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Round Table Discussion on: Islamic Perspectives on Sustainable Development

Day/Date/Time: Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 09:30am

Venue: International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia

 RTD 25AUG2015

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The Round Table Discussion on Islamic Perspectives on Sustainable Development helped focus attention of leaders, stakeholders and scholars on critical issues related to Sustainable Development – from the regulatory, industry, NGO, and educational viewpoints. This event was chaired by Dr Daud Abdul-Fattah Batchelor, Head of the Science, Technology, Environment and Ethics unit of IAIS Malaysia.

The RTD highlighted on oft-neglected Islamic perspectives and its deep wisdom on Sustainable Development and man’s role as khalifatAllah (vicegerent) with responsibility to restore the eco-balance and well-being of the earth and its creatures and to ensure justice (‘adl). It gave emphasis to the worldwide crises which are impacting on climate, environmental pollution, and biodiversity and in socio-economic fields, partly due to weak governance. It outlined the human welfare objectives from Islam’s perspectives to be pursued in line with its unitarian tawhidic vision to realise human dignity.

The discussion identified key Sustainable Development issues in Malaysia (and other Muslim countries) and encouraged Islamic values; achieving balance (mizan), moderation (wasatiyyah), avoiding waste (israf, badhdhir), avoiding pollution (fasad), and protecting communal areas (hima), towards building the earth  (imarat al ard) and achieving the good life (hayat tayyibah).

IAIS invited four guest speakers for this event. The first speaker, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar (President of International Movement for a Just World) spoke on “Sustainable Development and Social Cohesion”. Associate Prof. Azila Bt. Ahmad Sarkawi (Kuliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design of IIUM) then presented on “People Friendly Urban Planning for Sustainable Development”. The topic for the third speaker, Prof. Gamini Herath (School of Business, Monash University Malaysia) was  “Water Management for Sustainable Development” while Mr. Ahmad Shaiful Alwi Md Nor  presented a paper entitled “Sustainable Development in the Framework of the Islamic Gift Economy” on behalf of Associate Prof. Dr. Adi Setia Md. Dom.


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On 25 August 2015, IAIS Malaysia organised a round table discussion with an interesting topic entitled ‘Islamic Perspectives on Sustainable Development’. The panelists were Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali (Founding CEO of IAIS Malaysia), Dr. Daud Abdul Fattah Batchelor (IAIS Malaysia), Dr. Chandra Muzaffar (President of International Movement for a Just World), Associate Professor Dr. Azilah Sarkhawi (International Islamic University Malaysia), Professor Gamini Herath (School Business of Monash University, Malaysia), and Mr. Ahmad Shaiful Alwi (on behalf of Dr. Adi Setia Md. Dom, IIUM). The objective of the discussion is to bring– focus the attention of leaders, stakeholders and scholars on critical issues related to sustainable development from the regulatory, industry, NGO, and educational viewpoints.

Professor Kamali in his opening remark highlighted the fact that the underpinning principles of Islam such as the oneness of God (tauhid), the higher objectives of Shari’ah (maqasid al-shari’ah), vicegerency of humankind (khilafah), and moderation (wasatiyyah) showcase Islam’s commitment towards sustainable development. Adding to this, Dr. Daud Batchelor enumerated the key principles of sustainable development from the Islamic perspective and values ranging from achieving balance (mizan), avoiding waste, avoiding pollution, protecting communal areas, building the earth (imarat al-‘ard) to achieving the good life (hayat tayyibah). He asserted that these values could underpin the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) model of sustainable development.

In explicating sustainable development as a process in which society remain salient, peaceful, and harmonious, Dr. Muzaffar proposed three dimensions of social cohesion which need to be preserved encapsulating economic, political, and cultural social cohesions. Selfishness, greed, and deviation from the right path of religion he contended, are the determining factors which disrupted social cohesion in contemporary Muslim societies.

On the functional aspects, Dr. Sarkhawi delineated the Islamic concept of urban planning whereby religion and religiosity need to be the prerequisite of city planning and the hallmark of urban life. Moreover, in Islamic urban planning, there are several other elements which need to be duly considered encapsulating Shari’ah rulings, climate constraints, local building materials, and socio-economic situation. Professor Herath maintained that since there is a forecast that in 2025, more than 3 million people will suffer from water scarcity, pre-emptive measure need to be taken at present. Mr. Alwi presented on the topic of ‘gift-economy’, an economic concept which is underpinned by two foundations’ premises, that natural and cultural resources in the world are abundant and that human material needs should be limited. He also presented on the pilot project of ‘gift-economy’ which has taken place in Cambodia to reform the farming industry of the locals therein. The presentation session was then followed by a lively question and answer session. [written by Ahmad Badri Abdullah]

Contact Information

International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia
Jalan Elmu, Off Jalan Universiti 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Tel: +603-7956 9188  Fax: +603-7956 2188 / +603-7956 2966
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