Does Islamic Finance Prevent The Future Global Financial Crisis?

Does Islamic Finance Prevent The Future Global Financial Crisis?

Dr. Zulkifli Hasan

The collapse of long established industry players that assume to be immune or “too big to fail” such as Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and others is a clear indication of a systemic economic failure. This tension leads to numerous debates on the cause of the meltdown and the primary cause of the crisis. While Michael Spence claims that securities and derivatives like collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and Credit Default Swaps (CDS) are the main factors, Sachs and Stiglitz blame the credit markets deregulation as the root cause of the crisis. A renowned Islamic economist, Chapra views that the most important cause of current financial crisis was due to excessive and imprudent lending by banks and a so called founding father of modern Islamic economic, Siddiqi affirms that the crisis is rooted in a moral failure that leads to exploitation and corruption. All of these debates seem to suggest at one conclusion that the current financial architecture needs to have some reformation that would help to minimize the frequency and severity of such a crisis in the future.

The credit crunch has witnessed the failure of conventional finance markets to prevent the economic instability and inefficiency. In this regard, Islamic finance tends to offer very promising solution as IFIs has showed very strong resilience to the current financial turmoil. As evidence, the Moody expects growth in Islamic banking assets to achieve around 10 to 15 percent this year, one of the fastest-growing segments in financial services sector despite the crisis. In addition, Islamic banking assets are expected to rise from USD750 billion at the end of 2006 to more than USD1 trillion by 2010. This raises the question of whether adherence to Islamic finance principles would have prevented the future crisis.

To be clear, although Islamic finance is conceived to be inherently stable; in reality it is actually not immune from the financial crisis as it is part of the global financial system. Slowing sukuk issuance for the past two years and closure of Ihlas Finance House in Turkey in 2001 vividly demonstrate that the adherence to Islamic finance per se does not guarantee that this sector is safe from any economic crisis. In fact, Islamic finance will face significant challenges when it reaches to certain degree of complexity and sophistication of financial products and instrument such as derivatives that have been always the hallmarks of its conventional counterparts.

The key role of the IFIs in this aspect is therefore to ensure that it would be able to achieve a level of resilience that would ensure its sustainability. At this point, the mechanism that would protect the industry from the worst effects of any credit crisis is stern adherence to the core ethical principles of Islamic finance such as strict rules of conduct for all market participants, prohibition of interest and speculative behavior, risk sharing, money as potential capital, sanctity of contracts and Shari’ah approved transactions. This can only be materialized via strengthening the corporate governance practice in IFIs so as to promote transparency, accountability, fairness and equality.

The corporate governance of IFIs differs in several respects to that of its conventional counterparts since its governance framework is beyond the relationship between the owners and managers but it includes as to how to maintain the relationship with the God. This makes all organs in IFIs have fiduciary duties to observe the Shari’ah and ethical principles of Islamic finance as stipulated in al-Quran and al-Sunnah. With this respect the institutionalization of Shari’ah board as an additional layer of governance would play significant role to monitor and supervise the adherence of the institutions upon these principles.

To illustrate how important corporate governance is, the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions and the Islamic Financial Services Board have issued several governance standards as guidelines for IFIs. As corporate governance leads to efficiency and stability, I firmly believe that sound corporate governance practice would enhance the potential role of Islamic finance in contributing toward global financial stability and adherence to Islamic finance alone will surely not prevent financial crisis to happen in the future.

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain

Towards an Arms Trade Treaty: What are our Roles?

Isu Pengawalan Perdagangan Senjata Dunia: Apa Peranan Kita?

Zulkifli Hasan

Pendahuluan

Baru-baru ini dilaporkan bahawa Rusia dan China telah menggunakan kuasa veto untuk membatalkan resolusi Majlis Keselamatan Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB) yang menyokong pelan Liga Arab untuk mendesak Presiden Syria Bashar Al Assad supaya berundur dan mengutuk keganasan kezaliman yang berlaku. Hingga kini dilaporkan lebih 6000 rakyat Syria telah terkorban semenjak Mac 2011 dan ribuan lagi telah tercedera, ditangkap dan hilang tanpa dapat dikesan. Ramai yang tertanya-tanya mengapa dan kenapa negara-negara ini berbuat demikian. Sudah pasti mereka mempunyai sebab dan justifikasi terhadap tindakan mereka ini. Dilaporkan bahawa Rusia merupakan pembekal senjata dan rakan dagang utama Syria dalam membekalkan pelbagai jenis senjata kepada rejim Al Assad. Begitu juga di Bahrain, dalam keghairahan media barat mengutuk Iran untuk membangunkan tenaga nuklearnya, Amerika dalam masa yang sama telah membekalkan senjata yang besar jumlahnya kepada Bahrain.

Dunia telah menyaksikan bahawa abad ke 20 merupakan abad yang paling kejam dalam sejarah manusia dengan dua peperangan dunia, diikuti lebih 30 tahun perlumbaan senjata, perang teluk, perang Afghanistan, Perang Vietnam, Perang Iran-Iraq termasuk konflik dalaman, revolusi dan sebagainya. Program Penyelidikan Keamanan, Cornell Universiti di Amerika dalam laporannya “Deaths in Wars and Conflicts in the 20th Century’ telah menganggarkan bahawa seramai 231 juta manusia telah terkorban melalui peperangan dan konflik sepanjang abad ke 20. Di antara faktor utama sejarah tragis manusia ini adalah kesan daripada perdagangan senjata. Perdagangan senjata yang sering kali dilihat sebagai langkah memperkuatkan sistem pertahanan dan perbelanjaan persenjataan atas dasar keselamatan sebenarnya hanya mencetuskan konflik dan pertumpahan darah.

