Thursday, October 17, 2013


Glad to be able to extend this Call for Papers for ISDEV's another annual IDMAC, the 7th one. All are cordially invited to join us at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, Malaysia, to enjoy a discourse on a relatively rare theme, the Islamic Research Methodology.

9th – 10thDecember 2013
University Conference Hall, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia
Organized by:
Centre for Islamic Development Management Studies (ISDEV)
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)

To gather papers and minds in formulating an Islamic Research Methodology, with a view to replace the conventional research methodology, especially in undertaking researches on Islam and Muslims.

Suggested Sub-themes (relating to Islamic Research Methodology)

  1. Philosophy of Islamic Research Methodology
  2. Concept of Islamic Research Methodology
  3. Islamic Research Methodology in Al-Qur’an and Sunnah
  4. Usul Fiqh and Fiqhiyyah Methods for Islamic Research Methodology
  5. Qualitative And Quantitative Research Based on Islamic Doctrines
  6. The Islamic Ethics of Interviews, Observation and Participant Observation
  7. Formulation of Questionnaires from Islamic Perspective
  8. Formulation and Development of Islamic Theory
  9. The Arts of Reasoning (Mantik) for Islamic Research Methodology
  10. Application of Fatwa Development Process on Islamic Research Methodology
  11. Reliability and Validity of Data in Islamic Research Methodology
  12. The Need and Limitation of Scientific Approach in Islamic Research Methodology
  13. The Role and Use of Intangible Elements (Spirituality) in Islamic Research Methodology
  14. The Questions of Objectivity in Islamic Research Methodology
  15. Islamic Research Ethics
  16. Islamic Research Methodology for Social Sciences Research
  17. Other related sub-themes
Important Dates

Submission of Abstract: 7th November 2013
Notification of Abstract Acceptance: 8th November 2013
Submission of Full Paper: 25th November 2013
Submission of Registration Fee: 25th November 2013
Release of Conference Programs: 27th November 2013


Malay, Arab, or English


Abstract & Working Papers: Shahir Akram Hassan, E-mail: shahir_isdev@yahoo.comTel: 04-653 2661

Registration & Fee: Puan Siti Eshah Waris, Email: sewusm@gmail.comTel : 04-653 3422 or Cik Lenny A/k Luat, Email : 04-653 4606

Details in Conference website:

Sunday, October 13, 2013



With great pleasure and reverence, Professor Ulung of the Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC) International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Professor Tan Sri Dr. Muhammad Kamal Hasan will be delivering the Centre for Islamic Development Management Studies (ISDEV) Lecture Series on Monday 21 October, 2013 at 9:00am at the University Conference Hall (DPU) on "The Heart of the Problems vis-a-vis the Problems of the Heart".

A leading scholar who is also the former Rector of IIUM is the expert in the field of Southeast Asia Contemporary Islamic Thoughts, Prof Muhammad Kamal Hassan will be covering on issues related to the heart and qalb (spiritual heart) through the lecture.

All USM fraternity and the public are cordially invited to attend this lecture. Please convey this invitation to all.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


For the past 6 days, I am in Europe. The first  4 nights were spent in Rome, while since yesterday, I am in Paris. At the moment I am in the Air France Premeire Lounge at the Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport, waiting to board for MAS flight back to Malaysia.

A lot of experience have been collected in both countries. It is too many to note them now here, but suffice to jote down a few. First, Rome is an historical city with historic building, hence becoming a tourist city. Except at the Termini Statioze (Bus Station), you do not really feel alien as they are a lot of foreign tourists from all over the world there. Second, there are a lot of Malay speaking Bangladeshi (who have been working in Malaysia, Singapore or Brunei before) selling tourist items. Thirdly, there is a big mosque in Rome but seems to be under-utilized and not well-kept. Fourthly, the organiser of the 3rd International Conference on Human and Social Sciences which I participated is relatively not too efficient as there were only a handful of them in-charged of the whole Conference. The themes of the Conference were also so vast and diversed, difficult for you to choose the papers you want to really hear. The participants however came from all over the globe, from Europe to Africa and Asia. Fifthly, the cost of living is so high. A plate of beryani rice costs you €6 (about RM30).

Enough for now. I am boarding now. Will continue later, InshaAllah.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Yes, it happened again. There seemed to be no improvement, except the length of the duration.

My Penang-Kuala Lumpur flight with MAS on the 10th of September was delayed again. This time for half an hour. So was the Kuala Lumpur-Penang on the 13th September on my way home. It was also half an hour delayed.

The reason for the former was the weather while the reason for the later was the delay of the plane from earlier sector. The same reasons as previous delays.

Fortunately, it did not affect my connecting flight to and from Brunei, and gave me much time to engage conversations with USM Vice-Chancellor in the lounge. We were together on a trip to Brunei Darussalam.

However, for those who have to catch for appointment, the delay could become a hectic one. We met at the satellite terminal a friend from Oxford who was rushing for a meeting. His flight was delayed for four hours at Heathrow!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


This is not the first time. It happened to almost all my flights recently, at least the last three.

Not long before this, my flight from Penang to Kuala Lumpur was delayed for about 2 hours. I have to run for my connecting flight to Brunei from the domestic building of the KLIA to the satellite building with the help of the airport staff. I only managed to arrive at the plane just few minutes before the door closed. I was lucky because the flight to Brunei was waiting for some Malaysian royalties to arrive. I was not told why the Penang-Kuala Lumpur flight was delayed, except receiving a sms from MAS few hours before the scheduled time.

Last Sunday, my Penang flight to Kuala Lumpur was delayed again for an hour. The reason given for the delay was the adverse weather at KLIA. The flight could not land there.

And now, at this very moment, my Kuala Lumpur flight to Penang, which is supposed to be at 1820, till now is delayed for unknown hours. We have actually boarded a flight at Gate A2 earlier an hour later than the scheduled time, but after about an hour waiting in the flight, we were told to board another flight at Gate B11. Now we are packed at the waiting room of B11, waiting to board for the new flight at untold time. We are still waiting patiently.

The reason for the delay tonight, we were told, is because of the late arrival of the flight from other earlier sectors and later on because of the plane's technical fault that cannot be rectified by MAS engineers in a short time.

I saw on the departure screen just now that mine is not the only flight delayed tonight. There were a lot others. Our USM Deputy Vice-Chancellor who I met at the lounge also experienced the same. He missed his meeting at PWTC today as his afternoon flight from Penang was delayed till evening.

Oh MAS the "golden" national airline, why all these delays are happening? Can't we trust you anymore to reach at our destination of appointment on time?

Monday, September 02, 2013


I must record this, for it reflects how pleasant and surprising humbleness is.

On my Penang-Kuala Lumpur flight yesterday evening, a lady - the last passenger of the flight - came to sit beside my seat on the first row. At first sight, my heart quietly told me that she must be somebody, may be a lecturer, may be an executive, or may be one with a high position. We have quite a conversation, from questions on where she comes from, where to go, where she works, the book she was holding and later on reading (something on the heart and entrepreneurship), her studies (in Australia and currently a part-time graduate student in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), et cetera.

