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Oleh/By		:	DATO' SERI DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD 
Tempat/Venue 	: 	PUSAT ISLAM, KUALA LUMPUR 
Tarikh/Date 	: 	28/04/86 
Tajuk/Title  	: 	MAJLIS PERASMIAN SEMINAR 




Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. Dif-dif Kehormat; Tuan-tuan
dan Puan-puan; 

Alhamdulillahirabbil alamin wasalatu wasalamu ala syidina Muhammadin wa
ala alihi wasahbihi ajmain. Segala pujian bagi Allah Subhanahu Wataala dan
salam sejahtera ke atas junjungan kita Nabi Muhammad s.a.w. Dengan izin
Allah kita dapat bersama-sama pada pagi ini untuk menjayakan Seminar ini.

2. Saya ingin merakamkan ucapan penghargaan dan kegembiraan Kerajaan
kerana Bank Pembangunan Islam telah memilih Kuala Lumpur sebagai tempat
mengadakan Seminar ini. Adalah menjadi harapan kami ianya akan berjalan
dengan lancar dan memberi faedah kepada para peserta. Saya yakin hasil
dari Seminar ini kelak boleh membantu negara-negara Islam, termasuk
Malaysia, dalam usaha menghadapi masalah kewangan mereka. Saya berpendapat
Seminar ini telah dianjurkan di satu masa yang amat sesuai dan bertepatan
sekali kerana kebanyakan negara di dunia terutama negara-negara Islam
sedang menghadapi tahun-tahun lapan puluhan yang sungguh mencabar.

3. Saya difahamkan bahawa peserta-peserta di Seminar ini mewakili beberapa
negara asing dan juga pertubuhan-pertubuhan antarabangsa. Dengan ini saya
akan menyampaikan ucapan saya seterusnya dalam Bahasa Inggeris.

Distinguished gathering, 

4. The continued international economic recession has, to a great extent,
affected countries all over the world. We, in the less-developed and
developing countries, suffer the most. Our exports, both commodities and
manufactured products, are not able to fetch reasonable prices and in many
cases are restricted by unfair quotas and tariffs. Our export earnings
have been greatly reduced and for many countries, it means increased
borrowings. As such it is not surprising to note that the total external
debt of developing countries, both long and short term, has exceeded more
than US$850 billion by the end of 1985. The financial crisis will continue
to exist during the remaining years of the eighties.

5. I believe this Seminar is organised with the above scenario in mind. In
any case Muslims and Muslim countries cannot live in splendid
isolation. Like it or not we are a part of the world system. It is
therefore timely for the Islamic Development Bank or IDB to address itself
fully to the current financial situation. We need to understand the
teachings of Islam with regard to commercial and financial transactions in
a world dominated by people with different faiths or ideologies. At the
same time we must not be so involved in religious polemics that we forget
the fundamentals, that is Islam abhors poverty and that we Muslims should
help each other. This is really not the time for academic debates. We face
very real problems and we need practical solutions.

6. We are gathered here, I hope, with the objective of finding ways and
means to mobilise our no longer unlimited financial resources to help
ourselves. We have, I think, wasted enough time and money. When we were
well-off we did not make preparation for leaner days. Today the lean days
are upon us. Unless we know how to handle critical economic and financial
issues, we are going to revert to the stage prior to the oil boom when we
were so easily manipulated by the rich and the powerful nations of the
world. Let us not waste our time blaming others. We are not free from
blame ourselves. Let us therefore concentrate on finding solutions to our
problems and then work on those solutions with sincerity.

7. Allah Subhanahu Wataala does not send his Messenger Muhammad to teach
mankind the true faith in order that it will be a burden and an
obstruction to those who accept the faith. The evidence of history shows
that the early Muslims prospered after their acceptance of Islam and were
able to spread the teachings of Islam far and wide. If today we are
oppressed, given to plotting and fighting among ourselves and are quite
unable to do anything by or for ourselves, it is not because Islam is in
the way, but it is because we are so fond of making interpretations and
devising methods which only obstruct and weaken us. We concentrate on
insignificant matters, on forms and appearances, while the total welfare
and well-being of the Muslims which are enjoined upon us to protect and
promote are ignored.