Bagi membincangkan topik ini, penulis akan cuba berkongsi sedikit pengetahuan dan pengalaman mengenai peri pentingnya umat Islam untuk memberikan respon positif terhadap usaha-usaha ke arah pengawalan perdagangan senjata. Artikel ini akan menelusuri gerakan-gerakan di seluruh dunia yang giat memperjuangkan undang-undang pengawalan perdagangan senjata. Artikel ini juga akan meninjau realiti perdagangan senjata termasuk menampilkan aktor-aktor pengeluar senjata dan pelanggan tetap kepada saudagar senjata ini di seluruh dunia. Di samping itu, penulis juga akan berkongsi maklumat berkenaan dengan institusi dan badan yang aktif dan komited mengawal dan memantau perdagangan senjata dan juga entiti yang secara komperehensif merekod dan menyimpan data serta statistik perdagangan senjata di seluruh dunia. Di akhir penulisan, artikel ini secara ringkas akan membincangkan peranan umat Islam itu sendiri terhadap isu pengawalan perdagangan senjata ini.

Kenali Pengeluar dan Pelanggan Perdagangan Senjata

Adalah tidak mengejutkan bahawa, Amerika merupakan peneraju perdagangan senjata diikuti oleh Rusia, Britain dan Perancis. Maklumat mengenai Perdagangan Senjata dunia boleh diperolehi menerusi Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) sebuah badan bebas antarabangsa berpengkalan di Sweden yang mengkhusus kepada penyelidikan mengenai perdagangan senjata yang memantau dan mempunyai pengkalan data yang komprehensif mengenai perdagangan senjata dunia. Menurut SIPRI, direkodkan bahawa antara 1996-2000 perdagangan senjata dunia dipelopori oleh Amerika, Russia, Perancis yang mewakili 30%, diikuti oleh Britain dan Jerman, 20% dan Belanda, Ukraine, Italy, China, Belarus, Sepanyol dan Israel, 15%. Apa yang menarik dan dalam masa yang sama agak mengejutkan ialah negara-negara pengeluar senjata ini merupakan ahli tetap Majlis Keselamatan PBB iaitu mewakili 85% perdagangan senjata dunia. Sudah pasti fakta ini menimbulkan persoalan mengenai keberkesanan dan keadilan dalam Majlis Keselamatan PBB.

Dari aspek pengeluar senjata, terdapat tujuh syarikat utama pengeluar senjata di dunia iaitu Lockheed Martin (Amerika) BAE Systems (Britain), Boeing (Amerika), Raytheon (Amerika), General Dynamics (Amerika) dan Thomson-CSF (Perancis). Syarikat-syarikat ini secara aktif mempromosi dan membekalkan senjata di seluruh dunia. Terdapat juga individu pengusaha dan pembekal senjata yang beroperasi membekalkan senjata secara penyeludupan. Victor Bout seorang ikon saudagar senjata dunia yang telah membekalkan pelbagai jenis senjata di serata dunia akhirnya telah ditangkap di Thailand dan diekstradisi ke Amerika. Di antara 2005-2009, direkodkan bahawa negara utama pengguna dan yang melanggan senjata ialah Taiwan, Arab Saudi, Turki, Korea Selatan, India, Mesir, Israel, Pakistan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Greece, Singapura dan Algeria. Menurut ‘Congressional Research Service’, institusi yang menjalankan penyelidikan untuk kongres Amerika, nilai perdagangan senjata antarabangsa bagi 2010 sahaja telah mencecah USD35 bilion.

Selain daripada senjata berat, isu perdagangan senjata kecil juga perlu diambil perhatian kerana ianya juga sangat mempengaruhi dan kerap kali kematian diakibatkan oleh senjata sebegini. Panel Pakar PBB mengkategorikan senjata kecil ini kepada senjata yang digunakan oleh pihak polis dan tentera seperti pistol, rifel, bom tangan, mortar, gas pemedih mata dan lain-lain. Senjata kecil ini pada dasarnya bertujuan untuk menjaga ketenteraman awam dan memelihara keamanan. Namun demikian, dunia menyaksikan senjata ini akhirnya sering kali digunakan oleh pihak berkuasa menindas dan menzalimi orang awam. Pengeluar utama senjata seumpama ini ialah China, Russia dan Amerika. Kajian yang dibuat oleh ‘Graduate Institute of International Studies’ di Geneva menganggarkan bahawa sekurang-kurangnya 550 juta pistol dan senjata seumpamanya yang terdapat di dunia iaitu mewakili satu senjata bagi setiap 11 penduduk dunia. ’Small Arms Survey’ yang dijalankan oleh institusi ini pula melaporkan bahawa nilai perdagangan senjata kecil ini adalah melebihi USD7 bilion setahun. Ironinya ialah sebanyak USD2.4 bilion telah diperuntukkan pada 2010 untuk pembelian senjata kecil ini seperti gas pemedih mata, kereta perisai dan senjata lain telah dijual kepada Negara yang mengalami krisis dan konflik seperti Bahrain, Mesir, Libya, Syria dan Yaman. Ini menunjukkan bahawa oleh kerana tiadanya undang-undang antarabangsa pengawalan perdagangan senjata yang boleh menghalang penjualan senjata kepada negara-negara yang secara jelas melanggar hak asasi manusia telah mengakibatkan krisis dan konflik yang berterusan di negara-negara berkenaan.

Implikasi Perdagangan Senjata

Persepsi yang selalu menjadi tanggapan umum terhadap persenjataan ialah senjata adalah untuk keselamatan. Bagi negara pengeluar senjata, industri ini dapat menjana ekonomi dan memberi hasil kepada negara termasuk mencipta peluang pekerjaan. Tetapi tahukah anda bahawa sekitar 2,000 orang mati setiap hari akibat dari perdagangan senjata ini. Industri pembuatan senjata juga tidak banyak menyumbang kepada ekonomi dan sebenarnya tidak menjana peluang pekerjaan yang signifikan. Ini memandangkan industri senjata ini dikategorikan sebagai industri berteknologi tinggi dan tidak memerlukan pekerja yang ramai. Sekiranya dibandingkan antara maslahah dan mafsadah industri ini, didapati terlalu banyak implikasi negatif secara langsung atau tidak langsung melalui urusniaga perdagangan senjata ini.

