CALL FOR PAPERS for 3rd Annual World Conference on Riba


3rd Annual World Conference on Riba
Kuala Lumpur, 26th-27h November,2012

“The Multifaceted Global Crises of Riba: Resilience, Response & Reform”

As a sequence to the highly successful 1st and 2nd World Conference on Riba that was held in Kuala Lumpur in November 2010 and July 2011, Thinkers Trends Resources with support from the Department of Finance, Kulliyyah of Economics and Management Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia is pleased to announce the organizing of the 3rd Annual World Conference on Riba to be held  on the 26th and 27th November, 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The conference objectives are as follows:

· To forge links with individuals, organizations, societies and governments worldwide that would enable concerted efforts to be implemented in fighting Riba.
· To continue exposing the pitfalls of the current economic and financial systems both at micro and macro level.
· To persuade authorities worldwide in implementing steps that are practical and sustainable to remedy their individual economies.
· To encourage religious scholars to have a holistic approach in understanding Riba.
· To formulate strategies to educate the public in understanding Riba.
· To chart systematic ways to move forward hereon, to achieve the point where people can have the choice of a life without Riba – RIFCON.

Areas of interest for the 3rd Annual World Conference on Riba include, but are not limited to:
· Riba and Global Economic Crisis
· Possible solutions to the Global Riba Issue
· Riba & Political Economy
· Riba and the International Banking System
· Accounting Standards & Riba
· Legal Tender & Riba
· Community Currencies
· Alternatives to Riba Based Economy
· Alternatives to circumvent Riba
· Riba-free Microfinance
· Poverty Eradication Methods
· Media Against Riba
· Education Against Riba

Important Dates:Submission of abstract not later than 31st July, 2012
Notification of acceptance of abstract will be made by 15th August 2012
Submission of complete paper not later than 15th October, 2012

Submissions must not substantially duplicate work that any of the authors has published elsewhere or has submitted in parallel for consideration of any other conference or workshop with proceedings. All papers will be subject to a blind review and must be written in English. Authors are requested to submit their abstracts and papers to the following address:

Please address all enquiries to:
The Conference Secretariat
Thinkers Trends Resources Sdn Bhd
27A, Jalan PJS 10/24 Bandar Sri Subang,
46000 Petaling Jaya Selangor Darul Ehsan
Tel: 603-56313589 Fax: 603-56316062
Website: www.worldribaconference.orgThank you.

Prof Dr Ahamed Kameel Mydin Meera
Dean, Institute of Islamic Banking & Finance
International Islamic University Malaysia
205A, Jalan Damansara

The Value of Peace

In the recent Kongress Profesor Negara held at PWTC, 6 July 2011 to 8 July 2011, Professor Datuk Dr. Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, a social anthropologist and the Founding Director of the Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) made a presentation titled “Ilmu Mentransformasi Negara – Perspektif Sains Sosial” that touched on the value of peace.  His eloquence in presenting his arguments prompted me to write this article.  In his analysis of economics of peace in Malaysia he remarked that what exists in Malaysia is not social integration but rather social cohesion, i.e. Malaysians talk conflict but walk cohesion.  The learned professor suggested some kind of early warning system be placed to detect social discontentment and threats to social peace.

I cannot agree less with the professor that at current times we need to give some thought to economics of peace.  With peace, we can enjoy economic activities – both production and consumption. It is common for people to estimate costs of wars and conflicts but seldom do we measure the economic benefits of peace.

The Value of PeacePeace is the priceless characteristic of any society.  If we think deeply, we cannot but come to the conclusion that peace is the ultimate of life.  It is a combination of positive feelings of happiness, calmness, contentedness, love, compassion and harmony with nature, with the absence of negative ones like pain, conflict, hostility and imbalance with nature.  We may attain this peace when the inner self and the outer environment are in balance and harmony.  One who experiences peace would depict a healthy physical and mental state, which needs nourishment from inside and outside, i.e. spiritual and material needs.

The word Salam or the phrase Salam 1Malaysia are greetings that depict peace onto others.  Indeed the word Islam too has its roots in a word that means peace.  “Assalamu’alaikum” which means ‘peace unto you’ is also said to be the greetings of the people of the Paradise.

Ironically with all the rapid economic and technological progress around us, there is less peace and tranquility around the world.  There seem to be more inner and outer imbalance that is causing more pain, hostility, lack of welfare, environmental destruction and so forth.

