Pursuit of knowledge

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Mainstreaming Islamic finance in the public educational system

Attending the Islamic conference on the invitation of Peace and Equity Fund and Al-Qalam Institute for Muslim identities, Ateneo de Davao University.

Central to the conference, entitled “Islamic Financing in the Philippines : a step towards the first seven years”. The conference invited conventional and Islamic microfinance practitioners, Ulama, Academe as well as public intellectuals and institutions that are interested in understanding the dynamics of Islamic finance.

Part of the discussions were on systems, mechanisms and success stories of Islamic microfinance institutions both in Indonesia as well as in Mindanao, several success stories were presented, non-government organizations who implemented limited Islamic microfinance ventures. Ustad Moner Barjunaid, mentions that while we are presenting success stories, “Islamic finance is stile in its “germane” stage and much is needed to be done to be able to move forward.

On its second day, realizing that such concepts are applied Islamic sciences, meaning these are derivative sciences from Islamic jurisprudence need to be simplified and mainstreamed.

The Philippines has began its shift towards K-12, as such, the development of technology and livelihood education has been centred into senior high school. One of these fields of sprcialization in senior high school is entrepreneurship.

Primarily entrepreneurship is one of the specializations in senior high school. The end product is primarily individuals who will go into trading and other entrepreneurial endeavours.

Madrassah institutions who are gradually in the process of mainstreaming, as well as public schools who intend to offer entrepreneurship as one of their senior high school specializations, can actually create a tailor fit specialization which actually incorporate different elements and basic rudiments of Islamic finance that are required skills for potential entrepreneurs.

The presence of Asatidz trained by Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) with the requisite skill set (National teachers Qualification Certification – NTQC) would mean that an additional skillset would have to be trained with a course that would end in a National Competency for entrerepreneurship with focus on Islamic enterprises.

The presence of curriculum developers who are familiar both the concepts of entrepreneurship, Islamic business practices would enable this to move on a faster phase. Closer cooperation with subject matter experts will accelerate development of the course and competency standards.

The design of such a curricular offering should be strongly considered by DEPED and TESDA and should be developed in partnership with AL-Qalam institute for Muslim identities, Ateneo de Davao, together with the Peace and Equity foundation and industry practitioners in order to make it more relevant and responsive to the need for having Islamic Financial enterprises both complying with Shariah standards and business viability.

Moving forward, if this would become a possibility, it would allow flexibility among entrepreneurs who would be able to understand Islamic financial instruments upon graduating from senior high school and lead towards the creation of new businesses and jobs.

Eventually some of the graduates of these senior high schools will have the potential to take up Islamic Economics and Finance courses and eventually become practitioners and subject matter experts in the field.

With this in mind, Islamic financial education can be mainstreamed and be specifically

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The world is not enough. A parody of the tragedy of Paris.

 

The world has now put a spotlight on Paris, after experiencing a tragic blow more than a year after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. This has brought many people to symphatize amd emphatize with the French, Facebook even allowed people to post a watermarked flag of france superimposed with the peictures of facebook users.

There are many angles to this story. First, is the double standard perception towards reportage, that when the non-western countries, specifically Muslim and indogenous popoluations experience violence and cultural and ethnic cleansing the world seems to turn a blind eye. But when a western country like the US, or France gets attacked, the whole world suddenly mourns. This is further exagerated if the perpetuators are colored, or Muslim.

The second angle is the demonization factor, much as I do not want to cite Samuel Huntington, but there is still a pre-existing paradigm that despite being in a globalized society, there is still a sense of unwelcoming over certain elements of regional culture. A global culture in order to be global must be welcoming and accepting of differences, of becoming open spaces of inclusivity and sensitivity. This goes both for global and local media. to be able to rboadcast and highlight both local, regional and international events whether of economic successes suh as the APEC summit, or the Palestinian genocide and the Burma ethnic cleansing to mobilize not only sympathy but also global support and mobilization.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr says that the ethos of modern society is that there is more emphasis of social premiums on individuals than on the collective society as a whole. This has worsened in todays post-modern society, a society wherein Shaykh Hamza Yusuf has described as having a culture of extremism in western society. A soceity that encourages extreme sports, even extreme dietary culture like vegetarianism or veganism, one that excourages extreme lifestyles, of open marriages and open-ended relationships. This has been in the eyes of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, towards the degradation of western society and one-sided values, thus having one sided eprsepectives, seeing the bombing of Beirut of the beheading of Hazaras in Afghanistan or the daily genocide of palestine and Rohingya as not crucial while the Paris incident has been mourned by the world.

