Islamic banks face dearth of products

Islamic banks face dearth of products

Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/194885/islamic-banks-face-dearth-of-products/

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Deputy Governor Yaseen Anwar has said there is a dearth of Shariah-compliant hedging products for mitigating risks arising out of genuine business transactions which put Islamic banking institutions (IBIs) at a disadvantage compared to their conventional counterparts.

Inaugurating a workshop on ‘Hedging in Islamic finance and master hedging agreement’, organised by International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) in collaboration with SBP here on Thursday, Anwar stressed the need for developing a robust risk management infrastructure in the Islamic banking industry which would enable both Islamic banks and their clients to mitigate genuine business risks.

He, however, said conventional banks had access to a variety of sophisticated risk management and hedging instruments.

Describing the pace of growth and development of the Islamic banking industry as encouraging, he said at present it constituted over seven per cent of the country’s banking system. Given the healthy growth for the past several years, the enabling regulatory and Shariah compliance framework, the growing human resource capacity of IBIs and increasing awareness of Islamic banking among people, the share of the industry was likely to increase manifold in the future, he added.

However, he said, “the industry still faces numerous challenges, including development of a robust risk management infrastructure. Moreover, the absence of standardised documentation invariably results in significantly higher transaction costs.”

He said hedging instruments should cover genuine risks arising due to real business and economic transactions and should in no way allow transactions for speculative motives.

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

$210bn Islamic finance industry comes to Oman

$210bn Islamic finance industry comes to Oman

By A Staff Reporter – Available at: http://main.omanobserver.om/node/55522

MUSCAT — The Islamic finance industry is currently valued at $1 trillion worldwide, of which $210 billion is invested in the Middle East.

Following the Royal Decree by His Majesty the Sultan authorising Sharia-compliant financial products in Oman, International Turnkey Solutions (ITS), a global leader in Islamic banking technology solutions successfully concluded its first ‘Oman Islamic Banking Conference 2011,’ attended by over 80 banking decision makers, Islamic banking experts and financial organisations.

“Worldwide, some of the most renowned international banks use Islamic finance instruments such as sukuk (Islamic bonds) to raise funds for Sharia minded ethical investors,” said Mohamed Roushdy, Chief Information Officer, Siraj Finance, who presented an overview on migrating conventional banking structure to Sharia-compliancy.

“We believe that Islamic banking principals are ever more relevant today, given the chaos created by the financial crisis. Conducting business guided by Islamic principles, provides investors with confidence and peace of mind in today’s turbulent global marketplace.”

Dr Mabid al Jarhi, financial expert and Head of Training, Emirates Islamic Bank, commented on the legal infrastructure required to sustain and grow Shariah-compliant finance. He commented that the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) should look into amending its existing laws, or preparing a new draft banking law to put Islamic banks on an equal footing with conventional banks. In terms of taxation, Islamic transactions may also be taxed twice, placing them at a disadvantage.

“[If these factors are in place] the Islamic finance market in Oman could operate at levels that could compete with regional institutions. Funds, that have been flowing outwards, could be repatriated and foreign funds could be attracted in Oman,” Dr Al Jarhi added.

“Islamic banks need to mature operationally and make the technological investments required to be competitive on a global scale. For Oman, the future is very bright if banks here take the necessary steps required to build a solid foundation for Islamic banking,” said Dr Haroun Dharsey, Senior Vice President of Operational Projects at Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), the UAE’s oldest Islamic bank.

“Successful Islamic banks have been able to combine operational and technological aspects of the business with Islamic practices and traditions. ITS is a leading international Islamic Banking solution provider that lives and breathes Islamic values and culture,” said Khalid al Saeid, Managing Director and General Manager of ITS.

“We have successfully combined this with our technology prowess to produce ‘ETHIX’, a next generation solution portfolio offering Islamic finance institutions Sharia-compliant products and a range of pre-defined business models including Islamic finance, Islamic investment, trading and delivery channels.”
The event will be followed by three days of one-on-one workshops hosted by ITS to individually assess each bank’s existing IT infrastructure and how best to implement Sharia-compliant financial services.

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Shari`ah-compliant Pensions for UK Muslims

Shari`ah-compliant Pensions for UK Muslims

Available at: http://ww2.onislam.net/english/news/europe/452636-shariah-compliant-pensions-for-uk-muslims.html

CAIRO – Eyeing to get a share of the booming Islamic finance industry, a British firm has launched a Shari`ah-compliant fund to enable Muslims to save for retirement, the Zawya website reported.
“We developed this product because we realized that there were no Shari`ah compliant registered pension schemes in the UK that supported Islamic wealth management,” Jo French, managing director of Pointon York, told The Islamic Globe.

Launched by Pointon York, a UK-based financial advisory company, the self-invested personal pensions (SIPP) allow British Muslims to save for retirement in compliance with religious and ethical principles.

Point York is the first firm to get Shari`ah-compliant accreditation by the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB).

“People are being alerted to the risks of not putting enough aside in pensions for their retirement,” said Sultan Choudhury, the commercial director of IBB, according to The Independent.

The fund offers four products, one of which is the corporate SIPP, which is made up of three tiers to allow an extensive and varied range of investments.