The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), based in Sydney, releases an annual Global Peace Index (GPI), which is apparently the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness.  The index gauges the peace levels in 153 countries by taking into account 23 indicators that include levels of domestic and international conflict, perceived criminality in society, level of violent crime, violent demonstrations, threat of terrorist attacks and militarization.

The cost of absence of peace can be huge.  For example, to prevent just housebreaking we install burglar alarms, keep dogs, pay for security guards, keep lights on when we go for vacations etc.  All these involve cost.  Victims of burglary and violent crimes not only incur economic costs but also psychological costs.  There is also huge public cost incurred for the prevention of crime and maintenance of peace.  This includes costs of maintaining police force, both development and operational costs, costs of judiciary to try criminals in the courts and also costs of prisons that includes operational costs and maintaining the convicted inmates.  Hence criminals incur cost to the society whether they successfully carry out their crime or caught and convicted.

The table below provides the Global Peace Index ranking for selected countries.  Iceland ranked number 1 as the most peaceful country among the 153 countries ranked.  Somalia ranked last.  Interestingly Malaysia ranked 19, i.e. ranking top among the Southeast Asian countries, beating even Singapore that ranked 24.  It is indeed true that Malaysia is a highly tolerant and peaceful country.  This is what among others, attracted immigrants into this country, being blessed with economic prosperity and peace.  For some reason Brunei has not been ranked.  If it were, I believe it would have occupied a respectable rank too.

Selected List of 2011 Global Peace Index

According to the GPI Report, countries of the Arab Spring (not shown in the table) saw drastic drop in their rankings.  Libya (143) for example saw the most significant drop, i.e. falling 83 places while Bahrain (123) and Egypt (73) dropped 51 and 24 places respectively.

What we can learn from the Arab Spring is that “forced peace” cannot last.  Peace must come from within self.  For this to happen, I believe that the basic necessities of life must be guaranteed for the people– food, clothing, shelter, health, education, transportation and religious freedom.  If people enjoy the minimum of these I believe they will not revolt.

The GPI Report contends that for the period 2006-2010, a complete cessation of violence would have resulted in a whopping economic gain of US$37.58 trillion, i.e.  US$12.62 trillion of economic activity redirected from industries that generate or contain violence to other productive industries, and another US$24.96 trillion from additional economic activity generated.  To quote the report:

If the world had been 25% more peaceful over the past year the global economy would have reaped an additional economic benefit of just over US$2 trillion. This amount would pay for the 2% of global GDP per annum investment estimated by the Stern Review to avoid the worst effects of climate change, cover the cost of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, eliminate the public debt of Greece, Portugal and Ireland, and address the one-off rebuilding costs of the most expensive natural disaster in history – the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The Institute for Economics and Peace also reports a general fall in peace globally.  Hence there seems to be a lack of or fall in peace in almost every nation of the world.  There may be many reasons for this observation, but I contend that significantly the cause is rooted in the present-day global monetary system, characterized by fiat money and compound interest.  These characteristics are continuously transferring wealth from the middle and low income groups to the high income group, causing a huge wealth and income gap among the people.  These capitalistic features have now brought the world towards the danger of prolonged economic recession and social unrest.  It is these characteristics that are causing even the advanced nations of the world – like Japan, Europe and the US – to dwindle economically. The younger generation is particularly discontented and is rising up against the ruling powers.

Malaysia too has been observing widening disparity in income and wealth distribution among its people, both inter and intra racial.  I would not blame this on the strength of any one race or the weakness of another, but again significantly blame it on the prevailing monetary system.  As a consequence of colonial monetary policies where money is mostly created by the commercial banks out of thin air, together with the limited liability law, have transferred tremendous wealth away from the people, causing large wealth-ownership gap among the races.  Accordingly, the system has now caused many Malays, the pioneer people of the country, to become economically distressed and hence the apparent dissatisfaction of many Malays towards the ruling government.  Others are exploiting the situation for the political opportunity that comes with it.

In my opinion, this also why BERSIH 2.0 organized by the opposition parties seem to have garnered some support.  The support is not so much for its ideological stand but rather an expression of economic distress caused by the present-day monetary system.  Household debt including credit card debt is rising exponentially.  With continued global recession and threat of hyperinflation, this distress can only worsen.  Of course people must be given avenues to voice their opinions and dissatisfaction, but using street rallies for this purpose does not bring good to the people.  Not only it costs a lot of money to mobilize the police force etc. to contain such rallies, the country would lose a lot from reduced economic activity.  Normally such rallies would also end up in violence, destruction of public property and filthy streets.

