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Economics forum sheds light on Islamic Banking, Finance

Aiming to give the Ateneo community a glimpse of the Muslims’ way of life through an economic lens, the Ateneo Islamic Studies Students Association [AISSA], in partnership with Ateneo Economics Society and Al Qalam Institute, organized a forum entitled Islamic Money: Introduction to Islamic Banking and Finance last February 28 at F705A.

The event kicked off with an opening remark from the current Al Qalam Institute project coordinator, Mr. Qamar G. Guiani. In his speech, Guiani gave a brief history lesson with regards to the origin of Islamic Banking in the country.

“To give you a background of the Islamic Banking here in the Philippines, it is Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1973 who declared the Presidential Decree No. 264, permitting this Al Amanah [Islamic] Bank [to operate in the Philippines],” Guiani told the crowd.

The main speaker, Jose Carlo Caballero II—an Islamic Banking Master’s Degree holder from a university in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, started his talk by discussing the Principles of Islamic Banking and Finance.
Caballero heavily stressed out that Islamic Banking must always comply with sunnah (the way of life as a model for all Muslims) and sharia (Islamic Law). This meant that no form of riba or usury must be present, prohibiting the concept of interest for those who participate in Islamic Banking.

In line with that, Caballero also discussed the gap between Islamic Economics and General Economics, emphasizing the major differences between the two. Thus, affecting both the Islamic and Conventional Banks.

“In General Economics, there is the concept of scarcity, right? Everything about economics is dwelling on the idea of scarce resource, that the resources we have is not enough, that’s why we have to properly allocate resources,” Caballero started off.

“But if you talk about Islamic Economics, they actually removed the concept of scarcity. They say there’s no such thing as scarcity because what causes this problem with scarce resource is mismanagement of human resource. In the perspective of Islamic, Allah already gave us everything we need. Everything is there; it’s just mismanagement and man’s greed.”

The forum was cut into two parts: The lecture proper, where Caballero shared to the student body his knowledge of Islamic Banking, and the open forum, where everyone present could raise questions relevant to the subject matter.

“Your school is continuing having these conversations concerning Islamic Banking because the situation with Islamic Banking and Islamic Finance here in the Philippines is the same with the Halal—with the discussions of Halal,” Guiani said. Implying the very little profile-raising the Islamic culture has within the Philippines, thus taking the initiative to step up as to promote it.

AISSA, along with its partner organizations, promised to organize more events like this as to shed light on the culture of the Muslims, as well as to educate the Atenean community.

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