International Conference on "Islam & Governance"

First Day:
2-day International Conference on "Islam & Governance" started at the International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI) in connection with its Silver Jubilee under the auspices of its offshoot Iqbal International Institute of Research & Dialogue (IRD) and in collaboration with International Islamic University, Malaysia (IIUM). Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, Rector IIUI was the chief guest on the occasion.

Professor Malik said that the movement for the creation of Pakistan sprang from the ideal, popularly known as the Allama Iqbal’s concept of Pakistan. After the assassination of the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, civil and military bureaucracy took the reins of power into their hands and betrayed the ideal of Pakistan by taking the path of subservience to the interests of the United State of America (USA).

The Rector IIUI added that the Salvation of Pakistani society depends on translation of  the ideal of Pakistan into a reality but the colonial mindset of the ruling elites is the greatest hindrance in the fulfillment of the ideal, conceived and articulated by Allama Iqbal and unfolded by Jinnah. He stressed upon the need of enhancing standards of governance in accordance with teachings of Islam. According to Prof. Malik only distinction of Islamic mode of governance is justice for all and rule of Law. Other speakers of the first day of the conference included Dr. Mumtaz Ahmed, Professor of Political Science at Hampton University, VA, USA & Executive Director of IRD of IIUI, Dr. Abdullah Ahsan Professor of History, International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC) of IIUM, Professor Stephen B Young Global Executive Director of the Caux Round Table (CRT), Mr. Abdullah, Chairman NWFP, Public Service Commission Peshawar, Prof. Alparsalan Acigenc, Deputy Rector Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey, Dr. Recep Senturk, Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey and Tayyab Siddiqui Former Ambassador of Pakistan.

Prof. Stephen B Young said that the Locke’s thesis on the proper legitimacy of government was adopted by Great Britian and was summarized in the Declaration of Independence of the North American colonies. His conclusion was that government consists of power held in trust for the benefit of the people begin with certain assumptions about the natural conditions into which all people are born. Locke starts not with religious teachings or a moral code of right and wrong but with observations about the natural order. Locke’s solution to the problem of conflict inherent in the human condition is to establish government. On the other hand, Qur’anic revelation provides us with analogous concepts to those used by Locke. It presents six inter-related aspects of that destiny, which are the nature of humanity, the assumption of trust responsibility, the office of khalifah, the necessity of wise discernment, the use of good counsel, and the seeking of justice.

In searching for a just form of government consistent with Qur’anic guidance, it would not be inappropriate to adopt John Locke’s understanding that public office is a public trust, where people expect good governance and justice from the government. Prof. Alparsalan Acigenc of Deputy Rector Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey spoke on the Late Ottoman Thought (1700-1950) on Good Governance and its Impact on Modern Turkey. He said that the 18th and 19th Centuries represent the climax of the chaotic socio-political history of the Ottomans. We have seen the aftermath of the Tulip period, which began to give its fruits in the sphere of thought as the rise of westernization and modernization. On the other side, we find those who resist this radical change either in the form of nationalism or Islamism. The nineteenth century is, therefore, the battle arena of these opposing trends. Among many scholars and activists during this period intellectuals such as Namik Kemal and Mehmed Akif are considered from among the Islamic movement. Another personality of this period is Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1873-1960). Their ideas made a significant comeback at the end of the 20th century. This paper will be a brief discussion of these scholars in order to show how their though could contribute the idea of good governance in relation to the corporate approach in recent decades.

Professor Recep of Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey said that the history of the Ottoman political thought can be divided into two major periods: First, the classical period which was characterized by purely Islamic political thought, and the second, which begins with the declaration of the Tanzimat reforms in 1839, the period of modernization and reforms which was characterized by combining Islamic and Western political thought and institutions. This paper drew a very broad picture of the highly neglected first period of the Ottoman political thought from the 13th to the early 19th centuries. In that period, Ottoman scholars produced political works from the perspective of their academic and social positions. Each genre attempted to answer the question of establishing a just rule according to the Islamic principles from its own perspective.

Former Ambassador Tayyab Siddiqui said that OIC is an organization of Muslim countries; and acts as representative of the Muslim Ummah. His examined the previous performance and challenges faced by the Muslim world in the form of: absence of genuine leadership, rising campaign against Islam and inability to implement its charter. OIC can achieve its status as per charter if addressed: challenge of democracy, challenge of defense of Islam and challenge of the development of the Muslim societies.