The first level is the e- SIPP, which is a simple product aimed at individual savers who want to manage their pension investments online.

A second level is the Single Investment SIPP, a straightforward SIPP for clients wishing to invest in a single asset.

The third individual SIPP serves more sophisticated investors through a fully flexible SIPP allowing an extensive and varied range of investments.

Accordingly, investors will be able to save in a self-invest personal pension and choose from a range of Shari`ah-compliant assets. These could include cash, funds and property.

Savers will also be able to enjoy tax relief on their pension contributions.

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2 million.

Growing Demand

The new fund is aimed to fulfil a growing demand for Muslims for Shari`ah-compliant products.

“As we developed the SIPP product we realized that many of the ethical concerns of our existing, non-Muslim clients were reflected in this Shari’ah compliant product,” French, the managing director of Pointon York, said.

Despite the presence of five Islamic banks, Britain’s retail Muslim market has been underserved for Shari`ah-compliant products and savings vehicles for a number of years.

“Retirement planning has been neglected because, among other reasons, the specific needs of Muslims have not been addressed,” Choudhury of the IBB said.

The IBB will monitor the SIPPs to ensure they do not invest in non Shari`ah- compliant markets such as gambling and tobacco.

Islam forbids Muslims from usury, receiving or paying interest on loans.

Islamic banks and finance institutions cannot receive or provide funds for anything involving alcohol, gambling, pornography, tobacco, weapons or pork.

Shari`ah-compliant financing deals resemble lease-to-own arrangements, layaway plans, joint purchase and sale agreements, or partnerships.

Investors have a right to know how their funds are being used, and the sector is overseen by dedicated supervisory boards as well as the usual national regulatory authorities.

The Shari`ah-compliant system is now being practiced in 50 countries worldwide, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the global financial industry.

Starting almost three decades ago, the Islamic banking industry has made substantial growth and attracted the attention of investors and bankers across the world.

A long list of international institutions, including Citigroup, HSBC and Deutsche Bank, are going into the Islamic banking business.

Currently, there are nearly 300 Islamic banks and financial institutions worldwide whose assets are predicted to grow to $1 trillion by 2013.

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Singapore officials rue low understanding of Islamic finance among investors

Singapore officials rue low understanding of Islamic finance among investors

By MUSHTAK PARKER | ARAB NEWS Available at: http://arabnews.com/economy/islamicfinance/article453485.ece

It has almost become a ritual that there has to be some sort of announcement either by the government, regulator or a financial institution at international conferences on Islamic finance.

Singapore is no exception. Not surprisingly, Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry, who is also the Deputy Chairman, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) (the financial regulator), announced a few days ago at one such conference in the island state that Singapore will in due course issue new income tax regulations for Islamic finance to provide greater tax clarity and certainty to the industry.

He also said the FInance Ministry will provide additional clarification and detailed explanation of the income tax treatment on more prescribed Islamic financing arrangements including financing through a partnership arrangement, project finance as well as interbank placement of funds.

“This is in keeping with our long-standing principle that Shariah-compliant products should not be disadvantaged in terms of regulatory and tax treatment where the economic substance and risks are similar to conventional products.”

It is no secret that Singapore aspires to be a global hub for Islamic wholesale banking services, asset management and capital markets.

MAS has over the last few years facilitated the development of Islamic finance in Singapore’s financial markets, which in recent times has seen several sizeable cross-border transactions, including the world’s first Shariah-compliant data center fund (Securus Data Property Fund), the listing of the world’s largest Islamic Real Estate Investment Trust (Sabana Shariah-Compliant REIT) on the Singapore Exchange, as well as Khazanah Nasional’s controversial S$1.5 billion Sukuk — the largest Singapore Dollar Sukuk to date.

Minister Lim Hng Kiang predictably raised the usual issues of challenges relating to taking the Islamic finance industry forward — the need for further standardization and harmonization of both regulatory and Shariah standards and documentation across the Middle East and Asia to increase efficiency and certainty; easier cross-border offering of financial products that would reach a wider investor base and reduce transaction costs; and would foster better risk management by ensuring that risks are clearly identified and appropriately mitigated between financial institutions and other relevant partners.

Similarly, regulators need to ensure that the legal and regulatory regimes remain robust in ensuring the safety and soundness of markets and institutions, and yet conducive for Islamic finance to grow at a sustainable rate.

At the same time, the industry needs to meet the human capital challenge especially given the rapid growth of the industry in which the demand for financial, accounting and legal professionals who are conversant with Islamic finance will rise.

But if Minister Lim Hng Kiang had been present at the seminar on ‘Strategies for Development of Islamic Capital Markets’ which was organized by the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), the prudential and Supervisory standard setting body for the global Islamic finance industry, in Singapore just a week earlier, he would have heard a different take on the reality of the Islamic finance challenge in Singapore and other East Asian markets.

Similarly, for new IFSB Secretary-General Jaseem Ahmed, it should also be a wake-up call as to the sustainability and expansion of the Islamic finance proposition even in major international financial centers such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and London.

Indeed, Tai Boon Leong, Executive Director, MAS, at the IFSB seminar, rightly reiterated that the progress on Islamic finance in Singapore achieved so far has been encouraging, especially for a small but internationally-orientated market, where a wide range of Islamic financial instruments and products had already been launched.