Jika diteliti dan dianalisis secara telus, hakikatnya perdagangan senjata ini boleh memberikan implikasi yang sangat negatif dan amat berpotensi untuk mencetuskan konflik. Umpamanya pada 1998, terdapat 11 konflik senjata di Afrika. Bagaimana hal ini boleh berlaku? Di antara faktor utama konflik ini ialah pihak yang bermusuhan memiliki armada tentera dan persenjataan yang mencukupi. Dilaporkan antara 1989-1998, Amerika telah memperuntukkan USD227 juta untuk latihan ketenteraan dan senjata bagi tentera-tentera di beberapa negara di Afrika. Daripada jumlah ini sebanyak USD111 juta digunakan untuk peperangan yang berlaku di Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Burundi, Chad Namibia, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda dan Zimbabwe.

Perdagangan senjata ini juga boleh mempengaruhi dasar dan peruntukan kewangan negara. Peruntukan perbelanjaan untuk persenjataan yang berlebihan akan menjejaskan agenda pembangunan sesebuah negara. Menurut Laporan Setiausaha Agung PBB kepada Majlis Keselamatan berkenaan dengan senjata kecil (S/2008/258) melaporkan bahawa perbelanjaan senjata terutamanya di negara dunia ketiga dan membangun menyebabkan kekayaan negara tidak dapat disalurkan kepada pembangunan sosial. PBB merekodkan bahawa lebih 1 bilion penduduk hidup di bawah paras kemiskinan iaitu pendapatan kurang daripada USD1 sehari sedangkan USD184 setahun diperuntukkan bagi perbelanjaan senjata bagi setiap individu di muka bumi ini. Amat malang kerana fenomena perbelanjaan persenjataan yang keterlaluan ini juga berlaku di negara membangun dan mengalami krisis kemanusiaan. ‘Global Fire Power’, sebuah laman sesawang yang mempunyai pengkalan data mengenai maklumat umum pertahanan negara di dunia, merekodkan tatkala Pakistan dan Mesir dilanda krisis pengangguran dan masalah ekonomi, kedua-dua negara ini telah memperuntukkan jumlah wang yang besar untuk ketenteraan dan masing-masing kini menduduki tangga ke 15 dan 16 dunia dari segi kekuatan angkatan tentera. Lebih mengejutkan lagi ialah daripada jumlah pasaran senjata dunia, 10 negara membangun yang mengalami masalah ekonomi dan kemanusiaan adalah mewakili 60% daripada jumlah pasaran senjata bagi tahun 2003-2010.

Perkembangan perbelanjaan senjata yang berlebihan untuk tujuan keselamatan juga mengakibatkan peruntukan yang sepatutnya disalurkan kepada sektor pembangunan dan kebajikan tidak dapat dimanfaatkan. Sebagai contoh, harga bagi 30 buat jet Sukhoi-30 MKI buatan Rusia ialah USD1.8 bilion. Peruntukan sebanyak ini sebenarnya boleh disalurkan untuk membiayai persekolahan rendah selama setahun bagi 20 juta kanak-kanak. Harga bagi 310 kereta kebal T-90S buatan Russia ialah USD600 juta dan sekiranya wang ini digunakan untuk tujuan kesihatan ianya boleh dibelanjakan untuk membiayai pembelian 200 juta ‘insecticide-treated nets; yang mampu mengurangkan kematian akibat malaria. Nilai bagi 6 buah kapal selam buatan Perancis ialah USD1.8 bilion. Peruntukan sebanyak ini mampu untuk membantu dalam proses rawatan 1.7 bilion kanak-kanak yang mengidap ‘debilitating intestinal worms’ selama 3 tahun. Harga bagi sepuluh jet pejuang Mirage-2000E buatan Perancis ialah USD325 juta. Dianggarkan wang ini cukup untuk membekalkan vitamin dan mineral yang diperlukan bagi 1 bilion orang selama 10 tahun. Peruntukan untuk membeli 66 Jet Pejuang Hawk fighter buatan Britain ialah USD1.7 bilion. Perbelanjaan ini hakikatnya mampu untuk membiayai ‘antiretroviral AIDS drugs’ bagi lebih 11 juta pesakit AIDS selama setahun. Fakta dan angka ini kadang-kadang amat menggerunkan kerana kita dapat menyaksikan betapa rakusnya manusia terhadap kuasa hingga sanggup mengenepikan keperluan yang lebih mendesak seperti kesihatan, pendidikan dan pembangunan sosio ekonomi masyarakat.

Di antara implikasi negatif yang sering juga terjadi berikutan kegiatan perdagangan senjata ialah meningkatnya indeks rasuah. Perdagangan senjata sering melibatkan pihak tengah, tidak telus, bersifat rahsia dan sangat berpotensi menyumbang ke arah amalan rasuah. Dilaporkan bahawa terdapat lebih 50% tuduhan rasuah melibatkan perdagangan senjata. Amalan industri perdagangan senjata yang tidak telus dan keghairahan pihak tertentu untuk memiliki senjata berteknologi tinggi dan terkini menyemarakkan lagi anasir rasuah yang akhirnya menelan perbelanjaan yang besar bagi bajet sesebuah Negara. Berdasarkan kepada faktor ini, seharusnya sesuatu perlu dilakukan bagi memantau industri senjata dan juga mewujudkan satu undang-undang antarabangsa untuk mengawal perdagangan senjata di dunia. Sekurang-kurangnya, undang-undang antarabangsa yang bersifat universal ini akan sedikit sebanyak dapat mengurangkan perdagangan senjata yang tidak bertanggungjawab dan beretika.

