Thursday, December 22, 2011


The end of the 8th International Conference on Islamic Economics and Finance - ISDEV delegates (L-R: myself, Muhammad Yasir and Dr Zakaria Bahari) with Br. Ismail Abdul Rahman from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Alhamdulillah, I am home from Qatar safely. The Conference in Qatar was one of the most joyful and beneficial conferences that I have ever participated. All of us from ISDEV, Dr Zakaria Bahari, Muhammad Yasir and myself, have put forward whatever thinking that we wanted to through the presentation of our respective papers. The Conference provides a platform for a discourse on the latest thought and research findings of the presenters from all over the world. Beside that, many old friends were also here and met, and many new friend too were made, to broaden ISDEV networking. Though it costs the organisers QR500,000 to organise such a big conference, it was worthwhile, I think.

I am looking forward to participate in the next 9th ICIEF to be held in two years time in Turkey, InshaAllah. But like this Conference in Qatar, it would be definitely very competitive to be chosen as a paper presenter. For the Qatar Conference, a total of 815 abstracts from 40 countries were received  by the organiser. After careful consideration, only 50% were accepted to pursue to the writing of full papers. Of 340 full papers received later on, only 35%, or 119 papers, were accepted for presentation at the Conference. It took 6 months, that is from April to October 2011, for the organiser to process the evaluation of the abstracts and the full papers.

Brother Rafi-uddin Shikoh, the CEO/Managing Director of Dinar Standard based in New York, USA - the last new friend I met during our departure home
Arriving at KLIA from Doha, Qatar

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Muhammad Yasir answering a question from the floor
The last day of the 8th ICIEF Conference today saw Muhammad Yasir and Dr Zakaria Bahari presented their paper. As the previous days, the third day also gave me an opportunity to meet old friends and made new friends, as are recorded by the photos below. I spent the last night in Qatar tonight in my hotel room, preparing to depart for home at 0500 tomorrow morning, InshaAllah.

Prof Masudul Alam Choudhury from Sultan of Qabus University, Oman, who I was indebted to for initiating the establishment of International Project on Islamic Political Economy (IPIPE) in mid-1990s, that eventually developed into a Centre named Centre for Islamic Developmment Management Studies (ISDEV)
With Dr Mabid Jarhi, the former Director of IRTI at IDB and the President of the International Association of Islamic Economic and Finance
With Dr Tariqullah Khan, formerly at IRTI of the IDB and currently works with the Qatar Foundation, the main organiser of the 8th ICIEF Conference
With Dr Sayyid Tahir from Pakistan, a long time friend who I did not met for around twenty years

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Today is my turn to present my paper. It was in Session 12 themed Islamic Economics in Theory and Practice, at 1400 to 1530 in Room 103 of the Qatar National Convention Centre. Together in the Session were another six presenters from various countries. The room was packed as the theme of the Session seemed to be one of the prime themes discussed in this conference. Moreover, prior to this Session, in the morning, there was quite an interesting panel discussion on the state of the Islamic economics.

Two stances were observed in the morning panel discussion. Firstly, it was a stance that it is okay to have a mixture of the Islamic and conventional economics as is the state of the mainstream Islamic economics today. Secondly, there was a dissenting view to the first stance which aruged that Islamic economics was based on a wrong paradigm, hence the necessity of an authentic Islamic paradigm to give birth to an original Islamic economics. The papers in my session seemed to be the continuation of the panel discussion and attracted  a lot of participants. Interestingly, all the papers were in favour of the second stance, including mine, or at least have posed a critical anaylsis of the first stance.

The packed room during the Session
As the previous day, and especially after my presentation, I had an opportunity to meet old and new friends, as are reflected in the following photos.

With Prof Mehmet Austay of the Durham University, UK
R-L: With Dr Raditya Sukmana from Indonesia and Naail Mohammed Kamil from Ghana
L-R: Prof Habib Ahmed and Prof Mehmet Austay from Durham University, UK
With Honorouble Zubair Omar from Saudi Arabia, one of the pioneering initiators and long-live supporters of Islamic economics, banking and finance, who plays his role from behind the scene. I have met him last year when I was a Visiting Scholar at IRTI of the IDB in Jeddah. He is a member of the Trustees of the IRTI.
Prof Rodney Wilson of the Durham University standing second from right.
With Prof Ahmad Youseri of Egypt
With Dr Asad Zaman of the International Islamic University Islamabad, Pakistan, who has put forward his dissenting stance against the contemporary mainstream Islamic economics and presented another paper in the same Session as mine.
The speakers during my Session with the moderator, Prof Mehmet Austay (2nd right)
Old friends from Islamic Research Training Institute of the IDB: Sajjad (left) and Dr Abdelateef Bello (middle)
After Isyak, we were brought by Muhammad Yasir's brother and Fadli to Suuk Waqef for dinner and sight seeing. Nights were the only free time that we have during this Conference. Apart from many Arab restaurants that become eating place for many like Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur, there is a Malaysian restaurant here, selling amongst other foods, char koey teow for about QR30 and roti canai for about QR20 per plate. So I was told by the Malaysian conference participants who ate there. This is not surprising as the cost of living here in Qatar is quite high. As opposed to the shopping mall we went last night, here in Suuk Waqeef we could feel that we are actually in an Arab country.

