27 July 2022, Alor Star, Kedah – The 16th Muzakarah Nusantara (MUZAKARAH2022) returns to in-person setting after going virtual in the past two years due to the pandemic. The regional conference, themed ‘Ke Arah Pembangunan Inovasi dan Rangkuman Kewangan Islam (Towards Development of Innovation and Islamic Financial Inclusion), was officially opened by Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Al Aminul Karim Sultan Sallehuddin Sultan Badlishah.
This year’s focus is on innovation in Islamic financial products and financial inclusion. As Malaysia underwent the process of recovering from the adverse effects of the pandemic through a wide range of initiatives implemented at the national and state levels to assist the community and the economy, Islamic financial institutions and corporate bodies along with zakat institutions are playing their respective roles in helping to stabilise the country’s socio-economic challenges.
Sultan Sallehuddin addressed the participants virtually at the start of the two-day conference attended by more than 200 Islamic finance industry practitioners, academicians and Syariah experts including from Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Nigeria. The annual conference, in its 16th edition, was held in Kedah with co-organiser Lembaga Zakat Negeri Kedah (LZNK).
In his speech, Sultan Sallehuddin said it was timely for all levels of society including Religious Councils in each state, corporate bodies and institutions, as well as the public to join hands to find the best methods to unite efforts and energy in empowering all institutions related to Islamic finance. Such partnerships will surely enrich and strengthen Islamic financial institutions, as each partner would be able to tap into each other’s strength and expertise.
“We are well aware that, in promoting and enriching Islamic financial institutions, the traditional operating methods and closed policies should be reviewed, and replaced with more commercial and modern methods to gain the trust of the community, in addition to giving positive results and returns to the institutions,” Sultan Sallehuddin said.
He recorded his pleasure with the management of LZNK for having already started efforts in this direction by digitalising the entire zakat operation in Kedah in line with its vision to become a world-class Islamic social financial institution. He mentioned in particular the ‘Zakat On Touch’ apps which streamed real-time data on the collection and distribution of zakat in the state, a reflection of LZNK’s aim to be transparent in its operation for the benefit of the zakat payers in particular and the public in general.
“I would also like to remind everyone that the function of Islamic financial institutions should not be based solely on profit or be profit oriented only. Rather these institutions should be the most forward in playing the role of developing and contributing towards the well-being of the Muslims as a whole,” Sultan Sallehuddin said.
In his welcome remarks, ISRA Research Management Centre Executive Director Datuk Prof Dr Mohamad Akram Laldin said the annual MUZAKARAH was an apt platform for players in the Islamic financial industry to explore ideas on innovative products with inputs from Shariah scholars and academics.
“The role of Shariah advisors and industry practitioners is very important in developing innovative products in line with the current technological development. The paradigm shift requires a more adaptive Shariah approach while meeting the requirements of Maqasid Al-Shariah,” Datuk Akram said.
Today, Islamic financial institutions offer a variety of innovative financial solutions and products through the adoption of social financial instruments that contributed towards the upliftment of the country’s socio-economic status. Among them are funds for social finance initiatives, infrastructure development and technical expertise. “This would not be accomplished successfully without the cooperation and support from the country’s respective State Religious Councils,” Datuk Akram added.
For the first time, MUZAKARAH2022 has included the topic on the sustainability of “pondok” (Islamic religious schools) institutions in supporting the Islamic financial agenda.
INCEIF University would like to express its appreciation to the co-organiser Lembaga Zakat Negeri Kedah, the sponsors MBSB Bank Berhad and Shariah Advisory Association for Islamic Finance (ASAS) which is also the supporting institution. The support is a critical endorsement for the university’s effort in developing talent for the Islamic financial industry.