IAIS Malaysia’s Events and Achievements in 2021

IAIS Malaysia started the year by hosting a forum entitled ‘The Emergency Ordinance 2021: Multiple Perspectives on Health, Economy & Politics’ on 19 January. The forum looked into the effectiveness of government lockdown policies, particularly on the dilemma of striking a balance between public health and the economy. Speakers were Prof. Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod (AIKOL IIUM), Prof. Dato’ Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman (Faculty of Medicine UM), Dato’ Dr Madeline Berma (SUHAKAM), and Prof. Dr Mohd. Azizuddin Mohd. Sani ( UUM).

On 21 January, a webinar entitled ‘Ethical Finance & Green Economy’ was organised in collaboration with the Centre for Market Education (CME). Highlighted issues included the latest business practices in ethical finance and policy recommendations to accelerate the implementation of green economic practices. Invited speakers were Dr Camelo Ferlito (CEO of CME), Dr Consilz Tan (Xiamen University Malaysia), Prof Dr Maria Alejandra Madi (Green Economics Institute, UK), and IAIS representatives Dr Mohamed Azam and Dr Mahbubi Ali.

Moving to 11 February, the forum ‘Biden’s Presidency: The Future of US Foreign Policies in the Middle East and the Muslim World’ focused on the policy prospects of newly inaugurated President Biden on immigration, Palestinian human rights, Iran’s nuclear situation, and US-Muslim relations in general.  The forum was jointly organised with JUST World, Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organization (MAPIM), and Maqasid Institute Global USA—featuring Dr Chandra Muzaffar, Dr Zaid Barzinji (Executive Director, Maqasid Institute) and Haji Mohd. Azmi Abdul Hamid (President, MAPIM),

On 18 February, the forum ‘Harmony Week: An Interfaith Dialogue on Religious Response to COVID-19 in Malaysia’ delved into the role of religious leaders and actors in addressing new challenges posed by the pandemic. Panellists were Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz (ABIM), Dato’ Dr Ir. Ang Choo Hong (Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia), Jason Leong (Christian for Peace & Harmony in Malaysia) and Gowri PS Thangaya (Malaysia Hindu Sangam).

On 21 February, the first of a two-part forum on ‘Islamic Law in Malaysia’ under the banner ‘Usrah Ilmuwan’ was jointly organised with Nadwah Ilmuwan, Wadah Percerdasan Umat Malaysia (WADAH), ABIM, National Association of Malaysian Muslim Students (PKPIM), and Interactive Muslimah Association (IMAN). The second part of the forum was held on 4 April. The case of Rosliza Ibrahim was the primary focus in the first forum, and the Iki Putra case in the second. Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil represented the Institute in both forums.

On 25 March, a special roundtable discussion (RTD) on ‘Islam, Radicalism, Extremism in the Age of Pandemic’ was held, featuring SAC Azman Omar (Assistant Director, Bukit Aman Special Branch, PDRM). Other panellists include Prof. Dato. Dr Mohammad Hashim Kamali (Founding CEO, IAIS Malaysia), KH Yahya Cholil Staquf (Secretary-General, Nahdlatul Ulama), and Dr Ahmad El-Muhammady (ISTAC-IIUM).

As the month of Ramadan approached, the Institute organised two thematic webinars: ‘Introducing Children to Ramadan’ by Dr Nurul Ain Norman (Research Fellow, IAIS Malaysia) on 19 April; and ‘Konsep Tauhid & Ibadah Puasa Para Nabi Sepanjang Zaman’ by Prof. Dr Solehah Yaacob (IIUM) on 22 April. In the former, it was emphasised that Ramadan is a formative educational experience for children, while in the latter, the genealogy of fasting among the Prophets and its significance was the primary focus.

On 20 May, following the latest developments in Gaza and the West Bank, a forum entitled ‘The Israeli Assault on Palestine: Between Violence, Politics, and International Justice’ was organised. Featuring HE Walid Abu Ali (Palestinian Ambassador to Malaysia) as the guest of honour, other panellists included Dr Chandra Muzaffar (JUST), and Dr Hafidzi Mohd. Noor (MyCare).

On 22 & 23 June, the Institute organised its annual Online Research Camp for Academic and Public Policy which offered training on producing high-quality academic writings and newspaper op-eds; formulating policy issue papers; writing using the Oxford style; and managing academic references in Islamic studies.

On 24 June, a forum entitled ‘Melaka Kingdom: Myth & Facts’ was held in collaboration with IIUM. Presenters were Dr Alex Wain (IAIS Malaysia) and Dr Mohamad Firdaus Bin Mansor Majdin (IIUM). The discussion revolved around the historicity of Sejarah Melayu and how it has impacted the study of Malay history in general.

