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EDITORIAL

Dhul Hijjah: What Does the Day of Arafah Represent?

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Yawmul ‘Arafah is considered the most important day of the entire Hajj pilgrimage.  In fact, the Prophet (saw) said: “Hajj is ‘Arafah” (Tirmidhi).  It is so important that if one misses ‘Arafah, their Hajj is not complete or valid. On this day all the pilgrims – women, men, old, young, rich or poor, of every race, color, and nationality – journey to the desert plains of ‘Arafah. They begin the journey from Mina after the dawn prayers, and they remain until sunset.

As they make their way to the plains of ‘Arafah, they will continuously recite the Talbiyah “lab-bayka Allahuma lab-bayk, lab-bayka la sharika laka lab-bayk, in-nal hamda wan-ni’mata laka wal Mulk, laa sharika lak”.

The powerful meaning of those words are: “Here I am in Your service, O Allah, here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty, You have no partner.” [Muslim].

The Talbiyah captures the purpose of the whole journey, to serve Allah and worship Him and Him alone. Pilgrims spend their Hajj day praying and making dua (supplication) to Allah. All the hujjaj (pilgrims) gather in one place, with the same goal, the entire plain is filled with worshippers dressed in their simple white clothes.  It is a day of deep reflection and connection with Allah.

Allah says in the Qur’an:“Then when you pour down from Arafaat, celebrate the praises of Allah at the Sacred Monument, and celebrate His praises as He has directed you, even though, before this, you went astray.”Surat al-Baqara 2:198

The verse shows that no one is exempt from God’s Mercy on this day – Allah’s forgiveness is for everyone who seeks it.  It is a profound and humbling experience for all those who witness ‘Arafah on Hajj.

Many connections with other events are made on this day.  The word ‘Arafah comes from the word ‘to know or to be introduced. It is the place where Adam (as) and Hawa’ (as) were reunited after being sent down from Jannah, and after they had repented to Allah.  It was thus the first-ever meeting place on earth for any human.  Every year, people are gathered on ‘Arafah to repent to Allah, just as had been the case with our greatest grandparents.  “‘Arafah” also symbolizes the fact Muslims seek to renew their relationship with God on this day.

Even more poignant is the fact that this is the place where all humanity will be gathered for the start of the Day of Judgment.  When the pilgrims stand before Allah on yawmul Arafah, they inevitably remember that the next time they return may well be on Yawmul Qiyamah, when there will no longer be an opportunity for tawbah.

There is no shade on the plains of ‘Arafah – these days there are some tents where people can shelter.  But when you speak to elders who went on Hajj decades ago, they will tell you how difficult it was back then.  They used to stand before Allah, seeking His Mercy, disheveled in dust and tears, under the burning heat of the desert sun. They report that it felt as if they were already experiencing Al-Qiyamah…the type of struggles pilgrims faced back then may have changed now. But the significance of ‘Arafah, the reconnection with Allah, has remained the same. The day is not only for those who go on pilgrimage – it is a special day for every Muslim, even if they are in the furthest part of the globe.

The Prophet (saw) said the following:

1.“The best of du’a is du’a on the day of ‘Arafah.” (Hasan)

2. (For those not on Hajj): “Fasting on the day of ‘Arafah absolves the sins for two years: the previous year and the coming year” (Muslim)

3.” There is no day in which Allah saves more people from the fire than the Day of `Arafah.” (Muslim, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah)

4.” Anyone who has an atom’s weight of faith in their heart will be forgiven by Allah on this day, whether or not they actually stand at `Arafah.” (Abu Dawud)

We also remember that ‘Arafah is the day when Allah revealed the following verse: “Today, I have perfected your religion for you, and have completed My blessing upon you, and chosen Islam as Dīn (religion and a way of life) for you”. (Al Maidah: 3).

Just as Ramadan and its last 10 nights were honored with the first revelation of the Qur’an, so Dhul Hijjah and its first 10 days were honored with the final ever revelation of the Qur’an.  the Day of ‘Arafah was the last time Angel Jibril (as) came to earth as a messenger to the Prophets. ‘Arafah was also the day and place where our beloved Prophet (saw) delivered his farewell sermon, on his last ever Hajj, to crowds of hundreds and thousands of Muslims. It was a beautiful message, but also bittersweet, for it heralded the fact the Prophet (saw)’s remaining time on earth was short.

“O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today” …

The Prophet’s farewell also acts as a reminder that none of us knows how long we still have on this earth. Just as all the hujjaj have to arrive at ‘Arafah before it is too late, we too have to make the most of this day before the sun sets – and make the most of our lives before it too slips away.

