IAIS Malaysia’s Achievements in 2019

IAIS started the year by hosting an international seminar entitled 'The Role of Religion in the Quest for Peaceful Coexistence' on January 15th. The prestigious seminar primarily sought to promote interfaith dialogue on Islam, Judaism and Christianity on peaceful coexistence. Prominent participant included Dr Chandra Muzaffar (President, JUST), Dr Mahmoud Vaezi (Director, Center for Advanced Studies, University of Tehran, Iran), Assoc. Prof. Dr Sarjit Singh Gill (Dept. of Social and Development Science, Faculty of Human Ecology UPM), Mr Mohd. Azmi Abd. Hamid (President, MAPIM), Dr Imtiyaz Yusuf (ISTAC-IIUM), Rev. Dr Sivin Kit (Director, Center for Religion and Society, Seminar Theoloji Malaysia) and Mr Uthaya Sankar SB (prolific writer and interfaith activist).            

On 19 January, the Institute, together with ARK (a halal certification company) and Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC), jointly organised a seminar entitled 'In-Depth Discussion on Indonesia's Mandatory Halal Law 2019'. The seminar was an excellent platform for Malaysian businesses to enter the Indonesian halal market and understand its relevant laws. Prominent speakers were Prof Ir Dr Sukoso Msc. (Head of Halal Product Assurance Organising Agency, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Republic of Indonesia), and Mr Shafie Shamsuddin (President Director and CEO, PT Trans Retail Indonesia).

On 21 and 22 February, the Institute conducted a 'Research Camp for Academic and Policy Research' to assist post-graduate students and researchers in conducting quality research. The research camp was conducted by IAIS Malaysia staff Prof. Dr Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Assoc. Prof. Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil, Dr Alexander Wain, Dr Mohammad Mahbubi Ali, Dr M. Rizky Prima Sakti, Dr Ahmad Badri Abdullah and Mohd. Fariz Zainal Abdullah.

On 25 March, IAIS Malaysia and the Department of English Language and Literature IIUM, in collaboration with the Secretariat of English Language and Literature (ELITS - IIUM), conducted a forum entitled 'Unlocking the Enigma of the Lord of the Rings'. This event discussed the hidden symbolism behind 'The Lord of the Rings', adding new meaning to a much-loved story. Taking place in the Kulliyyah of IRKHS, IIUM, the event featured Ms Buveneswary Vathemurthy (English Literature, UM), Dr David Tneh Cheng Eng (Dean, Faculty of Creative Industries, UTAR), and Dr Alexander Wain (Associate Research Fellow, IAIS Malaysia). The event also featured an ensemble of performance by IIUM's undergraduate students.

On 2 April, the Institute, in collaboration with MAPIM, JUST and Global Peace Malaysia (GPM), organised an important forum entitled 'Uyghur's Plight: Countering Extremism or Religious Discrimination?' The event explored the worrisome developments in Xinjiang from several perspectives. Among the topics covered were the possible factors leading to radicalisation and religious extremism, analysis on its impact on Malaysia's foreign policy, and the importance of public awareness on human rights issues in Xinjiang. The panellists were Mohd. Azmi Abd. Hamid (President, MAPIM), Dr Alexander Wain (Associate Research Fellow, IAIS Malaysia), Ahmad Fahmi Mohd Shamsudin (CEO, Global Peace Malaysia), and Hassanal Noor Rashid (Project Coordinator, JUST).

IAIS Malaysia held the ‘Forum Peradaban dan Keamanan Sejagat: Konsep Keamanan dan Keadilan Sosial Menurut Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah’ on 30 April. Focused on Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah’s thoughts on global peace and harmony, the event featured Nurul Izzah Anwar, MP, as keynote speaker. She also launched Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah’s latest Malay-translated book, entitled ‘Terorisme: Diagnosis dan Penyelesaian’.

On 30 May, IAIS Malaysia organised a seminar entitled 'Meet the Scholars: The Need for a Fiqh for Muslims Minorities in Western Communities and Maqasid Narrative - Developments so Far,' featuring IAIS Founding CEO, Prof Dr Mohammad Hashim Kamali, and Founder and Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Prof. Kamali delivered a talk on 'Maqasid Scholarship: Developments So Far' while Imam Feisal presented on 'The Need for a Fiqh for Muslim Minorities in Western Communities'.

On 16 August, IAIS Malaysia held a book launch and accompanying forum, 'Inaugural Book Discussion: An Intellectual Discourse on Islamic Law in Malaysia - Issues, Developments and Challenges'. The book, edited by Assoc. Prof. Dr Azam and Prof. Kamali, deals with aspects of Islamic law and practice concerning both Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia. Guest discussants were Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi (Holder of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Chair in the Law Faculty, UM), Prof Dato' Seri Dr Zaleha binti Kamaruddin (Professor, ISTAC IIUM) and Prof. Dato' Dr Ahmad Hidayat bin Buang (Professor, Department of Shariah and Law, APIUM).

