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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Israel rebuffs call for Gaza truce

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - Israel on Wednesday rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and stepped up preparations for a possible ground offensive after Hamas's long-range rockets hit another major population center.

Israeli aircraft carried out more than 10 air strikes in sharply reduced operations in rainy weather that allowed many Gaza residents to venture out to shop for food for the first time since the start of Israel's five-day-old offensive.

The poor weather -- "a truce imposed by God" as one Palestinian put it -- could delay any push by Israeli tanks into the territory. Forecasters predicted several days of clear skies starting late on Thursday.

U.S. President George W. Bush spoke by phone to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert but did not discuss a timetable for halting Israeli strikes, the White House said. Bush put the onus on Hamas to stop firing rockets as a first step to a truce.

Foreign pressure has grown on both sides to end hostilities, but Israel brushed aside as "unrealistic" a French proposal for a 48-hour truce that would allow in more humanitarian aid for Gaza's 1.5 million residents.

"If conditions will ripen and we think there will be a diplomatic solution that will ensure a better security reality in the south, we will consider it. But at the moment, it's not there," an aide quoted Olmert as saying.

"We didn't start this operation just to end it with rocket fire continuing as it did before it began," Olmert said, according to the aide. "Imagine if we declare a unilateral ceasefire and a few days later rockets fall on (the town of) Ashkelon. What will that do to Israel's deterrence?"

Olmert made the remarks -- which did not rule out a ceasefire in the future -- to his security cabinet.

Hamas, for its part, said it was prepared to study proposals for a ceasefire so long as it "will bring an immediate cessation to the aggression and lift the siege entirely," senior official Ayman Taha said, referring to Israel's blockade of the Hamas-ruled coastal territory.

With Palestinians increasingly enraged over the offensive, President Mahmoud Abbas called for the fighting to be stopped "immediately and without any conditions" and said Israel was "fully responsible" for the carnage. Abbas will ask the U.N. Security Council to act, aides said.

Diplomats said the deadliest conflict in the Gaza Strip in four decades appeared close to a tipping point after four days of air strikes that have killed 393 Palestinians, at least a quarter of whom, U.N. figures showed, were civilians.

Along the heavily-fortified border fence, Israeli tank crews prepared for battle while Islamist militants, hiding as little as a few hundred yards (meters) away, laid land mines and other booby traps should a ground war break out.

Inside Gaza, many residents ventured outside their homes to stock up on supplies, taking advantage of a lull in Israeli air strikes that have turned Hamas government buildings into piles of rubble.

Some children played happily in the rain, as one parent remarked they were finally able to run free after what he called days of "house arrest."

Despite calls by European and Arab powers for an end to the violence, public anger in Israel over the widening of the rocket attacks to include Beersheba, 40 km (24 miles) from Gaza, could prompt the government to hit Hamas even harder.

Israeli officials said they were open to amendments to the French proposal and alternatives being put forward by international parties.

Cabinet ministers, however, approved the mobilization of 2,500 army reservists, expanding on an earlier call-up of 6,500 soldiers for the garrison on the Gaza border, and officials said a ground offensive was an option.


Israel said it was doing its part to let humanitarian supplies into Gaza despite the rocket fire. Ninety-three truckloads of food, medicine and blood for hospitals entered on Wednesday, defense official Peter Lerner said.

Arab foreign ministers met in Cairo to seek a common position in response to the Israeli attacks, but the Arab world is deeply divided in its attitude toward Hamas, which took over the Gaza Strip last year after fighting a brief civil war with the secular Fatah faction loyal to Western-backed Abbas.

The diplomatic moves coincided with an escalation in Hamas rocket fire deeper inside Israel.

At least four of the longer-range Grad rockets hit Beersheba, the city Israel calls the capital of the Negev, its southern region. One struck a school that was empty. Municipal authorities had canceled classes after rockets landed in Beersheba on Tuesday evening for the first time.

Other long-range rockets hit the southern coastal city of Ashkelon. Dozens of short-range rockets pelted border towns.

Israel's air strikes on Wednesday targeted smuggling tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt frontier and Hamas government offices in Gaza City. Palestinian medics said four people -- two militants, a doctor and a paramedic -- were killed.

Food supplies in Gaza were running low and power cuts were affecting much of the territory. Hospitals were struggling to cope with the high number of casualties from the offensive.

Medical officials revised the number of wounded to 1,650 after figures arrived from medical centers that had not reported their casualty statistics earlier. Three Israeli civilians and a soldier have been killed by rockets.

Olmert's centrist government launched the operation six weeks before a February 10 election that opinion polls predict the opposition right-wing Likud party will win, with the goal of halting rocket attacks by militants in Gaza.

The current violence erupted after a six-month ceasefire brokered by Egypt expired on December 19 and Hamas intensified rocket attacks from the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.

France said it would host Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Thursday and an Israeli official said French President Nicolas Sarkozy planned to visit Jerusalem next Monday.

(Additional reporting by Adam Entous, Ari Rabinovitch and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem, Wafa Amr and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah, James Mackenzie in Paris and Alaa Shahine in Cairo; Writing by Adam Entous and Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Charles Dick)


The Islamic International Arab Bank commenced its banking operations in accordance with Islamic Sharia rules on the twelfth day of Shawal 1418 AH, corresponding to 9 February 1998, to meet the growing demand for Islamic banking services and products.

The Islamic International Arab Bank was established in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as a public shareholding company in accordance with the companies Law of 1989 and the company was registered in the Register of Public Shareholding companies under No. 327 on 30 March 1997.

The Islamic International Arab Bank's Vision : To be the premier Islamic financial institution in the Arab world.

Islamic International Arab Bank (IIAB)Islamic International Arab Bank (IIAB)has sponsored & launched two new Sharia'a compliant funds, the IIAB Islamic Mena Fund and the IIAB Sukuk and Murbaha MENA Fund. The Investment Manager/ Investment Advisor to both these funds is Al Arabi Investment Group Ltd (AB Invest).

The IIAB MENA Fund is an open ended investment vehicle, incorporated and registered in the Kingdom of Bahrain, subject to the rules and regulations of the Central Bank of Bahrain. IIAB has sponsored the Fund with US$5 Million. The Fund's objective is to achieve long-term capital appreciation through investing predominantly in a diversified basket of listed and unlisted equities in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA), whilst adhering at all times to the Sharia'a principles as monitored by the Fund's Sharia'a Board. The Fund is also listed on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange as the IIAB MENA Feeder Fund which Arab Bank has seeded with a further USD 5Million.

IIAB has also launched the IIAB Sukuk & Murabaha MENA Fund which is a medium-term, low risk vehicle with particular focus on Sukuks, Murabahas & Sharia'a compliant cash transactions. The Fund is listed on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange and was seeded by IIAB with USD 5 Million.

AB Private Banking, the wealth management arm of the Arab Bank Group will be distributing these funds to their clients thus increasing their investment product range in the conventional as well as Islamic Finance arena with innovative products with a regional focus .

Ghassan Bundakji, General Manger of AIIB said the launching of Islamic investment funds by AIIB is in line with growing demand by clients for Sharia'ah compliant investment tools.

Bundakji explained that the fund will be investing in activities and instruments that are sanctioned by the Islamic Sharia, in line with resolutions and recommendations set by the funds Sharia'ah board that monitors its activities.

IIAB considered one of the prominent Islamic banking institutions in Jordan, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arab Bank Plc. They commenced their banking operations in accordance with the Islamic Sharia'ah in February 1998.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Why Saudi is banking on long-term success

by Joanne Bladd
Any pretence that the middle east is immune to the world's credit crisis evaporated last week following Saudi Arabia's announcement that it expects to post a budget deficit of $17.3bn in 2009 - its first in more than five years.

Word from the Kingdom's ministry of finance that government expenditures were budgeted at $126.6bn for fiscal year 2009, while total revenues sit at $109.31bn, is hard proof - were it needed - the world's largest oil baron is feeling the chill of falling barrel prices.

For critics of the Kingdom's mega-projects, the news adds fuel to speculation that the liquidity freeze could restrict Saudi's sprawling growth plans.
Flush with oil revenue in recent years, the Kingdom has diligently smoothed the path for foreign investment through widespread expansion in infrastructure.

As with Dubai, the scale of the plans, anchored in the promise of foreign finance, were met with questions over their long-term viability. And to a degree, it seems the detractors were right.

With foreign investors now a rare breed, a string of Saudi's infrastructure plans have been left wide open to the slowdown. Adding salt to the wound are falling oil prices and a shift to a more conservative attitude among Saudi businesses, the impact of which is starting to show.

Progress on King Abdullah Economic City, the $27bn jewel in the crown of Saudi's 10x10 plan, has already fallen behind schedule while its developer, Emaar, searches for financing.

That the project, a key component in Saudi's bid for a diversified economy, is struggling to attract private investment, is a sign to many that Saudi's star is on the wane, and must raise serious questions over the viability of the remaining five economic cities.

But rumours of Saudi Arabia's slowdown are premature. Simply, its projects are too big for the government to allow them to fail. In contrast to the debt-to-asset ratio crippling certain Western governments, Saudi holds an estimated $433bn in net foreign assets, and a $157bn budget surplus - a late "liquidity gift" from the days of $147 a barrel prices.