Dinner at an Arabic Bandar Aden Restaurant
Our dinner "appetizer" shared by five of us: Ratib bread and beef agda
The desert: Maasob gate of Aden. In between the "appetizer" and the desert, we shared a big plate of mandi rice with lambs and chicken
One of the avenues at Suuk Waqef
With some Arab customers in a honey shop at Suuk Waqeef
The owner of the honey shop mixing honey with habbus sauda, ginseng, etc
Another avenues at Suuk Waqef
The Malaysian restaurant at Suuk Waqeef
Another site at Suuk Waqef with Muhammad Yasir's brother (left)
Another avenue at Suuk Waqeef where customers were having foods and drink relaxingly
A snack shop at the Suuk

Monday, December 19, 2011


The electronic banner at the main door of the Conference hall

The 8th ICIEF has started today at the Qatar National Convention Centre. I met many old friends and made many new friends from all the world, Alhamdulillah. Many pioneers of Islamic economics and Islamic banking and finance too are here.

Interestingly, there are also many scholars from Malaysia, in particular from International Islamic University, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi MARA, etc, apart from us from Universiti Sains Malaysia, combining both the lecturers and graduate students. In fact, according to Dr Tariqullah Khan of the Organizing Committee, the Academic Committee found it difficult to choose papers from Malaysia because of the high number, about 40 papers altogether, in balancing with the other regions. The Malaysian presentations, based on many creative and innovative researches too were very impressive, entailing with a high praise from the other scholars.

Conference in progress
However, concentration on this Conference seems to be more on the Islamic banking and finance rather than on the Islamic economics. It is a fact that Islamic banking and finance has grown drastically through an avenue that seems to be gradually detaching from the Islamic economics itself.

Listening to panel speakers
How far this is true is of course as yet to be confirmed. It could be an interesting aspect to be researched. But Prof Volker Nienhaus in a private conversation with me relates the situation to the need of the market which necessitates technical ability rather than philosophical understanding. In short, if Prof Nienhaus is right, Islamic economics has grown within the mould of the conventional market rather than from the mould of Islamic doctrines. Could it be so?

The arriving hall of the Qatar National Convention Centre, where the 8thCIC IC is held
With Professor Volker Nienhaus of Germany, currently Visiting Professor, Faculty of Islamic Studies, Qatar University (on my right)
With Professor Zubair Hassan of INCEIF
With Associate Professor Shinsuke Nagaoka of Japan, who was together with me at IRTI, Jeddah, last year (on my right)
Concurrent session in progress
Private conversation with Dr Muhammad Umar Chapra of the Advisor of IRTI, IDB
The conference on the first day lasted at about 5.30 pm. After a brief return to our hotel, we took a taxi to Qatar city centre to have a dinner at a Bukhari Rice restaurant. The price of a plate of Bukhari Rice is QR22 (about RM22). There were a lot of foreigners. We did not really feel that we are in an Arabic country. Modernization and a high cost of living has conquered Qatar. The night before, the dinner that has been treated by Muhammad Yasir's brother at our hotel costed him QR699. However, Qatar is peaceful, with wide (six lanes) roads and clean city, though sometimes troubled by traffic jams.

Dinner - Nasi Bukhari


Sunday, December 18, 2011


On the tv in my room at Wyndham Grand Regency Hotel Doha, Qatar, welcoming my arrival
Flying again this morning by 0640 flight from Penang to Kuala Lumpur and by 1010 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Doha, Qatar. Alhamdulillah, I am now safely arriving in Doha and have checked-in into five star Wyndham Grand Hotel. It took about 8 hours 30 minutes (55 minutes from Penang to Kuala Lumpur, and 7 hours 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur to Doha, minus 2 hours and 35 minutes transit at Kuala Lumpur International Airport) to reach Doha.