Not to sound callous but is Sandy brook, Boston Bombing, the charlie hebdo and recent Paris incidents the only worthy news items worth shedding a tear? It is an irony that when the Paris incident happened, a lot of Filipinos changed profile pics but never reacted to Lumad killings and prefered a very distant incident. The global psyche of callousness is so deafening it has become so fearful.

On the other hand we are asked, who are to blame for the actions of a small minority of  Muslims who have wreaked havoc on the world. It is but time that the world and the west “Man up” for the geopolitical ironies that has happened.

The Arab spring has become the Arab winter, everyone was happy that democratic demonstrations in the Arab world, supported by the west  would bring down the tyrants whom the west helped set up in the first place. Now the pride of North Africa, Libya is in civil war, Egypt has yet to recover from the crisis of Morsi and Sisi, Tunisia has yet to stand up, and all of these  countries have extremists flowing in, supported by foreign money with promises of “democracy” replacing tryranny. Syria and Iraq is no stranger to this, and has fallen prey and victim to the “puppetries” in the hopes of dislodging Assad as hey have dislodged Saddam. But now they face a monster, one that they may have to man up that they have created, and have brought menace into their societies.

To declare that the refugees brought the menace to western soil is an irony, the menace  crept into Arab lands because of western intervention.

Democracy and power to the masses is a very admirable concept, but it ahs to be natural, one that is homegrown and raised by the people themselves, when it is grafted by ideas of foreigners who do not understand the soul of a people, would wreak more havoc than becoming the balm to cure its ills.

As the theatre of war will expand,these extremists would have landed in souteast asian shores. many social media posts decry their existence already. and we may have to confront them. Then how do we confront an ideology that is against inclusivity, against accepting differences, against accepting deviants and the west?

Then we shall see like in the middle east, the sky fall, from bombs, from tearns and wails from suicide bombings, from terror attacks and kidnappings.

Before this all happens,what are we to do, so that we may have even a spectre of chance to succeed?

We have to make our national culture one of inclusivity, true inclusivity in education, in governance, in culture, in language and in the people themselves, not simply by-lines or motherhood statements but true programs that resonate the state’s sincerity to unify as a people, to be inclusive as to allow the people of different areas to govern themselves in the pursuit of self determination. to recognize the indogenous culture of our diverse peoples and enrich it to make them mainstream and accept them, so that no culture is left behind and that each Filipino feels he is proud to be one.

For if we do not, then when the religious and political extremists would continue to wreak ther havoc, having enough manpower, “To die another day”. For “the world is not enough” for anyone who has the zeal to wreak havoc in the pursuit of his goals.

 

(author’s note: article first published in Mindanews November 16 2015
at http://www.mindanews.com/mindaviews/2015/11/16/peacetalk-the-world-is-not-enough-a-parody-of-the-tragedy-of-paris/ many thanks to Ms Carol Arguillas, editor of Mindanews)

 

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And so he was told

The Faqeer was told,
You are a sinner,
A wanderer, worst of all creatures
One whose trust is not worth even a cent

The Faqeer was told,
You are an infidel
misled and misquided
a life not worth a morsel

The Faqeer was told
You are a murderer
butcher of men
lives detroyed you can never mend

And so the Faqeer replies;
And he who has not sinned cast the first stone,
and for him who has no crime to atone
nor have broken any bone

And so the Faqeer reminds
and he who has not spoken ill
shall be cast cast clean pure of will
One who whose tongue has not twisted still.

And so the Faqeer asks
Shall you come with me inside the well
and descend to the depths of its bowels
to guide others who have fallen in hell?