All along the discussion, I could not trace even a bit of her real identity. She portrayed herself as a common person, hailing from Kelantan and now living in the North of Malaysia, trying to start learning about entrepreneurship, working with a private Medical University, becoming a graduate student at the School of Social Sciences in USM, leaving her husband (who "works" closely with a University in the North) and children for few days to meet the wife of the owner of the Medical University, practising drinking just plain water and seldom taking peanuts, and others.

I came to know who really she was only when I stepped out of the plane at KLIA. I was surprised to see many policemen waiting at the door of the plane. One of them told me that they were waiting for the wife of a Crown Prince of a state in the North of Malaysia. And that Crown Princess was the humble lady who were conversing with me on the air! She is "working" with the private Medical University as its Chancellor, while her husband is "working" closely with a public University in the North, also as the Chancellor of the University.

How pleasant chatting with a humble royalty without knowing her identity, and how surprise to know who she really was later on from somebody else. I feel ashamed of myself - of my still uncontrolled pride and ego. I wish all of us at ISDEV would possess humbleness such as of  the Crown Princess, InshaAllah.

Friday, August 09, 2013


Wishing all a happy prosperous Eid-ul-Fitr, with apologies for all my weaknesses and mistakes.

As usual I received Eid-ul-Fitr wishes from as far as Pakistan, Tunisia and Turkey through all sorts of communication gadgets - telephonic calls, emails, sms, whatsapp, electronic cards etc., Alhamdulillah. Many thanks to all wishers for your rememberance, wishes, and prayers.

In general, the wishes I received could be divided into two categories. First, personal wish (meant only for me), and second, common wish (meant for all at once, a kind of a 'wholesale' wish). Both are okay, but you could sense to what extent the wishers feel close to you. The first category of wishers would probably feel closer, and perhaps has a feeling of higher degree of speciality towards you as compared to the second category wishers.

The first category this year surprisingly includes a Chinese friend who was a car agent and now a property business man, while the second category consists of many ISDEV graduate students, including a handful of my former and present graduate students themselves.

But worst still, there is a group of non-wishers, that is the ISDEV members who do not even send you a wish, in spite of my persistent insistence that one of the ISDEV strength is the brotherhood/sisterhood (ukhwah). This group sends a clear message that a lot more need to be done to change them. Indeed, to date, I still fail to do so. Oh Allah, forgive me for my inability and weaknesses.


On the request of my wife and children, I celebrated my Eid-ul-Fitr with them in my hometown this year, in Kuala Besut - recently suddenly becoming a popular spot because of its By-Election. I was told by relatives that during the Election, development promises and charities were pouring generously unto the previously ignored Kuala Besut, while the poor and the needy were given enormous attention with extension of  monetary and material asistance. Ask what you need, and the need is fulfilled.

One of the worrying promises made by the winner, amongst other promises, was to turn Kuala Besut into an international tourist attraction. I could clearly imagine what will happen to the people of Kuala Besut, culturally, socially and economically, as what has been happening to the people of almost all other tourist attractions all over the globe, the nearest to Kuala Besut is Perhentian Island. Read the research report done by Dr Ramli of Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA), and one would surprise to know the destructive impact of tourism unto the people of the Island, and in fact to the people of Kuala Besut themselves as the gateway to the Island, not only culturally and socially, but moreover religiously.

If the winner is serious in developing Kuala Besut through the international tourism, it is not too late to plan a different kind of prosperous tourist attraction in Kuala Besut minus its destructive impact, by strengthening people's religious belief and local cultures. Let the international tourists absorb into and assimilate with the local religion and cultures, rather than the other way round, as has been happening in the Perhentian Island. ISDEV is prepared to help, InshaAllah.

Sunday, August 04, 2013


I was 59 years old four days ago. Wishes and prayers poured in via handphone, emails and facebooks as early as 0000 on the day - the 1st August. Ummu was the first to wish, followed by wife and other children. Wishes and prayers from colleagues, friends and students began to reach me, some with presents, as early as 0500 in the early morning. It was a happy moment indeed. Many thanks everybody.

Now, at the age of 59, I have just another year left to serve the University. I am thankful to God that at the end of my carrier, ISDEV has been recognised by the top management of the University to be able to become a Centre of Excellence. The Council of the School of Social Sciences has approved it. Now I am waiting to seek Senate's approval at its meeting on 22 August.

May Allah SWT guides ISDEV to become what He pleases. If the Centre of Excellence may become an avenue to His pleasure and eventually to His Jannah, I really pray that it becomes a reality. I will be the most happiest person. After striving to prove the accomplishment of excellence through Islam for almost the whole duration of my carrier, about 32 years till now, it is now starting to be seen by many, Ahamdulillah. But if the Centre of Excellence leads ISDEV otherwise, I am prepared to see ISDEV to remain as it is now. I am sure so are other ISDEV members. What we are striving for is the pleasure of Allah SWT (mardhatillah). We leave it to Allah SWT to decide for Allah SWT knows the best for us.

Saturday, August 03, 2013



The announcement for the call for papers for the 8th ISDEV International Graduate Workshop (INGRAW) has came out, Alhamdulillah. Details are avalaible at

INGRAW is one of the main annual events of ISDEV, apart from the Worksyop Antarbangsa Pembangunan Islam (WAPI), International Conference on Islamic Development (ICID), and the ISDEV International Conference on Islamic Development Management (IDMAC).

WAPI and ICID are held every April in Medan, Indonesia with the cooperation of Universitas Muhammadiyah Sumatera Utara and ISDEV North Sumatera Chapter of ISDEV Students and Alumni Union (IPA-ISDEV SU). INGRAW and IDMAC are held every October and December respectively at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

WAPI and INGRAW are meant for postgraduate students while ICID for contemporary issues, and IDMAC for research-based deliberations.

All are cordially invited to participate.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Came back from Brunei on July the 8th, with flu, entailing with a two-day medical leave, a really rare case for me for the whole of my carrier. The air-con at the Rizqun Hotel in Gadong was too cold. Even when the room air-con was switched off, the cool breeze still blew in through from the air-con along the corridor outside the room.

But thanks God, it brought me to a realisation that I am getting old now. I could not stand persistent coolness of the air-con anymore. This was an addition to my tiredness of the journey to and from Sfax, Tunisia few days before that.

It also reminds me of the Green Park Hotel in Istanbul when I was there in February for the Basic Concepts of Islamic Economics Conference and the Chaophya Park Hotel in Bangkok when I was there in May for the 6th Annual Muslim World Conference and the 2nd AMRON Conference. Both hotels have an automatic sensing control along the corridor of the rooms. The light only switches on when the sensing control traces a movement. I am convinced that they save a lot of energy through the system.