The Prophet (saw) ended his sermon by saying: All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O Allah, that I have conveyed your message to your people”. May we live up to the hope and trust that the Prophet (saw) had in us. And may Allah accept everyone’s deeds and prayers on this day, from the hujjaj and us. Ameen.


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EDITORIAL

Celebrating a Decade of Resilience and Impact: Our Journey in Fostering Islamic Economics in Africa

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On the 13th of December, 2023, the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation (AFRIEF), clocked ten years as an organization. Surviving as an organization in itself speaks volumes about our strength, resilience, determination, and adaptability. Despite facing various challenges, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to promoting Islamic economic principles and sharing news and developments in the Islamic economy.

Against all odds, we have continued to actively engage with the Islamic economy community, fostering connections, promoting dialogue, and contributing to the intellectual growth of the field. This accomplishment is a testament to our vision, perseverance, and commitment to its mission.

Over the past decade, we have successfully established a presence and created a platform for dialogue across the continent. Through conferences, seminars, and workshops, we have brought together scholars, experts, and stakeholders from various African countries to exchange ideas, share experiences, and promote a better understanding of Islamic economic principles.

We have been instrumental in advancing research and scholarship in the field of Islamic economics. Through rigorous academic studies and publications, we have contributed to the body of knowledge surrounding Islamic economics, addressing both the theoretical and practical aspects. These research publications have not only enhanced understanding but also provided valuable insights for policymakers and practitioners.

Last November, we held a virtual and impersonal Summits on Islamic finance and healthcare financing in Abuja, Nigeria. These summits are not only innovative and noteworthy achievements but demonstrate our commitment to exploring new avenues within Islamic economics to addressing critical sectors, such as finance and healthcare. What is more, these summits serve as a testament to our forward-thinking approach and commitment to driving positive change in crucial sectors. Through such innovative initiatives, we have established ourselves as key players in promoting Islamic economics, influencing policy discussions, and contributing to the sustainable development of Africa

The publication of the news website and the weekly e-newsletter, “Focus on the Islamic Economy,” is another testament to our dedication to disseminating valuable information to Islamic economy intellectuals and professionals worldwide. Through quality and unbiased journalism we have been able to establish a platform for knowledge-sharing and keeping the community updated, thus becoming a trusted source of insights, trends, and advancements in the field.

Recognizing the importance of education, we have prioritized capacity building initiatives like training programs, workshops, and online courses, and empowered individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the intersection of Islamic principles and economic practices. This has resulted in a growing pool of professionals equipped to contribute to the development of Africa’s Islamic economic sector.

We have also played a vital role in fostering entrepreneurship and economic development within Africa, through our flagship initiatives, Innovate Africa Program (IAP) and the Halal Business Transformation Program (HBTP). This support for innovative business ideas and providing access to funding, mentorship, and networks, is nurturing a thriving ecosystem of Islamic-inspired entrepreneurs and ventures in the Continent. These initiatives have not only contributed to economic growth but also emphasized ethical business practices aligned with Islamic values.

As we celebrate our  tenth year anniversary, it is an opportune moment to reflect on the remarkable journey of survival and the positive impact we have made in the Islamic economics landscape in Africa and beyond. May the coming years bring even greater achievements and continued success to the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation.


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EDITORIAL

COP OUT

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The world’s leaders are not coming to save us. That was the message in brilliant technicolor from the 28th COP meeting that concluded in Dubai about a fortnight ago.

Yes, COP28 was a catastrophic failure, but that failure is not down to the individual frailties of the negotiators present. It was preordained. COP can’t work while the global balance of forces remain as they are.

With no mechanism to force the rich countries of the North to pay to support the South to both adapt to climate change and for the loss and damage they suffer from climate breakdown, targets for finance and technology transfers will never be met. That’s why the global commitment to raise $100 billion per year for climate finance is pushed back every year and the much touted Loss and Damage fund, which is projected to need over $200 billion per year by 2030, has amassed only $700 million in commitments – not even hard cash. The US pledged just $17 million to the fund. Compare that with the $14 billion of weaponry for Israel to pursue its campaign of murder and destruction in Gaza.

$100 billion dollars sounds like a lot of money – and it would be for Southern states adapting to the worst impacts of climate breakdown – but it is just around one tenth of one percent of global economic output. But COP’s biggest structural flaw isn’t even the stingy hypocrisy of the Global North. It’s the overweening power of Big Oil in the global system.