He, however, acknowledged that “the frequency and size of these instruments and transactions are low and smaller than their conventional equivalents,” however, “these deals underscore that there are no regulatory or market impediments to their origination in Singapore.”

The level of activity (or inactivity), he stressed “can be partly attributed to the low understanding and awareness of Islamic financing structures” (amongst investors, corporates and financial institutions) in Singapore.

“The Middle East and Asia,” he advised, “continue to present attractive opportunities. Both regions need to work closer together to achieve greater synergy and accelerate the global growth of Islamic finance. Singapore will play its part in this international effort together with our regional and industry partners.”

Tax neutrality whether for income, stamp duty or any other financial products — be they Islamic or conventional — is always welcome.

But in terms of building market confidence, especially in the targeted Islamic Capital Market (ICM), both the Minister and the executive director were conspicuous in not mentioning the dreaded ‘double S’ words ‘Sovereign Sukuk’. Imagine the impact it would have made on both events had the Singapore government announced that it may go the wholesale financial market to raise funds for a sovereign Sukuk during 2011 or early 2012.

Alas, there was no such announcement.

MAS launched the country’s first sukuk facility in 2009 to enable Islamic financial players in Singapore to meet their capital and liquidity requirements. The MAS sukuk is the Shariah-compliant equivalent of Singapore government securities, which meant it qualified as eligible assets under MAS liquidity framework for banks in Singapore. That sukuk, however, was issued under the reverse enquiry mechanism, and specifically designed for Islamic banks and the like to subscribe to it.

There are those who stress that the best way the Singapore government could stress the sustainability of the growth of Islamic finance in the country and region (and at the same time its meaningful commitment to expand Singapore as an ICM hub) is to issue a benchmark sovereign Sukuk (not reverse enquiry) under its normal government notes issuance program and debt management criteria.

The proceeds could be used to finance infrastructure projects or any other relevant government program.

There is also the option of issuing local currency domestic Sukuk like in neighboring Malaysia or as in Bahrain.

Tai Boon Leong of MAS could not have put it more aptly at the IFSB seminar, when he stressed that Islamic financial institutions face a general shortage of high quality Shariah-compliant assets to invest their growing deposit base. He also called for the expansion of the breadth and depth of Islamic capital markets in terms of products and capacity to absorb larger flows from a growing industry.

“Sukuk and other short-term market instruments,” he advised, “are sorely needed to enhance the liquidity available to Islamic finance players. This handicap has plagued the industry since its modern re-birth four decades ago. Liquid instruments such as sukuk allow isolated pools of Islamic funds in certain centers to flow cross-border to seek better returns; thereby unlocking the full international potential of Islamic finance.”

Nobody is suggesting that MAS issue Islamic papers on a regular basis, even though the business case may suggest that this could be an option in any diversified government fund-raising strategy especially since sukuk are now very competitive in the aftermath of the global financial crisis which has also affected the conventional bond market in general.

But one foray into the sovereign Sukuk market is not going to inspire that much confidence in international investors, especially when sukuk arrangers seem to be crying out for more AAA-rated sukuk issuances and the recently-established International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM) has the unenviable mandate of issuing a pool of AAA-rated sukuk backed by asset pools owned by sovereign or quasi-sovereign entities to stimulate short-term liquidity management for the global Islamic finance industry.

This is the message not only to non-Muslim jurisdictions such as Singapore, UK and Luxembourg, but also for Muslim countries per se. In fact, Malaysia is the only country that has issued two global sovereign sukuk (not including the sukuk issued by its sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional or domestic issuances), and reports suggest that Kuala Lumpur has already mandated a group of banks to arrange its third international Sukuk.

No wonder there is desperate talk amongst market players and investors about the dearth of a critical mass of highly-rated sukuk, which in turn is partly responsible for the lack of secondary trading, albeit such a culture is only starting to reach the Middle East amongst sukuk certificate holders, and the reluctance of global majors to assume the mantle of market maker, a task which has now fallen on the IILM.

It was noticeable that Singapore, one of the first countries outside the OIC to join the IFSB for instance, did not see fit to become a founder member of the IILM especially when countries such as Luxembourg and Mauritius, who both also aspire to be international Islamic capital markets hubs, indeed were. The founding equity subscription is a modest maximum of $10 million.

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Tazkiyah al Mal Through Islamic Finance

Tazkiyah al Mal Melalui Kewangan Islam

Pendahuluan

Tazkiyah merupakan proses penyucian yang diperlukan oleh setiap individu mahupun organisasi atau institusi bagi menjamin mendapat kerahmatan, keberkatan dan keredhaan Allah. Tazkiyah melibatkan proses ilmu dan amal bagi mensucikan hati dan membentuk keikhlasan yang menjadi penentu kepada penerimaan hidayat dan nur dari Allah. Melalui aspirasi Tazkiyah ini jugalah berlakunya perkembangan disiplin ilmu tasawwuf sehingga hari ini. Teori berkaitan rindu, ma’rifat, fana’, baqa’ dan persoalan nafs, ruh, `aql dan qalb serta konsep zuhud dan uzlah menjadi metode penyucian jiwa dan rohani.