However, the trip to Brunei this time was one of the happiest and fruitful trip. Firstly, my wife was together with me. Secondly, the brotherhood and sincerity of the brothers and sisters of Kolej Universiti Perguruan Ugama Seri Begawan (KUPU SB) who hosted me was tremendously wonderful. Apart from the warmest hospitality of those in-charge of me, especially Ali and driver Asrul, the top management of the University - Dr Haji Norarfan, Dr Haji Adanan and Tuan Haji Metuddin - too was very respectable. The Ra'es (Vice-Chancellor) of KUPU SB, Dr Hajjah Masnon even came to my hotel on the last night of my stay to say goodbye and gave a really special gift - the dates from His Majesty the Sultan and the Yang Dipertua Brunei Darussalam. I have been longing for such a gift for so long, especially when I was in Brunei near Ramadhan. It is the normal practice of His Majesty the Sultan to distribute the dates every Ramadhan to all Bruneians. And this year at last, I have got the opportunity to taste the dates through the Ra'es' share, Alhamdulillah. 

The discourse on the academic strategic plan of KUPU SB held at Mangrove Paradise Resort too was very fruitful. My suggestion for KUPU SB to be a pioneer and innovator instead of a follower and an imitator, as well as being a "World First" instead of a "World Class", using what I called a "Heart-to-Heart" method, were well-accepted, Alhamdulillah. May Allah help them in translating these ideas into practice, InshaAllah.

Lastly, thirdly, my article entitled "Why the Need for Negara Zikir (in Brunei)" was also appeared in the Brunei Times on Sunday the 7th, the third day I was in Brunei Darussalam. The article was written on the Kuala Lumpur-Seri Begawan flight and completed at the Rizqun Hotel on the first night of my arrival in Brunei. Many thanks to the Brunei Times Group Editor Tuan Haji Bujang Haji Masu'ut, who not only never fail to immediately publish my writings whenever I sent them to the Brunei Times, but also treated me and my wife for a dinner at the Gadong Coffee Beans on the last night of our stay in Brunei, as was every time I was in Brunei. My gratitude too goes to his Managing Editor Azrina Abdul Karim who always encourage me to write for the Brunei Times.

Saturday, July 06, 2013


After arriving home from Tunisia for about three days, I am abroad again. This time is to fulfil an invitation from Kolej Universiti Perguruan Ugama Seri Begawan (KUPU SB) in Brunei Darussalam, to help them revising and strategizing its strategic plan, particularly for its academic quality.

Landed at Brunei Airport yesterday, and happy to know from Dr Norarfan Zainal Abidin, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the KUPU SB during dinner last night that the Brunei authority is now revisiting its development vision with a view of injecting spirituality into it. Alhamdulillah.

May Allah SWT help them, InshaAllah.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Alhamdulillah, landed at Sfax Airport, Tunisia safely five days ago (on 25th June) at about 10.30 pm. The aim is to participate in the 2nd Sfax International Forum on Islamic Conference, organised by University of Sfax and Tunisian Association of Zakat, with the cooperation of IRTI of the Islamic Development Bank. The theme is Alleviation of Poverty Through Zakat, Waqf and Microfinance.

I presented a paper on Contemporary Vision of Poverty and Islamic Strategies for Poverty Alleviation this morning. It is meant to revisit the understanding of the so-called Islamic concept and strategies of poverty. This need to be emphasized as many talk about Islamic institutions such as zakat and awqaf to alleviate poverty, but leaving the meaning of the poverty undefined. In consequence, we are trying to solve the problems of the western ethno-centric defined poverty, measured by the ethno-centric indicators, using the Islamic institutions like zakat and awqaf. This definitely has to be corrected.

The Forum will end this afternoon. I will fly back to Penang tomorrow morning, again via Paris-Doha and Kuala Lumpur, InshaAllah.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I am at Terminal 3 of De Gaulle-Paris (Paris Airport) now, enrouting to Sfax, Tunisia. Just check-out from Ibis Hotel beside the Terminal after having a two-hour rest at the hotel, after a 24 hours journey from Penang, via KL and Doha. With me is Dr Zakaria Bahari, ISDEV Deputy Director. The flight to Sfax is at 2010. It will be about another last three hours journey to reach there, InshaAllah. Paris Airport provides only 15 minutes free wifi, hence this short posting.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


I am sad. Taariq showed me a full video clip from youtube on the clash between the PR and BN youngsters in Ipoh the other day. Unlike the PR fragmented version that showed only the part that attracted sympathy to the PR boys, the full version showed who really started the provocation. It was the PR boys.

Regretly, both the PR and BN sides were Malay youngsters, clashing with each other out of the hatred politics that has been implanted in them by their leaders. Now I understand why, and thankful to Allah SWT indeed, that there were no BN boys on motorcycles and cars in Alor Setar on the eve of and during the GE13. If the BN boys were also on the road of Alor Setar that day, the incident such as in Ipoh might have happened. Those PR boys roaming around the city of Alor Setar looked `ready' for anything. The BN boys on the other hand, wisely took the opportunity to disappear into house-to-house campaign, contributing partly to the victory of the BN in Kedah, so I was told.

Even now, after the GE13 and both sides won reasonably, the hatred politics is still being sparked for  personal aggrandizement. The gatherings at Kelana Jaya, later on at Ipoh, and today planned to be in Penang, are some of the examples of the occasions that might trigger further the hatred politics into destructive ends. The youngsters majority of whom love to be in such gatherings do not really understand the past history and the method of the main speaker. They too do not experience the sufferings of both sides during the May 13th 1969. Like myself during my youngster days, it is exciting to be on the side of anti-establishment. It was nice to criticise, but not to be criticised.

But why some people dislike the establishment? While waiting for our cars to be washed at a car washing garage in Permatang Pauh constituency this morning, an Indian told me that even though he is aware of the unfavourable deeds of the PR leader in his constituency, he still supported PR due to his frustration with the appointment of the people with `bad records' by BN government, such as the appointment of the Chairman of FELDA and the Chairman of RISDA. So was my feeling when some BN politicians were appointed as Ministers or Deputy Ministers in the previous Cabinet, although they have lost in the General Election or worst still, not even chosen at all to be contested in the General Election. So dear Datuk Najib, this time around for a real clean Cabinet, please appoint real clean records people who really sacrifice their contributive efforts into the Cabinet.

A Chinese woman (the owner of the garage) stressed that she does not mind if BN still rules Malaysia, as long as justice could be uphold and proven. But she chooses PR in the GE13 this time as she realised the monopoly of some corporations such as TNB (and ASTRO and Media Prima, perhaps) that creates imbalance in the Malaysian socio-economic and political atmosphere. Although she is uncertain of the ability of PR to fulfill her wish, she would like to give a chance to PR. If PR does not fulfill her wish, she would change back to BN in the next GE. So she is not happy with the term `Chinese tsunami' as for her, she supports DAP just because MCA did not do anything for the Chinese.

Another thing Datuk Najib, many Muslims feel insulted watching MAS offering alcohol on its international flights, as much as the Malays feel insulted when there were Ministers or Deputy Ministers in your previous Cabinet do not even once speak Malay. For a Cabinet to be loved by the people and a party to be gained the sustainability of its power, please take into consideration the above mentioned points.