It's hardly overleveraged. And the ministry of finance has been quick to state that large-scale projects "that ensure sustainable development... [and] more employment opportunities" will be first in the queue for supplementary funding.

The fast-tracking on Riyadh's King Abdullah Financial District and the announcement by Modon, the government's industrial development arm, of the launch of a further four industrial cities is evidence of this. Rather than fiddling while Rome burns, Riyadh has sent a clear message it has no qualms about dipping into its reserves to cushion the immature private sector, now the credit crunch has come calling.

Appropriately for the holiday season, Saudi's government is learning that charity begins at home. Whatever the cost, the domestic wheels will keep turning because Saudi Arabia has its eyes on a bigger prize - economic diversity.

Source :

Israel vows to continue war on Gaza

Israel has warned that the onslaught in the Gaza Strip could last for "weeks" as the fourth consecutive day of aerial attacks targeted several Hamas government buildings.

Around 350 people have been killed, many of them civilians, and local hospitals have warned they are unable to cope with any more casualties.

Palestinian medical workers said at least 10 people had died in the latest raids on Tuesday, with security guards and civilians among those killed.

But Israel said there would be no let up until the threat of Palestinian rockets attacks from the Gaza Strip had been removed.

"There is no room for a ceasefire," Meir Sheetrit, Israel's interior minister, said.

"The government is determined to remove the threat of [rocket] fire on the south.

"Therefore the Israeli army must not stop the operation before breaking the will of Palestinians, of Hamas, to continue to fire at Israel."

Four Israeli citizens have been killed by missiles fired from Palestinian positions since the offensive began on Saturday.

Military preparations

The Israeli army has been massing infantry and armoured forces along the border amid increasing fears that a ground invasion is planned.

Matan Vilnai, Israel's deputy defence minister, said the military "has made preparations for some long weeks of action".

On Monday, areas of the border were declared "closed military zones" and thousands of reservists have been called up by the Israeli military.

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Gaza City, said that there was little the residents of the strip could do to prepare for any possible ground assault.

"In a city that is so densely-populated, a ground offensive would mean urban warfare, street-to-street fighting ... leaving many Palestinians in the crossfire," he said.

"Unlike other conflict zones where there is the possibility to flee the war zone, Gaza itself has become the war zone. There is nowhere for the population to go, they are in the middle of all these attacks."

Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary-general, has added his voice to calls for an end to the violence.

Speaking at UN headquarters in New York on Monday, he said both sides should end the fighting and said regional powers should do more to help resolve the crisis.

"All this must stop," Ban told a press conference.

"Both Israel and Hamas must halt their acts of violence and take all necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties. A ceasefire must be declared immediately. They must also curb their inflammatory rhetoric."

Hamas blamed

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, said the Israeli offensive was aimed at Hamas and not the Palestinian people, urging civilians to leave for safer places away from places close to Hamas infrastructure.

"We tried to avoid this. You know that Israel accepted the truce that was initiated by the Egyptians in order to create peace and quiet. We adopted the truce. What we got in return? We got in return daily attacks, we got in return smuggling of weapons to Gaza Strip with long-range [capabilities]," she said.

Support for Israel came from the US, with the White House saying Hamas must halt cross-border rocket fire.

"In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable ceasefire," Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman said.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Indonesia dan New Zealand to resume FTA talks in March

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The negotiation on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Indonesia and New Zealand is expected to be resumed in March 2009 after the signing of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA agreement in February, 2009.

"We hope that the negotiation could be resumed soon after the signing of ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTAB. Hopefully it could be done in March," Director General for International Trade Cooperations of the Trade Ministry Gusmardi Bustami here on Saturday.

Gusmardi denied allegation that there had been such a tension between the two countries which caused a cancellation of the negotiations concerned. "It is not true there is no friction. We have agreed to continue the talks between the two countries` trade ministers."

According to him, the follow up negotiation between the two countries would focus on the details of agreements ever made by the two trade ministers.

In the meantime, ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA launched in November 2004 will expire at the end of this year.

In the agreement, Indonesia will scrap import duty for 10,397 post tariff or 93.17 percent of the total post tariff as of 2009 till 2020. As many as 645 others are to have their tariff lowered, while other 117 will be subject to an exception.

Australia will abolish all kind of import duties from ASEAN as of 2009 till 2015 and at least 91,77 percent of the total post tariff will be lowered in 2009-2010 period, while New Zealand will remove 97,4 percent of the total post tariff at a stage of 80 percent in 2009 and 90 percent in 2012.

During the negotiation, Australia will target the opening of Indonesian automotive products, while New Zealand will open beef market and diary products.

For automotive, Indonesia will render a different treatment between Australia and Japan. The agreement on automotive sector with Australia will take into account the agreement between Indonesia and Japan.

"Little bit different, because what is asked by Australia like passenger car we have to allow it in 2020 and not in 2018 like that with Japan," Gusmardi said.

Indonesia asked the two countries to accelerate the abolition of tariff for textile product and garment which is currently standing in a range of 5 to 17.5 percent from 2009 or 2010 for Australia and 7.75 to 19 percent for New Zealand starting 2017 or 2018.

In addition, Australia also provided an investment in agribusiness to review and arrange the capacity of development working programs as well as to push an investment in meat sector and diary products.

New Zealand also offered a facility like the sending of 100 Indonesian workers under a working holiday scheme, job opportunity for 100 cooks, 20 slaughters for halal certified meat and 20 teacher assistant for Indonesian language.


Kotak Mahindra is one of India's leading financial conglomerates, offering complete financial solutions that encompass every sphere of life. From commercial banking, to stock broking, to mutual funds, to life insurance, to investment banking, the group caters to the financial needs of individuals and corporates.

The group has a net worth of over Rs. 6,184 crore, employs around 20,000 people in its various businesses and has a distribution network of branches, franchisees, representative offices and satellite offices across cities and towns in India and offices in New York, London, San Francisco, Dubai, Mauritius and Singapore. The Group services around 5.6 million customer accounts.

Kotak Mahindra, one of India's largest financial conglomerates, has paved the way for Middle Eastern and other foreign investors to enter India's equity markets through shariah-compliant offshore funds. The firm's UK subsidiary was the first Indian institution to set up operations at the Dubai International Financial Center. Kotak Mahindra (International) has had a branch in Dubai for more than a decade. Despite its large Muslim population, India has been slow to introduce Islamic banking services, which are mainly limited to the cooperative sector.

Kotak Mahindra ( UK ) Limited (KMUK), has been licensed by the Dubai Financial Services Authority to conduct its operations from its branch in Dubai International Financial Centre.

It is the first Indian institution to set up at DIFC. This announcement was made by Mr Shyam Kumar, Director, KMUK in Dubai today.

Commenting on the initiative, Mr. Shyam Kumar said,

'Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has created a global financial hub at Dubai. With its global infrastructure, DIFC is attracting most major international finance organisations to set up operations here. Kotak Mahindra has a strong commitment to be a part of this growing financial hub. We already have a presence in Dubai through Kotak Mahindra (International) Limited for over a decade now. The opening of the KMUK branch will further strengthen our presence here. '

Under the directions of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, UAE Defense Minister, and the President of the DIFC; a strategic Islamic Finance Advisory Council has been formed comprising key personalities from the industry to jointly work with the DIFC on matters relating to the development of Islamic Finance.

Gaza toll climbs amid fresh raids

Palestinian medics say that more than 280 people have been killed and more than 600 injured in continuing Israeli bombardment of the impoverished Gaza Strip.

A police station and a factory were among the targets reportedly hit on Sunday, after a mosque and the headquarters of al-Aqsa television had been struck overnight.

The Reuters news agency reported that at least one missile hit the offices of Ismail Haniya, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, but he was not in the building at the time.

The latest attacks came as Ehud Barak, Israel's defence minister, warned that the air raids could be followed by a major ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.

"We are ready for anything. If it's necessary to deploy ground forces to defend our citizens, we will do so," Barak's spokesman quoted him as saying on Sunday.

Israeli television has reported that hundreds of infantry and armoured forces were massing on the border of the territory and on Sunday it began to call up reservists to bolster its fighting strength.

UN call

The United Nations Security Council urged an immediate halt to all military activities in the Gaza Strip and called for the humanitarian crisis faced by Gaza's 1.5 million residents to be addressed.

Neven Jurica, Croatia's ambassador to the UN and president of the council, read out a non-binding statement on behalf of the 15-member body that called on the parties involved in the conflict "to stop immediately all military activities". The statement, however, did not mention either Israel or Hamas by name.

More than 230 targets have been hit with missiles fired from helicopter gunships and fighter jets since Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on Saturday, an Israeli military spokeswoman said.

"They include Hamas infrastructure like buildings, arms depots and rocket-launching zones," she said.

On Sunday, Israeli police said a Palestinian missile had hit near the town of Ashdod, more than 30km from the Gaza Strip. The attack would be the furthest inside Israel yet.

Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland, reporting from Jerusalem, said that Israeli authorities were anticipating an increase in Palestinian rocket attacks.

"The homefront defence has drawn up action plans for people living within 30km of the Gaza Strip, people living in those areas have strict instructions to stay within range of a bomb shelter and not to gather outdoors in large groups," she said.

"Some defence officials are anticipating that up to 200 rockets a day could be fired from Gaza."