The aim of the journey is to participate in a Qatar Foundation-IRTI of the IDB-organised conference, the 8th International Conference on Islamic Economics and Finance, themed Sustainable Growth and Inclusive Economic Development From An Islamic Perspective, from 19-21 December 2011. My participation is sponsored by the organisers, Alhamdulillah.

Together with me are ISDEV Management Committee Dr Zakaria Bahari and ISDEV PhD student Muhammad Yasir Yusof. Both will present their shared paper on "Islamic Corporate Social Responsibility in Islamic Banking; Toward Poverty Alleviation", while I myself will present a paper entitled "Islamic Economics Revisited: Re-contemplating Unresolved Structure and Assumptions".

We will be in Doha until 22 December 2011, InshaAllah.

With Dr Zakaria and Muhammad Yasir at KLIA, waiting for connecting flight to Doha, Qatar

My room at the Wyndham Grand Regency Hotel

Part of Doha from my hotel room

Dinner treated by Muhammad Yasir' eldest brother who is working in Doha

In front of our hotel, with Penang born Fadhil, a friend of Muhammad Yasir's brother

Saturday, December 17, 2011


At the IQRA Foundation-INCEIF-organised Waqf Seminar on last Thursday 15th December, I had a heartfelt touching incident by the grace of Allah SWT. It was a peaceful reconciliation with my earliest academic mentor (now already a Tan Sri Datuk), who attended the Seminar as a distinguished participant.

I am indebted to him for identifying me as one of his echelons during his Deanship days at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in late 1970's, and subsequently tugging me into the academic world by sending me to study with a reknown neo-marxist Dependency Theorist the late Professor Andre Gunder Frank in the UK.

Unfortunately, we had an ideological clash when I returned home in early 1980's, as I brought back Islam rather than the neo-marxist thinking. We had quite a tough ideological and bureaucratic unpleasantness henceforth, and to some extent personal grudge, due to this difference.

I could really understand how frustrated a mentor is if his echelons are not up to their plan and strategy. But as a student of him, I did it all with a good faith, apart of which was to lessen his burden by attracting our students to a right path. I have chosen the path though I have to be his dissident because of my love of him. For these, my respect and care of him remains forever for I have learnt a lot from his academic brilliance and bureaucratic capability, many of which I have applied in leading ISDEV now.

For these reasons too I have a firm plan during the Seminar, once I observed that he was there. I wanted to go to at least to shake hands with him, however angry he was with me. I was prepared to face anything, as long as I could hold his hand again to gain a barakah of a teacher, moreover I have heard that he is now a changed pious man,  and observed how humble he was at the Seminar. This was the first opportunity that I have ever had after he left USM since many years ago.

And Allah SWT is Great! He answered my intention by taking him to me, even before I have a chance to look at him. Amidst the noisy atmopshere after the Seminar, I heard someone calling my name, and it was him! We walked fast to each other, holding hands and hugged each other closely. My tears were rushing out while thinking how generous Allah SWT was in reconciling us, apart from hearing him whispering, praising me of what I have been achieved. Two previously dissenting hearts were now getting back into one, now based on a shared belief and similar struggle, that we have Allah to worship to and Islam to strive for. Many many thanks Allah!

Oh Allah, please forgive him of all his sins, providing him with as much opportunities as possible to serve You, guide him to Your path, and protect him in this world and the world Hereafter.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


The Seminar in progress
Now at KLIA Golden Lounge, waiting to board the 1910 flight to Penang, after becoming a panel at Waqf: Redefining Growth and Prosperity Seminar at Central Bank of Malaysia. The other panels were Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim (former JCorp CEO) and Professor Dr Murat Cizakca of INCEIF.

The Seminar, organised by Iqra Foundation and INCEIF, was a high profile seminar, moderated by former Terengganu Chief Minister Dato' Seri Idris Jusoh and participated by Malaysian reknown figures such as former Malaysian Police Chief Tun Mohamad Hanif Omar, Tan Sri Datuk Dr Kamal Salih, Prof Datuk Osman Bakar, Datuk Mohd Ghazali Mohd Noor, CEOs of Malaysian banks, etc.

The title of my talk at the Seminar was Redefining Growth and Prosperity for Waqf Development. I stressed the need to redefine growth and prosperity by dismantling them from neo-european-centric perspective, and building up a framework for waqf development for an Islamically-defined prosperity from within Islamic philosophical and epistemological underpinnings.