Monday, May 06, 2013


What a coincidence. I was in Kedah on the eve of and on the polling day itself, and Kedah has been won back by the BN. It is the only state amongst the PR-ruled sates (Kelantan, Selangor and Penang) that falls back to BN in this GE13.

However, I realised that I could not be a good political analysist. Based on the visibility of the PR, and especially PAS supporters on the road in Alor Setar during the GE13, I anticipate a bleak future for BN. But the result of the poll proves that I am wrong. BN won in spite of its invisibility on the road.

To the new ruler of Kedah - especially the Chief Minister Datuk Mukhriz - I appeal that anything Islamic that have been done by the previous government - to be continued, though as minor as the Islamic dress code. I was told by a waitress in the hotel I stayed that hotel workers were forced to have a free hair during the previous BN rule, before PAS-ruler make it compulsory for them to cover their aurat properly. So is the availability of alcohol at the hotel. It was not allowed in the hotel anymore during the PAS rule.

If you, Datuk Mukhriz, sustain such an `Islamicity', and moreover enhance Islam in the State, I firmly believe that Allah SWT will help you in governing the state, and sustain your power , InshaAllah.

Sunday, May 05, 2013


I believe some of the PAS supporters in Alor Setar did not sleep last night. I was awakened  many times by the noise of cars and motorcycles with their sound of horns, and twice by the siren of police cars. It was really a lively night, but a little bit scary.

Earlier when driving around the town to observe the GE13 atmosphere, my family and I witnessed a lot of mostly youngsters on motorcycles and cars with PAS flags roaming around the town. Some of them have a rest by gathering at junctions of roads and sounding their horns whenever their counterparts passed through, before they themselves do their re-roaming. Luckily, other parties' supporters, especially BN were almost non-existent.

I pray that GE13 today goes smoothly and safely. It is an important event as Malaysians are to choose between certainty and uncertainty, between ability and inability.

BN vowed to continue its rule with some extent of certainty and has proved its ability to rule, while PR has yet to rule fully and has yet to prove its ability, hence the uncertainty. In some PR-ruled states, its ability is much to be desired. But even if BN continues to rule, the first lady has to be more motherly like the previous one, and more Islamic, while over-generosity and over-development has to be stopped. If PR rules, moral values have to be revived (for PKR), sense of racism has to be avoided (for DAP), and professionalism has to be ensured (for PAS).

We really need Allah to decide for us the right ruler for our lovely Malaysia indeed.

Saturday, May 04, 2013


Arrived in Alor Setar, Kedah this afternoon with wife and all of my four children who are on holidays. The aim is two-fold. Firstly to be together with the family away from home while celebrating belated Ummu's 14th birthday; and secondly, to observe the 13th General Election in Kedah tomorrow.

My wife and children are at the Pekan Rabu at the moment while I myself am staying in hotel working to meet some deadlines. The works are quite delayed as I have to be recently in Ban Nua, Thailand for ISDEV Language Camp and later on in Medan and Prapat in Indonesia for the 6th International Workshop on Islamic-Based Development (WAPI-6) and 5th International Conference on Islamic-Based Development, as well as for ISDEV Academic Tour respectively. Together with me to Ban Nua were 12 ISDEV lecturers and postgraduate students while to Indonesia 51 of them.

PAS seems to be a liveliest party in Alor Setar, with a lot of banners and posters as well as PAS members and cars roaming around the city. In Penang, on our way out to Kedah, we saw BN banners and posters overwhelming the banners of the ruling DAP and PKR.

It is quite difficult to guess who will win the 13th General Election tomorrow. Reading their respective papers and speeches, both BN and PR are confident to win. But one thing obviously observed is the bias portrayal of the direct BN campaign in almost all mainstream media. I am afraid this will backfire the BN, as the mainstream media campaign for BN really insults the intelligence of thoughtful citizens. However, the same also happening in PR bias campaign in the internet. The nature of their reporting is almost the same as the BN campaign.

All in all, both parties seem attempting to win the heart of the Malaysians through whatever channels available to them, and most of them in both parties seem to attempt a win by exposing the evils of their political enemies. It is really difficult to choose a candidate that endeavours to win by his own strength, not by exposing the weaknesses of his political enemies.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Many tasks awaited after arriving back from Istanbul, hence the silence of the posting in this blog henceforth till now.

Apart from the packed meetings as well as the packed administrative and graduate supervisory tasks, have to run to Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) as a mentor of the USIM's RACE Research Group, and twice to Selangor Zakat Council (LZS) as a panel of the redefinition of asnaf in the revision of the LZS's zakat distribution process.

In addition, there were also preparations for ISDEV community engagement programme (Language Camp) in Ban Nua, Thailand to be held from 10 to 25 April, and annual International Workshop on Islamic-Based Development (WAPI-6) and International Conference on Islamic-Based Development (ICID) to be held in Medan, Indonesia on 21 to 27 April. 13 ISDEV fraternity will be involved in the former with the cooperation of ISWU of the Walailak University in Nakhorn si Thammarat, and more than 50 ISDEV fraternity will be involved in the later with the cooperation of Universitas Muhammadiyah Sumatera Utara and IPA-ISDEV of the Northern Sumatera. Simultaneously, deadlines for an assessment of an article for an international journal on management and a book manuscript on Islamic economics for a university's press also have to be met.

Alhamdulillah, by the grace of Allah SWT, all the above tasks were fulfilled and the last one, yesterday, was the Director's Tarbiyah delivered to ISDEV lecturers and graduate students in the ISDEV Monthly Graduate Supervision. The tarbiyah yesterday was on the third strength of ISDEV, that is the coordination in aqidah, shariah, akhlak, struggle, thinking, action and image.

All the above tasks were undertaken in the midst of daily visit to Universiti Sains Malaysia's Clinic for a wound-dressing after a minor operation, done the next day after arriving home from Istanbul.

However, many other tasks are still awaiting, including the writing of two papers on poverty and Islamic political economy for an international conference in Istanbul and another one for a conference in Rome, a Director's Speech to be conveyed at ISDEV Graduation Night 2013 on 11 April, the writing of a Keynote Address to be delivered at WAPI-6 and a main paper for the ICID, the examination of two PhD theses from two universities in the Klang Valley, an evaluation of a Master programme of another uinversity in the southern part of the Peninsular Malaysia, a revision of my edited book on the transformation of zakat, the writing of prefaces for five books (two on Islamic political economy written/edited by an ISDEV almuni to be published in Indonesia and three on zakat transformation edited by ISDEV lecturers to be published in Malaysia), apart from reading of four drafts of Master and PhD theses of my graduate students as well as their 23 working papers to be presented at WAPI-6 .

Oh Allah, please grant me with a joyful heart, spiritual and physical health, an ample time, and the ability to fulfill these tasks for the sake of You.