Perkembangan Pengawalan Perdagangan Senjata

Pada hari ini, didapati tiada satu perjanjian yang bersifat global dan mengikat mengenai pengawalan perdagangan senjata. Gerakan dan aktivisme pengawalan perdagangan senjata ini secara rasminya bermula pada 1997 di New York hasil inisiatif sekumpulan Pemenang Nobel Perdamaian dan ‘International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War’ (IPPNW) yang mengesyorkan untuk mewujudkan Kod Etika Perdagangan Senjata. Selepas kempen dan promosi oleh pelbagai badan bukan kerajaan dan masyarakat sivil antarabangsa, saranan ini kemudiannya diterima oleh PBB dalam resolusi 61/89 pada 18 Disember 2006.

Tarikh 30 Oktober 2009 menjadi detik sejarah apabila Perhimpunan Agung PBB dengan 151 undi akhirnya telah bersetuju mengguna pakai Resolusi A/Res/64/48 untuk menerima usul ke arah mewujudkan Perjanjian Pengawalan Perdagangan Senjata (Arms Trade Treaty). PBB juga bersetuju untuk meneruskan proses memperincikan Perjanjian ini dengan menganjurkan beberapa mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Pemandu pada 2010 dan 2011. Kini Perjanjian ini berada diperingkat akhir pengemaskinian dan PBB akan menganjurkan konferen khas pada Julai 2012 bagi menggubal Perjanjian atau Instrumen yang bakal mengikat semua negara sama ada pengeluar atau pengguna senjata mengenai undang-undang pengawalan perdagangan senjata.

Secara umumnya, Perjanjian Pengawalan Perdagangan Senjata ini bertujuan untuk menghentikan pertambahan perdagangan senjata, menghalang penyalahgunaan senjata dan menyediakan peruntukan undang-undang bagi mengawal perdagangan senjata. Perjanjian ini akan memastikan senjata tidak berpindah kepada pihak yang tidak bertanggungjawab. Di antara kandungan utama Perjanjian ini ialah sebarang perdagangan senjata adalah tidak dibenarkan sama sekali dan melanggar undang-undang antarabangsa sekiranya ianya melibatkan pihak-pihak yang boleh menjejaskan pembangunan sosial dan bertentangan dengan hak asasi manusia. Di antara mekanisme untuk merealisasikan matlamat ini, Perjanjian ini akan menyediakan garis panduan perdagangan senjata secara komprehensif yang perlu dipatuhi oleh semua pihak. Perjanjian senjata ini juga akan memastikan bahawa tiada perdagangan senjata yang melibatkan risiko kemanusiaan dan ini termasuk sekiranya perdagangan senjata tersebut bertentangan dengan hak asasi manusia antarabangsa, tergolong dalam jenayah kemanusiaan atau ‘genocide; potensi untuk menjana jenayah terancang dan boleh menjejaskan kedudukan ekonomi sosial dan pembangunan.

Setakat ini, gerakan ke arah penggubalan dan termeterainya Perjanjian ini hinggi kini dimainkan oleh badan bukan kerajaan terutamanya institusi keagamaan. Di Sweden, ‘Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation’ (SWEFOR) dan ‘Church of Sweden’ sangat giat mengatur strategi dan program bagi memberikan kesedaran terhadap peri pentingnya isu pengawalan perdagangan senjata ini. Di Amerika, ‘Global Youth Network of Religions for Peace’ secara aktif terlibat dalam gerakan mempromosi Perjanjian Pengawalan Perdagangan Senjata ini dan menganjurkan pelbagai program berkaitan. Di Malaysia, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia telah menjalinkan kerjasama dengan pelbagai badan bukan kerajaan dari seluruh dunia dan merangka beberapa agenda gerakan bagi tujuan mempromosi inisiatif Pengawalan perdagangan Senjata ini. Di India, ‘Asian Muslim Action Network’ di antara organisasi yang serius mengatur program bagi tujuan yang sama. Satu Deklarasi menyokong Perjanjian Pengawalan Perdagangan Senjata ini juga telah ditandatangani oleh 40 pimpinan agama dan 70 institusi keagamaan dari seluruh dunia hasil inisiatif SWEFOR, ’Caritas France’, ‘CCFD-Terre Solidaire’ dan ‘Interfaith Working Group of the Control Arms Coalition’ pada 21 September 2011. Di peringkat Asia Pasifik, satu bengkel intensif telah dianjurkan pada 26-27 Januari di Bangkok dengan melibatkan perwakilan dari seluruh dunia untuk merangka gerak kerja seterusnya. Ini diikuti dengan konferen di Manila yang akan diadakan pada 11-13 Mac 2012. Usaha-usaha sebegini semakin giat dijalankan oleh masyarakat antarabangsa dan sehingga kini ianya mendapat sambutan yang amat baik di seluruh dunia.

Respon Terhadap Isu Pengawalan Perdagangan Senjata

Mahu tidak mahu, umat Islam di dunia perlu mengakui bahawa negara-negara Islam merupakan di antara pelanggan dan pengguna terbesar senjata. Arab Saudi, Bahrain, UAE, Malaysia termasuk negara-negara miskin seperti Pakistan, Syria, Mesir dan Yaman merupakan negara yang berbelanja besar bagi maksud persenjataan. Kerap kali alasan yang sering diberikan atas pembelian senjata ini ialah atas faktor keselamatan. Ada juga yang memberikan justifikasi keselamatan dan ancaman Israel, konflik sempadan dan keperluan pertahanan negara.

