Thursday, 13 December 2018

View Minimalist pieces inspired by Islamic geometric art

Minimalism: Space. Light. Object. the first exhibition on the art form in Southeast Asia, is an eye-opening encounter with the beginnings and progress of art that moves beyond convention. 

Held in Singapore and organised by National Gallery Singapore in collaboration with ArtScience Museum, Singapore, the exhibition features seminal artworks in the Minimalism movement from the 1950s to the present day. Visitors to the exhibition can view over 100 major works by 70 artists, including Donald Judd, Mark Rothko, Mona Hatoum, Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei, Olafur Eliasson and Haegue Yang. 

Detail, Basant.
Detail, Basant.
Instead of viewing a framed artwork on a wall passively, at a distance, Minimalism shifted the focus to the physical encounter with the artwork, and the space it occupies. As Frank Stella famously said, "What you see is what you see". The phrase is now inextricably linked with Minimalism, which as the name implies, is about stripping everything away until only the bare essentials are left.

Industrial materials, natural materials and repetitive shapes are some of the hallmarks of Minimalism. Materials evolved in the post-Minimalist period towards the use of soft and more fluid materials. Gravity and chance could play a part in the work.

Of interest is Rasheed Araeen's two wall-mounted latticed forms, which were influenced by industrial architecture and the geometry found in Islamic art. (3R+2B)SW and Basant are both acrylic on wood, created in the early seventies.


View pictures of exhibits on Facebook

Minimalism: Space. Light. Object.
Till 14 April 2019
At dual venues: Concourse Galleries and Singtel Special Exhibition Galleries at the National Gallery and at the ArtScience Museum, which houses the larger installations

There are two audio tours available at the National Gallery: Minimalism Highlights, and The More You Look At It.

Book a ticket

Hashtag: #minimalismsg

*The guided tour was sponsored by Singtel.

First-ever Indonesia Muslim Travel Index names Lombok as key destinations for halal tourism

- Indonesia launches travel index* to position as itself a leader in the US$220 billion Muslim travel marke

- The Mastercard-CrescentRating Indonesia Muslim Travel Index (IMTI) 2018 benchmarks 10 Indonesian provinces on their readiness to welcome Muslim tourists

- IMTI reveals that Lombok, Aceh, and Jakarta as key destinations for halal tourism

Source: Crescentrating website. IMTI   2018 report cover.
Source: Crescentrating website. IMTI 
2018 report cover.

The Mastercard-CrescentRating Indonesia Muslim Travel Index (IMTI) 2018 has been launched in Jakarta by Pak Arief Yahya, Minister of Tourism, Indonesia, with the aim of-fast tracking the development of its provinces to welcome Muslim tourists. The country has a target of welcoming 5 million Muslim tourists in 2019. 

The IMTI benchmarks Indonesian provinces in four strategic areas – access, communications, environment and services – and tracks the health and the growth of the travel segment across the country. The 10 provinces covered in this years’ index are Aceh, the Riau Islands, West Sumatra, Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, South Sulawesi and Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara). The IMTI is part of the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) Series of reports.

The inaugural IMTI reveals that Lombok, Aceh, and Jakarta are new key destinations for halal tourism. 

In 2016, a Halal Tourism Acceleration and Development Team was set up by the Ministry of Tourism in Indonesia to address the development and promotion of halal travel in the country amidst rising competition from other countries developing their own halal tourism initiatives. Indonesia has worked to develop infrastructure and services to attract the Muslim tourist and has consistently improved its global position in the GMTI, from 6th place in 2015 to 2nd place in 2018.

Best known for its pristine beaches and home to over a thousand mosques, Lombok has been at the forefront of developing the destination for halal tourism. The regional authorities have shown strong commitment to educate the stakeholders and promote the destination as a Muslim-friendly destination.
Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said, “IMTI is an important milestone to achieve the halal tourism target by 2019, including becoming the No. 1 halal destination and attracting 5 million foreign Muslim travelers, 25% of the overall 2019 foreign visitor target.”

