Austria passes controversial reforms to Islam law banning foreign funding

Austria passes controversial reforms to Islam law banning foreign funding

Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/austria/11435388/Austria-passes-controversial-reforms-to-Islam-law-banning-foreign-funding.html

Austria’s parliament has pushed through controversial reforms to the country’s law on Islam, banning foreign sources of funding and requiring imams to speak German. Austria’s parliament adopted legislation on Wednesday amending laws on Muslim organisations to ban foreign sources of FINANCING and require imams to be able to speak German.

The new law aims to promote what conservative Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz called an “Islam of European character”, by muting the influence of foreign Muslim nations and organisations, but giving Austrian Muslims more legal security in practising their faith.
Austria’s previous “law on Islam” dates from 1912, after the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by the Austro-Hungarian empire.
The two-year-old bill passed by parliament on Wednesday predates the recent jihadist violence in France and Denmark, but is designed to “clearly combat” the growing influence of radical Islam, Mr Kurz said.
The new law will be carefully watched by other European countries facing the problem of SPREADING extremism.

Earlier this month French Prime Minister Manuel Valls similarly raised the notion of banning foreign FUNDING of Islamic organisations. Mr Kurz says officials in Germany and Switzerland have also expressed interest in the legislation.
Passage of the law comes amid estimates INDICATING around 200 people from Austria – including women and minors – have gone to Syria and Iraq to join jihadist militias like Islamic Front.

A poll published by the OGM institute on Tuesday found 58 per cent of Austrians feeling radicalisation of the nation’s Muslims was underway.
To combat the rising risk of radical indoctrination of foreign origin, the legislation bans Islamic cultural organisations and imams in Austria from receiving FUNDING from abroad.
It also requires the nearly 450 Muslim organisations in the country to demonstrate a “positive approach towards society and the state” in order to continue receiving official licensing.
Imams will be obliged to be able to speak German under the law – a bid to make their comments more accessible and transparent, while also facilitating the fuller integration of Islam into wider Austrian society.
“We want a future in which increasing numbers of imams have grown up in Austria speaking German, and can in that way serve as positive examples for young Muslims,” Kurz explained ahead of the vote.
The legislation also accords Muslims the right to consult Islamic clerics on the staffs of hospitals, retirement homes, prisons and in the armed forces.

Muslims in Austria will also have the right to halal meals in those institutions as well as in public schools, and will be allowed to skip work on Islamic holidays.
The adopted text scaled back farther-reaching measures contained in an earlier version, including the imposition of an “official” Koran in German that had sparked considerable controversy.
But the legislation has still generated opposition.
Before its adoption Turkey’s leading Muslim cleric, Mehmet Gormez, decried the bill as “a 100-year regression,” arguing no complaints have ever been lodged about the fact that Turkey FUNDS many imams in Austria.
The country’s main Islamic group, the Islamic Religious Authority of Austria, approved the bill despite other organisations denouncing its restrictions as “discrimination” that other religions aren’t saddled with.
Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, meantime, criticised the bill as insufficient in facing a rising threat, and dismissed it as a “placebo.”
Muslims make up roughly 560,000 of Austria’s total population of 8.5 million. Mist Austrian Muslims are of Turkish and Bosnian origin, as well as ethnic Chechens and Iranians.

Regards

Facing sanctions, Russian banks look to build Islamic finance know-how

Facing sanctions, Russian banks look to build Islamic finance know-how

BY BERNARDO VIZCAINO AND ALEXANDER WINNING Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/09/us-islam-financing-russia-idUSKBN0LD0DU20150209

(Reuters) – Russian banks are developing their expertise in Islamic finance to help broaden FUNDING sources for local firms, though Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and the absence of a regulatory framework could hinder those efforts.

Russia’s Islamic banking sector is still in its infancy. But an estimated 20 million Muslims living in the country are a potential source of money, as are cash-rich Islamic FUNDSabroad.

Islamic finance has become a mainstream FUNDING source for some other governments and companies over the past several years, with even non-Muslim nations such as Britain and South Africa issuing debut Islamic bonds (sukuk) last year.

However, the European Union and the United States are seeking to cut overseas funding to Russian firms over Moscow’s support for rebels in eastern Ukraine. Banks in the Middle East and southeast Asia, the major MARKETS for sharia-compliant debt, are wary of becoming tangled in the sanctions.

So some Russian lenders are trying to build their own in-house knowledge of Islamic finance.

State development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) [VNSCB.UL], which has been targeted by the sanctions, is seeking help from Middle East firms to develop its Islamic finance expertise, a spokesperson said, without naming those institutions.