Namun sekiranya dilihat dan diperhatikan, bahawa sebenarnya tidak terdapat keperluan yang menghambat untuk membeli persenjataan ini secara besar-besaran hingga mengabaikan tangungjawab yang lebih utama. Bahkan, apa yang berlaku ialah senjata-senjata ini kerap kali digunakan untuk hal ehwal dalaman malahan menzalimi rakyat dan orang awam. Umpamanya di Libya, Mesir dan Syria, pihak kerajaan telah menggunakan senjata yang dibeli bukan untuk tujuan keselamatan negara tetapi atas dasar ingin mempertahankan kuasa dan telah menelan ribuan nyawa rakyatnya sendiri. Oleh itu, alasan faktor keselamatan negara untuk berbelanja besar dalam pembelian senjata tidak boleh diterima secara bulat bahkan boleh dipertikaikan. Sebagai contoh, Amerika merupakan pengeksport utama senjata kepada Mesir termasuk memberikan dana ketenteraan dan persenjataan sebanyak USD1.3 bilion setahun. Manakala 10 negara pengeluar senjata telah membekalkan senjata kepada Libya semenjak 2005 hingga sekarang iaitu Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and the UK. India, Perancis, dan Rusia telah membekalkan bahan letupan dan pelbagai senjata lain ke Syria. Kesannya apa yang dapat dilihat ialah, tragedi kemanusiaan yang telah berlaku di mana kehilangan nyawa ribuan orang awam termasuk kanak-kanak dan wanita serta kerosakan infrastruktur awam yang hanya memburukkan lagi keadaan di negara-negara yang mengalami konflik dalaman ini.

Di antara prinsip utama yang sangat ditekankan oleh Islam ialah pro kepada keamanan, maslahah ummah, pembangunan, hak asasi manusia dan keadilan. Dalam konteks perdagangan senjata ini, umat Islam juga dituntut untuk memperjuangkan keamanan dan menolak sebarang bentuk keganasan. Ini bertepatan dengan firman Allah di dalam surah al Baqarah ayat 190 yang bermaksud: ”Dan perangilah kerana (menegakkan dan mempertahankan) ugama Allah akan orang-orang yang memerangi kamu, dan janganlah kamu menceroboh (dengan memulakan peperangan); kerana sesungguhnya Allah tidak suka kepada orang-orang yang menceroboh”. Bahkan dalam ayat yang lain, al Quran jelas menggariskan kepentingan memelihara keamanan dan memperjuangkan keadilan seperti firman Allah di dalam surah al Maidah ayat 32 yang bermaksud: ”Dengan sebab (kisah pembunuhan kejam) yang demikian itu kami tetapkan atas Bani Israil, bahawasanya sesiapa yang membunuh seorang manusia dengan tiada alasan yang membolehkan membunuh orang itu, atau (kerana) melakukan kerosakan di muka bumi, maka seolah-olah dia telah membunuh manusia semuanya; dan sesiapa yang menjaga keselamatan hidup seorang manusia, maka seolah-olah dia telah menjaga keselamatan hidup manusia semuanya. Dan demi sesungguhnya, telah datang kepada mereka Rasul-rasul kami dengan membawa keterangan yang cukup terang; kemudian, sesungguhnya kebanyakan dari mereka sesudah itu, sungguh-sungguh menjadi orang-orang yang melampaui batas (melakukan kerosakan) di muka bumi”. Bersesuaian dengan intipati ayat di atas, bolehlah disimpulkan bahawa usaha-usaha ke arah menjamin keamanan melalui sokongan terhadap inisiatif Perjanjian Pengawalan Perdagangan Senjata adalah selari dengan ajaran Islam bahkan ianya merupakan perkara yang sangat dituntut.

Setelah memahami topik Pengawalan Perdagangan Senjata ini, timbul persoalan mengenai pendekatan atau langkah yang boleh dilaksanakan bagi tujuan ini. Bagi menjawab persoalan ini, perkara utama yang perlu diberikan perhatian ialah usaha-usaha memupuk kesedaran yang tinggi terhadap isu perdagangan senjata ini. Ini boleh dimulakan di antaranya melalui program untuk mempromosi Perjanjian Perdagangan Senjata di segenap peringkat termasuk perkongsian maklumat mengenai implikasi negatif berikutan tiadanya undang-undang khusus antarabangsa dalam hal ini. Selain daripada itu, masyarakat juga perlu sentiasa memantau perbelanjaan dan bajet negara terhadap peruntukan bagi maksud persenjataan. Perbelanjaan yang besar untuk pembelian senjata hingga menjejaskan peruntukan sektor utama negara seperti pendidikan, kesihatan dan lain-lain seharusnya dielakkan. Oleh kerana isu keamanan ini merentasi sempadan agama, bangsa dan ideologi, kerjasama yang berbentuk universal untuk melobi dan mempengaruhi masyarakat antarabangsa menerima Perjanjian Pengawalan Perdagangan Senjata di segenap peringkat dan lapisan masyarakat perlu dipergiatkan.

Kesimpulan

Isu perdagangan senjata sama ada secara sah atau haram merupakan perkara yang perlu diberi perhatian oleh semua pihak. Di antara punca keganasan dan pembunuhan serta penindasan yang berlaku di seluruh dunia adalah berpunca daripada perdagangan senjata yang tidak beretika. Negara-negara kaya menjadi pengeluar senjata dan menikmati keuntungan yang berlipat ganda melalui penjualan senjata terutamanya kepada negara-negara membangun dan dunia ketiga. Hasil negara yang sepatutnya digunakan untuk tujuan pembangunan terpaksa digadaikan untuk tujuan pembelian senjata atas nama keselamatan. Bahkan dalam konteks negara-negara Islam, alasan ancaman Israel juga kerap kali menjadi justifikasi untuk berbelanja secara besar-besaran membeli kelengkapan senjata. Alasan ini sebenarnya kadang kala adalah bersifat delusi dan khayalan, pada hakikatnya dunia menyaksikan kerap kali senjata yang dibeli ini telah digunakan untuk menzalimi dan menindas rakyat sendiri seperti apa yang berlaku di Mesir, Libya dan Syria. Sudah sampai masanya, umat Islam untuk bangun dari dibuai mimpi ini. Gerakan pro-keamanan dan mendesak adanya Perjanjian Perdagangan untuk mengawal perdagangan senjata ini perlu diberikan perhatian dan sokongan. Di samping teruja dengan inisiatif Perjanjian Pengawalan Perdagangan Senjata ini, masyarakat antarabangsa juga perlu memastikan bahawa pelaksanaan undang-undang antarabangsa ini adalah berpaksikan kepada keadilan dan tidak bersifat partisan serta berpihak. Ianya harus terpakai kepada semua negara di dunia termasuk negara pengeluar senjata dan perhatian serius dan khusus sewajibnya diberikan kepada negara-negara yang kerap kali melanggar hak asasi manusia, mencetuskan konflik serta sering melancarkan keganasan seperti Israel yang secara terus terang tidak menghormati kehormatan negara lain.

