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.