On 26 August, IAIS Malaysia, in collaboration with Pertubuhan Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Pertubuhan Legasi Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (LEGASI), Fakultas Hukum Universitas Islam Malang (UNISMA) and INTAN Wilayah Tengah (INTENGAH), organised the 'Forum Bulan Kemerdekaan Malaysia dan Indonesia 2019'. This event focused on the shared histories of Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as the role that have been played by Islamic scholars towards independence in both nations. Prominent figures from both countries include Dato' Dr Mohd. Yusof Othman (Associate Principal Research Fellow, Institut Islam Hadhari, UKM), Mr Fahmi Amrullah Hadzik (grandchild of Hadrotussyaikh KH. Hashim Asy'ari, founder of Nahdatul Ulama), Datuk Dr Ahmad Murad Merican (Professor, ISTAC-IIUM), and Dr Kiai Hj Muhammad Hasan (Deputy Rector, Institut Agama Islam Negeri Madura, Indonesia). The forum also saw the signing of an MoU between IAIS Malaysia and the Faculty of Law, Universitas Islam Malang (UNISMA), Indonesia. The event was also attended by representatives from both governments; Pak Agus Badrul Jamal (political attaché of KBRI Malaysia) representing the Indonesian embassy, and Puan Nurriha Ahmad (chief Assistant Secretary, South-East Asia Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs) representing YB Dato ' Saifuddin Abdullah. 

From 27 to 29 September, IAIS Malaysia was among the 40 exhibitors at Karnival Rahmah 2019, held at Putrajaya Square. This mega-event was attended by approximately 100,000 visitors and was organised by the Prime Minister's Department, in collaboration with JAKIM and JAWI. It was officiated by the then Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, YAB Dato' Seri Dr Wan Azizah Dr Wan Ismail. Karnival Rahmah 2019 was held to realise and spread awareness on the concept of rahmah or compassion, which encompasses all regardless of race. Various activities were held throughout the carnival, such as the Forum Perdana, Murabbi Convention, Halal Fun Run, Children's Carnival, agency exhibitions and other activities.

On 15 October, IAIS Malaysia, in collaboration with the High Commission of Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur, MAPIM, MANAR, SHURA and PCOM, organised 'The Palestine-Kashmir Forum: The Struggle for Freedom and Self-Determination'. This international forum featured guests from various organisations, including Anna Baloch, Pakistan's High Commissioner to Malaysia, Ms Baloch's deputy, Atif Sharif Mian, and the Director of the Palestine Cultural Organization Malaysia, Muslim Imran. The forum reached a consensus; that the rights of Palestinians and Kashmiris for self-determination are legitimate demands that must be met and pursued further at the highest level. As such, the event concluded with a grand declaration, known as the 'Palestine-Kashmir Kuala Lumpur Declaration' which was signed and endorsed by 15 organisations including IAIS Malaysia, Alliance of World Mosques in Defence of Al-Aqsa; Muslim Minority Affairs Center; Justice and Development Organization, Cambodia; Al-Aqsa Working Group Indonesia; Council for Coordinating Humanitarian NGO Network Office of Sheikh Islam, Thailand and Persatuan Pengguna Islam Malaysia. The declaration, among others, noted that Kashmiris and Palestinians had to endure more than 70 years of occupation, denial, and violation of human rights by foreign occupiers. The declaration also demanded that all the Indian troops withdraw from Kashmir and return the territory to normality. On Palestine, the demand is that the right of return for all Palestinians must be rendered unconditionally. A key goal of this declaration is to galvanise support from the international community, especially Muslims, in defending the rights of Palestinians and Kashmiris. The declaration was presented to Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and various international institutions including the United Nations, non-governmental organisations, members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

On 19 October, the Institute collaborated with Harmony Malaysia to organise 'The 5th Annual Conference and Workshop: Education and Culture in Promoting Harmony and National Integration'. This conference was officiated over by YB Mujahid Yusof, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department. It featured distinguished panellists Prof Dato' Dr Teo Kok Seong (Institute of Ethnic Studies UKM), Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj (Chairperson, Parti Sosialis Malaysia), and Mr Anas Zubedy (Managing Director/Founder, Zubedy Sdn. Bhd.). This event centred on the need to enhance the current state of national unity and social harmony, which have seen various levels of deterioration of late.