“VEB sets as it goal diversification of project financing instruments, and among those considers Islamic finance tools.”

VTB Bank, Russia’s second-largest lender and another sanctions target, is exploring sukuk deals for several of its clients, although some questions remain over the accounting treatment of such transactions, the bank said in response to Reuters questions.

“Nonetheless, this remains a current issue, especially given growing interest in Asian MARKETS.”

In December, officials from institutions including Moscow Industrial Bank, VEB, SME Bank and the Russian Direct Investment Fund took part in a TRADE mission to the Gulf region, with Islamic finance featuring in the discussions.

In the same month, Russia’s National Rating Agency signed an agreement with the Bahrain-based Islamic International Rating Agency to jointly assign ratings for Islamic financial products.

This will allow sharia-compliance quality ratings to be assigned for sovereign debt and Islamic financial institutions, the Russian agency said in a statement. Firms ranging from an Islamic leasing firm in the Russian republic of Dagestan to a fish skin leather manufacturer in Ingushetia, another Russian republic, have received such ratings in the past.

REGULATION

The lack of a Russian regulatory framework for Islamic finance is an obstacle; both issuers and investors rely on clear regulations to reduce risk and costs.

In October, the Association of Russian Banks asked the central bank to help develop Islamic finance, suggesting it adopt a special federal law.

The regulator continues to study the question of introducing Islamic finance regulation but work is at an early stage, a central bank spokesperson told Reuters last week. It is not yet clear when any new rules would be drafted, he added.

The central bank could draw on the experiences of former Soviet republics Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, all of which are drafting new laws to regulate Islamic banking.

Even without a regulatory framework, Russia’s banking sector has seen some small-scale Islamic finance deals. Kazan-based AK BARS Bank, Russia’s 18th largest bank by assets, has raised a combined $160 million via two Islamic syndicated loans since 2011 and is open to tapping the MARKET for a third time.

“We will continue working in this direction, further diversifying our FUNDING,” said Elina Khayrullina, an official at AK BARS.

A sukuk issue by a local or regional government would be needed to encourage issuance by Russian companies, she said. “In general, sukuk might be an option for Russian companies given there is a benchmark at state or regional level.”

Azerbaijan’s largest bank plans to set up a stand-alone Islamic unit which would seek business across the region, including through its Russian subsidiary.

There have been false starts, however. The Russian republic of Tatarstan has planned for a sukuk issue as far back as 2011, but no deal has materialized.

Regards
Zulkifli Hasan

Islamic Revivalism in the 21st Century: Myth or Reality

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: ISLAM RAHMATAN LIL ‘ALAMIN

12th INTERNATIONAL YOUTH GATHERING (IYG), 1st February 2015/ Sunday

Islamic Revivalism in the 21st Century: Myth or Reality

Zulkifli Hasan, PhD (Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM))

Contents
1. Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin, Ummatism and Islah
2. Current State of Muslims Ummah
3. The Causes of Decline
4. The Need for Reform

Rahmatan Lil ‘Alamin

TAWHID: The essence of Islam is al Tawhid. Muslim is definable by his adherence to Al Tawhid.
Al Tawhid: Acknowledging God as sole Creator of the universe and Equalizing all men as creatures of God.
MERCY/COMPASSION/ BENEVOLENCE: “My mercy embraces everything” (7:156)
To all the world, both believers and disbelievers.
UNIVERSALISM:
The social order of Islam is universal, enveloping the whole of mankind.
Islamic social order holds Islam relevant to every era of human activity.
The qualities of humanness are possessed by all mankind by nature.

Ummatism

The ideal of the universal community is expressed in the word ‘Ummah’.
“Thus have We made of you an Ummah, Justly balanced, that you might be witnesses over the nations.“ (2: 143)
“You are the best ummah brought forth unto mankind, enjoining good works, prohibiting evil and putting your faith in Allah” (3: 110).
“Let there be of you an ummah, which calls men to good works and prohibits evil. Such are the felicitous” (3: 104)
“This is your ummah-one, united and integral and I am your Lord, Serve Me” (21: 92)
A universal society whose membership includes the widest possible variety of ethnicities or communities (sya’b or qawm) but whose commitment to Islam binds them to a specific social order (al Faruqi).

Ummatic Vision

Muslim Ummah: a mission which upholds a vision for mankind.
“We have made you a mid-most (just) community” (2: 143)
“O believers! Be establishers of Justice, Witness for God” (4: 135)
“Indeed We have sent forth Our Messengers with clear messages, and We sent down them the Book and the Balance, so that men may establish Justice” (57: 25).
Muslims have religious duties to undertake individually and collectively active struggle to establish justice.
Justice is the criterion (al-mizan) by which God will evaluate mankind;
Injustice triggers the decline of civilization (Ibnu Khaldun).