Monday, March 04, 2013


A little correction. There are prayer rooms at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul. I have just observed my zohor prayer at the lower level below the Millennium Lounge (like the MAS Golden Lounge) of the Departure Terminal.

However, I am not too sure whether there is also one at the Arrival Terminal. When we arrived the other day, the airport workers directed us to pray at the corner of the bagage claim area. Turkish passengers who arrived together with us also prayed there.

The prayer room (or mescid in Turkish language) where I observed my zohor prayer just now was quite crowded with passengers from many countries. Interestingly, it reminds me of the atmosphere in Mekah and Madinah. The scenary is more or less quite the same.

Indeed, the whole airport is full of passengers (like at the LCCT in Sepang with the exception of the LCCT's lower degree of comfortability) - majority of them are foreigners - reflecting how much Turkey has been a country of attraction now. Malaysians too, as in other countries, are one of the main groups of visitors to Turkey. Some of the shopkeepers at the Grand Market in Istanbul could even speak Malay, though a few words. One of them surprised me by shouting Malaysia Boleh! Another one at a shop near the Grand Market told me that (and mentioned the name of) a Malaysian female Deputy Minister is his customer. He tried to show me the photo of him with the Deputy Minister in his iPad.

I also recall that Islamic consciousness is evolving in Turkey, especially among the young.

Now I am leaving the Millenium Lounge of the airport to board for the flight to Kuala Lumpur. Pray for my safe arrival, InshaAllah.

Sunday, March 03, 2013


Alhamdulillah, the Workshop on Basic Concepts and Thought in Islamic Economics has been concluded about half an hour ago. It was a successful in-depth academic Workshop indeed.

Like ISDEV Workshops/Conferences, there was no ceremonial rituals either during the opening or the closing sessions, while presenters were given one hour each to present their papers, to listen to comments from appointed commentators, and to answer questions. Each paper therefore was discussed deeply. There were only 11 papers presented by 11 presenters selected/invited earlier through a competitive process. I was lucky to be one of them, Alhamdulillah. The participants were only around 100 people.

Though a relatively small and rather a closed Workshop, the accomplishment is tremendous. The Workshop revisited the basic concepts and thoughts of Islamic economics according to its theme, and discussion on the accommodative approach of the mainstream Islamic economics versus alternative approach that rejects the accommodative approach has become one of the concentration of the interesting discussion in the Workshop.

All the papers, I was told by the organizer, will be published in the form of a book in the coming Summer (August 2013), with translation in Turkish language, InshaAllah.

God willing, I will be here again in Istanbul in September this year to participate in the 9th International Conference on Islamic Economics and Finance, organised by Islamic Research and Training Institute of the Islamic Development Bank and the Qatar Foundation, InshaAllah.


Alhamdulillah, I have just completed my presentation at the Workshop on Basic Concepts and Thoughts in Islamic Economics, for which I am here in Istanbul, Turkey now. The Workshop is co-organised by  IGIAD, ILKE and ILEM - three important NGO's in Turkey - since yesterday till today.

Amongst distinguished scholars present are Prof Masudul Alam Chodhury from Sultan Qaboos University (Oman), Pofessor Abdelrahman Yousari Ahmad from University of Alexandria (Egypt), Professor Asad Zaman from International IslamicUniversity (Pakistan), and Professor M. Fahim Khan from University of Defence (Pakistan).

The title of my presentation is "Concepts in Islamic Economics Revisited: The Case of Poverty". It aims to explore the use of the western-ethno centric concept in Islamic economics with special reference to the concept of poverty. As in the case of many other concepts in Islamic economics, the concept of poverty suffers from an absence of an Islamic redefinition.

Although Islamic institutions such as zakat and awqaf are espoused to be an effective means in alleviating poverty, the very concept of poverty itself has not been redefined according to Islamic teaching. Subsequently, there arises a phenomenon where the institutions are essentially Islamic, but the concept of the problem to be solved, in this case the poverty, is not. The accomplishment of the endeavour is measured through the eyes of the undefined concept.

In consequence, the accomplishment, if there is any, entails with two unfavourable circumstances, that is firstly, a strengthening of the western-ethno centric economic system instead of Islamic system; and secondly, the establishment of a western-ethno centric-cultured society instead of Islamic society. This paper deliberates on these issues through three main points of discussion. Firstly, a discussion on the necessity to use Islamically redefined concepts in Islamic economics; secondly, a discussion on the redefinition of the Islamic concept of poverty; and thirdly, a discussion on the implications of the Islamically redefined concept of poverty on the endeavours in poverty alleviation.

The presentation Alhamdulillah was well-commented and accepted. Professor Asad Zaman strengthen my presentation by analogising Muslims that advocate the accommodation of western ethno-centric ideas like the ones who are trying to take something from the poor, as if that they are unaware of the richness found in Islam itself. Professor Abdulrahmen Yousari Ahmed - who is one of the pioneers of modern Islamic economics, together with Prof Khurshid Ahmad, Dr Umar Chapra, M. A. Mannan, etc - regards my presentation as a pioneering attempt in understanding poverty through a material-spiritual integration. Indeed I am surprising to know from him that my presentation is in fact the first of such an attempt in the circle of Islamic economics. Alhamdulillah.

I am leaving for Malaysia tomorrow, InshaAllah.

Friday, March 01, 2013


Today, just recovering at the hotel from the tiredness of yesterday's Istanbul city tour. However, the mind does not rest. At breakfast, lunch and dinner at the hotel, I have great discussion with Professor Masudul Alam Choudhury of the Sultan Qaboos University in Oman (my D.Phil internal examiner at Oxford twenty-two years ago, who gave me a pass to my thesis without any correction, and to some extent stimulated me to establish what is known today as ISDEV, or Centre for Islamic Development Management Studies).

The discussion ranges from academic thinking and writing to world politics and idelological clashes within the circle of Islamic economists. He is a brilliant analytical scholar and in a high standard of intellectualism indeed.

One pertinent emphasis he stresses repeatedly is the need for what he terms as 'pivot' for all Muslim scholars to possess. The pivot is the Tawhidic epistemology and worldview. Once one is having the pivot, thinking and writing become easy. It shapes the ideas and mould the writing in whatever areas one is specialising in. The thinking too has to be in continous manner, all the time, with passion and strong committment.

This is actually what has been attempted at ISDEV though in a quite different way of expressing and accomplishing it. The course on Islamic Epistemology and Tasawwur for Master students is definitely one of them. The other is the need to establish a coordinated school of thought at ISDEV as I have stressed in several ways to ISDEV fraternity. Islamic disciplines at ISDEV, be it In Islamic-based development, or in Islamic political economy, or in Islamic asset management, or in management of Islamic institutions, or in a near future in Islamic service management, all have to emerge from within Islamic mould, deconstructing any mould that is exogneous to Islam. This is the school of thought that what Professor Choudhury refers to as the 'pivot'.