At least one Israeli was killed and six others wounded in retaliatory missile attacks by Palestinian fighters on Saturday.

'Bloodiest bloodbath'

Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, rejected the Israeli government's claims that the air raids were in self-defence.

"This is a bloodbath, the bloodiest bloodbath since 1967," he told Al Jazeera. "This is an attack on the civilian population of Gaza."

Israeli troops have reportedly been massing on the border of the Gaza Strip [AFP]

"They try to claim that this was done as a response to missiles, but they are denying the fact that the whole year not a single Israeli was killed by missiles. The first Israeli killed was only because of the Israeli invasion, the Israeli attack."

Many of the dead in Saturday's attacks were police officers, including Tawfiq Jabber, the Gaza chief of police.

Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, suggested that casualty figures put forward by the Palestinians were misleading and insisted that only Hamas targets had been hit.

"Hamas is using figures to attract public attention, media attention and for propaganda purposes," he told Al Jazeera.

"At the end of the day we are attacking Hamas strongholds ... No civilian targets are hit, it is very unfortunate that some civilians will be hit."

Hamas blamed

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and leader of the rival Fatah group, blamed Hamas for the violence.

"We talked to them [Hamas] and we told them 'please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop' so that we could have avoided what happened," he said after talks with his Egyptian counterpart.

A six-month truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip ended on December 19.

Hospitals, already suffering from shortages due to an 18-month blockade on the Gaza Strip, said they were struggling to cope with the number of injured, which included women and children.

One of the buildings hit on Sunday was reportedly a warehouse used to supply local pharmacies with medicines.

"This is going to make us unable to supply any of the local families that depend on us," Dr Hussam Abu Hashem, the owner, told local Hamas radio. "It's a war against human beings."
Source: Al Jazeer

Friday, December 26, 2008


Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt provides commercial banking services to individuals and businesses in Egypt. It offers various client’s accounts and savings accounts, including current accounts, free investment accounts in Egyptian pounds and foreign currencies, two year investment accounts in Egyptian pounds, joint accounts, investment accounts in the name of minors, investment accounts for special purposes, and three year saving certificates of variable return.

The bank also provides various mudaraba operations to the Central Bank of Egypt, which include the investments for funding the purchase of strategic commodities and production requirements of the country, such as murabaha in commodities and metals, foreign trade operations, leasing operations, real-estate operations, Islamic investment funds, and Islamic murabaha operations. In addition, it offers trade services for institutions, including issuing and collecting drafts, documentary credits, and services of the investment trustees department.

Further, the bank provides automated teller machine cards, voice banking, and online banking services. It provides its services through its head office and 19 branches. Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt.

Banking with zero per cent interest

The U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan have lowered interest rates to almost zero per cent. What is quite rare in conventional banking, however, is the norm in Islamic banks. But the Islamic Finance industry currently also finds itself hostage to the financial crisis.

'Fed cuts interest rates to near zero' - the latest headline triggered by the financial crisis triggered raised eye-brows throughout the world.

With one exception: In the Islamic world, banks working on the basis of Shariah aim to always operate without interest.

While conventional banks borrow at a lower interest rate than they lend out money to the public, Islamic banks aim to generate profit by establishing Profit-Sharing-Accounts, among other forms of financing.

Granting loans is haram in Islam, as is pooling credits and selling them to third-parties. By definition, an Islamic bank cannot hold hedge funds, sub-prime loans or junk bonds in its balance sheet.

Not immune to financial crisis

Is Islamic banking the solution to all the problems which came up in the financial crisis? Are they immune from default? 'Of course not', explains Fares Mourad, Head of Islamic Finance at Zurich-based Bank Sarasin.

'The entrepreneur who gets capital from the Islamic bank in a Mudharaba agreement can also fail, for whatever reason.'

Also, in reality, Islamic banks are unable to isolate themselves from the conventional world. Their size is still infinitely small compared to conventional finance houses.

The total volume of Islamic assets will soon reach $1 trillion, but US banks alone hold about $12.7 trillion. If a client of any Islamic Bank transfers money abroad to a conventional bank, the latter will charge interest. He will not find an Islamic bank in every market, although 500 banks in 75 countries offer banking according to Shariah.

The banking sectors of Sudan, Iran and Pakistan aim to be as close to an interest-free economy as possible. But again, if Pakistan is bailed out with a $5bn-loan granted by the IMF (as it happened on October 23 2008) the money will have to be paid back with interest, certainly.

Secondly, if risk-aversion is rising (as it is now), investors start hoarding cash instead of investing. This mentality affects the secondary Islamic market as well. Take the volume of Islamic Bonds (Sukuk); in 2008, it almost halved to $15.2bn. According to the IMF, the global market for structured finance suffered even more; it dipped by 80% to $387bn.

Saudi banking assets

Nevertheless, developments are also encouraging: Until 2010, $174bn, or half of Saudi-Arabia's banking assets, will be managed in line with Islamic law, according to Sarasin-Alpen, Dubai.

For the UAE and Malaysia, theses shares will be at 24% and a fifth, respectively. More and more non-Muslims are looking at Islamic finance as a non-interest, non-conventional, ethical-style of investment.

But Hari Bhambra, Senior Partner at Praesidum, a Dubai-based regulatory consultancy warns of a copy-and-paste mentality: 'The message of the financial crisis for Islamic banks is clear: Avoid placing conventional products in an Islamic dress with a 'halal'-label. A diluted Islamic finance industry will not only drive clients away, but also put Islamic banks in the same risk environment as conventional banks are.'
Source: ameinfo

UNC Religion Professor Given Award By Iran

By Cami Marshall

Chapel Hill, NC -- A University of North Carolina religion professor took pause when he learned his academic work would be honored by the government of Iran.

UNC-Chapel Hill professor Carl Ernst is a scholar of Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam. Carl W. Ernst (born 1950) is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Islamic studies at the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.He is also the director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations.
Ernst received his A.B. in comparative religion at Stanford University in 1973, and his Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1981.

He wrote a book widely used in Iranian universities on a 12th-century Sufi poet and has traveled extensively in the Middle Eastern country. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports Ernst will accept the Farabi International Award during a ceremony in Iran on Saturday, but he decided to do so only after consulting the university's top leaders.

Ernst's recent book, Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World (UNC Press, 2003), has received several international awards, including the 2004 Bashrahil Prize for Outstanding Cultural Achievement.

Recipients are chosen by the government ministry of science, research and technology. But the plaques are handed out by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Like most Americans, Ernst cringes at the president's politics.

Chancellor Holden Thorp understood the dilemma. Thorp said Ernst told him it looked like an academic honor but knew politics can come into play. Ernst was in Iran earlier this month for a conference and said he received "an incredibly enthusiastic response" when he made a strong plea for improved academic and cultural relations between Iran and the U.S. "So it would have looked strange if I declined an academic award," he said.

Ernst will be honored for his 1996 book on Ruzbihan Baqli, the 12th-century poet born in what is now Iran. The book has twice been translated into Persian.

Two other U.S. academics also will be honored: William Chittick, a religion scholar at the State University of New York at Stony Brook; and Miriam Galston, a lawyer at George Washington University.

Source : Associated Press

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


On 7th July 2005, an announcement was made by the Ministry of Finance that His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam has consented for the proposed merger of the Islamic Bank of Brunei Berhad (IBB) and the Islamic Development Bank of Brunei Berhad (IDBB).

A “Vesting Order” was obtained from the High Court of Brunei Darussalam on the 1st of May 2006, effectively transferring all assets and liabilities of both IBB & IDBB and its subsidiary companies to Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad (BIBD). Thus BIBD was fully operational on 3rd July 2006.

Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad has 14 BIBD branches located at strategic locations in all the four districts; 11 branches located in the Brunei Muara District, 1 Branch in the Tutong District, 2 located in the Kuala Belait District and 1 located in the Temburong District.

To further cater its obligation to provide the best services and facilities to its customers, BIBD also has the single largest distribution of ATM network’s in the country i.e. 50 locations at every district, on all BIBD branches and offsite locations. As such, it has employed over 500 officers and staff to work at the offices and branches.

BIBD has also subsidiary companies under it, which are Takaful BIBD Sdn Bhd, which provides insurance coverage and investments, and BIBD At-Tamwill Berhad, which provides fixed deposits, vehicle hire purchase and consumer product financing.

The current Board of Directors for BIBD are :

Yang Berhormat,Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, Minister of Development, Chairman of Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad

Yang Berhormat,Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Dewa Mejar Jeneral (B) Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Mohammad bin Haji Daud, Minister of Culture, Youth & Sports, Deputy Chairman of Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad

Yang Mulia Tuan Haji Bahrin bin Abdullah, Permanent Secretary,Ministry of Finance Director of Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad

Yang Mulia Iqbal Ahmad Khan,Director of Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad

Yang Mulia,Tuan Javed Ahmad,Director and Acting Managing Director, Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad

BIBD’s Corporate Secretary is :

Yang Mulia,Noraini binti Haji Sulaiman, Corporate Secretary, Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad

The BIBD Syariah Advisory Members are as follows :

Yang Dimuliakan,Pehin Orang Kaya Paduka Setia Raja Dato Paduka Seri Setia Haji Awang Suhaili bin Haji Mohiddin,Chairman of Syariah Advisory Body

Yang Mulia,Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Metussin bin Haji Awang Baki,Member of Syariah Advisory Body

Yang Mulia,Dr Hajah Masnon binti Haji Ibrahim,Member of Syariah Advisory Body
Yang Mulia Awang Haji Mazanan Bin Haji Yusof,Member of Syariah Advisory Body
Yang Mulia Awang Haji Shukri bin Haji Ahmad Secretary of Syariah Advisory Body

BIBD is always striving to introduce new, innovative and sophisticated Islamic Banking products and services to the public. Amongst the products launched were :

Introduction of the Sukuk Al Ijarah BLNG worth B$100 million on 23rd August 2006, whereby BIBD was appointed by Brunei LNG Sdn. Bhd. to be the underwriter and lead arranger for the Sukuk.

