The Conference on Philanthropy for Humanitarian Aid (CONPHA) 2017, jointly organized by International Research Centre of Islamic Economics and Finance (IRCIEF), International Islamic University College Selangor (KUIS), Malaysia and Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University (UNISSA), Brunei Darussalam, and in collaboration with Islamic Research & Training Institute (IRTI), International Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia took place on Tuesday 23rd May to Wednesday 24th May.

This event which was held in Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University, Brunei, has attracted a large number of participants and the presentations have stimulated an interesting and lively debate among speakers and audience. Approximately thirty papers were presented in the two-day event; an international seminar and a forum for the most up-to-date academic research in the area of humanitarian aid and action.

The first day started with opening ceremony in the morning by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Brunei Darussalam, Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Lailaraja Mejar Jeneral (B) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Hj. Mohd Yussof. In his speech, the minister said that in Islam, act of charity such as zakat, endowment and sadaqa have the functional objectives of creating balance in social inequities, as well as alleviating poverty. Proactive and sustainable charity initiatives and activities are becoming more significant as a means to fight human crisis domestically and globally. Before that, the ceremony began with a recitation of Surah Al-Fatihah, followed with two welcoming remarks by the Programme Chairpersons, Dr. Hajah Rose Abdullah (UNISSA) and Dr. Norzalina Zainudin (IRCIEF-KUIS).

This seminar witnessed the introduction of a special session on keynote address 1 covering Philanthropy and Humanitarian Aid by Professor Abdul Ghafar Ismail, Senior Lecturer in Faculty of Islamic Economics and Finance, UNISSA. The seminar was continued with the second speaker, Dr. Razali Othman, Director at Centre for Management of Wakaf, Zakat and Endowment (WAZAN), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) who presented a topic on Waqf for Education: Practice, Challenges and the Way Forward.

Other papers covered a variety of subjects related to philanthropy and humanitarian action including zakat, waqf, sadaqa, microfinance and many others related to Islamic economics and finance with research covering a broad time-scale from the earliest to the present day. Presentations were both interesting and diverse in sharing knowledge and experience, ranging from Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Turkey to South Africa.

The event later proceeded with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between KUIS and UNISSA with the Istanbul Sabahattim Zaim University of Turkey.

The final session has highlighted two main resolutions from the seminar: (i) Fundamental rethink of required humanitarian financing which looks on the role of Islamic Social Finance and (ii) a lack of global platform – an integrated, allocation system among Muslim donors that would cater for international crises.

Resolution 1 – fundamental rethink of required humanitarian financing – the role of Islamic Social Finance

  1. The establishment of Islamic humanitarian institution to distribute the humanitarian aid and funds for recovery of social economy among the poor or the needy through: nano-finance – beyond micro small enterprise; Islamic pawn-broking (or ar-rahnu); micro-finance (including the financing options such as ijarah, murabahah and muzara’ah funds); cash waqf as altruistic model; charitable organization; commercial-social integrated model;
  2. New list of waqf properties such as knowledge waqf, solar panel, cash waqf – these properties would also help in realizing sustainable development goals;
  3. Humanitarian aid’s objectives – promote peace and inculcate moral values (to free the society from ethical, religious, political and economic ills), education
  4. Enabling environment such as policy-oriented philanthropy, decentralization policy on distribution channel; empowering policy (for example business entrepreneurship via zakat); loving people or caring society policy; education and awareness (for example zakat education, community services (such as internship program with charity organization), journal of philanthropy, degree in humanitarian economics); research (Centre for philanthropy research); the existence of social capital;

Resolution 2: a lack of a global platform – an integrated, allocation system among Muslim donors that would cater for international crises.

  1. A platform for dedicated purposes such as waqf flood evacuation centre, mobile application for zakat collection, crowd funding platform, Tabung Masjid
  2. An efficient allocation system is subject to: the presence of law (case of PARAD) and governance, ownership (case of indigenous land),

In the afternoon of May 24th, the closing ceremony was held in Auditorium UNISSA.  Award presentation for the best three papers in the seminar took place in the session. The first paper won USD500 which entitled “Achieving Financial Sustainability for Women Micro-Entrepreneurs through Islamic Pawnbroking: The Moderating Role of Demographic Factors”. Second and third winners received USD400 and USD300. With the successful of this event, it is hoped that more opportunities would be available for academicians and industry players to discuss further on the issues and challenges of humanitarian crises facing the world today. We look forward to seeing the implementation of what has been learnt and gained during this seminar so that the administration of humanitarian aid is effectively enhanced.

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