The interesting discussion with Professor Choudhury has become a sort of pre-workshop discussion, before we embark on a relatively formal discussion at the real workshop tomorrow.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Just landed at Istanbul Atartuk International Airport with ISDEV Deputy Director Dr Zakaria Bahari yesterday morning at about 0545. Observed fajr prayer at a corner of the airport's baggage claim area. There were 3 prayer mats. Ablution was done at the rest room nearby. There is no proper praying room at the airport.

Fetched by a travel agent provided by the organiser of the Conference we are participating, safely check-in at Green Park Hotel in Merter, have a little rest, observed zuhr prayer at a mosque nearby and had a lunch with Turkish Kebab at a stall outside the mosque.

Today we were guided by Mervan, a third year Islamic economics student of Istanbul University appointed by the conference organiser, to the historic Blue Mosque (where we observed our Zuhur prayer), Aya Sophia, Space Market and the tomb of the Companion of Rasulullah SAW, Abu Ayub al-Ansari. We took tramp and buses to the destinations, as well as walking quite a distance. The temperature was 6'C. It is winter now in Turkey.

Istanbul is just like other cities in other parts of Europe. It is a modern city with urban facilities and population divided generally into two, firstly those who are already conscious of Islam, and secondly, the other with secular lifestyle. At the prayer place at the Airport, for instance, we encountered two young men belonging to Said Nursi Bediozzaman movement, while outside the airport we witnessed quite a number of women smoking (may be Turks, or may be others from other countries). While on the tramp on our way to the Blue Mosque today, a guy sitting beside me was reading the Qur'an. He is an Hafiz - memorising the whole Qur'an from a madrasah in Istanbul itself, and now working as a graphic designer. On our way back to Merter, there was a couple kissing in front of us in the tramp, reminding me of similar lifestyle of young couples in England and Europe. Our Islamic conscious guide Mervan leaves it to his parents to choose a wife, for to him, it is haram to have a free social life before marriage, while other youngsters, according to him, are having lovers before marriage.

However, Islam seems to be reviving in Turkey, and the authority, I was told, is keen of it, Ahamdulillah.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Alhamdulillah, by the grace of Allah SWT, another ISDEV PhD student passed his viva this morning with flying colours. This time is the turn of Heri Kusmanto, who writes on Islamic-Based Civil Society in Indonesia: Political Accommodation and Democratization of Muhammadiyah and Al-Wasliyah in North Sumatera. He is supervised by Dr Mohammad Zaini Abu Bakar and myself.

The Board of Examiners unanimously recommended his thesis to be nominated for Outstanding Thesis Award. He is the 10th ISDEV PhD students that have achieved such a flying colours, Alhamdulillah.

As the normal tradition of ISDEV, prior to the viva, Heri Kusmanto went through a thorough mock viva  at ISDEV yesterday. Then before the viva this morning, ISDEV lecturers and students gathered at USM Mosque to perform solat-ul-hajat for Heri Kusmanto, to seek the help of Allah SWT in positioning Heri Kusmanto in the benefit of himself and Islam. If his PhD is good for him and Islam, ISDEV appeals to Allah SWT to pass him. But if it is otherwise, ISDEV appeals to Allah SWT to fail him, so that he is safe from the punishments in the Day Hereafter. After a hard work in producing an excellent thesis, ISDEV leaves it to Allah SWT to decide for the best for Heri Kusmanto. Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT has answered ISDEV's appeal by passing him.

The viva was concluded with a thankful khenduri (feast), as usual.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


My apologies. The deliberations on Kelantan and Besut experiences as promised have to be defered a  little bit. I am at De Plama Hotel in Shah Alam at the moment, since yesterday, attending a meeting for Selangor Zakat Council (LZS) to redefine the beneficiaries (asnaf) of zakat for contemporary needs.

To ensure that the redefinitions are within Islamic teachings, they will be forwarded to Selangor Fatwa Council for further deliberations and approval, and eventually realised by the Selangor Zakat Council.

As the redefinitions are still in progress, hence confidential, I could not mention them here. What I could say at this stage is the interesting widening of the definitions to fulfill the contemporary needs of the beneficiaries (asnaf), within the context of contemporary socio-economics problems.

If these redefinitions are approved by the Selangor Fatwa Council, I anticipate an innovative mechanism in maximising the benefits for the asnaf in Selangor. As one of the leading zakat instutitions in Malaysia, Selangor Zakat Council is receptive of any innovation, including the one on decentralisation of zakat management we proposed earlier, which is now already in staggered execution, Ahamdulillah.

Friday, February 15, 2013


As promised, here is a little contemplation on Kelantan politics.

During my trip to Kelantan early this week, I came to understand some simple reasons why pro-PAS Kelantanese are not in favour of the present Federal Government. These reasons were reflected during a dinner at my friend's house, a retired teacher, who hailed from Besut but now living in his wife's hometown in Kelantan. He is not a PAS member, but very keen of Islam, hence in favour of PAS as PAS is viewed as more Islamic than UMNO.

Some of the reasons are as follows:

1. The Prime Minister is not capable of ruling Malaysia. He could not even educate his wife to wear a proper Islamic dress, especially her headgear (tudung).

2. In the history of Islam, the higher the authority one is having, the poorer he is. Unlike many UMNO members who become richer with the authority they hold, the present Kelantan Chief Minister lives in a relatively poor condition.

3. When do the Prime Minister and his Deputy actually work? They are always on the move at the moment, campaigning for UMNO and Barisan Nasional on the pretext of attending formal programmes at all levels.

4. Could the UMNO Chief Minister of Kelantan-to-be recites a prayer (doa) if UMNO wins the 13th General Election? Does he really know and practice Islam? The Kelantanese want an Islamic knowledgeable and practising Muslim leader to manage the State.

5. The Federal Government is depriving Kelantanese by denying Kelantan's right to have petroleum royalty. Instead, the royalty is channeled to the Federal-controlled State's Federal Development Department (Jabatan Pembangunan Persekutuan, JPP) in the form of Wang Ehsan. Though it is for the Kelantanese, it has been used for the benefit of UMNO's political mileage. Such a dissatisfaction is apparent on the road in Kelantan where many cars are having the stickers "R", meaning royalty.

The five reasons may seem to be simple, but they have great impact on the Kelantanese mind, hence their votes. If UMNO is really interested in getting Kelantan, it has to address these reasons seriously.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


On request of all my children to have a family retreat outside Penang during the Chinese New Year holidays, we headed for Kelantan last Saturday with a view to come back to my hometown in Besut after that.

During the 5 days in Kelantan and Besut, we enjoyed and learnt a lot of things, from foods to shopping, friendship, effects of tourism, and development politics. The most interesting was the mind set of Kelantanese towards Malaysian Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional which I think should be taken seriously if Barisan Nasional were to take over Kelantan. Secondly was a layman's theory of development, including the destructive effects of tourism on indigenous culture and lifestyle.