Islamic Revivalism: Reform, Resurgence, Renewal and Awakening

Tajdid (Renewal), Islah (Reform), Sahwah/Nahdah (Awakening), and Ihya (Revival)
Islam had to have its own reformation, enlightenment and liberal consciousness.
It is a process of modernization of the Muslim world with an Islamic orientation to design the scheme of modernization by conforming to Islamic norms.
The needed reform of Muslim thinking and, it will be a reform from within, not one imposed from outside.

Characteristics of the 21st Century

1. Globalization
Shortens geographic distances
Eased human travel through faster means of communication
Vast and free dissemination of information
Changes of lifestyle
2. Competition
3. Inequality:
The richest 1% owned 48% of global wealth, leaving just 52% to be shared between the other 99% of adults on the planet.
In 2010, the richest 80 people in the world had a net wealth of $1.3tn. By 2014, $1.9tn; an increase of $600bn in just 4 years.
Speculation represented about 99.2% of the activities of our equity market system, with capital formation accounting for 0.8%.

World Development Indicators

More than 76% of the global R&D expenditures is spent by developed countries, 31.7% (USA), 23.2% (EU), and 10.9% (Japan).
The OIC countries account for only 2.1% of the world total Gross Domestic Expenditures on R&D (GERD), or 8.8% of the total GERD of developing countries.
Israel (4.39%), Finland (3.78%) and Korea (3.74%) are the top countries in terms of allocating resources for R&D. Top countries in OIC are Tunisia (1.1%), Malaysia (1.07%) and Turkey (0.84%). The Muslim world spend only 0.5% on R&D while the non Muslim world spend 5% on R&D.
The Muslim world spends less than 4% of their GDP on education.

World Governance Indicators

Indicators. 1) voice and accountability 2) political instability and absence of violence; 3) government effectiveness: 4) regulatory quality; 5) rule of law; and 6) control of corruption.
While developed countries outperform developing countries in all categories, other developing countries also do comparably better than OIC countries.
In none of the categories, OIC countries as a group attain a positive score.
Voice and accountability and political stability categories are the weakest categories for OIC countries.

Democracy Index

Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties
4 Muslim countries are free: open political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civic life, and independent media.
14 are partly free: limited respect for political rights and civil liberties.
9 are not free: basic political rights are absent, and basic civil liberties are widely and systematically denied.
The Index of Election World: 13 Countries have democracy and 44 do not. Of these 44 countries: pseudo democracy, absolute monarchy, and dictatorship.

World University Ranking

The Times Higher Education World University Ranking
Only 9 are in Muslim world.
The Top 100 Universities in the World–No Muslim University Ranked
QS World Ranking
Only 20 are in Muslim world.
No Muslim University Ranked at the top 100 universities

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

Among the 65 countries surveyed in the study, 5 of the 10 worst performers on the overall reading scale are the OIC member countries.
Turkey as the best performing OIC country occupies only the 44th position.
More than 30% of Malian youths aged 15–19 yrs who completed 6 years of schooling could not read a simple sentence.
In Pakistan, tests of grade 3 children found that only half could answer very basic multiplication questions

Corruption Perceptions Index

Transparency International: 177 countries.
Ranges from 10 (Least Corrupt) and O (Most Corrupt).
8 Muslim majority countries were among the 10 most corrupt nations. 
Only 6 Muslim countries are above the borderline.
Israel scored a 61 on the index and ranked 36th least corrupt.

The Global Competitiveness Index

The index covers 114 indicators under 12 pillars namely “institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation”
Average GCI score of 3.90 in 2013, as compared to the rest of the world 4.2 and developed countries 5.0.
Only Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Brunei scores above 5.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

The total patent applications in OIC countries reached almost 60,000; account for only 0.6% of total applications filled in the world.
Countries with higher number of patent applications attained better positions in global competitiveness rankings.
USA, Japan, China, and Republic of Korea accounted for almost 70% (7 million patent applications)

Logistics Performance Index (LPI)

45% of the OIC member countries had poor logistics performance with score below 2.47.
Malaysia (3.59) and Somalia (1.77) were the two OIC member countries with the highest and lowest logistics performance index values.
In contrast, 85% of the developed countries are considered to be logistics friendly with scores above 3.34.
Transportation infrastructure in the OIC countries is incompetent and the transportation system as a whole offers poor connectivity.

