Kuala Lumpur, 26 July 2023 – INCEIF University is honoured to host Dr Omar Suleiman, one of the most eloquent scholars in our time, on campus today. He delivered a public lecture on `Islam and Inequality: What economics and finance can do from an Islamic perspective’.
Dr Omar, who was on a speaking tour in Malaysia, is the Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research in Texas, and a Professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Methodist University, US. His research and writing focused on a wide range of topics related to Islamic theology, spirituality and contemporary issues.
INCEIF University Chairman of the Board of Directors Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, in his Opening Remarks at the lecture, said the challenges facing the economics and financial world currently could be summarised around inequality – in all its manifestations be it income wealth, opportunities, access etc. – and sustainability in terms of over excess.
“We do live in financial times. A lot of things are financialised,” Tan Sri Azman said. Therefore, finance was just as important as technology, politics and others. Right at the core was faith, and how do we make the link between the (Islamic) faith with its message of just, fairness & inclusion, and these important elements in our lives, he added.
In his lecture, Dr Omar said the (financial & economics) systems had become more complex over time, but if one were to analyse the simple rules and civilizational values which transformed that particular society at that particular time, the take-away lessons transcended events and time. Scholars were able to look back in time at the original context of the incident as reference when making their pronouncements.
Citing a hadith by Prophet Muhammad SAW, “Whoever deceives us is not one of us”, Dr Omar said we should look at the primary modes of deceptions which existed today within finance, contracts and transactions. “How do we start to rework those so that the receiving end is less susceptible to being manipulated or exploited. Just as we often resort or deferred to the aims of Maqasid Al Shariah to promote certain types of welfare and well-being, it is also important to look at incidents of prohibition in the spirit of why these prohibitions happened.”
Dr Omar said it was indeed a financial world. “We have to think in deeper ways of where specifically that we are able to demonstrate superiority of the Islamic ethics in specific areas, akin to the acupuncture method of treatment where we target specific points to heal specific problems. When you are able to demonstrate the beauty of Islam in certain areas, perhaps you can provide a more beneficial and wholesome model as (viable) proof to people around the world. The objective minds can appreciate every prohibition in Islam, and its legislation,” he added.
Reducing poverty, inequality and exploitation are at the heart of Islamic finance and economy.
Citing hadith scholar Imam Nawawi’s writing on poverty, Dr Omar said: “Muslims should be just as dedicated to eradicating poverty in the world as they are to eradicating khufur (disbelief) in the world.”
A Muslim should strive to eradicate the material evils such as poverty and inequality as these evils could lead to, “all sorts of spiritual evils detriments,” he added.
Dr Omar also took questions from the audience, both on-site and online. Among the on-site audience were Securities Commission Malaysia Chairman Dato’ Seri Awang Adek Hussin, former Minister of Finance II Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop and Mrs Nurul Izzah Anwar, Co-head of the Secretariat to the Advisory Committee to the Finance Minister.
For the full lecture, click https://shorturl.at/cfuTU