In collaboration with Brunei Shell Marketing (BSM), Ministry of Development and Ministry of Finance, Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad launched the Electronic Kad Inden to replace the existing Goverment Manual Kad Inden. With the electronic Kad Inden, it gave convenience to Governments offices to purchase fuel and other products available at the fuel stations in Brunei Darussalam.

Ministry of Finance has also appointed BIBD as the lead manager for the Government Sukuk Al Ijarah (short term) worth B$120 million

BIBD Musyarakah Musahamah and Al-Bai Tradable Musyarakah Certificate, the 1st of its kind were introduced. The certificates provide form of investment to the general public.

Launching of the BIBD Kad M to the public, i.e. purchasing of fuel using the card instead of paying cash at participating Shell stations.

Introducing the BBA Baiti Financing for houses in collaboration with Supercrete Trading Sdn. Bhd. i.e. purchasing of houses at affordable rates.

Principal Protected Investment, an Islamic Investment solution with 100% capital protection and 3 year lock-up period.

Qatar Islamic Bank eyes $1.04bn through wealth fund

by Daliah Merzaban

Qatar Islamic Bank has decided to issue new shares worth 3.8 billion riyals ($1.04 billion) to the Gulf state's sovereign wealth fund, a newspaper reported on Wednesday 2008.

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) signifies the beginning of a new era of development and growth at the Bank, while still adhering to the fundamental principles, values and directions stipulated by the teachings of Islam, upon which the Bank was founded as a Qatari shareholding company 25 years ago.

The new identity reflects the Bank’s present focus to sustain its position as a pioneering international Islamic banking organisation. It also signifies the Bank’s commitment to expand its presence in the international markets such as Europe, Asia, Middle East and North Africa and at the same time continue to effectively contribute to the development of the national economy.

The new logo symbolizes the Bank’s aspirations for international expansion and its dedication to remain transparent and credible. This stems from its vision to be a pioneering international Islamic bank; its mission to provide innovative Islamic financial solutions and its values of integrity, transparency, justice, cooperation, teamwork, loyalty, commitment and excellence.

Qatar Islamic shareholders approved a proposal to issue about 39.38 million new shares at their Oct. 12 closing price of 97 riyals to the Qatar Investment Authority, Gulf Times reported after a shareholder meeting.

In October, the QIA launched a $5.3 billion plan to buy stakes in listed banks to shore up investor confidence in the banking sector during the global financial crisis, which triggered a regional stock market rout.
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The QIA capital increase amounts to 20 percent, Gulf Times said.

Banks including Commercial Bank of Qatar and Doha Bank have announced similar plans as they strive to keep project financing on track in Qatar, the world's biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Source : Reuters

Ahmadinejad: Jesus would stand with oppressed

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's upcoming Christmas message will say Jesus would be a defender of the oppressed if he were alive today.

"Jesus the Son of Mary is the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice," Ahmadinejad will say, according to a preliminary text of remarks he is planning to deliver in a message to be broadcast Thursday -- Christmas Day -- on British TV.

The fiery Iranian leader, who has angered Western countries with his sharp comments on Israel, nuclear power, and the role of the United States in the world, will be delivering the Alternative Christmas Message on Britain's Channel 4.

The network, which calls the event a "traditional alternative to The Queen's Christmas Day broadcast," issued the preliminary text.

The thrust of his words and the overall message contained religiously inclusive rhetoric, such as his congratulating "the followers of Abrahamic faiths, especially the followers of Jesus Christ, and the people of Britain." And his words conjured a hopeful future.

But some of his remarks reflected Ahmadinejad's trademark bluntness.

"If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers," the text says.

"If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.

"If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as he did in his lifetime."

The alternative address tradition, which began in 1993, has included remarks from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, an injured Afghan war veteran, a survivor of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and Marge from the television show "The Simpsons."

The network notes that "relations between Iran and the West" will play "a central role in world affairs" in the coming year. The address -- which won't be broadcast opposite the queen's message -- will be preceded by a "short introduction" that will put the leader's "appearance in context."

"As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad's views are enormously influential. As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view," said Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs.

"Channel 4 has devoted more airtime to examining Iran than any other broadcaster and this message continues a long tradition of offering a different perspective on the world around us."

Source : CNN

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


M. Fariduddin Ahmed, Executive President of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited

Bangladesh is one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. The people of this country are deeply committed to Islamic way of life as enshrined in the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah. Naturally, it remains a deep cry in their hearts to fashion and design their economic lives in accordance with the precepts of Islam. The establishment of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited on March 13, 1983, is the true reflection of this inner urge of its people, which started functioning with effect from March 30, 1983. This Bank is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. It is committed to conduct all banking and investment activities on the basis of interest-free profit-loss sharing system. In doing so, it has unveiled a new horizon and ushered in a new silver lining of hope towards materializing a long cherished dream of the people of Bangladesh for doing their banking transactions in line with what is prescribed by Islam. With the active co-operation and participation of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and some other Islamic banks, financial institutions, government bodies and eminent personalities of the Middle East and the Gulf countries, Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited has by now earned the unique position of a leading private commercial bank in Bangladesh.

Aims and Objectives :
To conduct interest-free banking.
To establish participatory banking instead of banking on debtor-creditor relationship.
To invest on profit and risk sharing basis.
To accept deposits on Mudaraba & Al-Wadeah basis.
To establish a welfare-oriented banking system.
To extend co-operation to the poor, the helpless and the low-income group for their economic upliftment.
To play a vital role in human development and employment generation.
To contribute towards balanced growth and development of the country through investment operations particularly in the less developed areas.
To contribute in achieving the ultimate goal of Islamic economic system.

The Bank, since its birth, has been relentlessly working to project and promote the lofty ideals of Islam in the fields of economics and banking and to reach the people of all walks of life and bring home to them the concept of Islamic banking.

Thus, it has been able to create a favourable image about Islamic banking among the people. The Bank releases advertisements through radio, television, magazines and newspapers to make urban and rural masses aware of the ever growing concept, modes of operation, schemes and services of the Bank and to focus on its progress and motivate traders, businessmen and industrialists to establish and broaden their business links with the Bank. To promote healthy growth of art and literature in the country, literary magazines are patronised.

The Bank has so far published a number of books, booklets, souvenirs and folders on different aspects of Islamic banking and Islamic economics. Attractive multi-coloured posters were also published depicting the aims and objectives, people-oriented special investment schemes of the Bank.

National and international newspapers and magazines published features and in-depth reports on the progress of the Bank and made editorial comments praising the welfare activities of the Bank.

Bank's quarterly research journal 'Islami Banking' highlighting the concept of Islamic economy, banking, insurance, prospect of economic collaboration among the Muslim countries etc. started its publication in 1992 which has been widely acclaimed by all sections of people including academicians, economists, bankers, journalists, judges, intellectuals etc. A periodical house magazine named 'Islami Bank Parikrama' is being published regularly as the mouthpiece of the Bank. Discussion meetings, seminars, symposia, workshops are also being arranged to apprise the people of the Islamic banking system. Stalls and booths were opened in different national and international fairs for projecting the activities of the Bank.

The North London Central Mosque

LONDON — The Finsbury Park mosque, where the one-eyed, hook-handed militant cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri once delivered his fiery sermons and helped turn a religious facility into the target for dozens of international terrorism investigations, is going through a makeover.

During his time at the helm, Hamza, now sitting in a British prison and awaiting possible U.S. extradition, allowed the mosque to become a haven of radical Islam in Europe — a “suicide factory” as one book has called it — which hosted such figures as Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard Reid and, reportedly, three of the four London bombers.

Now, far from being allegedly al-Qaida-linked, the mosque is quietly repairing its reputation from that of a hotbed of radicalism to one of a more moderate institution — albeit a mosque run by a group linked to the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood and with an alleged former Hamas commander as a co-trustee.
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“This mosque was a national problem, not just a local problem. (In fact) it was an international problem — it wasn’t even a national problem,” said Abdirahman Warsame, the new executive manager of the mosque, now officially named the North Central London Mosque. “Still we are struggling to change the image of the mosque since the extremist group, the Abu Hamza group, was here.”

The Muslim Association of Britain, which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, used legal means to gain control of the mosque in 2005 after years of struggle.

“While Abu Hamza was there, it became very much a focal point for radical Islamist activity in Britain,” said Sean O’Neill, who along with a fellow reporter for The Times of London, Daniel McGrory, co-wrote, “The Suicide Factory: Abu Hamza and the Finsbury Park Mosque,” which was published this spring.