OIC Economic Outlook

The total GDP of the group of the OIC countries (1.5 billion population and 22% of the world population) is $9.8 trillion representing only 11% share in the world total GDP.
The number of unemployed around the world is estimated to have reached 201.8 million in 2013. Youth unemployment in OIC countries estimated at 15.6%.
3 out of every 4 US dollars of intra-OIC exports come from only ten countries. 4/5 of OIC exports and imports come from only ten countries representing only 9% of global exports.
The average OIC per capita income was US$3,600 while the average of the rest of the developing world was about US$5,600.
The OIC GDP of US$3.2 while the US, US$13.9 trillion. The entire Islamic world’s GDP is only 23% of that of the United States.

An Economic Islamicity Index

Measuring 208 countries’ adherence to Islamic Economic principles using as proxies 113 measurable variables.
1) Economic opportunity and economic freedom; 2) Justice in property rights and the sanctity of contracts ; 3) Better treatment of workers 4) Higher education expenditures 5) Poverty eradication 6) Distribution of wealth and income 7) Better social infrastructure 8) Higher savings and investment 9) Higher moral standard, honesty and trust 10) Financial System: risk sharing and the abolition of interest 12) Higher trade/GDP, higher foreign aid/GDP and higher degree of environmental preservation.
Non- Islamic, rich and developed, countries are performing well under principles embraced by Islam.
The highest ranked Islamic country is Malaysia (33), followed in order by Kuwait (42), Kazakhstan (54), Brunei (55), Bahrain (61) and (64).

ICT Use in OIC Countries

World Bank WDI:
With respect to mobile cellular subscriptions and internet use, OIC countries are performing fairly well. Some OIC countries show even better performance than developed countries.
More than 85% of people in Qatar, Bahrain and UAE have internet access.
Google’s report:
Pakistan tops the list of most porn-searching countries and leads the way in porn searches for animals like pigs, donkeys, dogs, cats and snakes.
Six of the top eight porn-searching countries were Muslim states. The country at number two in the list was Egypt, while Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey came in at numbers four, five, seven and eight, respectively.
Note: The sale of pornographic material has been banned in nearly every Arab country except Lebanon and Turkey.

The Need for Genuine, Balanced and Integrated Reforms

Moral and Spiritual Reforms: Moral and spiritual upbringing
Intellectual and Ideological Reforms: Re-understanding of the original vision and Reaffirmation of the ummah’s mission
Educational Reform: Promotion of education and character building
Political Reform: freedom of expression, an honest judiciary, equality, and accountability
Socio-economic Reform: Justice and development, mobilization of material, economic and technological resources and alleviation of poverty
Institutional Reform: Family, religious institution, civil society and etc.

Framework for Reform

“The strength of the sovereign (al-mulk) does not become consumed except by implementation of the Shari’ah;
The Shari’ah cannot be implemented except by a sovereign (al-mulk);
The sovereign cannot gain strength except through the people (al-rijal);
The people cannot be sustained except by wealth (al-mal);
Wealth cannot be acquired except through development (al-‘imarah);
Development cannot be attained except through justice (al- ‘adl); Justice is the criterion (al-mizan) by which God will evaluate mankind; and
The sovereign is charged with the responsibility of actualising justice”

Operational Framework for Reform

Spirituality: Spiritual consciousness and development.
Reformism: the reform of the Muslim society through the improvement of the performance of the social institutions such as the family, religious and educational institutions, etc. 
Activism: social and political awakening, seeking transformation of the existing Muslim societies into truly Islamic societies (khairu ummah).
Intellectualism: Intellectual movement, promotion of Islamic thought and Islamic outlook of life through advancement of knowledge in all modern fields of physical and social sciences. 

Challenge for the Future

Imbalanced reform : The present-day reform movements’ focus on politics, means and tools are not but a mere attempt at escaping from confronting the reality.
Pseudo reform: Violence, terrorism, mystical, absence of spirituality
Advancement of knowledge and technology: Science will shape our daily lives and lifestyle. Eg. Computer, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Nanotechnology, Energy, Space travel, wealth and humanity.
The Muslim world could not regain its position as the leading civilization if it had crumbling moral and scientific bases.

The Key to Future- Wisdom (Hikmah)

“Call towards the way of Lord with wisdom, friendly admonition and convincing argument” (16:125)
A total insight and having sound judgment concerning a matter or situation through understanding cause and effect phenomena
Most precious commodity in modern society. Knowledge, rationality and flexibility. New thinking based on current realities
Immanuel Kant: “Science is organized knowledge and wisdom is organized life”.

