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EDITORIAL

Lebanon Crisis: More International Assistance Needed Urgently

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Lebanon’s enduring economic crisis risks reversing decades of gains in people’s wellbeing, the head of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. Speaking from the capital, Beirut, at the end of a two-day visit to the beleaguered Mediterranean country, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described finding shortages of “basic and essential medicines”.

Although the WHO has done what it can to fill gaps in healthcare there for the last 15 years, the WHO Director-General said that the situation had become “very dire” and that international support was needed immediately.

“It’s not just COVID, almost all services are being affected,” he said. “We visited two hospitals today… they told us that you know, they had, patients, cancer patients or other patients, but a shortage of medicines and those who cannot afford not having access to, they can’t have medicine, so meaning other services are being disrupted, and this is life, life, life and death.” Lebanon’s unprecedented political and economic crisis has been made worse by the COVID pandemic and last August’s port explosion.
Fuel and Power Shortages
Tedros said that when he went to meet top Government officials, a power cut interrupted their encounter. Similar fuel shortages have left hospitals functioning at 50 per cent capacity, the WHO Director-General said, adding that he had agreed to send a team of health experts to Lebanon to offer technical support as soon as possible.
The UN health agency has also provided “Band-Aid” assistance to the country’s medical sector, Tedros added. This includes the purchase of essential medicines for 450,000 patients with acute and chronic conditions last year and this year. But Dr Iman Shankiti, WHO Representative in Lebanon, told journalists that the caseload is now increasing and that demand is growing for medications to treat cancer, dialysis and emergency patients.
“At one point in time we were able to support 2,000 cancer paediatric cases and we were able to support 17,000 persons with catastrophic medications, but this is not enough,” she said. “I cannot say that we have filled the gap, we have closed the shortage. The needs are huge….It needs a whole-of-Government approach (to solving the shortages)”.

Regional Insecurity Risk
While in Beirut, Tedros visited several health facilities, including the newly renovated Central Drug Warehouse that had been destroyed by the Beirut port blast. Accompanying him, Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, highlighted the threat to regional instability if Lebanon’s health sector was not propped up.
The country was rapidly losing its longstanding status as a key provider of medical professionals, he warned, as its youngsters left the country to seek work elsewhere.

Lebanon’s strong vaccination and immunisation system was also under threat, said Dr Al Mandhari, noting that it had “protected the children of Lebanon and all those living in Lebanon, which helped us in the region and beyond to control communicable diseases like for example polio, measles and other communicable diseases that affect adults and children. So, if there is a break or a weakness in this expanded programme of immunisation in the country it will definitely hit other countries in the region.”


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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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