“There were plots and links to activities stretching to, I think, 26 countries,” O’Neill added.

Gathering place for moderates?
The new leadership has been working closely with the local community to turn this mosque into a moderate place of worship, with a program of community and social outreach.

“We are here to engage with the young people who have already been — some of them — maybe politicized by the previous group or who have extremist views,” said Warsame, a tall, soft-spoken Somali who was chosen by the Muslim Association of Britain to manage the mosque.

Last week, the same association launched a mosques' watchdog intended to tackle extremism by monitoring imams and the content of their sermons.

“Instead of young Muslims seeking guidance outside of the mosque, we need to train spiritual leaders to preach the right religion in our mosques,” Ahmad Sheikh, president of the Muslim Association of Britain and one of five co-trustees of the Finsbury park mosque, said.

In Finsbury Park, Warsame brings in different preachers each week to deliver the main Friday sermon — a sharp contrast to the days of Abu Hamza’s absolute control of the mosque.

“We don’t want — how should I say it? — a ‘star imam’ like Abu Hamza. So, they don’t keep a high-profile,” he said.

Still, Warsame echoes common complaints of the British Muslim community that the government is not attentive to its needs.

Click here for details on key figures and plots linked to the Finsbury Park mosque.
“The mosque was a national crisis when Abu Hamza was here. Now when Abu Hamza has gone off, and the government sees there is no problem, they just say, ‘Goodbye’.”

Both Sheikh and Warsame pointed out that British Muslims overwhelmingly oppose Prime Minister Tony Blair's foreign policy — notably in relation to Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — and suggested the government should be willing to shoulder some of the blame for the radicalization of Muslim youth.

“We want the government to have a public inquiry as to the real cause of the radicalism among British Muslim youth. Where is it coming from? If it is the mosque, we can do our part. If it is the foreign policy, the government has to do its bit,” Sheikh said.

Takeover of the mosque
The mosque, which opened more than a decade ago in the presence of Prince Charles, stands near the famous old Highbury soccer stadium in a loud, traffic-clogged corner of north London filled with pubs, shops and Middle Eastern cafes.

Abu Hamza al-Masri, top, preaches in a street in front of the Finsbury Park mosque in north London in April 2003 after he was shut out of the facility.
Although accounts differ on the details, what is clear is that by the late 1990s Hamza and his coterie of followers succeeded in intimidating the former leadership until the cleric became the de facto head of the mosque, answerable to no one.

Hamza is a former bouncer at a London strip club whose physical scars — reportedly suffered while clearing landmines in Afghanistan — made him appear at once sinister and cartoonish.

His militant, rabidly anti-Semitic, sermons attracted a number of young, impressionable Muslims — including shoe-bomber Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker — who would later turn toward terrorism.

When London police raided the mosque in January 2003, they found forged documents, weapons and military equipment.

In February of this year, a British court sentenced Hamza to seven years in prison after he was found guilty of inciting murder and racial hate. The U.S. Department of Justice currently is seeking his extradition on terrorism-related charges.

‘More famous than Mecca’
On a recent summer afternoon, the scene inside the mosque’s wood-paneled, pink and gray carpeted main prayer room, offered a sharp contrast to Hamza’s reign.

Leaders of other faiths in the London borough of Islington, as well as social workers, local government representatives and a police liaison, gathered to discuss such issues as bus routes, charity fundraisers and future conferences.

“We’re happy to do more things together, to have more engagement. I hope we’re moving on” from the Abu Hamza days, said Rev. David Silvester, the dean of the Church of England in the north London borough of Islington.

“This never could have happened before,” said Khalid Oumar, of the Muslim Welfare House, a local community charity.

“We sometimes say that this mosque is more famous than Mecca,” he added, laughing.

Controversy lingers
Still, the mosque seems unable to rid itself entirely of controversy.

Mohammed Kassem Sawalha, one of the five trustees appointed to oversee the mosque and a former president of the Muslim Association of Britain, has been named in U.S. court papers as a former commander of Hamas, the militant Palestinian group.

But Sheikh said he was focused on Sawalha’s involvement with the community. “I know him as a member of the MAB and his work as a trustee of the mosque. What he did before, I don’t know about,” Sheikh said.

Hamas, which arose out of the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in late 1987, staged its first suicide bombing in 1993. It was officially classified as a terrorist organization in the United States in 1997 and its military wing, the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, was blacklisted by the European Union in 2002. The group now runs the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

“I am aware of the background, but if I took the view that I’m not working with this or that person I’d end up spending my whole life in my office,” Barry Norman, a London police officer working with the mosque’s trustees, told The Times last year.

Under the new regime, attendance has more than tripled for the Friday sermon, said Warsame, and the bottom two floors are being renovated to host weddings, parties and youth events for locals of all faiths.

But, looming over the mosque and its new occupants, is the question of what happened to the hundreds of young men — many with an unswerving devotion to Hamza — who sat on the street where the cleric delivered his acerbic sermons after being locked out of the mosque in 2003?

“That’s the thing. Where have they gone? I think of it like Afghanistan after the war started there. It’s like stamping on a termite’s nest — they just scatter,” O’Neill, co-author of “The Suicide Factory,” said.

But wherever they are, Warsame said they are no longer a menace to this mosque.

“Abu Hamza’s followers — most of them — used to come from outside of London,” he said. “Now since Abu Hamza has been jailed, I don’t know where they went. We don’t see any of them at the mosque. They don’t come here.”

Source : MNBC

Central bank to continue promoting sharia-based economy

Boediono, Bank Indonesia (BI) governor

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Bank Indonesia (BI) governor Boediono said here on Tuesday that the central bank would continue promoting the shariah-based economic system in the country.

"There must be no doubt that BI supports the development of shariah-based economy," he said in his speech when installing executive board members of the Shariah Economic Community (MES).

He said right now the world was looking forward to a shariah economy following its disappointment over the present economic system that had led to an economic crisis.

He said BI did not only support from outside but also inside the organization for the development of the economic system. "At least two BI deputy governors are board members of the Shariah Economic Community. So it is guaranteed," he said.

Two BI deputy governors, namely Muliaman Hadad, is general chairman of the MES, and Siti Fadjriah as MES' deputy to the advisory board.

Muliaman Hadad after his instalment said he would continue developing the shariah-based economic system because it could be one of the supporting factors of the country's economy.

"I think it needs to be articulated again that the shariah-based economic system is not only an economic foundation for preventing an economic crisis like we are experiencing now but it is also a solution to a crisis," he said.

Former MES chairman Aries Muftie meanwhile said that according to a World Bank report in 2020 Indonesia would be one of the countries with a strong economy.

"And according to the report the development of the country's economy is supported by its shariah-based financial sector," he said.

In view of that, he said the development of the shariah-based economic system had to be boosted to support national development.
"Right now the shariah-based economy only contributes not more than three percent of the country's total economy. It has to be further boosted to support the national economy," he said.

Source : Antara

Monday, December 22, 2008

British Muslims for Darfur Peace

By Dina Rabie, Mustafa Ajbaili, IOL Staff

CAIRO — Understanding the complexity of the Darfur crisis and demonstrating support for Arab and Muslim efforts to resolve the conflict are two main goals for a group of prominent British Muslims, now on a regional tour.

"We went there to see for ourselves," Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the former head of the umbrella Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), told

"Seeing what is happening on the ground, we have a moral duty; first as human beings and second as Muslims."

The five-member delegation visited the troubled region of Darfur last week as part of a Middle East tour that ends on December 23.

They visited refugee camps in Darfur and met international and Sudanese civil society to discuss the challenges on the ground.

* Darfur in US Elections
* Darfur & Foreign Hands

"The reason that we all wanted to come out to this region and do this trip was primarily so that we can understand the situation in Sudan and specifically the situation in Darfur," said Fatim Kurji, a lawyer and Director of the CATCH charity project.

"What we wanted to do…was to go out to Darfur and see for ourselves what the situation was like to make it almost an assessment."

The conflict in Darfur erupted in February 2003 when rebel groups attacked government targets accusing Khartoum of discrimination and neglect.

The UN says that 250,000 have died as a result of war, disease and malnutrition, but the Sudanese government has put the number at nearly 10,000.

No independent field-research accounts are available to date.


"What each of us is committed to doing in our individual capacities is to drive the process forward in whichever way we can," Kurji told IOL.
After seeing the situation on the ground, the British Muslim delegates have become more aware of the gravity and complexity of the Darfur conflict.

"Many of our colleagues saw Darfur for the first time and witnessed firsthand with their own eyes," said Jehangir Malik, the fundraising manager for UK-registered Islamic Relief charity.

Malik, who has been to Darfur several times, noted that the conflict was becoming more complex and dire.

"Two fractions become four, four become eight, eight become sixteen…etc," he explained.

"At a time you don’t know who is killing who and for what purpose."

Kurji said the first-hand experience gave her a picture different from what she has long heard from the media.

"The situation in Darfur is very complex and the concerned parties are not just the Sudanese government and the opposition parties," she maintained.

"The issue has many parties involved and as people keep telling us these are increasing day by day."

Now after meeting representatives of the main players, Kurji believes it would not be correct to describe Darfur as "Arab vs. African" problem.

