignitaries and distinguished guests ranging from royalty, top government officials, ambassadors, high commissioners and important members of local and international organisations. In February 2014, IAIS Malaysia had the honour to host former Chief Justice of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad for a public lecture on Hudud law in Malaysia in the wake of the announcement that the government of Brunei had passed the law to introduce hudud and qisas in the oil-rich nation. The event drew much public attention and resulted in fruitful engagement from various stakeholders. Then in April last year, IAIS Malaysia hosted a special public lecture on ‘Peace Making Efforts Among ASEAN Nations’ by the former Secretary General and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, H.E. Emeritus Professor Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, a renowned Muslim academic and expert in international politics and champion of peace building. He delivered a most interesting lecture that was enlightening and very well received. IAIS has transcribed it and it is due to appear in our flagship journal, Islam and Civilisational Renewal.
No stranger to IAIS Malaysia, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf presented on ‘Constructing an Islamic Government and Rule of Law Index’ with much interest from the audience in April 2014. IAIS Malaysia as an international think tank plays a significant role in addressing issues relating to Muslim minorities especially in the region. In this connection, IAIS hosted in November 2014 Professor Dr. Johan Galtung, holder of the Tun Mahathir PGPF Chair for Global Peace at the Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws (AIKOL), IIUM, who spoke on conflict resolution between Muslims and Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
Further, IAIS Malaysia also organised programmes with a focus on gender studies and women affairs. A public lecture by Miss Ni’mah Nawwab on Women and Youth in Saudi Arabia enlightened the audience with gender and youth issues in Saudi Arabia in April. A one-day seminar was also held at IAIS in May on Women and Leadership in Islam hosted together with Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia, which featured IAIS Malaysia’s CEO, Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Associate Professor Dr. Raihanah Abdullah and Datin Paduka Che Asmah. Another one-day seminar on Gender and Islamic Legal Reform featuring Dr. Rumee Ahmed and Dr. Ayeesha Chaudhry from the University of British Columbia, Canada was held at IAIS in December.
IAIS Malaysia also had the honour of hosting Professor Dr. Muhammed Haron from Bostwana who spoke on ‘Muslim Higher Education in the Southern African Region’. On a separate occasion Professor Dr. Suleyman Derin from Marmara University, Istanbul spoke on Sufism. Both of these were interesting and informative and generated considerable interest among the audience. Continuing on what has been developed in previous years with regard to youth and activism, IAIS Malaysia together with the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) organised a workshop in May 2014 on ‘Maqasid al-Shariah: Youth and Civil Societies: Issues and Challenges’ with Dr. Jasser Auda, a specialist in the study of maqasid from the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies. Earlier, in February 2014, the Institute also collaborated with Al-Maghrib Institute in organising a talk at IAIS by Shaykh Abu Eesa Niamatullah on understanding the role of Muslim youth in facing modernity and contemporary challenges.
Another highlight of the year for IAIS was to organise an eight-day programme for Shaykh Hamza Yusuf from Zaytuna College, USA. This programme demanded detailed preparations and work with various parties involved and required all staff of IAIS Malaysia to work extra hours. This was also the first time the Institute organised a fund-raising dinner which was a successful exercise. The response from the public was tremendous. Up until the very last minute arrangements after arrangements were made to ensure the success of the programme. And thanks to Allah all went well. This programme was co-organisedwith An-Naqiy Foundation with the additional involvement of other higher education institutions. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s visit was successful and so encouraging that it may be repeated in future. His emphasis on addressing the challenges of the contemporary world with knowledge and a better understanding is in line with IAIS Malaysia’s focus on civilisational renewal in all its programmes and publications.
Apart from hosting lectures, seminars and conferences, IAIS Malaysia also had three book launches, the first of which was on Islamic Transactions and Finance: Principles and Developments, edited by Mohammad Hashim Kamali and Sheila Ainon Yusoff, jointly published with the Current Law Journal (CKJ). The second was on Wasatiyah Dalam Al-Quran dan As-Sunnah, a translation of Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali’s original work in English, Moderation and Balance in Islam: The Qur’anic Principle of Wasatiyyah. Translated by Tan Sri Dr. Syed Hamid Albar, the book was officially launched by the Minister of Communication and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. The third book launch was of Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr. Osman Bakar’s book, Islamic Civilisation and the Modern World: Thematic Essays, which was followed by a public lecture by the learned author. It was a full house event at the IAIS Conference Hall.
There has been a significant reform in the organisational structure of IAIS Malaysia. The Institute’s Board of Directors appointed former Prime Minister, Y.A.Bhg. Tun Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi as the new Chairman of IAIS Malaysia. This is a very important occasion for the Institute and all staff of IAIS Malaysia as it will further enhance the profile of the Institute and improve the relationship of IAIS Malaysia as an independent think tank with government organisations and policy makers of the country. The Senior Management of IAIS Malaysia also revised and revamped the research structure of the Institute to better reflect its vision and mission. IAIS now has five research units (compared to six in the earlier setup) namely: 1) Shariah, Law, Governance and Halal Studies, 2) Civilisation, Interfaith, Peace and Security, 3) Economics, Finance, Zakat and Awqaf, 4) Science and Technology, Environment and Ethics, 5) Education, Culture and Arts.
Other sectors in the Institute enjoyed their own success. The IAIS Malaysia Publication Unit managed to produce 4 quarterly journals as usual and the IAIS Bulletin on Islam and Contemporary Issues is regularly published bimonthly. The institute also recently published a book of essays on sukuk, entitled Islamic Finance: Issues in Sukuk and Proposals for Reform edited by Professor Kamali and Abdul Karim Abdullah, jointly published with the Islamic Foundation, UK. This is an important work consisting of essays by a number of scholars and industry specialists from different parts of the world, one which rightly belongs to the list of important references if not a textbook on the subject. IAIS’s Publication Unit has been exerting its capabilities to the maximum within its own limited resources and is looking forward to expand its activities and come out with many other titles in the coming year. The IAIS Library keeps on expanding with its new look in 2014 after the completion of major renovation and refurbishment work in the previous year; it is now targeting to become a special library focusing on collections of materials on reference books with special focus on maqasid al-shariah and policy studies. The IAIS Library also established relationships with other major libraries such as the IIUM Library and INCEIF Knowledge Management Centre. All other units in the administrative structure of IAIS Malaysia have always performed their best for the success of the Institute through harmonious engagement and open discussion for collective decision making that benefits all. IAIS Malaysia and its staff have been living with the spirit of ‘enjoining upon one another truth’ and ‘enjoining upon one another patience’ in togetherness throughout 2014. It has definitely been one of the most memorable years in the history of IAIS Malaysia. May Allah shower His Mercy and Guidance on all of us for everlasting success in future.
Mohd Fariz bin Zainal Abdullah
Head, Administration and Human Resource Division