Is Islamic Knowledge relevant for Modern Business?

Introduction to talk by Dr. Asad Zaman, VC PIDE, on Islamic Models of Entrepreneurship — link to AUDIO of complete talk)

Recently, I was invited to Istanbul to deliver a keynote speech on Methodology for Islamic Economics, at the 5th Workshop on Islamic Economics, arranged by IKAM. While I was in Istanbul, I was also invited to talk at the Ibn-e-Haldun University, and at the Istanbul Sehir university.  My three hours long talk at Ibn-e-Haldun University was not recorded, but a very brief summary of a key point regarding how an Islamic education must be radically different from a Western education is available from my previous post on Statistics: An Islamic Approach? . This post is regarding my talk at Istanbul Shehir University, which was arranged by Ahmet Faruk Aysan, Dean of the Management School. Because it was arranged at short notice, I though that the talk would be to the faculty of the management school, and I prepared a talk based on the Islamic Models for Entrepreneurship developed by Dr. Shahid Qureshi of IBA — these models are based on Islamic principles which are often directly the opposite of principles taught in conventional MBA programs. Dr Shahid Qureshi has developed a successful program at IBA, based on Islamic ideas, for teaching entrepreneurship to anyone — even without formal educational background — to teach them how to launch a business from scratch. I borrowed the slides for his presentation of this model, and prepared a talk for the faculty to explain the features of this new approach to entrepreneurship, and how they should develop and use it for designing their courses, and incorporating new ideas into existing courses.  HOWEVER, Dr Ahmet Faruk Aysan had publicized the talk widely, and a large number of students were attending the talk, which was right after Juma prayers at the university. So I decided to give a general introduction to concepts of Islamic knowledge and the potential of Islamic knowledge to revolutionize the world — I felt that this topic would be more useful to the students, to explain the importance of Islamic teachings in the first part of the talk. In the second part of the talk, I explained how Islamic teachings can also revolutionize the business models that we use, by using the slides and ideas that Dr. Shahid Qureshi has developed for the Entrepreneurship Plus model that he teaches at IBA. For the audio recording of the entire talk, and supplementary materials, see the link to (Audio Recording of talk on Islamic Models of Entrepreneurship). Below I present the INTRODUCTION to the talk, transcribed from the audio by Syeda Mehwish Zahid. Later parts of the talk will also be posted on this blog later, insha Allah.

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Understanding Macro II: Post War Prosperity

In this Islamic WorldView Blog, our main goal is to show that the nature of Western knowledge is DECEPTIVE, and to replace this defective source of knowledge by the true source of ALL genuine knowledge, which is the Holy Quran. Western Macroeconomics is deceptive because it pretends to be a precise, quantitative, mathematical and scientific system of knowledge which informs us about the capitalist economic systems in which we live. The reality is extremely different. This article delves into the historical origins of Macroeconomic theory, and how it emerged with Keynes and how it has evolved and change over time.  This analysis leads to much deeper understanding of the Macroeconomics currently being taught in universities throughout the world.

In part 1 of this article (Understanding Macro: The Great Depression (1/3), we saw that Keynes challenged classical economics on many fronts. Against the classical idea that free markets will automatically eliminate unemployment, he argued that governments needed to adopt appropriate fiscal and monetary policy in order to create full employment, as a necessary condition for high economic growth. He also argued that money is not neutral, and that there is fundamental uncertainty about the future.  Widespread acceptance of Keynesian economics was one of the two major ingredients that led to prosperity in Europe and USA after World War II. We start with a discussion of the second ingredient, which was strict regulation of financial institutions.

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Remembering Sabika Sheikh

Sabika died during Ramazan, while fasting. May Allah give her highest rewards of Jannah and give Sabr to her family. What she did — in terms of giving love to her host family — is actually the way that Islam was spread throughout the world. [shortlink: bit.do/azrss]

 

Mercy to all Mankind (Rahmatul lil Alameen)
Our Prophet SAW was the Mercy to all mankind, who suffered pain when anyone else did. His heart was full of compassion and sympathy for others.
There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful. (9:128)

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Farewell to IIIE Students

At a farewell party arranged by my IIIE students, on occasion of my departure from IIIE to join PIDE as VC, I gave some parting advice. The 30 minute audio recording (urdu), and an urdu summary is available from Link to Farewell to IIIE (audio).  Here I provide a brief English summary – shortlink: bit.do/aziiie

The Importance of Knowledge: The Quran and Hadeeth are full of statements about the importance and value of Knowledge. The Wahy itself starts by saying how Allah T’aala gives man knowledge which he did not have have (allamal insana ma lum ya’lam). The value of the knowledge that was given to ignorant and backwards Arabs can be seen by the revolutionary effect that it had. It catapulted them from the bottom, to the top, making them leaders and makers of world history for a thousand years.  So the BURNING question for us Muslims today is: DOES this knowledge have the same power today? Today, as prophesied, Islam has become a stranger — we do not see the ways of Islam in the lives of the Muslims — CAN Islam again create a revolution, transforming our inner lives, our societies, and transform the world, like it did 1439 years ago? If so, WHAT is it in the teachings of Islam that is revolutionary? How can we make these teachings LIVE again, so that they become part of our lives, instead of being part of history books? ANSWERS to all of these questions are contained within the intellectual traditions of Islam, but unfortunately, this tradition itself has been forgotten by the Muslims, who are too busy studying Western knowledge to have time for their own intellectual tradition.