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The Context of Sacrifice : Abraham (as) and his Challenges of Faith

There are   narratives in the context of the Journey of Abraham (as) which was an evolution of the challenge of faith and quest for certainty. This becomes a context of his journey of faith which becomes a challenge for faith and certainty. His was a journey of discovery and truth.

Hazrat Abrahim (as) lived in the house of one who made idols and eventually discovered in his youth that indeed Allah was beyond form and  fixture, eventually exposing the fallacy of idolatry. He eventually faced idolators who forced him to recant his views, in his resolute devotion he was thrown into the fire but was saved as the fire was made cool and it became a circle of life from a circle of fire/death.

His conversation and challenge with Nimrod who was exposed of his ignorance and arrogance of God and who was punished for his arrogance.

These initial challenges brought him the honor to be called Khalil  (friend) of Allah ; for being one who have dutifully carried out his Beloved’s (God) injunctions.

Even the challenge of not having an heir for years was blessed with two sons, Ishmael (as) and Ishak/Isaac (as). The spousal jealousy tested Abrahim’s extreme devotion and trust which eventually brought Hazrat Ishmael and his Mother Bibi Hagar (as) to Bakkah (Mekkah) and gave rise to the fountain of Zamzam which has been in existence until today.

His greatest test and sacrifice was one he didn’t expect. For all the divine favours he received in his trials he was asked to sacrifice one thing most dear to anyone. In the Quranic narrative, it was his first born that was being asked to be made into a ritual sacrifice (udhiyyah), in compliance and devotion. During this process,  Shaytan tried to dissuade him from complying his task by throwing stones at him but he continued until he was about to offer his son Ishmael (as),as he slit the throat of Ishmael the knife wouldn’t cut , this depressed Hazrat Abraham (as) thinking his offering was unaccepted. However this was not the case as a ram (in other narrations a goat) was made available by Allah for him to offer as Qurban in lieu of Hazrat Ishmael (as).

As a result of this act, Abraham (as) was made Imam by Allah as referenced by an ayah from the Quran :

“And when his Lord tried Abraham with certain words, he fulfilled them. He said: Surely I will make you an Imam of men. Abraham said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not include the unjust, said He. (2:124)”

This was a grace Allah bestowed upon Hazrat Abraham, other being known as a Khalil (as), he was also the ancestor or patriarch of many Prophets (as) in the Jewish, Christian and the Islamic traditions.

This was the pinnacle of his sacrifice, and the pinnacle of Divine favour, both being called his friend (khalil) and a patriarch/leader (Imam) of humanity.  And his life struggles immortalized in the rites of Pilgrimage (hajj) done by his descendant Prophet Muhammad (salawatullahi alayhi) and by Muslims for all generations.

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Ramadhan and Muslim Economic Influence in Zamboanga City

MasjidTaluksangay

MasjidTaluksangay

Authors note:
This is not an Article focusing on Muslimophobia or Islamophobia but aims to look at the economic impact of Muslims in Zamboanga City

Ramadhan is a month of spiritual delights, a month of the divine feast and a month wherein one is subject to the extremities of patience, thirst and hunger.
It is also a month wherein the economic influence of Muslims is best noticed. on the other 11 months of the Lunar and Christian caledars, restaurants, parks and other places like the famous places for shopping and eating, are filled up with Muslims bother residents from Zamboanga City as well as from the neighboring island provinces (Basilan, Sulu amd Tawi Tawi) come dine, relax and eat in Zamboanga City.
Despite the fact that Zamboanga City has become home to people from the island provinces, noticeable since the Jolo-Caust in the 70’s, there is much to see for the level of social acceptability from local Chavacano politicians and the community.
Though home to two of the most important organizations in the Interfaith and inter-religious solidatory movements, there is much a greater challenge to gain social acceptability, heightened after the 2013 Zamboanga seige.