Best Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Workshop on Faith-based Advocacy and Arms Trade: Asia-Pacific Perspectives in Bangkok, Thailand

Turkey to overcome secular qualms with Islamic bond

Turkey to overcome secular qualms with Islamic bond

By Seda Sezer and Nevzat Devranoglu Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/22/turkey-sukuk-idUSL5E8DD5Z520120222

ISTANBUL, Feb 22 (Reuters) – Turkey’s government plans its first-ever issue of Islamic bonds this year, overcoming sensitivities about Islamic finance in the secular republic as it seeks to tap a rich pool of investors flush with oil money.

A sovereign sukuk issue from an economy regarded as one of the most progressive and successful in the Muslim world would signal intent on Turkey’s part to play a bigger role in Islamic finance. The size of the global sukuk market is estimated at more than $100 billion.

“It will be like ringing a bell and attracting all the attention,” said Murat Cetinkaya, deputy chief executive for treasury at Kuveyt Turk, an Islamic bank that has been a trend-setter for corporate sukuk issues in Turkey.

“Other issuances will follow the sovereign and Turkey will be on the agenda in this market constantly…as a frequent issuer.”

Despite espousing Islamic values, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government shied away from taking the plunge with a sukuk issue during its first decade in power, out of fear of giving ammunition to critics who accuse the ruling AK Party of seeking to roll back state secularism by stealth.

“For a few billion dollars of funding there could be negative results in domestic politics,” said a deputy chief executive at a leading Turkish bank, who declined to be named because of the political sensitivity of the subject.

In 2008, the Supreme Court came close to shutting down Erdogan’s AK Party after ruling it was a centre of Islamist activity. But since then, the government has won the upper hand over old foes in the military and judiciary.

Few Turks question the AK Party’s economic management, and having overseen a near tripling in per capita income, the party was re-elected for a third term in office last June.

Moreover, even borrowers outside the Islamic world have entered the sukuk market in the last few years, giving less reason for Turkey to hold back.

“Now the sukuk has become an instrument that even Germany and France are using,” the banker said. “And in domestic politics, Erdogan is much stronger.”

So there was hardly a murmur of dissent when Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, who oversees the economy, announced last month that the government planned to issue a sovereign sukuk this year, using legislation already in place.

“Turkey could very easily issue a couple of billion dollars worth of sukuk. It will probably issue $500 million or $1 billion at first and see how it goes,” said Osman Akyuz, secretary general of the Participation Banks’ Association of Turkey.

“An issuance by the Treasury would provide depth to the instrument and it will be sold with confidence.”

Royal Bank of Scotland economist Timothy Ash, a Turkey watcher, was also upbeat. “The market is potentially big – guess the sovereign could easily raise several billion.”

Islamic finance bans the use of interest, so theoretically, investors in a sukuk acquire partial ownership of an asset and share in its returns rather than receiving a stream of coupon payments.

BY ANY OTHER NAME

Although the sukuk market is tiny compared to the trillions of dollars of conventional international bond issuance, sukuk have been a relatively stable source of funding during the global financial crisis because of their conservative Islamic investor base.

Because of secular sensitivities, Islamic banks are called “participation banks” in Turkey and sukuk are referred to as “participation certificates”.

The country has used Islamic finance methods since the late 1980s through private financial institutions that were recognised as participation banks in 2006. There are four participation banks now operating in Turkey: Albaraka Turk , Bank Asya, Kuveyt Turk and Turkiye Finans. Kuveyt Turk, a unit of Kuwait Finance House, issued the country’s first sukuk in 2010.

Last October, following legislative changes to accommodate sharia-compliant transactions, Kuveyt Turk issued another sukuk for $350 million, and the strong demand demonstrated Turkey’s potential to become a major fresh source of Islamic bonds for investors keen to diversify their portfolios.

Albaraka Turk, the Turkish unit of Bahrain’s Albaraka Banking Group, and Bank Asya have formulated plans for sukuk issues of as much as $500 million, but have so far held back because of weak market sentiment globally due to the European debt crisis.

Despite that, the Turkish economy’s buoyancy, which produced growth of over 8 percent last year, and high yields compared to other emerging markets have increased investor appetite for Turkish assets, including sovereign debt issues.

POSSIBLE PROP FOR BRIDGE PROJECT

Ratings agency Fitch said last month that plans by sovereign borrowers outside the Middle East and other largely Islamic regions to tap the sukuk market could meet pent-up demand from Islamic institutional investors and banks to diversify their bond holdings.

That is good news for Turkey as it needs backing for huge infrastructure projects, having run into difficulties due to an international financing crunch. The government was forced to cancel a tender in January for the North Marmara Motorway Project, which involves a highway looping north of Istanbul and includes construction of a third bridge across the Bosphorus strait dividing Turkey’s European and Asian sides.

In April, the government will launch a fresh tender, and some bankers see the sukuk market providing a possible solution to the financing problem.

“Turkey needs investments and the sovereign sukuk could be used for financing of some projects, especially the third Bosphorus Bridge and highway projects,” said Akyuz of the Participation Banks’ Association.

Not only could a sukuk be specifically designed for the project, according to Is Investment Strategist Ugur Kucuk, it would also pull in investors who want to avoid international capital market volatility.

“A sovereign sukuk issue which is indexed to revenues to one of the Bosphorus bridges, or to some highway revenues, could be both attractive for investors and for the Turkish Treasury doing its first issue,” said Kucuk.