On 12 July, a forum entitled Wanita dan Cabaran Era Pandemik Menurut Perspektif Islamwas organised, delving into the roles and challenges faced by women during the pandemic, and the Islamic input on the subject matter. The discussion featured Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sharifah Hayaati Syed Ismail (APIUM), Prof. Dr. Saedah Siraj (UPSI), and Dr. Kartini Ilias (UiTM Puncak Alam).

On 22 July, a forum entitled ‘Israel’s Attempt at Naturalization in Nusantara’ was jointly organized with ISTAC and MAPIM, discussing the imminent challenges and opportunities in facing Israel’s normalisation campaigns in the Nusantara, particularly given the latter’s rich cultural, religious, political, and historical background. The forum featured Prof. Dr. Azyumardi Azra (Syarif Hidayatullah UIN Jakarta), Haji Azmi Abdul Hamid (MAPIM), and Dr. Ahmad El-Muhammady (ISTAC- IIUM).

On 5 August, a forum entitled ‘‘Poverty Porn’ vs Misi Kebajikan & Kemanusiaan: Membangunkan Integriti & Profesionalisme NGO Islam Bertaraf Antarabangsa’ was held. Guest speakers were Prof. Dato’ Dr. Mohd. Izhar Ariff Mohd. Kashim (Deputy Dean, Faculty of Islamic Studies UKM), Ustaz Azhar Abdul Shukur (Chairman, EZ Group of Companies), and Dr. Ahmad Sani Araby Bin Abdul Alim Araby (MAPIM).

On 12 August, a forum entitled ‘Zoo and Animal Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic’, featuring Dr Muhammad Danial Felix Bin Abdullah (Former Deputy Director, Zoo Negara) and Noorzakiahhanum Binti Mohd Noh (Senior Assistant Director, PERHILITAN) highlighted in detail the funding and logistical concerns faced by zoo operators during prolonged pandemic lockdowns.

On 30 August, the Institute’s annual international Forum Kemerdekaan was organised in collaboration with Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Hadhari Global Foundation, and Malaysia Youth Council (MBM). Under the theme of national unity during pandemic recovery, the forum featured several distinguished profiles from Malaysia and Indonesia: YBhg. Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar (President, The Malaysian Public Health Physicians' Association), Prof. Dr KH Said Aqil Siraj (Ketua Umum PBNU Indonesia), Dr Mohamed Azam (IAIS), Eddin Khoo (Founding Director, KITA) and Jufitri Joha (MBM).

On Malaysia Day, 15 September, the ‘Forum Hari Malaysia 2021: Perpaduan Dalam Semangat Keluarga Malaysia’ was organised with ABIM. Focusing on the topic of unity under the newly introduced ‘Malaysian Family’ concept, guest speakers include prominent Malaysian figures such as SS Datuk Hj. Bungsu @ Aziz Bin Jaafar (Mufti of Sabah), Prof. Emeritus Dato’ Dr Teo Kok Seong (KITA, UKM), Dato’ Dr Madeline Berma (SUHAKAM) and Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz (ABIM).

On 30 September, a forum on Learning Loss di Malaysia - Memahami Isu & Mencari Solusi was organised in collaboration with Majlis Profesor Negara (MPN). The panellists were Prof. Dato’ Dr Raduan Che Rose (President, MPN), Assoc. Prof. Ts. Dr Muhammad Helmi Norman (UKM) and Mrs. Puan Nor Hainei Abu Bakar (Tokoh Guru Kebangsaan 2020). The forum tried to find the best solutions to overcome learning loss during the pandemic through efficient cooperation between multiple parties and the creation of parallel systems in teaching and learning.

Moving to 4 October, a forum entitled ‘Systems Thinking and Its Necessity in Managing the Pandemic Crisis’ was organized to shed  light on the necessity of resorting to systems thinking in tackling the pandemic  and how the approach might resonate with the teachings and principles of Islam. The speakers were Assoc. Prof. Dr Ridhwan Fontaine (Kulliyyah of Economics, IIUM) and Dr Mohd. Izhan Mohd. Yusoff (Consultant in Analytics, TM Berhad).

On 5 October, a webinar entitled ‘Islam on Futures Studies’ was organised, featuring two prominent Muslim scholars in the field of futurism, Prof. Tan Sri Dr Mohd. Kamal Hassan (Honorary Advisor, CENTRIS, IIUM) and Datuk Dr. Daud Bakar (President, IIUM). Discussions focused on the pressing issues facing humanity, which includes the looming environmental and global crises; suggesting the urgent need for serious thinking and planning for our future informed by Islamic values.