One good example is we have yet to have more than one Muslim councilor elected to the Sanguniang Panglungsod (excluding the present Indigenus Peoples Mandatory Representative which is legally mandated to be filled up according to both the IPRA and the Local Government Code.), the politcal influence have yet to match up with the economic influence of the Muslims in Zamboanga City.
Where does the economic influence of the Muslims in Zamboanga City come from? Muslims primarily in Zamboanga city can be said to contribute to the local ecnomy because of the following factors :
People from the Island provinces (Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) who can in a way send their children to study in Zamboanga do so, with the accompanying financial support to their children, this means boarding houses, carenderias and eateries, school supplies and of course movie houses and computer gaming shops where students would go and spend their leisure time spending their parent’s hard earned money.
Overseas Foreign workers from these island provinces also tend to eventually relocate and set up residences in Zambonga , eventually spending their hard earned money in the city, the rise of subdivisions and the sudden “rise of Muslim households” in Zamboanga City. Areas where traditionally thought as purely Chavacano households like Tetuan, Guiwan and Tumaga slowly show a gradual increase of Muslim households.

Many uniformed servicemen both in the Armed Forces and the Police in the city are Muslims, who also are settled in the City, raising families and contributing to the economic growth of the city.
The Jolo-caust (Martial law wars and conflict) have brought many migrants who were displaced by the conflict not only in Sulu but many other parts of BaSulTa (Basilan Sulu and Tawi Tawi) which has become the base of the underground economy and themarket economies together with the indigenous communities of Zamboanga City.
The barter and its suceeding collapse (which also affected the Zamboanga economy led to a rise of traders who eventually raised families in Zamboanga who later integrated into other businesses and jobs after its fall.
A look at the four wheel vehicles in the city and a check into the LTO would demonstrate that majority of those who own them belong to Muslims who reside in the City.
Going around fastfoods, restaurants, thefavourite Pondas : Mindpro, Paseo del Mar, South way and other places where most of the service economies are centered, one would notice that during this month of Ramadhan, they are mostly empty except for a few kids, parents, spouses romantically dining or going around, you will not notice much purchases ongoing during the early parts to the early afternoon.
This however changes gradually during the late afternoon where you may see many people rushing to buy food and other nescessities for breaking of the fast. In short the sudden rush of purchases coincides with the preparation of food for Iftar , the Muslim meal that is used to break the day-long fast which begins a few minutes before Fajr timed appproximately before sunrise and ends a few minutes after sunset.
However, you will notice that there are not much people still going to Paseo del Mar., Pasonanca Park or other night spots. All because the Muslims would make sure their Ramadhan devotions and prayers are to be attended to after breaking of their fast which includes the famous Tarawih/Tahajjud which takes most of the time during the night, making them unavailable for the normal enjoyments and entertainments that the Zamboanga Night scene has to offer.

In stark comparison to Davao wherein madrassahs are well supported and that Indigenous Cultural Communities are very much welcomed and supported, Zamboanga is yet to maximize the gains from the election and formal inclusion of an Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representive in the City Council of Zamboanga as well as struggling to include an IPMR counterpart in the Barangay Local Government and Sangguniang Panglungsod as well as other councils that the city has such as the City Development and the Peace and Order Councils.

Unlike other cities which support peace and the right to self determination of the Bangsamoro, the city of Zamboanga have yet to come to terms with this and still follow leaders who show their non-solidarity with the Muslims in other parts of the country. One example is the double talk of some politicians claiming to support Peace and yet derailing the passage of a bill that spell the diffference to the many years of war in Mindanao.
There is much to be realized with these points, Muslims in Zamboanga City have yet to realize the power that they wield economically which can be translated into socio-cultural and political power. pushing a movement that can make people realize that the Muslims and indigenous peoples in Zamboanga city ought not to stay in the periphery, for once the people of Zamboanga was a minority too, it is expected not to be harsh on cultural minorities residing within the city.
The Muslims have demonstrated their creative and collective energies in the city during ramadhan,it is perhaps time they also demonstrate this during other times and other venues as well.

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Gone Forever. Poetry by Yusuf Morales

Gone forever….

How can I be an eternal expression of Unity,

when I am but pieces of wood cut from a beautiful tree….

I cannot be more than be a part of an expression of artistry,

witness to an artist’s hands fitted into symmetry…..

Lost am I forever if never found by one with the eyes that could see,

For either I be scrap firewood and not as pieces of puzzle to be made into artistry….

gone into smoke is the beauty of creativity,

as the artist fades into ignonimity,

so does the trees to anonymity…..

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