Menurut pemerhatian, perbincangan mengenai konsep Tazkiyah banyak memfokuskan kepada aspek al Nafs iaitu penyucian diri atau jiwa. Agak kurang persoalan tentang Tazkiyah al Mal menjadi topik perbincangan yang seharusnya diberi perhatian yang sama. Di samping Tazkiyah al Nafs melalui zikir, amalan ibadah serta amal ma’ruf nahi munkar, Tazkiyah al Mal juga wajib dijadikan keutamaan. Sehubungan dengan itu, artikel ini akan membincangkan secara ringkas mengenai kepentingan Tazkiyah al Mal dan cuba menjelaskan ruang lingkup yang boleh dilaksanakan bagi tujuan ini dalam konteks kehidupan moden masa kini.

Tazkiyah al Mal

Islam menuntut setiap individu mahupun organisasi, institusi termasuk negara untuk melaksanakan proses Tazkiyah al Mal. Imam Shatibi di dalam kitabnya yang masyhur ’al Muwafaqat’ meletakkan al Mal sebagai salah satu daripada maqasid Shari’ah iaitu memelihara agama, aqal, diri, keturunan dan harta atau al Mal. Manusia sebagai pemegang amanah kepada al Mal yang dipinjamkan oleh Allah untuk sementara perlu dipelihara dan menepati sepenuhnya kehendak syarak di mana ianya menuntut satu proses pensucian atau Tazkiyah. Di antara proses Tazkiyah atau pensucian al Mal dalam Islam merujuk kepada perlaksanaan kewajipan zakat dan juga amalan menjauhi riba dan apa-apa perkara yang bersangkutan dengannya. Memandangkan topik riba ini agak kurang diperbincangkan sebagai salah satu metode Tazkiyah al Mal berbanding zakat, penulis mengambil peluang untuk membicarakan secara ringkas dan khusus mengenai Tazkiyah al Mal melalui amalan menjauhi riba dalam kehidupan.

Al Quran telah meletakkan riba sebagai salah satu dosa besar. Jika ditelusuri sejarah penurunan ayat al Quran, ayat terakhir diturunkan kepada Rasulullah Sallalallahualaihiwasallam ialah ayat bersangkutan dengan riba. Jumhur secara umumnya bersetuju bahawa ayat yang mula-mula diturunkan ialah 5 ayat pertama daripada surah al-‘Alaq, surah al-Taubah sebagai surah panjang terakhir, surah al-Nasr surah pendek terakhir dan ayat 275 hingga 281 surah al-Baqarah merupakan ayat terakhir diturunkan . Ini adalah riwayat yang paling rajih di mana ‘Umar dan ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas mengatakan ayat riba ini diturunkan 9 hari sebelum kewafatan Rasulullah Sallalallahualaihiwasallam sebagaimana yang diriwayatkan juga oleh Sa’id bin Jubayr dan Ibn Jurayj .

Berdasarkan riwayat di atas, secara rasionalnya kewajipan untuk menjauhi segala amalan berkaitan merupakan perkara yang sangat awla dalam kehidupan. Jika diambil analogi seorang yang sedang tenat dan menghampiri maut, sudah tentulah perkara yang paling penting akan diwasiatkan kepada waris. Begitu juga dengan ayat terakhir diturunkan oleh Allah kepada rasulNya sebelum wafat, semestinya peringatan untuk menjauhi amalan riba merupakan satu perkara yang sangat-sangat awla dan perlu diberikan perhatian serius oleh umat Islam. Berdasarkan analogi ini, adalah bermanfaat untuk kita merujuk dan menganalisis ayat 278-279 surah al Baqarah yang bermaksud, ”Hai orang-orang yang beriman, bertakwalah kepada Allah dan tinggalkan sisa riba (yang belum dipungut) jika kamu orang-orang yang beriman” dan ”Maka jika kamu tidak mengerjakan meninggalkan sisa riba, maka ketahuilah, bahwa Allah dan rasul-Nya akan memerangimu. Dan jika kamu bertaubat dari pengambilan riba, maka bagimu pokok hartamu; kamu tidak menganiaya dan tidak pula dianiaya”.

Jika dirujuk kepada asbabun nuzul ayat ini. Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jarir Ath Thabary meriwayatkan bahawa kaum Tsaqif, penduduk kota Thaif, telah membuat suatu kesepakatan dengan Rasulullah bahawa semua hutang dan piutang mereka yang ada unsur riba dibekukan dan dikembalikan hanya pokoknya saja. Setelah pembukaan Makkah, Rasulullah melantik Itab bin Usaid sebagai Gabenor Makkah yang juga meliputi kawasan Thaif sebagai daerah administrasinya. Sejak zaman jahiliah, bani Amr bin Umair bin Auf merupakan pihak yang sentiasa meminjamkan wang secara riba kepada Bani Mughirah. Setelah kedatangan Islam, mereka tetap memiliki kekayaan dan asset yang banyak melalui amalan ini. Suatu ketika datanglah Bani Amr untuk menagih hutang dengan tambahan riba dari Bani Mughirah. Namun pada waktu itu, bani Mughirah telah memeluk Islam dan menolak untuk memberikan tambahan riba tersebut. Maka dilaporkanlah masalah tersebut kepada Gabenor Itab bin Usaid. Gabenor Itab menulis surat kepada Rasulullah dan turunlah ayat surah al Baqarah 275-281. Rasulullah lantas menulis surat balasan kepada Gabenor Itab dan mengisytiharkan jikalau Bani Amr bin Umair bin Auf redha dengan ketentuan Allah maka itu baik, tetapi jikalau mereka menolaknya maka Rasulullah akan isytihar perang kepada mereka.