On 24 October, the Institute collaborated with Alliance Francaise Kuala Lumpur to organise 'French Talk: In Conversation with Abdennour Bidar - Multireligious Societies in the 21st Century'. This international event featured the French philosopher and writer, Abdennour Bidar, who discussed the various challenges and opportunities facing a multireligious society, with particular reference to the French and Southeast Asian experiences. Bidar has been named part of The National Ethics Comity by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron. He also produced and presented a show on Islamic culture at the French national radio station, 'France Culture', for a year. As a writer, he has published several very successful philosophy books, like 'Self-Islam' or 'Islam Without Submission'. As a philosopher with a multireligious family background, Bidar offered unique personal insights on the topic of multireligious groups in society, its various solutions according to different context and place.

In November, IAIS conducted two Round Table Discussions (RTDs). The first, held in conjunction with a visit by Dr Adis Duderija and his students from Griffith University, Australia, was entitled 'How to Defeat the Clash of Extremisms: Civilisational Hybridity and Trust Building in the Multicultural West' (15 November). The second was held in collaboration with UNICEF, entitled 'Designing Sadaqah Models for Child Grant Project in Malaysia' (26 November). This event is part of a long term research project led by IAIS Malaysia on social welfare funding based on Islamic social finance platforms such as zakat and sadaqah.

On 3 December, the Institute also held its annual Islam and science conference, this year entitled 'Islam and Ecological Sustainability 2019'. This international event focused on the vast potential Islamic civilisation has to cultivate and enhance green practices in society, especially relating to water. The event was intended to spark collaborative partnerships between key stakeholders in the field. Its keynote address was delivered by YB Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa and featured S.S. Dato' Seri Dr Zulkifli bin Mohamad al-Bakri (Mufti of the Federal Territories), Prof. Dato' Seri Ir. Dr Zaini Ujang (Tokoh Maal Hijrah Kebangsaan 2019/UTM Chair Professor on Environmental Sustainability), Mr Fazlun Khalid (Founder & Director, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, UK) and Dr Kalithasan Kailasam (Manager of River Care Programme, Global Environment Centre – GEC). The objectives of this international seminar include: To identify Islamic concepts and principles that are in support of river and water protection; to elaborate the potential contribution of the Islamic civilisation to enhance green practices that relate to water and river; to analyse and evaluate initiatives taken by government agencies, corporate sectors, and civil societies in promoting water and river protection; as well as to ignite collaborative partnerships through exchanges of ideas and perspectives among essential stakeholders in the field of river and water protections.

IAIS Malaysia's final event for 2019 was a book discussion entitled 'Myth of 'Free Media' and Fake News in the Post-Truth Era,' jointly organised with JUST on 7 December. The guest speaker was Dr Kalinga Seneviratne, a Sri Lankan-born journalist based in Singapore. The book examined how traditional news media battles for relevance in the internet age.

Over the course of the year, IAIS Malaysia also conducted two internal Research Fellow Seminars (RFS). The first, held in June, featured Dr Shahino Mah and Dr Ahmad Badri Abdullah speaking about 'Embracing Intelligent Technology the Right Way', and 'The Many Challenges to the Nascent Halal Vaccine Initiative' respectively. The second, held in October, saw Dr Daud Batchelor speak on 'Exploring the Significance of Cultural and Religious Factors in Domestic Violence and Divorce for Muslim Immigrant Australians'.

In 2019, IAIS Malaysia also organised three events under its Islamic Finance Talk Series (IFTS). The first, 'Bringing Vision and Strategy to Life: Malaysia's Sustainable and Responsible Investment Growth Story', was presented by Mohd. Razuan Tajuddin, an Islamic Finance Consultant for ZICO Shariah (20 August). The second, 'Islamic Economics as a School of Economics', was delivered by Assoc Prof Dr Ugi Suharto from the University of Buraimi, Oman (5 September). The last, by Mohammad Ridzuan Abdul Aziz, President of the Fintech Association of Malaysia, was on 'Transitioning Islamic Economy via Technology and Innovation: Key Elements and Impacts' (4 November).

In terms of publications, throughout 2019 IAIS Malaysia has produced four titles for its Policy Paper Series, one Occasional Paper, and four Research Briefs, all on a variety of topical subjects. Two issues of our journal, Islam and Civilisational Renewal, were also published (in June and December), in addition to six IAIS bulletins throughout the year. There were also 26 titles published by IAIS Malaysia staff and research fellows in our regular NST column.

Overall, 2019 has seen IAIS Malaysia thrive in its mission to educate and supply the public with reliable Islamic research on various aspects of civilisational renewal. In sum, the Institute successfully conducted two international seminars, one local seminar, two public lectures, two roundtable discussions, nine public forums, two research fellow seminars, two public events, three Islamic finance series talks, and one training session, making a total of 24 events.

Prepared by: Nur Iman Ramli, Conference Unit.

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