Achievements in 2014

IAIS Malaysia’s Achievements in 2014

2014 has been a year full of trials and tribulations for many Muslims around the world, not forgetting the series of surprises and tragedies befalling Malaysia and its people. Malaysians under leadership of the government have been spirited and united for the sake of peace, good livelihood and mutual respect. Indeed man is in a state of loss, as the Holy Qur’an says, “Verily man is in a state of loss, except those who believe, and those who enjoin upon one another truth and enjoin upon one another patience,” (Al-‘Asr: 2-3), if he or she no longer believes in the mercy of the Almighty and stops striving for the truth or forsaking patience in his or her actions. IAIS Malaysia went through the year sharing every sense of sorrow felt by the citizens of Malaysia, trying best to raise the knowledge of Islam and expose its potentialities for self-improvement of Muslims and the state of our relations with other civilisations.

IAIS Malaysia arrived at the beginning of 2014 with several plans for international conferences and programmes. The Institute started the year with a two-day International Conference on Shariah Objectives (Maqasid al-Shariah) in Muamalat and Contracts. The conference was co-organised with the Securities Commission of Malaysia, Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM) and International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA). It was a major success with close to 200 participants and good attendance in sessions.  The conference programme addressed issues related to maqasid al-shariah in the ever-expanding sector of global Islamic banking and finance.  The programme was well received by both world renowned academicians and experts in Islamic banking and finance, as well as seasoned practitioners and regulators in the industry.  

The second international conference organised by IAIS Malaysia was the International Conference on Developing Synergies between Islam and Science & Technology for Mankind’s Benefit held on 3-4 October. IAIS Malaysia along with six other collaborators cooperated for a busy and highly successful two-day conference programme wherein 37 papers were presented in parallel sessions. The conference also attracted internationally-renowned keynote and invited speakers and specialists in the field of Islamic Science.  Conference collaborating institutions included the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), International Institute of Muslim Unity (IIMU), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Universiti Malaya (UM), Sultan Omar Ali Saifudeen Centre for Islamic Studies (SOASCIS), Brunei, and the National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies (NCEIS), Griffith University, Australia. The conference was multi-themed covering many aspects of the relationship between religion and science with a special focus on ethical issues in bio-ethics and biotechnology.  Leading conference speakers suggested that this conference provided a sound base for IAIS Malaysia to continue with a second in a series of conferences on Islam and Science & Technology in the future. Selected papers are planned to be published as a book of Proceedings by Springer publishers.

Conferences and seminars at IAIS Malaysia have not only attracted prominent scholars but also dignitaries and distinguished guests ranging from royalty, top government officials, ambassadors, high commissioners and important members of local and international organisations. In February 2014, IAIS Malaysia had the honour to host former Chief Justice of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad for a public lecture on Hudud law in Malaysia in the wake of the announcement that the government of Brunei had passed the law to introduce hudud and qisas in the oil-rich nation. The event drew much public attention and resulted in fruitful engagement from various stakeholders. Then in April last year, IAIS Malaysia hosted a special public lecture on ‘Peace Making Efforts Among ASEAN Nations’ by the former Secretary General and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, H.E. Emeritus Professor Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, a renowned Muslim academic and expert in international politics and champion of peace building. He delivered a most interesting lecture that was enlightening and very well received.  IAIS has transcribed it and it is due to appear in our flagship journal, Islam and Civilisational Renewal.

No stranger to IAIS Malaysia, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf presented on ‘Constructing an Islamic Government and Rule of Law Index’ with much interest from the audience in April 2014. IAIS Malaysia as an international think tank plays a significant role in addressing issues relating to Muslim minorities especially in the region. In this connection, IAIS hosted in November 2014 Professor Dr. Johan Galtung, holder of the Tun Mahathir PGPF Chair for Global Peace at the Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws (AIKOL), IIUM, who spoke on conflict resolution between Muslims and Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Further, IAIS Malaysia also organised programmes with a focus on gender studies and women affairs. A public lecture by Miss Ni’mah Nawwab on Women and Youth in Saudi Arabia enlightened the audience with gender and youth issues in Saudi Arabia in April. A one-day seminar was also held at IAIS in May on Women and Leadership in Islam hosted together with Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia, which featured IAIS Malaysia’s CEO, Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Associate Professor Dr. Raihanah Abdullah and Datin Paduka Che Asmah. Another one-day seminar on Gender and Islamic Legal Reform featuring Dr. Rumee Ahmed and Dr. Ayeesha Chaudhry from the University of British Columbia, Canada was held at IAIS in December.