On 12 October, a regional RTD between Malaysia and Australia entitled ‘Preparing for COP26: Curbing Carbon Emission by Governments, Civil Society & Individuals’ was held in collaboration with Better Futures Australia; Australian Religious Response for Climate Change; Multifaith Association of South Australia; and Islamic Thought, Legacy and Renewal Group. The prestigious event was officiated by Dato’ Seri Ir. Dr Zaini Ujang (Secretary-General, Ministry of Environment & Water Malaysia), and featured a series of RTDs between various international speakers and stakeholders.

On 16-17 November, the institute organized its inaugural ‘International Conference on Islam, Sustainability & Resilience (ICISR)’, featuring 13 paper presenters from different countries, and two prominent keynote speakers, namely Prof. Datuk Dr. Azizan Baharuddin (Honorary Professor, UM Centre for Civilisational Dialogue) and Prof. Dr. Tariqullah Khan (Department of Islamic Finance & Economics, Istanbul Ziam University). The officiating speech wasdelivered by YB Dato’ Sri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man (Minister of Environment and Water). The conference aimed to provide a platform for discussion on how Shariah could provide  solutions for ecological and economic sustainability, civilisational renewal, and educational sustainability.

On 25 November, the ‘Selangor Inter-Religious Dialogue Convention 2021’ was organised in collaboration with Majlis Perpaduan & Integriti Selangor (MPIS) and the Institute of Research & Development for Policy (IRDP). The convention was officiated by the State Secretary of Selangor and received opening remarks by YB Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (Unity Exco, Selangor) and Prof. Kamali. This convention featured two keynote speakers, Prof. Dr Syed Muhammad Khairuddin Aljuneid (Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore) and Prof. Dr Mansor Mohd. Noor (Institute of Ethnic Studies – KITA UKM), as well as eight panellists representing different religious communities. Underpinned by the spirit of mutual respect and consultation, this convention provided an interfaith platform to improve and promote interfaith harmony in Selangor.

Moving to 2 December, the ‘Regional Symposium on The Ethics of War & Humanitarian in the Perspective of Southeast Asian Ulama’ was organised in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Journal al-Jamiah of the State Islamic University (UIN) Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta. This symposium explored the key contributions of Southeast Asian Islamic scholars to humanitarianism and the philosophy of restraint in times of war. Prof Kamali delivered a keynote entitled ‘Islam and Peace’ for this event.

The Institute has also been a strategic partner for various high profile events at both local and international platforms: (1) The policy-oriented Noor Conference of Good Governance: Quest for the Future’ on 25 September by Noor Group featuring Dato' Dr Afifi al-Akiti (Kuwait Fellow in Islamic Studies, Oxford Centre), Datuk Dr Osman Bakar (Holder of Al-Ghazali Chair of Epistemology and Civilizational Studies and Renewal-ISTAC-IIUM), Muhammad Faisal (President, ABIM), and Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil (IAIS)); and (2) the international  GPM KL Conference on Afghanistan: Re-Emergence of a Nation’ on 26 September by Global Peace Mission (GPM) Malaysia and ABIM (keynote speech by Prof Kamali, and launched by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah).

Under the Institute’s Islamic Finance Talk Series (IFTS),  four events have been organised featuring leading  figures in the industry. Highlighted topics in Islamic finance and banking primarily focused on key issues in economic recovery planning during and after the pandemic. Two training programmes were also conducted,  ‘Understanding SUKUK from The Risk Perspective’ (1 April) and ‘Training on Waqf & Waqf-Based Islamic Financial Products’ (11-12 Nov).

In terms of publication, for the year 2021, IAIS Malaysia is pleased to report 58 titles in total. These include six issues of bi-monthly bulletins, three books, one policy issue paper (PIP), and two research briefs. The remaining two journals of Islam and Civilisational Renewal (ICR) came out in June and December. For op-ed articles, the Institute has contributed 44 titles to News Strait Times (NST), Berita Harian (BH), BebasNews, Media Indonesia, and other news platforms.

In sum, the Institute has successfully conducted 38 Dars@IAIS, 9 Research Fellow Seminar (RFS), 15 forums, 4 training programmes, 1 in-house training, 2 conferences, 1 international conference, 1 Round-Table Discussion (RTD), 1 regional RTD, 4 webinars, 1 convention, 1 symposium, 4 Islamic Finance Talk Series (IFTS) and 1 soft-launching of an international conference, making a total of 83 events.

Prepared by:

Muhd. Nur Iman Bin Ramli and Wan Naim Wan Mansor.

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