This dominance was on full display in Dubai, giving satire its second death after Henry Kissinger’s Nobel Prize. The conference was presided over by the CEO of an oil company and was lousy with fossil fuel lobbyists, whose number quadrupled to 2,400, making them the largest delegation by far.

So it should come as no shock that COP28, like all previous COPs before it failed to agree on the need to phase out fossil fuels and to set a deadline for doing so. Instead, the final document suggests that states may – with no obligations – “draw down” fossil fuel production. The demands from over 120 countries to completely eliminate new fossil fuel production were ignored.

Climate breakdown cannot be averted without addressing the first order issue: fossil fuels power our global system. That has to change. Increasing investment in cleaner energy sources alone won’t do the job. COP28 agreed on tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030, but, as we’ve seen with the policies of Joe Biden, President of the world’s biggest oil producer, expanding clean energy investment is compatible with expanding fossil fuel investment.

Investment in fossil fuels continues to soar because it is profitable and we live under capitalism. As we have seen in the past two years, rising prices have meant bumper profits and therefore increased investment in fossil fuels. While rising interest rates puts downward pressure on renewables investment, which is much more capital intensive at the front end.

The world system as it is won’t save us, but rather condemns us to live on a planet that becomes less and less hospitable to human life as we know it. 2023 has been a year of catastrophic extreme weather, from monster heatwaves in Europe to a flooding emergency in Libya and a continental inferno in Canada. January to October was 1.43 degrees above pre-industrial average. Next year will be worse, breaking new records as El Niño accelerates global heating to above 1.5°C, a threshold that risks setting off a cascade of irreversible tipping points.

Next year’s COP 29 will be held in another oil-producing state with no interest in ending fossil fuels, Azerbaijan. This is the dilemma: humanity is trapped in an overheating train helmed by fossil capitalists structurally obliged to fan the flames. Our task is to unite and organise the social forces that can seize the engine room and pull the emergency brake. No more cop-outs.


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EDITORIAL

Tribute to Prof Dr. Syed Khalid Rashid

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We dedicate this week’s editorial to celebrate the life and legacy of our brother and friend, Prof Dr. Syed Khalid Rashid, a renowned academic and expert in Islamic law, who passed away on December 15, leaving behind a remarkable legacy of scholarship and contributions to the field of waqf development.

With a heavy heart, we bid farewell to a true visionary, scholar, and mentor. Prof Rashid was a beacon of knowledge, dedicating his life to the pursuit of learning and the sharing of wisdom. His passion for education was unparalleled, inspiring countless students to embrace their curiosity and immerse themselves in the pursuit of knowledge. His contributions to his field were immense, leaving an indelible impact on the academic community.

Professor Rashid was a prolific writer and researcher, authoring several books and articles on Islamic law and Waqf. His most notable works include “Waqf (Laws and Administration)” and “Muslim Law,” which are considered essential references for scholars and practitioners in the field.

Professor Rashid’s work on waqf is particularly significant in light of the growing importance of waqf as a tool for social and economic development in Muslim societies. waqf has been used to fund a wide range of projects, including mosques, schools, hospitals, and other charitable institutions. Professor Rashid’s scholarship has helped to provide a sound legal framework for the establishment and administration of waqf, ensuring that these charitable endowments are used effectively and in accordance with Islamic law.

In addition to his academic contributions, Professor Rashid also played an active role in waqf development through his involvement in various waqf organizations and initiatives. He served as a member of the board of directors of several waqf foundations and was a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops on waqf. It is significant to mention that the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation (AFRIEF) missed him debuting our monthly colloquium.

Through his groundbreaking research, Prof Rashid opened new avenues of understanding, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and fostering innovation. Beyond his professional accomplishments, Prof Rashid touched the lives of those around him with his kindness, compassion, and unwavering support. Most of us, including his students and colleagues would remember him as a mentor who nurtured our potential and encouraged us to reach for the stars.

Prof Rashid’s legacy lives on through the countless minds he shaped, the research he conducted, and the knowledge he imparted. He was a pillar of wisdom and a true inspiration to all who had the privilege to learn from him.

Today, as we bid farewell to Prof Sayed Khalid Rashid, let us not mourn his loss, but instead celebrate the incredible life he lived. May his memory serve as a constant reminder to embrace knowledge, nurture curiosity, and always strive for excellence.  Prof Syed Khalid Rashid, though you have passed on to the glorious life of eternity, your contributions to knowledge will forever be cherished, and your light will continue to guide future generations. May Allah SWT grant him Aljannat ul Firdaus.


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