IAIS Malaysia also had the honour of hosting Professor Dr. Muhammed Haron from Bostwana who spoke on ‘Muslim Higher Education in the Southern African Region’. On a separate occasion Professor Dr. Suleyman Derin from Marmara University, Istanbul spoke on Sufism. Both of these were interesting and informative and generated considerable interest among the audience. Continuing on what has been developed in previous years with regard to youth and activism, IAIS Malaysia together with the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) organised a workshop in May 2014 on ‘Maqasid al-Shariah: Youth and Civil Societies: Issues and Challenges’ with Dr. Jasser Auda, a specialist  in the study of maqasid from the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies. Earlier, in February 2014, the Institute also collaborated with Al-Maghrib Institute in organising a talk at IAIS by Shaykh Abu Eesa Niamatullah on understanding the role of Muslim youth in facing modernity and contemporary challenges.

Another highlight of the year for IAIS was to organise an eight-day programme for Shaykh Hamza Yusuf from Zaytuna College, USA. This programme demanded detailed preparations and work with various parties involved and required all staff of IAIS Malaysia to work extra hours. This was also the first time the Institute organised a fund-raising dinner which was a successful exercise. The response from the public was tremendous. Up until the very last minute arrangements after arrangements were made to ensure the success of the programme. And thanks to Allah all went well. This programme was co-organisedwith An-Naqiy Foundation with the additional involvement of other higher education institutions.  Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s visit was successful and so encouraging that it may be repeated in future. His emphasis on addressing the challenges of the contemporary world with knowledge and a better understanding is in line with IAIS Malaysia’s focus on civilisational renewal in all its programmes and publications.

Apart from hosting lectures, seminars and conferences, IAIS Malaysia also had three book launches, the first of which was on Islamic Transactions and Finance: Principles and Developments, edited by Mohammad Hashim Kamali and Sheila Ainon Yusoff, jointly published with the Current Law Journal (CKJ). The second was on Wasatiyah Dalam Al-Quran dan As-Sunnah, a translation of Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali’s original work in English, Moderation and Balance in Islam: The Qur’anic Principle of Wasatiyyah. Translated by Tan Sri Dr. Syed Hamid Albar, the book was officially launched by the Minister of Communication and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. The third book launch was of Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr. Osman Bakar’s book, Islamic Civilisation and the Modern World: Thematic Essays, which was followed by a public lecture by the learned author. It was a full house event at the IAIS Conference Hall.

There has been a significant reform in the organisational structure of IAIS Malaysia. The Institute’s Board of Directors appointed former Prime Minister, Y.A.Bhg. Tun Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi as the new Chairman of IAIS Malaysia. This is a very important occasion for the Institute and all staff of IAIS Malaysia as it will further enhance the profile of the Institute and improve the relationship of IAIS Malaysia as an independent think tank with government organisations and policy makers of the country. The Senior Management of IAIS Malaysia also revised and revamped the research structure of the Institute to better reflect its vision and mission. IAIS now has five research units (compared to six in the earlier setup) namely: 1) Shariah, Law, Governance and Halal Studies, 2) Civilisation, Interfaith, Peace and Security, 3) Economics, Finance, Zakat and Awqaf, 4) Science and Technology, Environment and Ethics, 5) Education, Culture and Arts.

Other sectors in the Institute enjoyed their own success.  The IAIS Malaysia Publication Unit managed to produce 4 quarterly journals as usual and the IAIS Bulletin on Islam and Contemporary Issues is regularly published bimonthly. The institute also recently published a book of essays on sukuk, entitled Islamic Finance: Issues in Sukuk and Proposals for Reform edited by Professor Kamali and Abdul Karim Abdullah, jointly published with the Islamic Foundation, UK. This is an important work consisting of essays by a number of scholars and industry specialists from different parts of the world, one which rightly belongs to the list of important references if not a textbook on the subject. IAIS’s Publication Unit has been exerting its capabilities to the maximum within its own limited resources and is looking forward to expand its activities and come out with many other titles in the coming year. The IAIS Library keeps on expanding with its new look in 2014 after the completion of major renovation and refurbishment work in the previous year; it is now targeting to become a special library focusing on collections of materials on reference books with special focus on maqasid al-shariah and policy studies. The IAIS Library also established relationships with other major libraries such as the IIUM Library and INCEIF Knowledge Management Centre. All other units in the administrative structure of IAIS Malaysia have always performed their best for the success of the Institute through harmonious engagement and open discussion for collective decision making that benefits all. IAIS Malaysia and its staff have been living with the spirit of ‘enjoining upon one another truth’ and ‘enjoining upon one another patience’ in togetherness throughout 2014. It has definitely been one of the most memorable years in the history of IAIS Malaysia. May Allah shower His Mercy and Guidance on all of us for everlasting success in future.

Prepared by:
Mohd Fariz bin Zainal Abdullah
Head, Administration and Human Resource Division

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