Global Muslim traveller expenditure is projected to reach US$220 billion in 2020 according to GMTI 2018. It is expected to grow a further US$80 billion to hit US$300 billion by 2026. In 2017, there were an estimated 131 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally - up from 121 million in 2016 - and this is forecast to grow to 156 million visitors by 2020, representing 10% of the global travel segment.

Halal tourism is key to Indonesia’s economic growth and it is prospected to be the country’s biggest foreign exchange source in the future. The travel index highlighted recommendations for innovation and growth in the Muslim travel segment in Indonesia. Recommendations included improving connectivity and infrastructure as well as building online content and resources to attract more international tourists, while improving the country’s overall global halal destination branding.

“Given its natural beauty and cultural richness, tourism offers a huge growth opportunity for Indonesia. With its standing as the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia has the core infrastructure and environment in place to cater to the needs of Muslim travelers. IMTI 2018 insights will enable the regions within Indonesia to build on their strengths to better cater to the requirements of Muslim travelers," said Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating & HalalTrip.

“Mastercard and CrescentRating have collaborated since 2015 to create a suite of comprehensive research material offering invaluable insights on the halal travel sector. These in turn enable governments and the tourism industry to better cater to the needs of Muslim travelers. Indonesia has done a wonderful job in enhancing the country’s tourism landscape and infrastructure. The IMTI is an innovative partnership between the public and private sector which aims to empower provinces with the information they need to continuously improve their local travel industry,” said Safdar Khan, Division President Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, Mastercard.

IMTI 2018 Rank
Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara)
West Sumatra
West Java
Riau Islands
East Java
Central Java
South Sulawesi


Read the report


Read the Suroor Asia blog post about building a halal-friendly tourism industry in Indonesia

Hashtag: #IMTI2018

*Key metrics for IMTI 2018 include access, which comprises of infrastructure; communications, which looks at how destinations market themselves to the target audience; environment, one which is welcoming of Muslim visitors; and services. Each criterion is then weighted to make up the overall index score.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Muis announces S$2.5 million disbursement for the needy

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) will disburse over S$2.5 million through the annual year-end disbursement (YED) exercise which comprises bonuses and back-to-school vouchers and activities to 4,459 low-income families across Singapore.
This payout is to eligible families receiving monthly financial assistance from Muis. The YED is in addition to the monthly assistance received by zakat recipients, supplementing other national assistance schemes for the disadvantaged.

This increase in YED as well as number of recipients is made possible by the revisions made to the per capita income (PCI) eligibility criteria in September 2018. The YED aims to supplement expenses for families with school-going children before the school term starts in January 2019.

Zakat-receiving children under the financial assistance scheme who have been actively participating in core programmes at the mosques will also be receiving back-to-school kits or vouchers. These will be distributed islandwide at selected mosques until end-December.

The children also benefit from enrichment programmes such as learning journeys, team-building and motivational talks under the Back-To-School Activities programme which was piloted in 2017.

A total of 1,724 children will benefit from the back-to-school component (voucher and activities) with an allocation of S$163,650. This is 15% less than the S$192,670 from last year due to the number of eligible children decreasing by 14.2%.

Close to S$400,00 will be disbursed to families with children aged 18 years old and below, as part of the yearly Reqab (Study) Bonus. Some 5,420 children will benefit from this bonus. Those with one eligible child can receive S$100 whereas families with two or more eligible children will receive S$70 per child.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Singapore halal exports to get boost with new Muis accreditation

Singapore businesses venturing overseas will get to enjoy wider and faster market access for halal products. This is made possible by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 17065 certification, the latest accreditation received by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).

ISO 17065 is an international standard on conformity assessment for bodies certifying products, process and services.

This new accreditation is an endorsement of Muis’ integrity and technical competence in halal product certification. In general, Muis has seen a 10% annual increase in the number of applications for halal certification over the last five years.