To download my presentation, click here Islamic Revivalism in the 21st Century: Myth or Reality

IMG-20150201-WA0032

International Youth Gathering IYG 2015 (28)

IMG-20150127-WA0015

Malaysia Sukuk Costs Rise as Dollar Supply Ebbs: Islamic Finance

Malaysia Sukuk Costs Rise as Dollar Supply Ebbs: Islamic Finance

By Elffie Chew Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-06/malaysia-sukuk-costs-rise-as-dollar-supply-ebbs-islamic-finance.html

The cost for Prime Minister Najib Razak to replenish U.S. dollar holdings has risen to an 11-month high as foreign-exchange reserves slump to the lowest since 2011.

The difference in yield between the nation’s 2.991 percent sukuk due in 2016 and similar-maturity Treasuries was 84 basis points, the widest since February, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The securities are one of only three global notes the country has outstanding, which are all Islamic, and the others mature in June this year and in 2021.

Malaysia’s CURRENCY has declined to its lowest level in more than five years on concern the drop in crude prices will erode the oil-exporting nation’s current-account surplus. Reserves in Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy have dwindled to $121 billion, versus $157 billion in Thailand and $111 billion in Indonesia.

“Since the spread is expected to widen in the near future and the country’s financial health is weakening, it doesn’t pay for Malaysia to issue dollar sukuk now,” Nizam Idris, head of foreign-exchange and fixed-income strategy at Macquarie Group Ltd. in Singapore, said by phone yesterday. “Timing is important and there’s a window of opportunity in the second quarter before the U.S. raises interest rates.”

Ringgit Warning

The central bank told local lenders last month to guard against speculation in the ringgit, which led losses in Asia in 2014 behind the YEN. All short-dated transactions requiring the exchange of ringgit for a foreign currency must be backed by documentation, Bank Negara Malaysia said in a Dec. 4 statement.

Diverging monetary policies in the U.S. and Europe are also increasing demand for the dollar, forcing policy makers in some Asian countries to intervene to curb losses. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi last week signaled the prospect of government bond purchases. The Federal Reserve halted its debt-buying program last year and is likely to increase borrowing costs sometime after the first quarter.

The extra yield investors demand to hold Malaysia’s 2021 Islamic bonds climbed to a six-month high of 99 today. The yield on the sukuk due in June this year has increased 35 basis points, or 0.35 percentage point, from 2014’s low to 1.09 percent. That compares with 0.06 percent for the similar-maturity Treasury notes.

Concern about the nation’s finances is already starting to show in the local-currency debt market, where global funds reduced holdings of Malaysian government bonds in November by 5.8 percent, the most since September 2011, to 236.5 billion ringgit ($66.9 billion), central bank data showed Dec. 31.

Fiscal Goal

The surplus in Malaysia’s current account, the broadest measure of TRADE, shrank to 7.6 billion ringgit in the third quarter, the least since the three months through June 2013.

The nation is the only net oil exporter among major Asian economies and tumbling crude prices will reduce state income as the government seeks to cut the fiscal deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product this year from last year’s 3.5 percent target. Brent crude dropped below $60 a barrel in December for the first time since 2009.

While Malaysia’s foreign-exchange reserves have dwindled, they are still higher than the $91 billion at the end of 2008, when the ringgit dropped 4.6 percent in the midst of the global credit crunch. In 1997-98, when the Asian financial crisis struck, they were as low as $20 billion.

Demand for global Islamic bonds, which pay returns based on assets to comply with a ban on interest, may still be supported this year amid a shortage of supply.

Not Expensive

The Bloomberg Malaysian Sukuk Ex-MYR Index, which tracks foreign-currency Shariah-compliant bonds, climbed 5 percent in 2014, a fourth straight annual gain. Worldwide issuance rose 7.4 percent to $46.3 billion, just shy of the unprecedented $46.8 billion in 2012, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Offerings in Malaysia increased 27 percent to 62 billion ringgit.

“The spread widened because of concern that falling oil prices will crimp the government’s revenue,” Nik Mukharriz Muhammad, a Kuala Lumpur-based fixed-income analyst at CIMB Investment Bank Bhd., said by phone yesterday. “It’s still not expensive for the government to tap the dollar bond market as U.S. yields are still not high.”