8. Islam is frequently referred to, and correctly so, as a way of life, as
Ad-din. It is not just a set of rituals regarding how to pay obeisance to
Allah, although these are also a part of Islam. Instead it is
all-encompassing and it governs every aspect of our behaviour in
society. It determines our earthly relation with Allah and with men; with
other Muslims and with mankind in general. There are rules and injunctions
concerning every transaction that we enter into, from birth and
marriage,to commerce and finance, and on to international relations, to
war and peace.

9. But despite being followers of a religion concerned with a way of life
we seem to care only for death and retribution.And so when we interpret
the teachings of Islam, we care little for the effect on life of the
Muslim society, but whether we gain merit or not when we die. We say that
we Muslims are entitled to our share of the bounties of Allah on this
earth, but we interpret the teachings and devise procedures so that the
bounties of Allah fall beyond our reach. The beliefs of the Jahiliah
period, when sufferings on earth were supposed to confer merit, influence
our thinking so that we seem to want to punish ourselves on earth in order
to enjoy 'akhirat' or the Hereafter.

10. In commerce and finance we have succeeded in rendering ourselves
destitute in the midst of plenty. Muslims everyhere starve because we
place impediments in the way of our relief work among them through our
interpretation. Thus, despite Islamic injunctions against waste, and that
we should do charity and help the poor, for a long time the huge number of
animals we sacrificed at Mina during the Haj were just buried in the
desert sands. The meat of these animals could feed millions of starving
Muslims all over the world, but we are told that we cannot distribute the
meat in case some non-believers get to eat it.

11. Is this in fact what Islam wants of us as a way of life? Does Allah
want so many of the ummah to suffer and die because a morsel might go to
the unbelievers? Does not Islam teach us to be compassionate as we say
Allah is Compassionate every time we begin anything. Does Islam really
teach us that Muslims may receive charity from the unbelievers, as is
happening in the Sahel, but Muslims must never, under any circumstances,
be charitable to non-Muslims, even accidentally? 

12. In the field of finance we have the same situation. We define riba as
any interest no matter how small. Even a service charge is considered as
riba and cannot be taken. While profit sharing may be a method of
financing, the fact is that Muslims have more money than there are
businesses to finance. And so what happens? Billions of dollars of Muslim
money are deposited in non-Muslim banks in non-Muslim countries. Whether
we accept the interest or not is irrelevent. The fact is that money will
be lent out by those banks with interest, sometimes to the enemies of
Islam. These non-Muslim banks enjoy the interest earned by our money when
the interest could very well finance the welfare of Muslims. We are
deprived of this help because it is riba as a form that we abhor, not riba
as a cause of misery the reason why riba is forbidden by Islam.

13. Our obsession with form rather than substance in our interpretation of
Islam is seen again in commerce. Profits of 1000% were made at one time
from the sale of petroleum. The high price of petroleum deprived many poor
people, including the Muslim ummah, from a means of sustenance. Indeed
many people suffer and die because they cannot afford to buy the oil. Or
if they buy the oil they are left with no money to buy other necessities
and so they suffer.

14. Clearly the taking of this very excessive profit caused misery to a
lot of people, poor people. But we interpret Islamic teachings as saying
that this excessive profit is not a crime as compared to the taking of
even the smallest amount of interest. And so we ignore the misery we
cause, as if being miserable is a way of life in Islam. Is it true that
Islam does not care for the pain and oppression that is caused as long as
its injunctions are obeyed? Is this interpretation of Islam correct? Could
it not be possible that we have been given the wrong interpretation? Could
it not be possible that in Islam substance is more important than
form? Distinguished gathering, 

15. I realise that in asking these questions, I am sticking my neck
out. It is imprudent for a politician to go against the mainstream of
thinking in society. But I believe in Allah and The Prophet. The scholars
of the past and of today are no doubt learned but they are not prophets
and they are not infallible. Some scholars of today have other motivations
which are sometimes far from Islamic. I am not questioning my faith and my
religion, Islam. I am merely questioning the interpretations of the Quran
and the Hadith made by the scholars, past and present.