Menerusi pengisytiharan perang oleh Rasulullah Sallalallahualaihiwasallam di dalam riwayat di atas berdasarkan ruh ayat 278-279 surah al Baqarah, dapat disimpulkan bahawa usaha-usaha memastikan setiap harta dan rezeki yang diterima bebas dari riba merupakan salah satu metode pensucian al Mal. Tazkiyah al Mal melalui menjauhi dan mengelakkan dari terlibat dengan riba ini perlu berlaku di setiap peringkat sama ada individu, institusi termasuk negara. Tuntutan ini amat jelas kerana amalan riba telah dibuktikan terdapatnya elemen penindasan, ketidakadilan dan kezaliman.

Secara umumnya, usaha Tazkiyah al Mal melalui pemeliharan harta dari unsur riba perlu dilaksanakan pada setiap transaksi dan aktiviti kehidupan. Di peringkat individu perlu memastikan setiap transaksi muamalat yang di buat bebas dari unsur riba seperti pembiayaan perumahan, kad kredit, peribadi dan kereta. Di peringkat institusi, entiti perniagaan, badan bukan kerajaan, persatuan, kelab, masjid, sekolah, universiti dan apa sahaja bentuk institusi yang lain perlu memastikan akaun dan setiap transaksi yang berlaku perlu dipastikan tiada unsur riba. Begitu juga di peringkat negara di mana kerajaan dan jenteranya seperti kementerian, badan berkanun dan lain-lain wajib berusaha untuk melaksanakan apa sahaja transaksi yang berteraskan Shari’ah. Segala pelaburan, simpanan dan sistem yang digunapakai perlu bebas dari segala unsur riba. Malangnya hingga kini, didapati masih terdapat individu Muslim, institusi perniagaan termasuk persatuan dan badan bukan kerajaan yang dimiliki orang Islam serta institusi kerajaan yang masih mempunyai akaun dan berurusan dengan bank konvensional yang jelas terlibat dengan aktiviti berlandaskan riba. Jika kita menghayati maksud dan pengajaran dari ayat di atas, sesungguhnya kelalaian dan kealpaan dalam melaksanakan tuntutan Allah ini tidak akan berlaku.

Implikasi Ketiadaan Tazkiah Al Mal

Berpandukan kepada pengajaran yang didapati melalui ayat 278-279 di atas, penulis berpandangan bahawa kebangkitan umat Islam yang diimpikan selama ini tidak akan berlaku sepenuhnya jika sistem dan amalan bersangkutan dengan riba masih lagi diamalkan. Malahan ianya tidak mungkin berlaku kerana dengan jelas amalan seumpama ini mendapat kemurkaan Allah dan rasulNya. Kebejatan sosial dan keruntuhan akhlak serta kemunduran umat Islam pada hari ini sebenarnya adalah akibat daripada kurang mendapat rahmat Allah. Hal ini dijelaskan dan diperingatkan oleh Rasulullah di dalam banyak hadis.

(i) Peringatan oleh Rasulullah Sallalallahualaihiwasallam

• “Akan datang suatu zaman kepada manusia, mereka memakan riba.” Lalu ada yang bertanya. “Apakah semua manusia wahai Rasullullah ?.” Sabdanya.” Orang yang tidak memakannya namun terkena debunya.” [Riwayat Bukhari dan Muslim daripada Abu Hurairah]

• Jauhilah tujuh perkara yang membinasakan. Syirik, Sihir, membunuh tanpa hak, makan harta anak yatim, makan riba, lari dari medan peperangan kerana takut dan menuduh perempuan yang suci dengan zina tanpa saksi adil. “ [Riwayat Al-Bukhari dan Muslim.]

• “Satu dirham riba dosanya lebih berat daripada dosa orang berzina tiga puluh enam kali .” [Hadith Riwayat Muslim]

• “Riba mempunyai 73 pintu, Riba yang paling ringan (dosanya) seperti seorang lelaki berzina dengan ibunya”. [Hadith Riwayat Ibnu Majah]