Bringing home all the lessons from Kelantan and Besut, we will be leaving for Penang early tomorrow morning, InshaAllah. God willing, I will jot down the notes on the Kelantanese mind set and the layman's development in subsequent postings, InshaAllah.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Alhamdulillah, by the grace of Allah SWT, two writings of mine have been recently appeared in The Brunei Times (Brunei Darussalam) and The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society (USA).

The one in The Brunei Times entitled "6 Challenges of Islamic Economics", appeared in two series on the 5th and 6th February 2013 ( It is the revised version of my speech at the International Conference on Islamic Economics and Economies of the OIC Countries held in Kuala Lumpur recently. It stretches out the challenges faced by contemporary mainstream Islamic economics related to its framework, concepts and methodology used, system and society established, and scholars of Islamic economics themselves.

The other one in the The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society entitled "Spirituality and the New Form of Poverty Management", appeared in Volume 2, Issue 2, 2013 ( It is the revised version of my paper presented at  the Second International Conference on Religion and Spirituality in Society, organized by The Religion and Spirituality in Society Community, at Robson Square, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada from 20-22 February 2012. It expresses the idea that when spirituality is included in the management of poverty, the target group becomes selective as not all could be rich as well as not all could be poor. The determinant factor is the soul. Those with rich soul (high faith, iman) have the choice to either becoming rich or poor while those with poor soul could not be rich but need the most help to overcome their poor soul and their poverty. The meaning of the rich and poor soul is deliberated in this paper.

Monday, February 04, 2013


Alhamdulillah, what a relief. After 4 days concentrating fully on the writing of a paper for a conference in Istanbul, Turkey end of this month, I eventually completed and safely sent it to the organiser today. It was quite a tough task indeed because prior to this, my work schedules were very tight and not much time was available to really concentrate on the writing. I could only fully concentrate on it after coming back from the Islamic Economics Conference in Kuala Lumpur last Thursday.

The writing reminds me of some of the stories told to me at the Islamic Conference in Kuala Lumpur last week. A participant told me how a lecturer at his former university easily put his (the lecturer) name as the first author on works done by his (the lecturer) students, although his (the lecturer) contribution is almost nil. The other told me that he puts the names of his three supervisors as co-authors of his paper as one of them finances his participation in the conference through a research project, although the field of one of them is not economics.

Such a free-riderism too, I believe, happens to many in contemporary academic world elsewhere. Many papers, including in the Kuala Lumpurs' Conference last week, contains more than one author. The possibility of the involvement of free-riderism could not be ruled out. This is what I always remind ISDEV fraternity to avoid of. I know how hard writing a paper is. Putting name without contributing to the writing is unfair and sinful indeed.

One may argue that he puts his name as a supervisor that gives the writer his idea, and edits the writing. But is it not the task of a supervisor to do so? Authorship comes not only with ideas and editing, but also with the writing part itself.

However, such a case sounds a little better than many cases whereby names are put as authors of a writing without having to contribute not even ideas or editing. The name is included just because of power. A participant of a conference in Indonesia about two years ago told me that he was given leave for the conference by his superior with a request that he includes his (the superior) name as one of the authors of the paper. I also know about such a  case after delivering a lecture at a workshop on academic writing at a University in Malaysia last year.

I am worrying indeed, how could a learning-teaching institution produce well-mannered people for the  benefit of the ummah and human beings if the integrity of the members of the community inside it is at stake. Excelling the institution with fake accomplishment such as the publications suffering from free-riderism for the sake of merely fulfilling KPI is actually bamboozling the public.

Oo authorities at all levels, please look into this syndrome of free-riderism prevailing in the circle of yours!

Friday, February 01, 2013


In my speech at the 2nd International Conference on Islamic Economics and Economies of the OIC Countries the day before yesterday, I highlighted six challenges that have been faced and are still facing by contemporary Islamic economics.

They relate firstly to the Islamic economics framework (worldview); secondly to the unredefined western ethno-centric concepts used in Islamic economics; thirdly to the research methodology adopted in Islamic economics studies; fourthly to the extent of Islamic system established out of the execution of Islamic economics policies; fifthly to the ability to establish a real Islamic society from the implementation of Islamic economics programmes; and sixthly to the knowledge-practice dichotomy of the Islamic economics scholars themselves.

The gist of my speech is as follows.


Muhammad Syukri Salleh
Centre for Islamic Development Management Studies (ISDEV)
Universiti Sains Malaysia, Pulau Pinang
Tel: +6 04 6532656       +6 017400 2866


First of all, let me confess that my field of specialization is not in pure Islamic economics. Mine is in Islamic-based development, while my research interest is in Islamic political economy. My apologies if what I am going to say is not right according to the field of Islamic economics.

As all of us may agree, after decades of its introduction, Islamic economics has undoubtedly grown rapidly. But the growth is not a challenge-zero growth. Definitely Islamic economics has faced, and is facing, and likely to persistently face, challenges.

In this presentation, I would like to point out 6 challenges that I have observed, which I think, simultaneously, need further research. They may appear very basic and simplistic, but I think they are important.

The challenges are firstly pertaining to the philosophical framework of the Islamic economics itself; secondly, to the undefined western ethno-centric concepts used in Islamic economics; thirdly to the conventional research methodology that has been adopted in Islamic economic research; fourthly, to the development of the strength of Islamic system that could have been accomplished out of the realization of Islamic economics; fifthly, to the construction of Islamic society entailing from the execution of Islamic economics; and sixthly to the knowledge-practice dichotomy of the Islamic economic scholars themselves.

In a nutshell, the challenges relate to the framework, concept, research methodology, system, society, and the scholars of Islamic economics. The deliberations on these six challenges are as follows.

1.             Framework

In the first challenge that relates to the framework, we witnessed the growth of the accommodative-modification and methodologic eclecticism approach that eventually shapes the current mainstream Islamic economics as a fiqh-based neo-classical economics. We have compromised on the usage of the western ethno-centric framework and elements embedded in it, based on a stance that it is alright to be so as long as it does not contradict Islamic shari`ah and aqidah. So far this issue seems to be quite settled.

But in contemplation, it is still worth revisiting, for is it true that the western ethno-centric framework and elements which were adopted into Islamic economics do not really contradict Islamic shari`ah and aqidah? The answer could be positive if it is considered merely at operational level, as many do. But if epistemological and philosophical levels are taken into account, the answer might be different. This proof may lie in the deeds of Rasulullah SAW himself. Rasulullah SAW used to adopt some of the practices inherited from jahiliyah such as tawaf (circumbulation), marriage, zihar, qisas, inheritance, buying and selling, karam concept, war, social relationship, slavery and ‘aqilah. However, as found by Mohd Shukri Hanapi (2012) through his historiography study, they evolved only around their names and terms, while the structures and its roots have been reconstructed by Rasulullah SAW based on Islamic aqidah, ibadah and akhlaq.

In other words, the practices may look similar at operational level, but the whole worldview (tasawur) of the practices is different when they are based on Islamic epistemological and philosophical underpinnings, forming a new kind and meaning of the practices.