16. The Muslim Ummah has been given by Allah every help. We became rich
beyond imagination only a few years ago. But what did we do? Did we work
for the well-being of the Ummah -- work that is well within our means? Did
we strengthen their capacity to defend themselves and their faith? Did we
follow the injunction to be charitable? Did we seek knowledge? Did we use
our "akal", our God-given capability to think? 

17. The answer to all these must be a resounding 'No'. We have frittered
away our money and our time. If we were not fighting or plotting against
each other, we were busy quibbling over insignificant matters or arguing
endlessly over words. As a result, the bounty that Allah has bestowed us,
the Muslim Ummah, has not made us any better.

18. Today, the Muslims are back to the state they were in prior to the
windfall of their oil wealth. In the face of a determined political and
commercial onslaught launched by the string-pulling Zionists, we have not
been able to do anything. We are poor again. The little charity that we
did before has to be curtailed.

19. The Quran says that poverty will undermine faith. We see this
happening everyday. Some Muslim nations have forsaken Islam because of
poverty. Is it not a sin for the faithful to allow this to happen when the
means to prevent this are still with us? 

20. The IDB is one of the instruments we can use. Allah be praised, the
IDB still has the means. Certainly, it is sincere in its wish to help the
Muslim Ummah. But its contribution has remained small because of the
stringent conditions and limited area in which it can lend. And so Muslim
coun tries have to borrow from commercial banks and countries who lend on
a basis of interest. We must admit that despite the interest charge the
loans we get for our development have been helpful. If we are prudent and
invest our reserves wisely, repayment is not a burden. But the IDB should
be able to do better,governed as it is by the justice of Islamic law.

21. The Islamic banks and financial institutions that exist today are but
an embryonic form of the Islamic banking and financial systems that we
need. They do business in a very restricted environment. Indeed the system
of forward apportionment of profits results in repayments that are more
onerous than interests. We hope that this Seminar succeeds in developing a
system of Islamic banking that stresses not just the letter but the spirit
of the injunctions of the Quran, that is that loans should not be a burden
to the borrowers, rather it should help the borrower in his moment of
need.

22. In Islam it is important that the right people do the right job. If we
choose people who are ignorant of a subject even if he is generally
regarded as learned, his contribution can have undesirable results. As
banking is not just business, nor is it solely a matter of Islamic
jurisprudence and as lending and borrowing have vast social implications,
it is important that relevant experts participate in the seminar and their
views heeded. We would not like to see Islamic banks oppress their clients
more than the ordinary commercial banks.

23. At the sametime it is important to remember that a bank is not the
same as a traditional money lender. The avaricious traditional money
lender is interested only in enriching himself, frequently on the blood
and sweat of his desperate victims. A bank lends money belonging to
numerous shareholders and depositors who are not always rich and
avaricious. They are as much in need of protection as the borrowers. Since
Islam does not condone injustice and oppression, it would not do to help
the borrowers at the expense of misery for the many shareholders and
depositors.

24. It is up to this Seminar to propose banking systems that will be just
to all, that will not oppress one group at the expense of another. It
certainly must ensure that Muslim society becomes strong through a
financial system that enable commerce and social life to sustain a fair
and just society. What this Seminar will do will constitute 'ijtihad'. It
must therefore examine interpretations in the light of the problems faced
by Muslim societies in the eighth decade of the twentieth
century. Otherwise it will not be true to say that Islam is a religion for
all times.

Dear brothers and friends, 

25. I pray that you will achieve success in your brave endeavour. Now, in
the name of Allah the Merciful and the Compassionate, I declare open this
Seminar on Developing A System of Islamic Financial Instruments.

Wabillahi taufik walhidayah wassalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. 
 




 
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