Melalui hadis di atas di samping ayat larangan riba, para sahabat dan fuqaha memberi amaran keras tentang azab dan balasan kepada sesiapa yang mengamalkan riba. Ibn Abbas umpamanya berkata: “Akan dikatakan kepada pemakan riba di hari kiamat : “ambillah senjata kamu untuk berperang dengan Allah Subhanahuwataala kerana Allah dalam mengistiharkan atau mengizinkan perang ke atasnya” [Jami Al-Bayan ‘An Takwil Ayyi Al-Quran, At-Tabari, 3/68 ; Ad-Durru Al-Manthur, As-Suyuti, 3/366]. Beliau juga berkata: “Tidak diterima dari pemakan riba ( yang menggunakan harta riba tadi) sedeqahnya, hajinya, jihadnya dan persaudaraannya.” [Al-Jami’ li Ahkamil Quran, Al-Qurtubi, 3/362 ; Az-Zawajir ‘An ‘Iqtiraf al-Kabair , ibid, 1/224]. Imam Malik Bin Anas pula berkata: “Telah ku buka lembaran-lembaran Kitab Allah Subhanahuwataala dan Sunnah Nabi Sallalallahualaihiwasallam dan tidak ku dapati (dosa) yang lebih buruk dari Riba, kerana Allah Subhanahuwataala dalam mengistiharkan atau mengizinkan perang ke atasnya” [Al-Jami’ Li Ahkam Al-Quran, Al-Qurtubi, 3/364 ]. Ini diikuti dan disepakati oleh Imam Abu Hanifah yang mengatakan: “Riba, inilah ayat didalam al Quran yang paling menakutkan.” [Rujuk At-Tabari, Hamisyh An-Naisaburi, 4/73].

(ii) Bukti ’Empirical’ Peringatan Rasulullah Sallalallahualaihiwasallam

Bukti jelas peringatan Rasulullah dapat disaksikan kepada apa yang berlaku pada umat Islam masa kini. Kemunduran dari aspek ekonomi, pendidikan, teknologi dan lain-lain jelas menunjukkan bahawa umat Islam sebenarnya mengalami krisis dengan Allah Subhanahuwataala. Hipotesis yang disebutkan di dalam al Quran mengenai pengisytiharan perang dengan golongan yang terlibat dengan riba dan hadis Rasulullah yang memberi peringatan keras tentang azab dan implikasinya secara jelas menunjukkan mengapa dan kenapa umat Islam mundur dan ketinggalan dari pelbagai sudut selama ini. Berikut ialah beberapa fakta tentang situasi umat Islam masa kini:-

• 57 negara OIC iaitu 25% daripada jumlah keluasan dunia dan 70% daripada pengeluaran minyak dunia. GDP hanya 4.7% daripada GDP dunia, eksport hanya 7.9% daripada jumlah eksport dunia dan 1.3% daripada perdagangan dunia.

• 51.5% muslim di 26 negara OIC berpendapatan USD2 sehari dan 24.6% kurang dari USD1 sehari.

• 1.8 bilion orang Islam dengan Qatar di tangga pertama pendapatan perkapita di dunia USD83,841 dan Brunei di tangga kelima dengan USD49,110 dan 7 negara OIC diklasifikasi negara pendapatan tinggi tetapi 22 negara diklasifikasikan sebagai ’Low-income countries’ dan ’Heavily Indebted and Poor Countries’.

• 70-85% daripada 1.8 bilion orang Islam diklasifikasikan sebagai ’non-bankable’. 50% hidup di bawah garis kemiskinan dan miskin tegar serta 25% tiada akses pada kemudahan perubatan dan air bersih.

• GDP negara OIC, melainkan Turki dan Indonesia adalah lebih kecil daripada syarikat di senarai bursa saham di barat. GDP Malaysia pada 2009 hanya USD193 billion, bersamaan dengan “market capitalisation” Google.

• Daripada 57 negara, hanya ada 500 universiti, bersamaan dengan 1 universiti bersamaan 3 juta muslim dan purata 8.7 universiti setiap negara. Di Amerika sahaja ada 5,758 universiti purata 115 universiti setiap negeri. Negara OIC juga hanya keluarkan 500 PhD setahun berbanding 5,000 di UK.

Tazkiah al Mal Melalui Kewangan Islam

Setelah jatuhnya empayar Turki Uthmaniah sebagai mewakili pemerintahan kerajaan Islam, hampir semua negara Islam telah dijajah dan yang paling malang ialah sistem ekonomi telah digantikan dengan sistem berpaksikan kepada riba. Kesemua negara hingga kini mengamalkan sistem kewangan berlandaskan riba termasuk negara-negara Islam. Akhirnya setelah tidur sekian lama, kebangkitan Islam yang umumnya bermula pada abad ke 19 telah membuka ruang kepada penghasilan idea ekonomi Islam sebagai salah satu pendekatan untuk memajukan umat. Melalui idea ini, pada 1960an telah tertubuhnya institusi kewangan Islam bebas riba di Mesir dan seterusnya hingga kini terdapat lebih 500 institusi di lebih 75 buah negara di dunia.

Dalam konteks taklif untuk memastikan urusan kehidupan bebas dari unsur riba, Tazkiyah al Mal berbentuk mikro (individu) dan makro (institusi atau negara) perlu menjadi salah satu dari matlamat utama. Melihat kepada zaman kegelapan umat Islam iaitu sewaktu penjajahan imperialis barat, berbanding dengan umat Islam pada waktu itu, kita sebenarnya amat beruntung kerana telah terdapat institusi kewangan Islam yang menyediakan pelbagai instrumen kemudahan kewangan. Oleh itu sebarang usaha ke arah membebaskan kehidupan dari riba perlu dianggap sebagai ibadah dan satu cabang jihad ekonomi yang perlu dilaksanakan. Sheikh Hussain Shahatah di dalam bukunya ’Jihad Ekonomi’ secara jelas menyatakan bahawa jihad ekonomi adalah kefarduan yang telah ditentukan oleh syarak dan keperluan yang dituntut oleh akidah.