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Modern Miracles of Our Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him

[shortlink: bit.do/azmmm] This article has been published in the Intellect Magazine,  Volume 3, Issue 4, June-July-August 2012. It is republished here, in honor of the first Friday of this Ramazan.

1. Introduction

Prophets a.s. were given miracles appropriate for their times, according to the sensibilities of their people. Since our prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was sent for all times, he was given miracles for all times. This article collects some of the miracles of our prophet which are striking to the modern mind, which is not much taken by the standard miracles involving violations of natural laws.

Ideas are born in the context of history, and respond to needs of the situations. However, our Prophet brought to the world, and demonstrated with his life, ideas completely outside the range of existing thought. These ideas changed the course of history for all time to come. Unfortunately, as prophesied by our Prophet, Islam came as a stranger and will become a stranger. Today, these ideas have the same power as they did fourteen centuries ago, and they can bring about the same miracle that they did when they were first introduced to mankind.

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Urdu Blog and Posts

Mufti Yasir Ahmad Zeerak has launched an Urdu Blog which will have posts which are translation of material from this blog, as well as other related materials, in Urdu. The address of this blog is:  https://urdumaterial.wordpress.com/

Three posts currently available are listed below — “Insaniyyat ka Madaar: Tabyaati Uloom ya Islami Uloom“, Farewell Lecture to IIUI Students , “Musalman Muashray mai Ilm-o-Fun ka Inhetaat.” — more are under preparation, and will be available soon. Links to both English and translated Urdu posts are provided, with brief description, below.

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Disinformation: Manufacturing Monsters

shortlink to this post on other website: bit.do/iwvdmm  — This post explains how the media creates a view of the world which has no relation to reality. For example, whereas the chance of being killed by a Muslim terrorist is less than that of being struck by lightning, billions are being spent on preventing this in the USA. At the same time, there is nearly daily mass shooting when someone takes a gun and opens fire on children or others, but nothing is done about it, because this is not perceived to be as big a problem as that of Islamic terrorism. This post explains WHY the myth of Islamic Terrorism was manufactured, and why it is being used to scare the people of USA and Europe.

Following destruction of European economies by WW1, Americans stepped into the role of world leadership. Woodrow Wilson made many statements  like “every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live…. ” and that “no right anywhere exists to hand peoples about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were property.” Ho Chi Minh was disappointed when Americans refused to help the Vietnamese in their struggle for freedom against the French. Like many other leaders of independence movements, he learned of the disconnect between words and policies that is a characteristic of disinformation. In the curious reasoning of an official U.S. commission to the Philippines, “American sovereignty is only another name for the liberty of the Filipinos.”

Because of strong popular support for democracy and freedom within American public, the postwar USA strategy for global domination took a distinctly different shape from the pre-war imperialism. Taking a leaf from Machiavelli who recommended creating and slaying enemies, they invented the enemy of “Communism” and painted it in the worst possible colors. USA wars to dominate the globe and control world economies were painted in terms of a battle of Good and Evil – much like Star Wars. This myth, that the Americans were pure, good, and had all excellent human qualities, while their enemies were purely evil and had no redeeming virtues, was deeply planted into the American psyche. Hollywood and many other media initiatives spread this message, and it was widely believed by the rest of the world. There is plenty of documentation proving that CIA grossly exaggerated the potential of the communist threat and strength of the Russian economy and war capability, so as to scare the American public and to generate more funding for “Defense” (note the clever mislabeling: USA has never fought a defensive war). Fabricated rumors of Russian plots to destroy USA democracy created national hysteria destroying lives and careers of thousands of Americans during the “Red Scare”.

Imperialism USA style sought to protect business interests and maintain an economic stranglehold on the world. Under the pretext of fighting communism, USA destroyed economies and ruined lives of millions of poor people all over the world. When the USA sought to replace the French rule over Vietnam (as they had replaced Spanish rule over Latin America), they labeled the Vietnamese independence movement as communist. Forced to fight against the USA whom they had hoped would be their ally, the Vietnamese turned to the other superpowers, Russia and China for support, turning this into a self fulfilling labeling.