"It is very dangerous to break the conflict down into such simplistic judgment," she insisted.

"There have always been tribes in Darfur and they have always coexisted. Actually the problems are much more complex than that and we can’t allow that to steer us off."


The delegation hopes their tour, which includes stops in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and talks with the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), would demonstrate British Muslim support for efforts to resolve the Darfur conflict.

"We are going to talk to the OIC and governments to use their influence to bring all concerned parties together," said Sir Sacranie, the former MCB leader.

Malik, the Islamic relief official, believes there has been a "greater momentum" for peace in Darfur lately.

He cites the Sudanese Peace initiative (SPI), a document produced by Khartoum and opposition parties last November, and the Qatari initiative, which will see a peace conference held in Doha by the end of 2008.

"We as British Muslims want to signify and lend our support to show that we all need to participate in keeping this momentum going."

The delegation members agree their mission starts with meetings with officials from Arab and Muslim governments and organizations during the tour, but won't end there.

"What each of us is committed to doing in our individual capacities is to drive the process forward in whichever way we can," said Kurji, the community activist.

"Once we return back to UK, we hope that we will be able to convey the views of our members individually and collectively and bring support to this very deserving cause," agrees Sacranie.

Source : Islam Online

Islamic finance: Size will matter in Islamic banking

By Chris Wright

THERE ARE 300 Islamic banks operating in the world today. But this statistic, ubiquitous in presentations about the growth of Islamic banking, is not an entirely positive number: it’s far too high. Islamic banking is enormously fragmented. At the top end, there are: Al Rajhi Bank, with $33.3 billion of total assets in 2007; Kuwait Finance House, with $32.1 billion; and Dubai Islamic Bank with $22.8 billion. But after that, there’s daylight, and you don’t have to go too far down the list to get to the minnows.

Numbers are notoriously tricky to pin down in this field, but in a January study the IMF put total Islamic banking assets at $250 billion, citing several other studies. That’s an average of less than $1 billion of assets for each bank, and with the best part of $100 billion accounted for by the top three alone, there are many banks with very little to their name. "They say that something like 65% to 70% of Islamic institutions are capitalized at less than $25 million," says Agil Natt, chief executive of Malaysia-based Islamic finance training organization Inceif, and formerly head of Aseambankers and deputy chairman of Maybank. "That’s nothing."

Natt continues: "Moving forward, not only do you need balance sheet, but you need reach and the power to distribute the various instruments that you come up with. My opinion is that there is a need for a few large Islamic financial institutions with global reach. But the industry has not reached that stage."

There are the earliest signs of consolidation. This year, Maybank bought a 20% stake in Pakistan’s MCB Bank for $686 million. However, MCB is not actually an Islamic bank: only eight of its 1,026 branches at the time of the acquisition were dedicated Islamic branches.

Consider also the full merger of National Bank of Dubai and Emirates Bank: although there is an Islamic entity in the group (Emirates Islamic Bank), and both banks sell Shariah-compliant mutual funds, this is again a merger of conventional entities that happens to have an impact on Islamic subsidiaries. Likewise Malaysia’s CIMB Islamic, which runs Islamic banking and asset management operations in Indonesia through Bank Niaga: a cross-border presence certainly, but one that sprang out of the 2002 purchase of one conventional institution by another, both banks happening to have Islamic subsidiaries or licences.

There have been signs of Islamic banks becoming more globally minded but they have tended to do this through organic expansion. The clearest example is Al Rajhi and Kuwait Finance House, which have taken advantage of Malaysia’s policy of opening its doors to foreign entrants to establish itself as the global hub for Islamic finance. KFH opened in February 2006, and Al Rajhi a year later. A third bank followed: Asian Finance Bank, which at the time of launch was owned 70% by Qatar Islamic Bank, 20% by Saudi Arabia’s RUSD Investment Bank, and 10% by Kuwait’s Global Investment House.

For KFH, the Malaysia expansion – which has been followed this year by the licensing of an Islamic asset management business – was in keeping with a long-standing and against-the-herd policy of global engagement. Until recently one could have argued that KFH was the only Islamic bank to have expanded cross-border. It holds a majority stake in Kuyevt Bank, an Islamic bank in Turkey, and has operations in Bahrain, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Morocco and affiliates in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bangladesh. Its first participation in Malaysia came in 1995 when it set up a leasing joint venture with several Malaysian partners and the Islamic Development Bank; at the same time it applied for a full Islamic banking licence from Bank Indonesia, but the Asian financial crisis put that on ice.

But the fact is it could have been even more of a trailblazer if it had got its way last year, when it bid to buy a 33% stake in Malaysian financial services group Rashid Hussain. It got as far as striking a preliminary agreement with the seller, Utama Banking Group, and outlined plans to invest a total of M$12 billion ($3.3 billion) in the group and turn it into an Islamic banking powerhouse.

It didn’t happen: Utama opted instead for Malaysia’s key pension fund, the Employees Provident Fund. And so this is still the transaction Islamic banking is waiting for – a truly transformative, intercontinental acquisition to make a global Islamic banking leader. But it’s still possible that one will emerge, and when it comes it’s likely to be KFH that achieves it. The Malaysia managing director Dato’ K Salman Younis said last year that, in Indonesia, "we have identified some target banks where we know the owners desire to divest. There are four or five of them. Once we get the green signal from the parent company, we will be able to move."

KFH apart, though, most other Islamic banks are more sluggish. Al Rajhi’s expansion into Malaysia was all the more notable because it marked the first time it had ventured outside Saudi Arabia. Its behaviour in Malaysia suggests a more ambitious view of the world – it opened with 12 branches, quickly announced plans to get to 50 by 2010, and launched a blanket marketing campaign – but the bank looks less likely to expand by acquisition. Dubai Islamic Bank is growing with gusto – last year it said it aimed to open 70 branches in Pakistan – but again, it’s organic.

So why don’t mergers happen? There are several answers.

First, Islamic banks are just too busy. Most estimates (McKinsey is a frequently cited source) say that Islamic banking is growing by 15% to 20% a year. If you’re doing that, the challenge is finding enough people to run your own business. Why bother acquiring a whole other shop that would need integrating? With growth rates and margins like this, anyone new can set up a franchise from scratch without having to pay a premium for an acquisition.

This is an argument that relates to the maturity of the sector. For the moment, Islamic banks are opening branches and in some cases expanding overseas; the imperative isn’t, yet, to cut costs and improve profitability because margins have been so good. There has also been no need to look overseas when pickings have been so rich at home. But in time, that focus will undoubtedly shift, as the increasing competition from all these players starts to push margins down. That’s when mergers are likely to get more attention as an idea.

The second argument is regulatory, and this applies in particular to anything cross-border. Many Islamic countries have restrictions on foreign ownership, or limit the number of licences that can be awarded to foreign entities.

A third concerns Shariah interpretation. If KFH had succeeded in buying Rashid Hussain, there was much conjecture about how it would have integrated its assets. KFH is considered one of the most conservative institutions in the world in terms of Shariah compliance, and there are marked differences in interpretation between Malaysia and the Gulf, which makes cross-border acquisitions trickier.

For a long time there was a fourth argument: high equity valuations, particularly in the Gulf, made takeovers prohibitive. Still, that argument has gone out the window following the recent plunges in Gulf stock markets along with those everywhere else in the world.

Could the much tougher global environment be the catalyst for consolidation? Islamic banks by and large have come through the credit crunch in good shape, since many of the securities that triggered the sub-prime crisis in the first place are off limits to Shariah-compliant banks. But there’s no escaping the effects completely, and bank growth rates will surely slow. A 20% growth rate can’t last for ever anyway: it’s a function of starting from a low base, and maintaining that pace becomes more difficult with every passing year. Also, we have been in the midst of a period of asset transfer, as more funds have moved across from conventional to Islamic structures as awareness and regulation have permitted. That free kick to Islamic asset growth will be gone sooner or later, and asset gathering will have to come from other sources, perhaps acquisitions.

One possibility is that regulators will become agents for change rather than opponents of it. If they raise capital requirements, for example, or define a minimum scale for Islamic banks, they will drive consolidation; they can further enable it by being more accommodating to foreign buyers. Malaysia brought its domestic conventional banking sector down from more than 50 financial institutions to 10 banking groups in less than a decade.

Logically, mergers should come: this is how the conventional banking world has ended up and Islamic banking, when it reaches a greater degree of maturity, will likely do so too. "There are merits in growing organically, but that takes time," says Natt. "The future is for Islamic banks to look beyond their borders."

Source: Euromoney


Arab Banking Corporation (B.S.C.) ("ABC") was incorporated as a Bahrain joint stock company on 17th January 1980 by Amiri degree in Kingdom of Bahrain and was issued an Offshore Banking Unit license by the Bahrain Monetary Agency on April 7, 1980 beginning its operations that month with an authorized capital of US$1,000 million.

By April 1981, an amount of US$750 million was fully paid by ABC's original three shareholders: the Ministry of Finance of Kuwait (later transferred to the Kuwait Investment Authority), the Libyan Secretariat of Treasury (whose shares were later transferred to the Central Bank of Libya) and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Each of the three shareholding groups held one-third of ABC's share capital until 1990. At the end of 1989, ABC's authorized capital was increased to US$1,500 million. In 1990, ABC listed its shares on the Bahrain and Paris stock exchanges and increased its paid-up capital to US$1,000 million by a public offering in Bahrain and an international private placement.