Dalam konteks masa kini, kewangan Islam bukan lagi alternatif bahkan ianya merupakan kewajipan kepada umat Islam. Penulis berhipotesis dan berpandangan bahawa kebangkitan Islam hanya akan berlaku secara menyeluruh dan kegemilangan semula umat Islam juga hanya akan tercapai jika dapat membebaskan dari sistem dan transaksi yang berlandaskan riba. Mana mungkin umat Islam akan bangkit semula dan mendapat keberkatan dan rahmatNya jika sistem yang diamalkan merupakan pencetus peperangan denganNya dan rasulNya.

Jika ditinjau perkembangan kewangan Islam, setakat ini sektor perbankan Islam hanya mewakili peratusan kecil sektor perbankan dunia iaitu tidak sampai 1% meliputi saiz US$1 trilion daripada US$232 trilion. Di Malaysia, dengan bilangan penduduk seramai 28 juta di mana 60.4% Muslim, jumlah aset perbankan Islam hanya menjangkau 20% daripada total aset perbankan. Indonesia yang mempunyai penduduk Muslim paling ramai di dunia iaitu 88% daripada 234.6 juta hanya merekodkan 2.9% aset perbankan Islam. Begitu juga di Pakistan dengan 170 juta penduduk, 97% Muslim, aset perbankan Islam hanya mencapai 6.4%. Di Kuwait dengan 3.6 juta penduduk, 100% Muslim, aset perbankan Islam hanya mencecah 34.3%. Di Qatar, dihuni 1.4 juta penduduk, 95% Muslim, merekodkan 19.3% aset perbankan Islam. Arab Saudi dengan 25% jumlah seluruh simpanan minyak dunia mempunyai 26.1 juta penduduk, 100% Muslim, aset perbankan Islam hanya 15.9%. UAE mempunyai 5.1 juta penduduk, 96% Muslim, hanya mencatatkan 14% aset perbankan Islam. Bahrain merekodkan hanya 10.9% aset perbankan Islam. Fakta ini dengan jelas menunjukkan hampir kesemua negara di dunia Islam tidak mengamalkan sistem berlandaskan Shari’ah secara menyeluruh. Hal ini menimbulkan tanda tanya mengenai kesedaran dan keghairahan umat Islam untuk merealisasikan perintah Allah agar menjauhi riba dalam setiap aspek kehidupan.

Di samping melihat kewangan Islam sebagai salah satu mekanisme mematuhi perintah Allah dari aspek larangan amalan riba, tidak dapat dinafikan bahawa terdapat pelbagai kritikan kepada amalan dan perlaksanaannya yang dikatakan tidak memenuhi maqasid Shari’ah dan gagal meningkatkan sosio-ekonomi masyarakat. Ramai juga cendiakawan yang berpandangan produk kewangan Islam mempunyai unsur riba dalam erti kata yang lain dan cenderung kepada sistem ekonomi kapitalis. Namun demikian, perkara ini bukanlah faktor yang boleh melepaskan tanggungjawab kita untuk bertransaksi dengan institusi kewangan Islam. Sekurang-kurangnya endorsemen dari penasihat Shari’ah di setiap institusi kewangan Islam mahupun di peringkat nasional dan antarabangsa termasuk Majma Fiqh Islami dan badan-badan Shari’ah yang lain. Usaha-usaha memperbetul dan mentrasformasikan amalan kewangan Islam melalui kritikan dan proses pentarbiyahan juga merupakan satu tuntutan agama. Ini bertepatan dengan ruh yang terkandung di dalam ayat 55 surah al dhariyat yang bermaksud ”Dan tetaplah memberi peringatan, kerana sesungguhnya peringatan itu bermanafaat bagi orang-orang yang beriman”.

Kesimpulan

Seiring dengan perkembangan semasa dan keperluan kehidupan dalam konteks masyarakat pada hari ini, keperluan kepada instrumen kewangan dan institusi yang bebas dari amalan riba merupakan satu tuntutan yang wajib dilaksanakan. Insan mahupun institusi dan negara yang berjaya menyucikan harta mereka akan mampu melaksanakan tujuan asal penciptaannya iaiatu sebagai hamba Allah dan Khalifah di muka bumi ini. Ayat 278-279 yang memberi peringatan kepada tercetusnya peperangan dengan Allah dan rasulnya kepada golongan yang terlibat dengan riba sudah pastinya menimbulkan kegerunan dan ketakutan kita kepada azab yang dijanjikan. Sudah tiba masanya kita melakukan transformasi dalam kehidupan melalui usaha-usaha untuk memastikan setiap urusan kehidupan yang membabitkan al Mal bebas daripada unsur yang dimurkai Allah. Ini sudah pastinya perlu dimulakan di peringkat individu dan diikuti keluarga, masyarakat, institusi dan negara. Hanya dengan mentaati perintah Allah dan rasulNya kita akan mendapat keredhaan dan seterusnya menjamin al falah di dunia dan akhirat.