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

With Professor Faris Kaya (Secretary of The Istanbul Foundation for Science and Culture) in Istanbul, Turkey

GCC urged to follow unified Islamic finance regulations

GCC urged to follow unified Islamic finance regulations

By Santhosh V Perumal Available at: http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=488098&version=1&template_id=48&parent_id=28

The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) should have a unified rule under one regulator for Islamic investment products for ensuring lower cost of funds, according to Islamic Wealth Management (IWM) Report 2012.
“The GCC countries could take a leadership role by establishing standards for the registration of Islamic investment products with one regulator,” the Bank Sarasin report said.

The report was launched by Bank Sarasin managing director and head of Islamic Finance Fares Mourad and Monzer Kahf, a leading Islamic finance scholar.

Such unified rule would allow asset managers to market the product to clients across the region, it said.
Currently any offering needs to comply with different regulations in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, resulting in a lengthy and expensive registration process, the report said. “Reducing expenses and increasing the availability would increase competition, benefiting local investors and further the GCC’s development as a centre of excellence for Islamic finance.”

Although unified rules could be done either a state, region or Arab league level, it would be better to have a centralised agency that could interpret the legislations regarding Shariah investments, Mourad said.

Asked whether there was a need for a separate entity for the regulation and supervision of Islamic investments and products, he said “I really would like to have this” but it was for the regulators in the respective jurisdictions to decide.

Kahf said the Islamic Financial Services Board could take the lead in the centralised agency as it consisted of central bankers in the Muslim countries. “Once you have such an agency, there is no need for separate Shariah boards as lawyers specialised in the field could suffix its role,” he added.

The report also took note of the constant criticism of certain Islamic finance structures such as the ‘Tawarruq’, which involves purchasing a commodity with deferred payment and selling it to a third party for cash, hence replicating the effect of a loan.

“Regulations need to be adjusted to allow financial institutions to engineer products that fit the spirit of Islam while meeting legal and regulatory requirement,” it said.

In this regard, the report cited an example of recent co-operation between the halal industry (mostly foodstuffs) and Islamic finance – two sectors with similar goals that have had little contacts.

With issues related to the environment and social practices as well as corporate governance getting more attention, it said there has been more reporting on corporate social responsibility, which is important to Islamic finance.

“There is still much room for improvement with higher standards and a more strategic approach required at the state, company and private level. The Muslim countries face the greatest challenges,” the report said.

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Milan, Italy

American Muslim Thinkers are Influencing the Muslim World

American Muslim Thinkers are Influencing the Muslim World

Faiza Elmasry Available at:
http://www.turkishweekly.net/op-ed/1145/american-muslim-thinkers-are-influencing-the-muslim-world.html

Muslims constitute only a small minority in the United States and an even smaller percentage of the 1.4 billion Muslims worldwide. However, American Muslim scholars are having an impact on contemporary intellectual life throughout the Muslim World.

Muslim scholars immigrating to the United States have contributed to the emergence of a productive Islamic intellectual life. According to Tamara Sonn, Religious Studies professor at the College William and Mary, several factors have helped them flourish in America. “One of the things that they appreciate about being here is obviously the economic advantages,” she says. “So, they can take care of their families and have the time to do their work in a non rushed, non pressured way the freedom to express themselves and being able to express their commitment to the Muslim world without the pressures of political or other kinds of religious filters.”

Before the 1950s, most studies of Islam were conducted by non-Muslim scholars in the West. Later, Muslim thinkers in Europe contributed to the studies in this area. Osman Bakar of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University says the work of American Muslim scholars is very recent. “We don’t really have American Muslim scholarship until the 1970s, when professors who migrated from a number of Muslim countries came to the United States,” he says. “In particular, I’m talking about Professor Ismail Faruqi, Professor Fazlur Rahman and Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr. These three are the most famous Muslim scholars in the Muslim world.”

These 3 men were the focus of discussion at a conference held earlier this month in Washington D.C. (5-11-05). Ibrahim Kalin, from the College of the Holy Cross, says their ideas spread as they published and taught in the United States.

“Faruqi was of Palestinian origin,” he says. “Faruqi died in the beginning of the 1980s. He’s best known for his work on Islamization of knowledge, interfaith relations and the Palestinian question. The second important figure, Fazlur Rahman was from Pakistan originally. He was known for his modernist ideas, especially his concept of the Sunnah, the traditions of the Prophet. Because of these ideas he was criticized in Pakistan and he ended up in Chicago. He taught at the University of Chicago until his death almost 10 years ago. He produced a number of works on Modern Islam, Islamic intellectual history, Islamic philosophy and also Islamic education.”

The Islamic Studies professor says the third scholar is perhaps the most influential and is still teaching: Seyyed Hossien Nasr, a Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University. “He continues to have a lot of influence across the Islamic World today, including the United States – among the American Muslim community as well as the larger American public and scholars,” he says. “Nasr is of Iranian origin. He has been very influential and has been so prolific in his scholarship. He has produced work on environmental crisis, religion and science debate, Islamic history, Sufism, Islamic Arts, sciences, etc. His works have been translated into almost all Islamic languages and at least 5 or 6 European languages.”

Their knowledge of Western society and Islam places American Muslim scholars in a powerful position. As Professor Kalin explains, they can influence how Americans think about Islam, which can affect how Muslims elsewhere in the world perceive the United States. “For example, in the aftermath of the events of 9/11, you know this negative perception of Islam, and misgivings about the Islamic traditions have been commonplace,” he says. “These Muslim intellectuals, I believe, did play a significant role in dispelling some of these misgivings. This has a very positive impact on how people look at the variety of opinions in the United States. Although there are serious criticisms of the policies of the United States and there will probably continue to be so. People still appreciate the opportunities, the freedoms given to people who study here, especially to Muslims.”

