The third session of AlBaraka Symposium 43, titled “Islamic Investment Tools and Sustainability Projects,” was chaired by Dr. Mohd Azmi Umar, President of INCEIF University, Malaysia.

The session featured four research papers: the first paper of which was attended by Dr. Mohd Kabir Hassan, professor of finance at the University of New Orleans, United States, who presented a scientific paper on “The Standards for Responsible and Sustainable Investment.”. He discussed environmental responsibility, social dimension, pre-investment principles and classifications, the need for sustainable investment and the promotion of investment sustainability. He pointed out that bank loans are one of the most important pollutants of the environment, as banks only focus on the financial aspect. He also reviewed sustainability risk management, green Sukuk, and increasing afforestation and agricultural reclamation. He added that “Islamic finance must be guided by Islamic ethics and achieve the five Maqasid of  Shariaah.”

He also referred to projects’ financing and the concept of “There is no injury nor return of injury”, the relationship between company performance and responsible investment, the importance of social aspect related to the environmental aspect, and that investment should serve everyone. He emphasized the severe consequences of the absence of transparency and the risks of unreliable data, stressing that environmental pollution is caused by the weakness of responsible investment.

Professor Dr. Younes Soualhi, Senior Researcher and lecturer, International Shariah Research Academy of Islamic Finance (ISRA) presented a research paper titled “Sustainable Islamic Investment Funds and Their Development Requirements,” in which he spoke about concepts of sustainability, investment funds and the requirements of funds development, noting that investment funds are a means of investment consistent with Shariaah objectives through the booming of money. However, sustainable investment funds are growing slowly because of a lack of awareness of sustainability, the lack of legislation in some countries and the lack of innovation. In recognition of the fact that the Kingdom is ranked first globally in Islamic Waqf investment funds, he reviewed the experiences of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia in sustainability, the West’s pursuit of an economic and ethical framework, governance and conflict of interest, the optimal choice of the components of investment funds, including green Sukuk, and the development of a financial market that respects Sharia and principles of sustainability.

In the third research paper entitled “Sukuk, Money Market, Financial Instruments, and their Impact on Sustainability”, Dr. Salah Al-Hammadi, a lecturer at the Arab Open University, Kuwait, mentioned that green Sukuk related to development projects and renewable energy can reap long-term benefits and are a path to sustainable development that can improve the standard of living and the financial system; Indonesia is a good example of this. He also pointed out the existence of blue Sukuk related to the marine environment.

In the fourth research paper, Dr. Nabil ElArabi, professor of economy at the University of Alexandria, discussed “The Role of Digital Transformation in Achieving Sustainability”. He covered topics such as data digitization, process digitization, digital transformation, the first digital revolution, e-commerce, the second digital revolution, “Network Economy”, digital infrastructure, financial technology applications, internet kiosks, and smart cities. He added that “digital technologies are a means to provide high-quality products and services in areas such as healthcare, education, finance, commerce, governance, agriculture, and many other fields. Digital applications can help reduce poverty and hunger, create new job opportunities, improve energy efficiency, and make cities and communities sustainable”.

In his comment on the session’s proceedings, Dr. Al Ayyashi Fedad, a member of the Shariaah Board of AlBaraka Group, emphasized the necessity of defining the concept of sustainability and setting alignment between the objectives of Islamic Shariaah and sustainability. Indeed, it is important to distinguish between commercial and charitable investment funds, particularly Waqf funds, as the latter are characterized by their flexibility in their Shariaah rulings and it follows the chapter on donations, in which the jurists show great effort. Therefore, the chapters of charity are capable of achieving the goals of sustainability.

It should be noted that AlBaraka Symposium has become a forum for both Islamic Fiqh and economy, and it represents the cornerstone in the development of Islamic economic work from both Fiqh and technical perspectives.

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