Egypt haunts Saudi Arabia again

Egypt haunts Saudi Arabia again

By propping up the Arab monarchies, Saudi Arabia is reverting to its old anti-revolutionary role

By Soumaya Ghannoushi Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/08/egypt-haunts-saudi-arabia-again

Little did Riyadh know that the most severe strategic blow to its regional influence would come not from Tehran, or Tehran’s agents in Baghdad – but Cairo, its closest Arab friend. The ousting of Mubarak did not only mean the loss of a strong ally, but the collapse of the old balance of power. The region could no longer be divided on a Riyadh-Cairo v Tehran-Damascus axis. Revolutions have struck in both camps: in “moderate” Egypt and Tunisia, as in “hardline” Damascus and Tripoli. The principal challenge for the Saudi regime is no longer the influence of Syria, Iran or Hezbollah, but the contagion of revolutions.

The Saudis had dispatched troops to the small kingdom of Bahrain to suppress a revolt against the Sunni rule of the Khalifas. And when the Yemeni revolution erupted, they moved to bolster Ali Abdullah Saleh’s reign, pumping millions into his coffers to buy off tribal allegiances, and providing his army with equipment, intelligence and logistical support. Although Riyadh’s rulers despise Saleh for dragging them into a messy conflict with the Houthis at their southern border in 2009, they have stood by him. But as the revolution raged on, winning the support of most tribes and causing wide defections in the army, the Saudi regime had no choice but to let go of its man in Sana’a – as long as this is perceived not as the fruit of popular pressure, but a smooth power transition within the framework of its own Gulf Co-operation Council proposal. With Saleh’s forced exit after Friday’s attack on his presidential compound, Riyadh is again seeking to wrest the initiative from the street and act as the chief powerbroker in Yemen.

Although it has striven for years to isolate Syria from Tehran, it is not too keen on seeing its old enemy collapse under the blows of protesters either – and is now working to protect the Assad regime. King Abdullah has even phoned President Assad to offer “solidarity with Syria against conspiracies targeting its stability and security”.

Saudi Arabia is sparing no expense to contain existing revolutions and suppress potential ones. In spite of its fear of post-revolutionary Egypt, it has recently granted it $4bn in aid to appease its generals; $20bn has been lavished on Bahrain and Oman – another kingdom beset by popular unrest – with $400m donated to Jordan.

To Riyadh, Arab revolutions set a dangerous precedent for the subjects of monarchies, and must, therefore, be averted at all cost. This is the backdrop for Saudi Arabia’s invitation to Jordan and Morocco to join the Gulf Co-operation Council, an organisation that ought to be rebranded as the Club of Arab Despotic Monarchies. Jordan, known for its powerful security apparatus, could act as a useful buffer against revolutionary penetration from Levantine Syria. As for Morocco – whose membership invitation has baffled many, located as it is at the far end of the Arab hemisphere – its principal virtue is its 35 million population, which may compensate for the loss of Riyadh’s old heavyweight ally, Egypt.

Monarchy is one characteristic shared by Jordan and Morocco. Economic need is another. Their fragile economies, crippled by debt and corruption, constitute an advantage in the eyes of Saudi strategists, rendering them more amenable to bribery and manipulation.

Riyadh has been watching anxiously as demands for reform escalate. In Jordan, demonstrations have even spread into the tribal south, the regime’s traditional support base. A broad alliance of Islamists and leftists has formed after the resignation of two ministers over a graft case. As the alliance’s leader, Ahmad Obeidat, put it: “Tyranny and corruption are Jordan’s main problems. Fighting corruption starts with reforming the regime itself.”

The same state of political mobilisation characterises Morocco – north Africa’s only kingdom. The February 20 youth movement has held weekly demonstrations for constitutional reform. Human rights groups report a mass arrest campaign, and regular torture. Police brutality is such that Kamal al-Ammari, a pro-democracy activist, was beaten to death at a pro-democracy rally last week in the southern city of Safa.

By trying to fortify these monarchies, Saudi Arabia is seeking not only to protect them, but preserve itself. The domino effect – one republic after another consumed by revolution – must not be allowed to strike a monarchy. The message is clear: revolutions are a strictly republican phenomenon to which kingdoms are immune. But the goal is to keep reform at bay too. There can be no talk of constitutional monarchies.

Although the Saudi regime is preoccupied by the Iranian threat, its eye is now focused on Egypt and the Arab revolutions, existing and potential. There is nothing that it dreads more than a return to the 1950s and 60s scenario of Cairo spearheading a revolutionary Arab world against pro-American conservative kingdoms. Riyadh is in the process of reproducing the 1955 Baghdad pact, forged in confrontation with Nasser and his revolutionary officers and bringing together the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Jordan (both unofficially), Pahlavi Iran and royal Iraq, as well as Turkey and Pakistan. Some of the players have been replaced, and nationalism has made way for Islamism, but the structure of the strategic game is the same.

And so is its mightiest weapon: money. In a battle where internal fears coincide with external interests, Riyadh is resuming its old role as the vanguard of a cold war against change.

Regards
Zulkifli Hasan