In 2017 alone, Muis certified close to 5,000 premises and 55,000 types of products made in Singapore. These products ranged from ready-to-eat meals to sauces. For export purposes, products certified halal by Muis are accepted by markets worldwide including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Europe, South Africa and the US.

Singapore itself has retained its position as the top non-OIC halal-friendly destination under the Mastercard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index – a US$220 billion market.

Director of Asset Policy and Industry Development of Muis Dewi Hartaty Suratty said: “Muis has successfully attained accreditation under ISO 17065, an internationally-known standard, for its halal product certification. With this accreditation, we hope that Singapore businesses venturing overseas can have better competitive edge and greater market access for their halal products.

"As for consumers, they can be assured that the Muis halal certification process is carried out in a competent, impartial and reliable manner.”

From 15 October 2018, businesses can also apply for and manage their Muis halal application and certification via the LicenseOne portal. Under the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA), Muis is vested with the sole legal powers to issue halal certificates in Singapore.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Muis announces new chief executive

Source: Muis. Esa (left) with Hj Abdul  Razak (right).
Source: Muis. Esa (left) with Hj Abdul
Razak (right).

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) will have a new CEO from 2019.

Retiring Chief Executive Hj Abdul Razak Maricar has prepared for transition and renewal as the council embarks on its 6th three-year plan (6M3YP), which also coincides with the end of its 50th anniversary celebrations.

Said Hj Abdul Razak, “Succession planning has always been a priority in on Muis, as it strives to ensure continuity in service while adapting to changing context and needs for the nation and the Singaporean Muslim community.

"Over the years Muis has stabilised and strengthened its processes and programmes, and established strong relationships with its partners, stakeholders and the community. For this to continue, Muis needs to maintain a strong team, recruiting new talent at all levels in the organisation. I have confidence in my staff, in particular the management team which Muis has built over time.”

Esa Masood, currently Muis Deputy Chief Executive, has held leadership positions in organisations such as the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Education and the Early Childhood Development Agency. He will take over from Hj Abdul Razak as of January 2019.

Esa joined Muis in late 2017, and, under the guidance of Hj Razak and the rest of his colleagues, has been handed oversight over key sectors such as the mosque, social development and Islamic education.

Said Esa, “I have been very fortunate to have benefited from the mentorship of Hj Abduk Razak and his wealth of experience during my time in Muis, and I also benefited from Mufti and the Muis senior management.

"We will continue to work together with the Muslim community, through our various platforms, to strengthen the community’s religious life. We also hope to further strengthen ties with other faith communities as part of a multiracial and multicultural Singapore that we hold very dear to us.”

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Muis reports madrasah PSLE results for 2018

A total of 251 Singaporean madrasah students sat for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) this year, and 243 (96.8%) will be going on to secondary school.

Muis will continue to extend its PSLE Assistance Package to all full-time madrasahs. The package was introduced in 2007 and provides funding for supplemental education madrasah students in primary 5 and primary 6 for PSLE-related workshops and supplementary learning activities. In 2018, Muis extended S$300 per student, or S$161,100, to 537 primary 5 and 6 madrasah students.

In Singapore, madrasahs provide basic Islamic education. They are intended to produce the religious elites to lead the community on religious matters. Every madrasah must meet a specific PSLE benchmark to qualify for its status as a school that offers primary education.

There are six full-time madrasahs and 27 part-time mosque madrasahs. Four of the full-time madrasahs have primary school students: Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri Al-Islamiah, Madrasah Al-Ma’arif Al-Islamiah, Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah and Madrasah Wak Tanjong Al-Islamiah.

The other two full-time madrasahs, Madrasah Al-Arabiah and Madrasah Aljunied, voluntarily stopped admission of primary 1 students from 2009 onwards, and do not have 2018 PSLE candidates. Madrasah Wak Tanjong will not have primary 6 students till 2020.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Singapore, Kazakhstan promote bilateral investment

Singapore and Kazakhstan have exchanged a bilateral investment treaty to support greater investment flows between both countries.

