Adopt Islamic economics: Jeddah conference


"We are here to review what we have achieved so far in promoting Islamic economics and to discuss ways of tackling future challenges," said Professor Khurshid Ahmad, chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies in Pakistan and winner of the King Faisal International Prize for Islamic Studies, at the opening of the International Islamic Economics Conference at King Abdulaziz University (KAU) in Jeddah.

He added: "Islamic economics has been accepted as a discipline in its own right. What we need today is to apply it on a massive scale to solve the problems of Muslim societies as well as humanity at large."

He stressed the need to use the resources of the Ummah for the welfare and progress of the Muslim community.

Renowned economists, business leaders, bankers and researchers from around the world – including the US, the UK, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Australia and New Zealand – are taking part in the event.

Professor Abdelhamid Brahimi, director general of the Maghreb Center for Islamic Studies in London, highlighted the potential role Islamic economics could play in alleviating poverty in the Muslim world. He called for its implementation and urged Muslim governments to take the lead.

Brahimi, along with Ahmad, is supervising a five-volume, 5,000-page encyclopedia project on Islamic economics. "This encyclopedia will have a tremendous impact," he insisted.

Dr. Abdullah Turkistani, director of the Islamic Economic Research Center at KAU, the event’s main organizer, expressed pleasure that around 1,000 delegates from different parts of the world were attending the event.

"We received 200 research papers from leading experts to present at the conference, out of which we selected 30. These papers are being distributed among delegates in book form," he added.

Turkistani said the conference would strengthen the relations between academics in the field and the private sector. "We hope the conference would help evolve a strategic vision for future research in Islamic economics," he said.

Dr. Umar Chapra, chief researcher at the Institute of Islamic Research and Training Center of the IDB and a winner of the King Faisal International Prize, described the conference as significant, saying it would lay down the path for the future of Islamic economics.

He emphasized the moral and humanitarian dimension of Islamic economic system that makes it different and more appealing. "Islam is a blessing for mankind and solving economic problems is one of its main goals," Chapra said. He added that the subprime mortgage problem in the US was caused by excessive lending without considering the risk factor.

"If banks and other financial institutions in the US had shared the risk like Islamic banks, the problem would not have erupted. The risk factor will make banks review the project before giving loans," he added.

Chapra admitted that Muslims had failed to market Islamic economics properly. Despite that fact, it is gaining wide popularity as a result of its intrinsic quality. The presence of Nagaoka Shinsuke, a doctoral student of Islamic economics from Japan’s Kyoto University, at the conference was an example.

Shinsuke developed interest in Islamic economics being a critique of capitalism. He said many professionals in Japan have lately shown interest in Islamic banking, adding that the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) was eager to provide the service.

The three-day conference will examine the findings of numerous studies in Islamic economics to counter challenges posed by the modern world and help poor Muslim countries develop their economies. It will also study the obstacles facing research in the discipline.

Dr. Najatullah Siddiqui, winner of King Faisal Prize for Islamic Studies and author of several books, was one of the keynote speakers at the first session that focused on 30 years of research in Islamic economics.


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