Growing role of Islamic economics in spotlight

Saleh Kamel with other officials at the 35th Albaraka Symposium for Islamic Economics in Jeddah.

Saleh Kamel with other officials at the 35th Albaraka Symposium for Islamic Economics in Jeddah.

A number of key economic topics from the Islamic point of view are being analyzed at the two-day 35th Albaraka Symposium for Islamic Economics, taking place at the Jeddah Hilton.

The symposium, which opened on Saturday, encompasses the role of the state in business activities based on Islamic economic principles and the role of endowment in the development and fight against poverty and unemployment.

Saleh Kamel, chairman of the board of trustees, iqraa Waqf for Employment and Business Expansion, said: “This forum is not only for Islamic banking but also covers the entire gamut of Islamic economy.

“We have been talking about Islamic banking and finance for about 20 years. This year, we went back to its inception 35 years ago when we discussed everything within the framework of Islamic economics, including zakat and riba (interest), “ Kamel said.

According to him, Islamic banking rules are many. Muslims understand them better and they can give the humanity a good life, especially in the present tough days.

“For that, we need to start to talk about everything concerning them. Let us start the first meeting with masrafia alijabia (positive banking). This is one of the Islamic banking tools suggested. But, what we should also focus on is the responsibility of the state in Islam in the economic welfare for all, “ he said.

On Sunday, Kamel added, the symposium will focus on alwaqf.

“What has happened now is that alwaqf has disappeared in Muslim countries, while in the West most of the universities and research centers as well as human rights organizations are being run on the basis of alwaqf. But here (Muslim countries), it (alwaqf) has disappeared. Alwaqf is, in fact, the major part of Islamic economics.

“If we try to understand this, then the Islamic economy will develop for the benefit of all humans, not only Muslims,” Kamel added.

Riyadh Yousif Al-Rabiah highlighted the importance of positive banking where banks get their revenue out of the depositors _ money and not from people who borrow money. The people who borrow pay only the cost of the loan without any interest. This will keep them away from riba.

Abdulmohsen Al-Fares, CEO of Alinma Bank, said Islamic banks can play a positive role in economic development and employment creation.

Abdulaziz Al-Fozan, professor of comparative jurisprudence at the Higher Judicial Institute and board member of the Human Rights Commission, said a series of Islamic transactions are gaining acceptance in the Western countries, especially after the global financial crisis witnessed in 2008.

Al-Fozan stressed the need for enlightening individuals and Islamic financial institutions on the importance of social responsibility and social solidarity, and their position in the Shariah, and how to convince them to keep committed to these elements voluntarily without the need for the introduction of a binding law to this end.

Al-Fozan also called for drawing up clear-cut criteria for the assessment of the efficiency of financial institutions and their effective role in social responsibility and social solidarity.

Adnan Ahmed Yousif, board member and president & chief executive of Albaraka group, said that the group’s assets increased from $4.1 billion in 2003 to more than $21 billion currently. “Investment increased to around $160 billion whereas deposits reached $18 billion,” he said.

 

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