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I support the establishment of an International Zakat Fund (IZF), said Dr. Ahmed Mohamed Ali, President of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank in response to a suggestion made by one of the participants in the Workshop on Economic Unity Among Muslims chaired by Dr. Abdullah Omar Nasseef, former Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Ex-Deputy Speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council and presently President of the World Muslim Congress (Motamar Al-Alam Al-Islami).
The workshop was one of the sessions of the three-day Conference on World Forum for Muslim Scholars (Unity of Muslim Ummah), organized by the Muslim World League under the patronage of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, held between 1 and 3 April 2006 at the MWL headquarters in Makkah. The main speaker was Dr. Ahmed Mohammad Ali, President of the Islamic Development Bank, who spoke on the Liberation of Inter-Muslim States Trade & Establishment of Islamic Common Market.
Participants came out with many suggestions and comments. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), suggested that the Muslims in non-Muslim countries can act as ambassadors for expending trade with the Muslim countries. He gave the example of Britain. “We are 3% of the population and our contribution to the gross domestic product is over 10% that is more than three times. Now, this is an example to show what the Muslims in non-Muslim countries can do in their own countries and at the same time act as ambassadors in extending trade of the Muslim countries.” He also disclosed that “MCB is planning to hold a major international conference on 13-14 of June, 2006 in London, which will enable them to explore the avenues of trading between Muslim countries and Britain; likewise all other countries in Europe should take this opportunity; because this will also get us away from the usual negativity and denigration of Islam and Muslims.”
Another participant suggested the establishment of an International Zakat Fund to carry out the promotion of export business between Muslim countries. IDB can take the responsibility of the establishment of IZF.
Dr. Muhammad Abdul Halim Omer, Director, Islamic Economics Centre of Al-Azhar University, Egypt, while speaking on Economic Unity of Muslim Ummah, spoke on globalization and integrated economy. He also spoke about the economic potentials of the Muslim countries. He suggested, “There should be consultative councils on the regional level – free trade zones in seven countries. They will take off customs duty. We are not integrated. Strengthen the relations, establish free trade zones, establish Islamic economy and take some practical steps such as regional groupings.”
Muslims of the minority countries voiced their aspirations and suggestions in the meeting. One of the participants suggested for the “establishment of some level of global cooperation with the IDB and Muslim World League so that a linkage can be established with these bodies which are not only preaching but also practicing economic cooperation not only among Muslims in the Muslim world but with the Muslims in minority positions.”
One of the participants who is himself a businessman, suggested to develop database and observed, “I have been trying for many years in my own business; my company has the largest dealership in my country, and I have been trying on many occasions to bring in large number of containers of rubber from Malaysia and Indonesia because they are the largest producers of rubber but I have never been successful. I think database needs to be developed; some institutions to facilitate the establishment of a comprehensive database so that we can have Muslim manufacturers supplying Muslim companies in Muslim and non-Muslim societies. I would like to suggest that database be established, Insha Allah.”
“Our region is the richest area but our people the poorest. We are in need of having an institution to change the system,” lamented one of the participants.
Earlier, Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Ali in his keynote speech
on the Liberation of Inter-Muslim States Trade & Establishment of
Islamic Common Market, spoke about the freedom of trade among the Muslim
countries, the importance of trade and business. “Business and
trade play an important role in economic movement between the countries,”
said Dr. Ali.