British monopoly on Iranian oil permitted them to pay only 16% of its value to Iran. When immensely popular Mossadegh took over via democratic process in 1951, he nationalized the oil and paid the British a fair price. The tactics used by CIA to create a coup and regain control of Iranian oil are of special interest.   They bribed journalists, preachers and other opinion leaders to create hostility to Mossadegh, hired thugs to attack people, making it look as if the attacks were by Mossadegh. Street gangs were paid to set off riots. A plague of violence descended on Tehran. Gangs of thugs ran wildly through the streets, breaking shop windows, firing guns into mosques, beating passerby, and shouting ‘Long live Mossadegh and Communism!” CIA subverted the army to stage a coup and replaced him by a US puppet. US oil companies — Gulf, Standard of New Jersey, Texaco and Mobil — received a 40 percent share of the new National Iranian Oil Company. The Shah established a tyrannical dictatorship with the help of the CIA-trained Savak. Some of their infamous torture techniques are described in the CIA Kubark Manual. McCoy, who has written a history of torture, writes that CIA techniques based on scientific research are the first genuine advance in the science of inflicting pain since the middle ages.

Chile had enjoyed 160 years of peaceful democratic rule, when Salvador Allende came to power. US Copper mining interests had earned 7 billion dollars profits on an investment of 1 billion in Chile, and were threatened by Allende’s plans to nationalize copper mines.  CIA trainers whipped the Chilean military into an anti-Communist frenzy, persuading them that socialists were de facto Russian spies, a force alien to Chilean society—a homegrown “enemy within.” In fact, it was the military that had become the true domestic enemy, ready to turn its weapons on the population it was sworn to protect. General Pinochet carried out a coup on both the economic and political front. Mass killings and torture of citizens were justified on the grounds that the Government was fighting a war against dangerous Marxist terrorists, funded and controlled by the KGB. In every case, the threat was either wildly exaggerated or completely manufactured, as revealed by later declassified U.S. government’s own intelligence reports. At the same time, the best social security system in Latin America for the  poor was dismantled leading to widespread poverty (cheap labor) where none had existed. Policies wildly favorable to foreign multinationals and harmful to domestic interests were put in place with a systematic campaign of “disinformation” on the economic front.

The collapse of Russia led to national consensus in the USA on enjoying the “peace dividend” ; evil had been vanquished, and there were no enemies left to fight. NATO was no longer necessary, and should be dismantled. Congress proposed to divert the massive cold war budget to social welfare, building or repairing essential infrastructure (lack of which led to the Katrina disaster).  Within the corridors of the Pentagon and the “Defense” industry threatened by billions of dollars of budget cuts, there was desperate brainstorming about need to manufacture a new monster. Their dilemma was that there were no worthy enemies to be found. With  USA war capabilities much greater than that of the rest of the world combined, there was no one who could step into the position vacated by Russia. Perhaps we can take perverse pride in that the lot fell on us, the poor Muslims. Proceeding were started by Samuel Huntington, who put forth the thesis that henceforth wars would be fought between civilizations, and that the Muslims were the biggest threat to the Western civilization. The entire civilization of the Muslims as a whole was a sufficiently big target that there was no chance of achieving success in destroying it quickly, leading to the need for a new enemy.  Close on the heels of Russian collapse, the CIA lured Saddam Hussain into invading Kuwait, providing a pretext for the Gulf War, and buying time to put the new strategy in place. Before the first budget cut proposals could see the light of day, enough new enemies were in place that US “Defense” budgets kept increasing. Meanwhile, the monster manufacturing industry was in full gear, and today the USA public feels the same hysteria against Islam and Muslims that was once attached to communists.

Today, exactly the same tactics that worked so successfully in Iran and Chile and numerous other parts of the world – for details see The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein – is being repeated without essential changes in Pakistan. Army intelligence sources conclude that there are less than 4000 “American Taliban” in the NWFP. These have been heavily supplied with arms and money by the CIA, and can recruit local populace in the name of Islam at heavy salaries. Just as thugs in Iran were paid to vandalize and shout slogans favoring communism and Mossadegh, so thugs have been hired to shout Islamic slogans and carry out extremely cruel acts. Movies have been made of grisly slaughter by people shouting the Kalima, and widely circulated. Trillions of dollars of USA defense budget depends on making the Islamic monster as fearsome as possible. The skill of the CIA at manufacturing videos for disinformation, like the faked Osama Bin Laden video, is well established. It was recently reported that Pentagon paid millions of dollars to a UK PR firm to manufacture fake Al-Qaeda videos. There are numerous well documented “False Flag” operations which show the pattern of how CIA operates to create dis-information useful to US interests.

Living in the post-fact world, it has become very hard to discriminate between facts and fiction. The best approach may be to “follow the money” — look at the interests that are supported by the news. Of course, propaganda makers are well-aware of this and attempt to conceal motivations — Bernays, the creator of modern propaganda,  advocated using “News Items” instead of Adverts, to create greater effect.     For more discussion about how the real causes of wars — the search for profits by corporations — are hidden under noble, glorious, and honorable motives — this is the only way to persuade the youth to die for money! — see post on The Business of War.