The treaty protects the interests of investors from Singapore and Kazakhstan and gives them more confidence to leverage investment opportunities in either country. Under the terms of the treaty, Singapore companies operating in Kazakhstan will enjoy protection on their investments on top of that already accorded under Kazakhstan’s domestic laws, and vice versa. The Kazakhstan-Singapore treaty will also grant investors from both countries:

 Non-discriminatory treatment compared to other foreign investments (most favoured nation treatment);

 Fair and equitable treatment and full protection and security based on customary international law;

 Protection from illegal expropriation*;

 Non-discriminatory compensation for losses arising from war, armed conflict and civil strife;

 Freedom to transfer capital and returns in and out of country; and

 Access to international arbitration for investment disputes.

Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Dr Koh Poh Koon commented that there is still headroom for bilateral trade growth. “Emerging markets such as Kazakhstan have strong potential for growth. Kazakhstan’s rapidly improving economic reforms, highly literate workforce and growing urban middle class present opportunities for Singapore companies. I strongly encourage our companies to venture into Kazakhstan and the rest of Central Asia,” he said.

2018 marks 25 years of bilateral relations for the two countries, Dr Koh revealed in a speech at the Kazakhstan-Singapore Business Forum. "Kazakhstan’s forward thinking leadership embraced globalisation early on, participating in the ebbs and flows of shifting global supply chains, and linking markets from Europe to Asia. Kazakhstan stands at the crossroads between the East and West, and the North and South. As the world’s economy moves East, Kazakhstan can be a key node connecting China, Central Asia, Europe and possibly even Southeast Asia," he said.

"The opening of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) in July this year is a notable step that could help build up Kazakhstan as a Eurasian commercial and financial node that would eventually serve as the pathway for investments and other economic opportunities in the region." 

Kazakhstan is Singapore’s most significant economic partner among the five Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Minister Koh said bilateral trade in goods amounted to S$133.6 million last year, while bilateral trade in services grew 16% over the last five years to reach S$40 million in 2016. Bilateral investment grew approximately 30% over the same five-year period.

Kazakhstan is also part of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), a customs union formed by Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Singapore is in the process of negotiating a free trade agreement with the EAEU and will build on the current agreement as a foundation to the negotiations.

*This refers to a public sector authority taking property from a private sector owner for public use or benefit.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Fundamentals of Islamic calligraphy in Singapore

The inaugural Islamic Calligraphy Exhibition, an Arabic and Islamic calligraphy event, has concluded in Singapore with the prize-giving ceremony for the IRCICA Regional Competition of Calligraphy in South East Asia 2018. The exhibition introduced the public to fundamentals of Islamic calligraphy, culminating in prize-winning works from regional calligraphers. Winners were largely from Indonesia.

Source: Competition booklet for the IRCICA Regional Competition of Calligraphy in South East Asia 2018. Set texts for the Jali Diwani, Diwani, Jali Ta'aliq and Nasta'aliq categories.
Source: Competition booklet for the IRCICA Regional Competition of Calligraphy in South East Asia 2018. Set texts for the Jali Diwani, Diwani, Jali Ta'aliq and Nasta'aliq categories.

Source: Competition booklet for the IRCICA Regional Competition of Calligraphy in South East Asia 2018. Set text for the Riq'a category.
Source: Competition booklet for the IRCICA Regional Competition of Calligraphy in South East Asia 2018. Set text for the Riq'a category.

Sheikh Belaid explains what an  ijazah is.
Sheikh Belaid explains what an
ijazah is.
During a tour of the exhibition, Sheikh Belaid Hamidi, who has been the Royal Calligrapher of Morocco, explained the various tools of the trade to the audience.

Pens of bamboo are used for the writing. The tip is shaved at an angle to create a point, which is then shaped like a chisel but angled so that it mirrors the slant created when the forefinger and middle finger are held together.