Second day of the conference started on 12th March 2010 at the Faisal Masjid campus of the university. Mr. Ali Qazilbash, Chairman of law school LUMS, Lahore presided over the session.

The speakers of the second day of the conference included Dr. Zahid H Bukhari, Director, American Muslim Studies Program (AMSP) at the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, Professor Tahir Amin, Professor Department of IR, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Dr. Prof. Sohail Mahmood, Head Department of International Relations, National University of Modern Language (NUML), Islamabad, Professor Dr. Muhammad Arif Zakaullah, Professor Management Center of IIUM.

Dr. Zahid said that the international institutions measure the progress of the human societies, and then rank them accordingly, in their annual reports. The world Bank, the United Nations, the freedom House, and the U.S. Department of States are some of those institutions which rank the countries of the world on a range of issues: per capita income, gross domestic product, human development, human rights, and religious and democratic freedom, etc. The purpose of the annual reports and indexes of the progress of nation states is to create a giant mirror where each country may see its own development, or lack of it, and also place itself in a global matrix. The main purpose of the human collective activities, largely guided by various types of governance models, is to create an environment of justice. The paramount purpose for which the prophets were sent to struggle all their lives was to guide man to achieve justice. Having a balanced society it largely depend on the quality and ability of good governance. The main challenge, however is how to conceptualize, develop, measure an index of a just and balanced society?

Professor Tahir Amin said that the rise of Islamic militancy in the tribal areas of Pakistan has emerged as the most serious problem in the post 9/11 era. The drone attacks, terrorist incidents, suicide bombing and the penetration of external powers in Pakistan have created such an uncertainty that most Pakistanis have seriously become concerned about the continuing survival of Pakistan. The major objective of this paper is to analyze the domestic and international factors contribution to the rise of Islamic militancy in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The argument of this paper is that it is the policy of the Pakistani state which has mainly been responsible for contributing to the rise of militancy in Pakistan. Emergence of Taliban both in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan has been the consequence of that policy. American policy towards Afghanistan and the border areas of Pakistan and Indian involvement on the western borders of Pakistan have also played its part in aggravating Pakistan’s troubles.

Dr. Professor Sohail Mahmood said that the paper discusses the theory of Islamic Good Governance with emphasis on important Islamic concepts of rule of law, shura, ijtihad and ijma. The notion of rule of law is integral to the concept of the Islamic state and the shariah. Proof of Shura is to be found in the Quran and Sunnah. The concept of Ijitihad is accepted widely and it is argued that the work of Ijitihad be institutionalized for attaining good governance. Ijitihad is the essential principle of change in Islam which included social and political change. The Ijitihad of Muhammad Iqbal is an example of such creativity. The sole prerogative of the ulama to ascertain Ijitihad is challenged in the paper. Lastly, the concept of ijma may be institutionalized into a modern parliament and other bodies where the Muslim professionals and academics are well represented. The likelihood of such breakthroughs are examined in the concrete situation of the Muslim world.

Professor Dr. M Arif Zakaullah said that the Economic policy making is an exercise in decision making to ensure that the economy enjoys growth with stability, full employment, stable price level and trade expansion with balance of payments equilibrium. When seen from this perspective one focuses on the role of policy making institutions, policy challenges and targets and the effective implementation of policies. All of this fits very well with the idea of economic policies are directly linked with the framework of good governance, philosophy, framework and fundamentals of governance. The prominent contemporary historian Paul Kennedy also identifies a strong link between economic management and governance. The link between Economy and Governance can be seen in the economies of USSR and USA during the cold war and in global crisis of 2008.

Pakistan has a different root cause. Its economy is a mixed economy dominated by elite families. The feudal elite have successfully co-opted military, media and the civil bureaucracy. This attitude towards the economic governance led to the breakup of the country in 1971 as East Pakistan became Bangladesh. On the other hand, Malaysian leadership does not come from a particular narrow elite group, the Malaysian leaders do not address the issues and problems from the narrow perspective of a particular and small elite group rather they learnt from their mistakes and try to improve and genuinely solve the problem from the nation’s stability and growth point of view.