ABC's strategy of diversified growth led to the development of its widespread network (the "ABC Group") of branches, representative offices, subsidiaries and affiliates in 21 countries around the world, including most principal international financial centers.

ABC Islamic Bank today announced the bank’s net profit for the year to September 2008 of US$23 million. This was an increase of 60% over the net profit for the comparable period last year and a record nine months profit in the history of the bank.

Total income reached US$27.30 million (2007: US$17.93 million), while fee income of US$4.88 million increased by 85% over the same period last year. Operating expenses of US$4.29 million increased only by 15% over the same period last year, attributable to an increase in the cost of living. The Bank’s cost-to-income ratio was 15.7%, lower than 20.8% for the same period last year.

ABC Islamic Bank’s total assets amounted to US$1,440 million (2007 year end: US$1,365 million) with an increase in Available-for-sale investments which stood at US$375 million (2007: US$329 million) mainly in Sukuks. Murabaha receivables and Ijara assets increased to US$1,048 million (2007: US$ 995 million) as the lending portfolio continued to grow to meet customer demand.

Commenting on the results, Mr. Naveed Khan, Managing Director, said, “Despite the turmoil in global markets we have managed to achieve record results for ABC Islamic Bank. These results are a testament to solid relationships developed with core customers and hard work put in by staff, coupled with the strong support we get from the parent group. We are hopeful of consolidating and building on these results for the full year 2008.”

Head of Saudi morals police eases tone on cinema

The head of Saudi Arabia's religious police has eased his criticism of a return of cinema to the conservative Muslim country saying he saw no harm in it as long as what is shown complies with Islam.

Cinema made a low-key return in the Islamic kingdom after a three decade ban, but a sharp reaction by Ibrahim al-Ghaith, the religious police chief, showed efforts to relax tough religious laws face tough opposition.

But Ghaith, the kingdom's second-most influential cleric, changed his tone in favor of the moviegoing revival.

"We are not against having cinema if it shows the good and does not violate Islamic law," al-Hayat newspaper quoted him on Sunday as saying.

It was unclear why Ghaith had apparently changed his approach and the religious police were not available for comment.

A locally produced comedy, "Menahi," premiered in two cultural centers in Jeddah and Taif this month before mixed-gender audiences, earlier a taboo in Saudi Arabia whose strict Islamic rules ban unrelated men and women from mixing.

Ghaith, who heads the morals police -- called the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice -- demanded in remarks carried on Saturday by Saudi newspapers that cinema remains banned, calling it an evil the kingdom could do without.

"We have enough evil already," he was quoted as saying.

"Menahi," produced by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's media company Rotana, shows the comic escapades of a naive farmer earlier played on television by popular Saudi actor Fayez al-Maliki.

The film has attracted such large crowds that the film had to be played eight times a day over a 10-day period, the organizers said. It had to be stopped in Taif due to overcrowding in the hall, Rotana spokesman Ibrahim Badi said.

Showing the film was the latest attempt to introduce reforms by King Abdullah, who has said the world's largest oil exporter cannot stand still while the world changes around it.

Political analysts say Alwaleed could not have gone ahead without the blessing of royals with key decision-making roles.

The kingdom's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Shaikh has not commented on the issue.

Ghaith's religious police have wide powers to search for alcohol, drugs and prostitution, ensure shops are closed during prayer and maintain a strict system of sexual segregation in Saudi society, where women are even banned from driving.
Source : Reuters

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Muslims get on the bus

By Rashid Abbara
Florida Muslims are putting ads on city buses to promote tolerance and teach their neighbours about Islam.

The voices of reason, moderation and tolerance in any faith must always be louder than those of extremists. Unfortunately, every time terrorists falsely claim Islamic justification for their violence, all Muslims are tarred with the same broad brush. The voices of mainstream Muslims condemning these unjustifiable acts are often drowned out by the inflammatory rhetoric of those same terrorists.

It is important that people of other faiths know that Muslims in America and around the world are speaking out against terrorism. That is why the South Florida Muslim community embarked on a campaign this fall, designed to reach out to our fellow Americans and teach them about Islam and Muslims.

Since November 25, and continuing for eight weeks, the Dade and Broward County transit systems in south Florida are displaying large, colourful banners about Islam on the sides of 120 buses. We thought the buses would be the most exotic way to promote our message. These large ads, floating around the city, are very visible to drivers and pedestrians. Similar campaigns in Chicago and New York have been successful and generated great curiosity. The public is used to seeing ads that promote products and services, but not ads like ours. This American Islamic awareness campaign is designed to bring positive awareness of Islam and Muslims to our fellow Americans.

Our campaign started on Thanksgiving, the beginning of the holiday season and gorgeous weather. This is a perfect opportunity for the Muslim community to bring positive awareness about Islam not only to Floridians but also to tourists to take back home.

It is time for mainstream Muslims to stand up and speak more loudly than the tiny minority of extremists who are dragging Islam's name through the mud. We hope that this positive, pro-active campaign will enhance understanding of Islam and encourage dialogue and mutual understanding.

At one fundraising event at a local mosque, we asked everyone to participate in the bus ad project and donate whatever they could afford, even if it was just one dollar. One child gave three dollars and said: "Now I could walk out and say I am a co-founder of this project that will defend Islam and Muslims." A Muslim man in his late 50s told us: "I don't have any money, but I could volunteer to drive the bus." It is this type of attitude that keeps us going. His words brought tears to my eyes, knowing that he is willing to do whatever it takes to demand respect and live righteously.

These are just small examples of ordinary Muslims who want to make a difference in this world. I remember a friend of mine telling me that it would be hard to raise $60,000 in a short period because the Muslim community cannot afford to sponsor another project in a period of economic hardship. I told him that we cannot afford to be misperceived as silent on the issue of terror.

Since its launch, our website,, has had more than 220,000 views. Our call centre has received hundreds of calls on our US toll-free number 1-888-ISLAM-55. Most callers had misconceptions about Islam and wanted to learn more about their Muslim neighbours.

It is through such initiatives that we will all come together as people of faith to marginalise the extremists so that the voice of moderation is heard loud and clear.

Source :

Human Rights according to the Quran

By: Riffat Hassan

To many Muslims the Qur'an is the Magna Carta of human rights and a large part of its concern is to free human beings from the bondage of traditionalism, authoritarianism (religious, political, economic, or any other), tribalism, racism, sexism, slavery or anything else that prohibits or inhibits human beings from actualizing the Qur'anic vision of human destiny embodied in the classic proclamation: "Towards Allah is thy limit" 5.

In the section entitled "General Rights" which follows, an account is given of the Qur'an's affirmation of fundamental rights which all human beings ought to possess because they are so deeply rooted in our humanness that their denial or violation is tantamount to a negation or degradation of that which makes us human. From the perspective of the Qur'an, these rights came into existence when we did; they were created, as we were, by God in order that our human potential could be actualized. Rights created or given by God cannot be abolished by any temporal ruler or human agency. Eternal and immutable, they ought to be exercised since everything that God does is for "a just purpose" 6.


A. Right to Life

The Qur'an upholds the sanctity and absolute value of human life 7 and points out that, in essence, the life of each individual is comparable to that of an entire community and, therefore, should be treated with the utmost care 8.

B. Right to Respect

The Qur'an deems all human beings to be worthy of respect 9 because of all creation they alone chose to accept the "trust" of freedom of the will 10. Human beings can exercise freedom of the will because they possess the rational faculty, which is what distinguishes them from all other creatures 11. Though human beings can become "the lowest of the lowest", the Qur'an declares that they have been made "in the best of moulds" 12, having the ability to think, to have knowledge of right and wrong, to do the good and to avoid the evil. Thus, on account of the promise which is contained in being human, namely, the potential to be God's vicegerent on earth, the humanness of all human beings is to be respected and considered to be an end in itself.

C. Right to Justice

The Qur'an puts great emphasis on the right to seek justice and the duty to do justice 13. In the context of justice, the Qur'an uses two concepts: "'adl" and "ihsan". Both are enjoined and both are related to the idea of "balance", but they are not identical in meaning.

"'Adl" is defined by A.A.A. Fyzee, a well-known scholar of Islam, as "to be equal, neither more nor less." Explaining this concept, Fyzee wrote: " a Court of Justice the claims of the two parties must be considered evenly, without undue stress being laid upon one side or the other. Justice introduces the balance in the form of scales that are evenly balanced." 14. "'Adl" was described in similar terms by Abu'l Kalam Azad, a famous translator of the Qur'an and a noted writer, who stated: "What is justice but the avoiding of excess? There should be neither too much nor too little; hence the use of scales as the emblems of justice" 15. Lest anyone try to do too much or too little, the Qur'an points out that no human being can carry another's burden or attain anything without striving for it.16

Recognizing individual merit is a part of "'adl", The Qur'an teaches that merit is not determined by lineage, sex, wealth, worldly success or religion, but by righteousness, which consists of both right "belief" ("iman") and just "action" (" 'amal") 17. Further, the Qur'an distinguishes between passive believers and those who strive in the cause of God pointing out that though all believers are promised good by God, the latter will be exalted above the former 18.