SAMBUTAN MAULIDUR RASUL MELALUI PEMBUDAYAAN ILMU

SAMBUTAN MAULIDUR RASUL MELALUI PEMBUDAYAAN ILMU: MENELUSURI LITERATUR SIRAH RASULULLAH SALLALLAHUALAIHIWASALLAM

Zulkifli Hasan

Sabtu ini 3 Januari 2015 bersamaan dengan 12 Rabiulawal 1436H/ seperti kebiasaannya umat Islam akan menyambut maulidur Rasul bersempena memperingati kelahiran Nabi Muhammad Sallallahualaihiwasallam yang kita kasihi. Mungkin ada yang tidak tahu bahawa tarikh kewafatan Rasululullah juga berlaku pada 12 Rabiulawal iaitu pada 11 Hijrah/632M seperti yang diriwayatkan oleh sebahagian besar ahli sejarah. Manfaat juga untuk dikongsikan di sini bahawasanya kebanyakan ahli sejarah pada zaman sahabat dan tabiin yang meriwayatkan kisah dan kehidupan Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam merupakan pakar dalam ilmu hadis.

Di kala umat Islam di Malaysia menempuhi pelbagai cabaran tahun 2014 dengan beberapa insiden yang sangat signifikan seperti banjir yang melanda beberapa negeri, jerebu, Lahad Datu, misteri MH370, MH17 dan QZ 8501 dan bermacam-macam lagi, penulis ingin mengajak semua untuk mengingati dan menghayati sirah Rasulullah SAW bersempena dengan sambutan Maulid al Rasul 1436H. Umumnya, sebahagian umat Islam pada waktu ini kebiasaannya sibuk membuat persiapan menyambut maulidur Rasul dengan pelbagai aktiviti dan menerima sambutan ini sebagai salah satu mekanisma dan pendekatan mencetuskan kefahaman dan perasaan mengenai Rasulullah SAW. Mungkin pada tahun ini sambutannya akan sedikit berkurangan berikutan kesan banjir yang melanda negara.

Sambutan Maulidur Rasul merupakan antara amalan yang diterima sebagai salah satu usaha untuk mendidik dan mengingati Rasulullah SAW. Namun, mahu tidak mahu, tidak dinafikan bahawa masih ada juga sebahagian pihak yang mempertikaikan usaha ini dan melabelkannya sebagai bidaah.Dalam kekhilafan ini, penulis memilih pendekatan sederhana untuk bersama-sama Imam Jalaluddin Sayuti, Sayid Ahmad bin Zaini Dahlan, Syeikh Yusuf Qaradawi dan fuqaha yang lain untuk mengharuskan sambutan Maulidur Rasul dengan syarat ianya tidak mencampur adukkan perkara yang dilarang oleh Islam. Dalam merungkai permasalahan ini, penulis ingin menukilkan kata-kata Hasan Al Banna menasihati umat Islam dalam masalah ini seperti yang diungkapkan oleh Yusuf Qaradawi di dalam Fiqh Awlawiyat, halaman 266-267 yang bermaksud:

“Wahai saudara-saudaraku, aku amat mengetahui bahawa saudara yang bertanya tadi, termasuk juga ramai di kalangan kalian, tidak bermaksud daripada soalan seumpama itu melainkan hanya ingin mengetahui, daripada kumpulan manakah pengajar baru ini? Adakah daripada kumpulan Syeikh Musa atau daripada kumpulan Syeikh Abdul Sami’?! Sesungguhnya pengetahuan ini tidak memberikan apa-apa manfaat kepada kamu, sedangkan kamu telah menghabiskan masa dalam keadaan fitnah selama lapan tahun dan cukuplah sekadar itu. Kesemua masalah-masalah itu telah diperselisihkan oleh umat Islam sejak ratusan tahun dan mereka masih terus berselisih pendapat sehingga ke hari ini, namun Allah SWT redha kepada kita untuk berkasih sayang dan bersatu padu serta membenci untuk kita berselisihan dan berpecah-belah. Maka aku ingin mengajak kamu semua berjanji dengan Allah SWT untuk meninggalkan semua perkara-perkara ini sekarang, dan bersungguh-sungguh untuk mempelajari asas-asas agama dan kaedah-kaedahnya, beramal dengan akhlaknya, kelebihan-kelebihannya yang umum dan petunjuk-petunjuknya yang disepakati. Dan mendirikan segala kewajipan dan sunat serta meninggalkan sikap memberat-beratkan dan terlalu rigid supaya hati menjadi suci. Dan supaya menjadi tujuan kita semua hanya untuk mengetahui kebenaran, bukan hanya kerana sekadar mahu memenangkan satu pandangan. Ketika itu, kita mempelajari kesemua ini bersama dalam keadaan kasih sayang, kepercayaan, kesatuan dan keikhlasan. Aku berharap kamu terimalah pandanganku ini dan agar ia menjadi perjanjian sesame kita untuk berbuat demikian”

Berdasarkan kepada peringatan penting Hasan Al Banna di atas, sudah pasti isu sambutan maulidur Rasul ini tidak akan menjadi punca perselisihan dan perpecahan umat Islam sekiranya maksud sebenar sambutan seumpama ini dihayati. Jika ditinjau sejarah, C. Cherfils di dalam bukunya ‘Napoleon And Islam’ menukilkan bahawa Napoleon Bonaparte juga telah menganjurkan upacara besar-besaran menyambut maulidur Rasul di atas kekagumannya terhadap Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam. Hingga ada yang mengatakan dengan yakin berdasarkan beberapa dokumen sahih bahawa Napoleon diakhir hayatnya adalah seorang Muslim dengan nama Muhammad Ali Bonaparte.

