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.