Just as it is in the spirit of "'adl" that special merit be considered in the matter of rewards, so also special circumstances are to be considered in the matter of punishments. For instance, for crimes of unchastity the Qur'an prescribes identical punishments for a man or a woman who is proved guilty 19, but it differentiates between different classes of women: for the same crime, a slave woman would receive half, and the Prophet's consort double, the punishment given to a "free" Muslim woman 20. In making such a distinction, the Qur'an while upholding high moral standards, particularly in the case of the Prophet's wives whose actions have a normative significance for the community, reflects God's compassion for women slaves who were socially disadvantaged.

While constantly enjoining "'adl", the Qur'an goes beyond this concept to "ihsan", which literally means, "restoring the balance by making up a loss or deficiency" 21. In order to understand this concept, it is necessary to understand the nature of the ideal society or community ("ummah") envisaged by the Qur'an. The word "ummah" comes from the root "umm", or "mother". The symbols of a mother and motherly love and compassion are also linked with the two attributes most characteristic of God, namely, "Rahim" and "Rahman", both of which are derived from the root "rahm", meaning "womb". The ideal "ummah" cares about all its members just as an ideal mother cares about all her children, knowing that all are not equal and that each has different needs. While showing undue favour to any child would be unjust, a mother who gives to a "handicapped" child more than she does to her other child or children, is not acting unjustly but exemplifying the spirit of "ihsan" by helping to make up the deficiency of a child who need special assistance in meeting the requirements of life. "Ihsan", thus, shows God's sympathy for the disadvantaged segments of human society (such as women, orphans, slaves, the poor, the infirm, and the minorities)

D. Right to Freedom

As stated earlier, the Qur'an is deeply concerned about liberating human beings from every kind of bondage. Recognizing the human tendency toward dictatorship and despotism, the Qur'an says with clarity and emphasis in Surah 3: Al-'Imran: 79:

It is not (possible) - That a man, to whom - Is given the Book, - and Wisdom, - And the Prophetic Office, - Should say to people:- "Be ye my worshippers - Rather than Allah's" - On the contrary - (He would say): - "Be ye worshippers - Of Him Who is truly - The Cherisher of all." 22

The institution of human slavery is, of course, extremely important in the context of human freedom. Slavery was widely prevalent in Arabia at the time of the advent of Islam, and the Arab economy was based on it. Not only did the Qur'an insist that slaves be treated in a just and humane way 23, but it continually urged the freeing of slaves 24. By laying down, in Surah 47: Muhammad: 4, that prisoners of war were to be set free, "either by an act of grace or against ransom" 25, the Qur'an virtually abolished slavery since "The major source of slaves - men and women - was prisoners of war" 26. Because the Qur'an does not state explicitly that slavery is abolished, it does not follow that it is to be continued, particularly in view of the numerous ways in which the Qur'an seeks to eliminate this absolute evil. A Book which does not give a king or a prophet the right to command absolute obedience from another human being could not possibly sanction slavery in any sense of the word.
The greatest guarantee of personal freedom for a Muslim lies in the Qur'anic decree that no one other than God can limit human freedom 27 and in the statement that "Judgment (as to what is right and what is wrong) rests with God alone" 28. As pointed out by Khalid M. Ishaque, an eminent Pakistani jurist:

The Qur'an gives to responsible dissent the status of a fundamental right. In exercise of their powers, therefore, neither the legislature nor the executive can demand unquestioning obedience...The Prophet, even though he was the recipient of Divine revelation, was required to consult the Muslims in public affairs. Allah addressing the Prophet says: "...and consult with them upon the conduct of affairs. And...when thou art resolved, then put thy trust in Allah" 29.

Since the principle of mutual consultation ("shura") is mandatory 30, it is a Muslim's fundamental right, as well as responsibility, to participate in as many aspects of the community's life as possible. The Qur'anic proclamation in Surah 2: Al-Baqarah: 256, "There shall be no coercion in matters of faith" 31 guarantees freedom of religion and worship. This means that, according to Qur'anic teaching, non-Muslims living in Muslim territories should have the freedom to follow their own faith-traditions without fear or harassment. A number of Qur'anic passages state clearly that the responsibility of the Prophet Muhammad is to communicate the message of God and not to compel anyone to believe 32. The right to exercise free choice in matters of belief is unambiguously endorsed by the Qur'an 33 which also states clearly that God will judge human beings not on the basis of what they profess but on the basis of their belief and righteous conduct 34, as indicated by Surah 2: Al-Baqarah: 62 which says:

Those who believe (in the Qur'an) - And those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), - And the Christians and the Sabians, - Any who believe in God - And the Last Day, - And work righteousness, - Shall have their reward - With the Lord: on them - Shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. 35

The Qur'an recognizes the right to religious freedom not only in the case of other believers in God, but also in the case of not-believers in God (if they are not aggressing upon Muslims) 36.

In the context of the human right to exercise religious freedom, it is important to mention that the Qur'anic dictum, "Let there be no compulsion in religion" 37 applies not only to non- Muslims but also to Muslims. While those who renounced Islam after professing it and then engaged in "acts of war" against Muslims were to be treated as enemies and aggressors, the Qur'an does not prescribe any punishment for non-profession or renunciation of faith. The decision regarding a person's ultimate destiny in the hereafter rests with God.

The right to freedom includes the right to be free to tell the truth. The Qur'anic term for truth is "Haqq" which is also one of God's most important attributes. Standing up for the truth is a right and a responsibility which a Muslim may not disclaim even in the face of the greatest danger or difficulty 38. While the Qur'an commands believers to testify to the truth, it also instructs society not to harm persons so testifying 39.

E. Right to Acquire Knowledge

The Qur'an puts the highest emphasis on the importance of acquiring knowledge. That knowledge has been at the core of the Islamic world-view from the very beginning is attested to by Surah 96: Al'Alaq: 1-5, which Muslims believe to the first revelation received by the Prophet Muhammad.

Asking rhetorically if those without knowledge can be equal to those with knowledge 40, the Qur'an exhorts believers to pray for advancement in knowledge 41. The famous prayer of the Prophet Muhammad was "Allah grant me Knowledge of the ultimate nature of things" and one of the best known of all traditions ("ahadith") is "Seek knowledge even though it be in China."

According to Qur'anic perspective, knowledge is a prerequisite for the creation of a just world in which authentic peace can prevail. The Qur'an emphasizes the importance of the pursuit of learning even at the time, and in the midst, of war 42.

F. Right to Sustenance

As pointed out by Surah 11: Hud: 6, every living creature depends for its sustenance upon God. A cardinal concept in the Qur'an - which underlies the socio-economic-political system of Islam - is that the ownership of everything belongs, not to any person, but to God. Since God is the universal creator, every creature has the right to partake of what belongs to God 43. This means that every human being has the right to a means of living and that those who hold economic or political power do not have the right to deprive others of the basic necessities of life by misappropriating or misusing resources which have been created by God for the benefit of humanity in general.

G. Right to Work

According to Qur'anic teaching every man and woman has the right to work, whether the work consists of gainful employment or voluntary service. The fruits of labour belong to the one who has worked for them - regardless of whether it is a man or a woman. As Surah 4: An-Nisa': 32 states: men - Is allotted what they earn, - And to women what they earn 44

H. Right to Privacy

The Qur'an recognizes the need for privacy as a human right and lays down rules for protecting an individual's life in the home from undue intrusion from within or without 45.

I. Right to Protection from Slander, Backbiting, and Ridicule

The Qur'an recognizes the right of human beings to be protected from defamation, sarcasm, offensive nicknames, and backbiting 46. It also states that no person is to be maligned on grounds of assumed guilt and that those who engage in malicious scandal-mongering will be grievously punished in both this world and the next 47.

J. Right to Develop One's Aesthetic Sensibilities and Enjoy the Bounties Created by God

As pointed out Muhammad Asad, "By declaring that all good and beautiful things to the believers, the Qu'ran condemns, by implication, all forms of life-denying asceticism, world- renunciation and self-mortification.48 In fact, it can be stated that the right to develop one's aesthetic sensibilities so that one can appreciate beauty in all its forms, and the right to enjoy what God has provided for the nurture of humankind, are rooted in the life-affirming vision of the Qur'an.49

K. Right to Leave One's Homeland Under Oppressive Conditions

According to Qur'anic teaching , a Muslim's ultimate loyalty must be to God and not to any territory. To fulfill his Prophetic mission, the Prophet Muhammad decided to leave his place of birth, Mecca, and emigrated to Medina. This event ("Hijrah") has great historical and spiritual significance for Muslims who are called upon to move away from their place of origin of it becomes an abode of evil and oppression where they cannot fulfill their obligations to God or establish justice.50

L. Right to "The Good Life"

The Qur'an uphold the right of the human being only to life but to " the good life ". This good life, made up of many elements , becomes possible when a human being is living in a just environment. According to Qur'anic teaching, justice is a prerequisite for peace, and peace is a prerequisite for human development. In a just society, all the earlier-mentioned human rights may be exercised without difficulty. In such a society other basic rights such as the right to a secure place of residence, the right to the protection of one's personal possessions, the right to protection of one's covenants, the right to move freely, the right to social and judicial autonomy for minorities, the right to the protection of one's holy places and the right to return to one's spiritual center, also exist 51.