Namun harus diingat, pada masa umat Islam beriya-beriya untuk menjayakan sambutan Maulidur Rasul dengan pelbagai program dan aktiviti di setiap pelusuk negara, sememangnya tidak dapat dinafikan bahawa masih ramai yang tidak mengenali Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam sama ada dari aspek pemikiran, peribadi, akhlak, pendekatan dan keseluruhan cara hidup baginda. Penulis mengambil kesempatan ini untuk berkongsi sedikit pengetahuan untuk membicarakan literatur mengenai Sirah Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam dengan harapan ianya akan dapat menjadi panduan dan rujukan selepas ini.

Merujuk kepada sejarah penulisan Sirah Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam, ianya telah pun dimulakan oleh para sahabat seperti Abu Rafi Mawla yang telah menulis tentang sifat solat dan ibadah baginda. Ini termasuk Sahl b. Abi Hathmah al-Madani al-‘Ansari dan ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Amru b. al-‘As b. Wa’il b. Hashim. Penulisan sirah Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam secara sistematik telah dimulakan oleh para Muhaddithun yang juga ahli sejarah seperti Sa`id b. al-Musayyib al-Makhzumi, ‘Urwah b. al-Zubayr b. al-‘Awwam and Abu Fadalah ‘Abd Allah b. Ka’b b. Malik al-Ansari.

Penulisan sirah Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam kemudiannya kian popular ketika zaman Muhammad b. Ishaq yang telah menulis kitab Kitab al-Mubtada’ wa al-Mab`ath wa al-Maghazi iaitu buku yang membincangkan secara terperinci kehidupan baginda bermula kelahiran hingga kewafatan. Ini diikuti oleh Muhammad b. ‘Umar al-Waqidi yang menulis Kitab Azwaj al-Nabiyy, Kitab al-Tarikh wa al-Maghazi wa al-Mab`ath and Kitab Wafat al-Nabiyy and Kitab al-Maghazi. Kitab Sirah yang menjadi rujukan utama hingga kini telah ditulis oleh ‘Abd al-Malik b. Hisham melalui karyanya yang masyhur iaitu Kitab al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah. Kitab Shamail al Tirmizi yang menghimpunkan hadis-hadis mengenai karakter, sifat, akhlak dan peribadi Rasulullah SAW juga patut menjadi rujukan. Bahkan kitab ini dapat menjadi panduan untuk mengelakkan sebarang riwayat tidak sahih dan palsu mengenai Rasulullah SAW.

Kitab-kitab sirah di atas walaubagaimanapun ditulis di dalam bahasa Arab dan mungkin ini menimbulkan kesulitan sesetengah pihak untuk memahami dan merujuk isi kandungannya. Ini sebenarnya tidak menjadi halangan bagi tujuan untuk memahami kehidupan Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam kerana terdapat banyak buku-buku kontemporari yang ditulis oleh sejarawan Islam mahupun dalam bentuk terjemahan. Sebagai contoh buku “Life of the Prophet Muhammad: Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya” oleh Ibn Kathir, Sirah Nabawiyah oleh Abul Hasan Ali Al Nadwi dan juga “The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq: Sirat Rasul Allah” telah diterjemahkan ke dalam bahasa Inggeris yang boleh dijadikan sebagai rujukan.