The most serious challenge American Muslim scholars face, according to Ibrahim Kalin, is doubts in the Muslim world about their authenticity and religious devotion. Religion Professor Tamara Sonn agrees that credibility represents a great challenge, but she points to another, perhaps more daunting one: spreading their ideas beyond U.S. borders. “The only real vehicle for them to express themselves outside of America is through books,” she says. “But if the books aren’t translated into the languages of the Muslim world, or if the people in the Muslim countries are not able to access their books either through a lack of literacy, or a lack of financial means, or a lack of the leisure to study, then their impact isn’t felt.”

No matter what challenges American Muslim thinkers must overcome, Georgetown University Professor Osman Bakar says their impact on Muslims everywhere is growing. In fact, he’s so optimistic about the potential for tremendous intellectual contributions he says he can imagine the United States in the near future becoming a major world center for Islamic learning and intellectual life.

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Kyoto, Japan

Mega Islamic bank plans are cancelled

Mega Islamic bank plans are cancelled

By Arthur Macdonald , Available at: http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=323879

MANAMA: Plans to create a mega Bahrain Islamic bank have been cancelled after the two banks involved have failed to reach an agreement.

Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) announced last year that it was in merger discussions with Al Salam Bank Bahrain. If the corporate marriage went ahead, the resultant financial institution would be one of the biggest Islamic banks in the country, according to BisB.

Based on publicly available information of the two banks, the merger would have created an institution that would have had total assets of BD1.7 billion ($4.5bn) and shareholders’ equity of BD337m.

But yesterday BisB and Al Salam Bank Bahrain announced they had mutually agreed to end merger talks after they were unable to reach an agreement on the exchange ratio for the shares.

In July, the board of directors of the two banks resolved to explore the merits of a combination involving the two entities. In this regard, the two banks appointed KPMG to assist in the evaluation exercise of the two banks.

KPMG completed its assignment and rendered their report to the two banks. In a joint Press statement, spokesmen from the two banks stated it is unfortunate that an agreement could not be reached on the share exchange ratio and hence the parties have decided to end the merger proposal.

Last year when the merger was suggested, the board of the two banks said that consolidation was the way forward for local banks in general and Islamic banks in particular in the aftermath of the financial crisis and economic downturn and greater competitive banking environment in the region.

BisB was the first Islamic bank established in Bahrain in 1979 engaged in retail and corporate banking.

Al Salam Bank Bahrain is an Islamic bank established in 2006 also engaged in retail and corporate banking.

No one was available for comment from either bank yesterday.

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Fujairah, United Arab Emirates

The Palestinians and the Arab Spring

The Palestinians and the Arab Spring

The Palestinian right to statehood remains the Arab people’s foremost cause.

By ABDULLAH BIN HUSSEIN Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204468004577168763221534288.html

Amman

A year has passed since the Arab Spring began to change our region, showing the determination of Arab men and women, especially youth. But a key issue remains unresolved: peace between Palestinians and Israelis. This month, in Amman, the parties sat across the negotiating table for the first time in 16 months. What message will the United States now send to them and to the people of the region?

I’ve heard it said that with all the regional change and uncertainty, there’s no point in restarting talks right now. This “wait-and-see” argument joins a long line of false excuses for why the parties can’t get negotiating. A changing region doesn’t preclude a settlement, it demands one. It is now, not tomorrow, that a settlement can show that political processes of negotiation and agreement can deliver what people want. It is now, not next year, that young people, Arab and otherwise, need to see the U.S., Europe and the rest of the democratic world mean what they say about justice for all.

Make no mistake about it: The Palestinian right to statehood and their cry for justice and a homeland free of occupation remain the Arab people’s foremost cause. In Jordan, the “final-status” issues—including borders, refugees, security and Jerusalem—are at the heart of our priorities. This means making real the promise of a viable, independent, sovereign Palestinian state, as part of a two-state agreement that resolves all final-status issues and guarantees security for Israel.

The two-state solution is supported by the U.S. and the rest of the Quartet (the European Union, the United Nations and Russia), and it is at the core of the Arab Peace Initiative, adopted unanimously by the 2002 Arab Summit in Beirut. Ours was an unequivocal statement of the Arab world’s commitment to a neighborhood of peace and acceptance, opening the way to a comprehensive settlement that would end the conflict, meet the Palestinians’ right to freedom and statehood, and give Israel acceptance and security. This Initiative was endorsed by the entire Muslim world—57 countries—and remains a cornerstone for peacemaking in the Middle East.

Yes, substantive negotiations are difficult. But what is difficult today may be next to impossible if we fail this time. In three months, the Arab Peace Initiative will have been on the table for 10 whole years. Meantime, Israel has continued to build settlements, particularly in Jerusalem, a flash point for global concern. Threats to holy sites, or efforts to change the city’s character by driving out Arab Muslim and Christian Jerusalemites, could stop peace for decades to come.

This coming spring, a new government will take office in Egypt. Momentous events are unfolding in countries such as Syria. People are raising questions about how they will be governed, and there is a feeling that everything hangs in the balance. In this environment, settling the region’s central conflict, a crisis in East-West relations for more than three generations, will show that the outside world can and will help us as we build a more just and optimistic future. It will place more weight on the balance in favor of moderation everywhere. If we stop trying, we leave our fates too much to chance, and leave the field to the extremists.

What is frustrating is that the components of a final agreement have been addressed in numerous rounds of negotiations over two decades. Still the parties, and by extension all of us, are failing to cross the finish line. This month’s launch of exploratory talks in Amman can now lead to substantive negotiations—first on borders and security, to resolve the issue of settlements once and for all, and then on remaining final-status issues. The Quartet has set a timeline to wrap up an agreement by the end of 2012. But it can’t happen unless we all build the environment for success. U.S. support is pivotal.

Across the entire Arab world, people are demanding freedom, dignity and hope. In Jordan we have charted our course through an irreversible, inclusive and evolutionary process of political, social and economic reform. Regional peace must be part of this future—for Palestinians, for Israelis, for all. There have been too many failed attempts. Can we all do it this time?

Abdullah II is king of Jordan.

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Seminar on Palestine at Melbourne Law School, Australia