To attain general peace, therefore, I contend that the government strives to make every individual to be at peace with his or her self by guaranteeing the basic necessities as mentioned earlier.  This would, of course, necessitates a gradual revamp of the monetary system and redistribution of national wealth to reduce inter and intra racial economic gap.  As a national policy, we may pursue social cohesion rather than social integration where each race respects the language, culture and religion of others, i.e. pursue unity in diversity.  In this way we may enjoy ‘peace in colour’ instead of a homogenous dull.

Some Basic Facts about Gold

THE CHEMICAL SYMBOL of gold is AU from Aurum, the Latin word for gold. Chemically gold is an element, which means it cannot be broken down further. Interestingly, in the Periodic Table of Elements (below) gold occupies the same group, i.e. Group 11, as copper (Cu) and silver (Ag) that also played the role of money in the history of mankind.

Pure gold is yellow in colour. Nevertheless, the colour changes depending on the added alloy metals, as illustrated below:

Karat grade is used to express the purity of gold. It basically refers to the proportion of gold in an alloy. Pure gold (100 per cent) is 24 karat. The proportions in other karat are as in the table below.

Example: 22K means that 22 out of 24 portions are gold. This equals 91.66 per cent of gold, hence it is also known as 916 gold. Similarly 18K contains 75 per cent gold.

  • As an element, gold cannot be further broken down by chemical means. Hence it is indestructible and permanent.
  • Gold is also such an inactive metal that it is not affected by air and water, i.e. does not oxidize (tarnish, rust or corrode). Gold artefacts unearthed in the Egyptian pyramids still look new and bright.
  • Gold is highly malleable (i.e. the ability to be pound into thin sheets) such that a single ounce of gold can be hammered into a 100 squarefoot sheet.
  • Gold can be hammered so thin that sunlight can shine through it. A pile an inch high can contain more than 200,000 sheets!
  • Gold reflects infrared rays while allowing sunlight to pass through, hence its use in astronaut helmets and window glass.
  • Gold is most ductile (ability to draw out into wire) that a single ounce of it can be drawn out into a 50-mile long wire!
  • Gold is so rare that only about 90,000 tons of it have been taken from the earth in recorded history
  • South Africa is the largest gold producing country in the world. Other leading producers include Russia, Canada, and the United States.
  • Gold is so heavy that one cubic foot of it weighs half a ton.
  • All the gold in the world could be compressed into an 18-yard cube.
  • Gold has been used by man for more than 6000 years.
  • In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt banned the private ownership of gold, which was then lifted on December 31, 1974.
  • Gold is said to be a cure for rheumatoid arthritis. It is chemically liquefied and injected into the muscles of arthritic patients. It is said that the treatment is successful in seven out of ten cases.

Nest of GoldReference:

More than the Developer’s Cost

The Edge, 24 July, 2006

The government’s recent move to introduce the build-and-sell concept in the housing sector should be commended, considering the numerous problems faced by customers in the present system, particularly with regard to abandoned projects and shoddy workmanship.

Recently, however, newspapers reported that the move means the prices of houses will rise by 30% to 100% in some areas. The Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association of Malaysia (Rehda) was reported to attribute this to the fact that developers have to bear the construction cost and interest on bank loans that were previously borne by customers.

More than the Developers Cost

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True Depiction of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)

The Edge, 28 March, 2006

The recent derogatory cartoon depiction of the Prophet Muhammad by a Danish newspaper that was followed by other print and electronic media is simply unworthy by any means.  The cartoon brought nothing but more tensions between the West and the Muslim world, not to mention the unwarranted destruction of property, life, and business losses due to boycotts.

Some say the ‘attack’ on the Prophet’s personality on the pretext of freedom of expression was intended to test the global Muslim unity, while others say it is to further provoke the Muslim world following such issues like the Abu Ghraib tortures, mistreatment at the Guantanamo Bay camp, and the trampling of the Holy Qur’an, among others. Whatever the reason is, nothing could be farther than truth than depicting the Prophet as a ‘terrorist.’  Such attacks on the Prophet are, nonetheless, not new.  Even during his time, the Prophet has been ridiculed by those who disliked him and who called him names, such as majnun, or the one possessed by jinn.

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