Selain daripada itu, buku-buku lain yang boleh dirujuk adalah seperti “Prophet Muḣammad and His mission” oleh S. Athar Husain, “Muhammad, the messenger of Islam: His Life and Prophecy” oleh Hajjah Amina Adil, “Mohammed and the Rise of Islam” oleh D. S. Margoliouth, “The Great Prophet a Short Life of the Founder of Islam” oleh F. K. Khan Durrani, “The Messenger of God Muhammad: An Analysis of the Prophet’s life” oleh M. Fethullah Gulen, “Prophet Muhammad(s) and His Family: A Sociological Perspective” oleh Shamim Aleem, “The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography” oleh Barnaby Rogerson, “Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman” oleh William Montgomery Watt, “Muhammad: Prophet for Our Time (Eminent Lives)” and “Muhammad: Western Attempt to Understand Islam” oleh Karen Armstrong, “The Sealed Nectar (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum)” oleh S. al-Mubarakpuri, “Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources” oleh Martin Lings, “Introducing Muhammad” oleh Ziauddin Sardar dan “Prophet Muhammad and His Miracles” oleh Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. Di samping itu, terdapat juga koleksi rujukan dalam bentuk cakera padat seperti “The Life of the Last Prophet”, sebuah audio biografi oleh Yusuf Islam. “The Sealed Nectar (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum)” oleh S. al-Mubarakpur dan “Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources” oleh Martin Lings merupakan dua buah buku yang mendapat anugerah khas antara buku terbaik versi Bahasa Inggeris mengenai sejarah hidup Rasulullah SAW. Antara karya kontemporari yang menghidangkan analisis segar dan bersifat universal serta menyentuh secara langsung kehidupan dan pengajaran sirah Rasulullah SAW ialah karya Tariq Ramadan yang bertajuk In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lesson from the Life of Muhammad.

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The Sealed Nectar

Kesemua koleksi sirah Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam di atas diterbitkan dalam bahasa Inggeris dan faktor ini boleh menjadi penghalang sesetengah individu untuk memahami buku-buku tersebut. Sebenarnya terdapat buku-buku dalam bahasa melayu telah diterbitkan seperti “Biografi Muhammad bin Abdullah” oleh Zulkifli Mohd Yusoff dan Noor Naemah Abdul Rahman, “Fiqh al-Harakah dan Sirah Nabawiyyah” oleh Abdul Hadi Awang dan “Ensiklopedia Sirah Nabi Muhammad SAW” oleh Khalil Munawwar. Buku “Biografi Muhammad bin Abdullah” ini mempunyai kelebihan dan tarikan tersendiri di mana ia memuatkan gambar-gambar dan ilustrasi sebagai panduan tambahan kepada pembaca untuk memahami sirah Rasulullah SAW. Selain daripada itu, begitu banyak buku terjemahan seperti Fiqh al-Sirah oleh Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti, “Sejarah kehidupan Nabi Muhammad” oleh Muhammad Hussein Haykal dan “Sirah Nabi Muhammad SAW: Pengajaran dan Pedoman” oleh Mustafa as-Shibaie, ‘Muhammad’ oleh Martin Lings, ‘Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum” oleh S. al-Mubarakpur boleh sahaja didapati di pasaran. Bahkan kitab “Sirah Nabawiyyah Ibnu Hisham” karya Abu Muhammad Abdul Malik Ibnu Hisham yang dianggap antara rujukan berotoriti mengenai Sirah Rasulullah SAW juga telah diterjemahkan.

Berdasarkan senarai rujukan tertera di atas, penulis menganjurkan agar setiap umat Islam untuk memiliki sekurang-kurangnya senaskhah sirah Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam sebagai koleksi peribadi. Sebagai tambahan, setiap isi rumah perlu juga memiliki sekurang-kurangnya satu set koleksi hadith Rasulullah saw seperti sahih bukhari, muslim dan kitab hadith yang lain. Kitab karangan Yusuf al Qaradawi bertajuk ‘kaifa nataamal maa al sunnah al nabawiyah’ (Bagaimana Beramal Dengan Sunnah Nabawiyah) pula adalah sangat baik bagi menjadi rujukan kepada semua cara dan amalan untuk berinteraksi dengan sunnah. Bagi menghidupkan budaya ilmu dan lebih mengenali sunnah Rasulullah SAW, selain membaca al Quran, bacaan hadith Rasulullah saw juga perlu dijadikan amalan harian. Moga dengan menghidupkan budaya ilmu ini akan dapat membuatkan kita lebih mengenali dan menghayati ajaran Rasulullah SAW.

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Bagaimana Beramal Dengan Sunnah Nabawiyah oleh Yusuf al Qaradawi

Memahami dan meneladani Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam merupakan suatu kewajipan bagi semua umat Islam. Perkara ini tidak akan dapat dicapai melainkan melalui proses pencarian ilmu. Dalam aspek ini, sememangnya kita telah disajikan dengan pelbagai koleksi rujukan mengenai kehidupan Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam. Hanya tinggal kini ialah kemahuan, keazaman, keiltizaman diri untuk belajar memahami dan meneladani seterusnya mendidik jiwa dan rohani untuk mengasihi Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam.

Selamat Menyambut Maulidur Rasul dan selamat menyambut tahun baru.