So is the case of Islamic economics. The stance that is in favor of the adoption of the western ethno-centric framework and elements into Islamic economics has to be revisited and re-contemplated. Could the western ethno-centric elements embedded in the western ethno-centric framework be called Islamic when their epistemological and philosophical underpinnings are different? The answer is definitely not. The other pivotal question is why could not an Islamic economics be constructed from within Islamic epistemological and philosophical underpinnings based on Islamic tasawwur (worldview) itself? The answer could only be given after a systematic and serious research.

2.             Concepts

In the second challenge, we observed a widespread use of western ethno-centric concepts in Islamic economics. The concepts have been used arbitrarily without redefining them according to Islamic teaching. Poverty for instance has been accepted in its original conventional form, despite the usage of Islamic institutions such as zakat and awqaf to alleviate poverty. So are the other concepts such as justice, growth, development, consumer behavior, civil society, quality of life, wealth management, asset management, corporate social responsibility, et cetera. The indicators used to measure their accomplishment are still the conventional indicators, not Islamic indicators. In consequence, the output or the end products of the so-called Islamic endeavor are judged according to the conventional definition, not to the Islamic definition.

The redefinition of all concepts in Islamic economics according to Islamic teachings therefore, to my opinion, should become one of the major projects for research. It is definitely unfair for us to highlight the importance and effectiveness of Islamic economic instruments, but basing the arguments on the concepts according to the exogenous western ethno-centric definitions.

3.             Research Methodology

The third challenge Islamic economics is facing relates to the research methodology that has been used in Islamic economics. In almost all cases, we have been using conventional research methodology, not an Islamic research methodology. In so doing, the scholars of Islamic economics are trapped within anti-dogmatic, value-free, and merely scientific modes of enquiries of the conventional research methodology.

It is definitely illogical to study about Islam and Muslims using such an exogenous research methodology. Moreover, the conventional research methodology also suffers from a lack of tools of analysis. Its tools of analysis are meant only for the tangibles, not the intangibles, hence the emphasis on the “scientificity” of the findings per se. Efforts in understanding Islam and Muslims to the best therefore confines only to the efforts in “tangiblizing” the intangibles through a process of all sorts of quantification available in the conventional models and formulas, or through proxies that are considered able to reflect the so-called real socio-economic and political realities.

Worst still, the conventional research methodology that is born out of the western social sciences is actually endangering the aqidah of the Muslim researchers. The anti-dogmatic nature of the conventional research methodology questions all the dogmas of Islam; the value-free stance of the conventional research methodology direct or indirectly insists us to detach ourselves from our Islamic values in the name of objectivity; and the scientific nature of the conventional research methodology locks us up with observable matters while direct or indirectly denying us from the mechanisms prevailing in the unseen world.

In such a situation, it is high time for scholars of Islamic economics to construct an Islamic research methodology for the purpose of studying Islam and the Muslims. Such an effort has yet to become a serious endeavor in the real sense. Undoubtedly, there are already dispersed writings on the critiques of conventional research methodology and on the deliberations on the philosophy of Islamic research methodology, but a concrete construction of systematic Islamic research methods and techniques is much to be desired. This is another area that I think needs an urgent further research.

4.             System

The fourth challenge relates to the question on how far the realization of Islamic economics has actually strengthened the Islamic economic system. In fact, the earlier espousal of the Islamic framework, redefinition of concepts, and adoption of Islamic research methodology actually aims to ensure a strengthening of the Islamic system. This is based on the observation that the execution of Islamic economic theories and policies seem to have not been adequately strengthened the Islamic system.

In contrary, the endeavors of Islamic economists in actuality have been directly or indirectly strengthening the western ethno-centric system because of their western ethno-centric framework and undefined concepts, as well as because of the adoption of the conventional research methodology. For instance, zakat and awqaf have been said to be able to alleviate poverty, but the concept and theoretical framework of poverty themselves have not been deconstructed. Entrenched in them are still those of the western-ethno centric concepts and theoretical framework. In consequence, the alleviation of poverty through zakat and awqaf are confined to profit-oriented capitalistic commercialization, hence strengthening capitalism instead of the Islamic system.

It is therefore probably not unfair to conclude that Islamic economics so far has not been able to establish a strong economic system, let alone in prescribing solutions to economic problems such has been raised by western economists themselves. Perkins (2006) for instance has exposed the problems of the maneuvering of the first world’s economic hit men. There is also the issue of `false economy’ as has been exposed by Beattie (2010), that leads certain countries to decide their path to be found later on that it is wrong. Also there is a challenge of a rather more open and tactical economy as put forward by Harford (2011) which suggests that in order to build up a rich and rapidly growing country, one has to fight scarcity power and corruption, correct externalities, maximize information, get the incentives right, engage with other countries, and most of all, embrace markets. The Islamic economics so far has not been seen addressing such an issue as yet.

In short, a revisit to the impact of Islamic economics on the establishment of an Islamic economic system vis-à-vis the dominant liberal capitalist system is necessary. There is a huge room for research in this area.

5.             Society

Another challenge, the fifth one, pertains to the establishment of Islamic society out of the realization of Islamic economics. How far the target groups of the Islamic economics become more Islamic than before?

Observations have shown that the society that is developed out of the execution of the so-called Islamic economics system does not differ much from the exogenously cultured society, characterized by merely consumer and producer-oriented behavior. So was the society that has been developed by contemporary utilization of zakat and awqaf and halal institutions, for instance. These institutions as well as the institutions relating to Islamic finance and banking, in reality have not so far contributed much to the development of a real Islamic society that is characterized by Islamic lifestyle. Instead, some members of the society related to these institutions could be said to have been characterized more by capitalistic and profit-seeking attitude rather than the Islamic attitude.

Research on how could an execution of Islamic economics entails with an establishment of a more Islamic society therefore is pertinent.

6.             Islamic Economic Scholars

The sixth challenge, lastly, is the challenge posed by the scholars of Islamic economics themselves. Undoubtedly, some scholars have successfully come up with in-depth and high quality knowledge of Islamic economics. But to what extent the knowledge is being practiced by them?

The possibility of seeing an Islamic economic scholar suffering from a knowledge-practice dichotomy is not difficult. One who writes on Islamic consumer behavior for instance is not necessarily the one who consumes on the principle of wasatiyyah  (moderation). So is the one who writes on Islamic economic ethics is not necessarily unethical-free; the one who writes on tazkiyah an-nafs (self-purification) is not necessarily free of evil attributes; et cetera.

So far, some researchers have studied the thinking of some Islamic economic scholars, but rarely a study has been undertaken on the behavior of these Islamic economic scholars. It is high time, I think, to balance the study by relating the thinking of the Islamic scholars with their behavior, so as to allow a fair analysis that could really contribute to the sacredness of Islamic economics.


Those are the six challenges to contemporary Islamic economics that to my opinion necessitates attention, hence further research. If these challenges could be faced successfully, the Islamic economics that we endeavor to uphold to its peak would become a reality, InshaAllah.