Specially prepared ahar paper is dull on one side and shiny on the other. The shiny side, created through a coating of egg white and alum, creates a barrier between the pores of the paper and the ink so that the calligraphy can be preserved for centuries. The coating also enables mistakes to be easily corrected with saliva. Ahar paper is typically stored for at least a year before it is used.

Silk figures in traditional Arabic calligraphy. It is frayed and placed in the inkwell to absorb the ink and allow an appropriate quantity of the ink to be taken up by the nib. It also protects the fragile nib when it is dipped into the inkwell.

The exhibition was the first time ijazahs by Singapore calligraphers were on display. The sheikh explained that the ijazah is a certification of competency in Arabic calligraphy, received when a student reaches maturity as a master calligrapher who is able to imitate the work of another master calligrapher exactly.

The master - Sheikh Belaid in the cases of the ijazahs on exhibit - signs the ijazah in recognition that the student has mastered a particular script, names his or her own teacher - Hasan Shalabi of Turkey in this case - and gives permission for the student to sign his or her own name with work done of that script. This ensures that the lineage of the instruction can be traced for the past 500 years.

Ijazahs on display showed Thuluth (الثلث) and Naskh (النسخ), the scripts of the Quran and mosques; Maghribi, a script found in Morocco that Sheikh Belaid introduced to this part of the world; variations of Kufi (الكوفي), Nasta'aliq (التعليق) that came to Turkey via Iran, Jali Diwani (الديواني الجلي) and Diwani (الديواني) scripts.

Detail of the lock at the end of a
Jali Diwani illuminated artwork. 
Part of Surah Al Imran, ayah 132-134. 
Calligrapher, Mohamad Zaenudin 
Ahmadun, Indonesia. 1st prize in the Jali 
Diwani style, 10th International 
Calligraphy Competition, 2016. 
Illumination by Songul Sumen Ak, 

The Ottoman empire designated different fonts for different applications. Naskh was used for the Quran and Riq'ah (رقعة) for the day-to-day use. The Diwani script was invented during Ottoman times, and only used for royal decrees. To prevent alterations, the letters of this script look different from other scripts; are written very close together, and end off with a symbol that looks like a leaf, called a quful (قفل, lock). The calligraphers of the Sultan had to swear not to bring the script outside of the Palace.

Sheikh Belaid further commented on the winners of the IRCICA Regional Competition of Calligraphy in South East Asia 2018. He noted that there were only subtle differences in quality between the first-prize and third-prize winners, and that the strength of the composition mattered. The placement of each letter is typically planned ahead of time, and not written spontaneously.

He added that some words had to be shaped in exactly the same way whereas others offered some leeway for the calligrapher to express himself or herself. This could be in the length of certain strokes, the angle chosen for the calligraphy, or in the variation of the letter chosen.

For the Jali Diwani entries, all of which were written in the shape of a sword, he commented that it is permissible to use a character to create a space within Jali Diwani calligraphy, but only if it is within a word as opposed to the beginning or end of a word, which could allow alterations.

The competition was organised by the OIC Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), in cooperation with the Bustan Khat Center and Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah to commemorate the birth of the Prophet (ﷺ) in 2018 (1440). It was open to calligraphers in Southeast Asia who had studied calligraphy in the traditional way from a master of calligraphy who is authorised to give ijazahs (إِجَازَة) to his or her students.

Judges included Sheikh Belaid, who is from Morocco; Efdaluddin Kılıç of Turkey; Ataullah, of Indonesia and Mohamad Nasrullah Refa’ie, from Singapore.

IRCICA has been organising calligraphy competitions since 1986. The 11th International Calligraphy Competition, with results announced in 2019, has 10 categories: Jali Thuluth (الثلث الجلي), Thuluth, Naskh, Muhaqqaq (المحقق), Thuluth-Naskh, Jali Ta'aliq (التعليق الجلي), Ta’aliq (Nasta'aliq), Jali Diwani, Diwani, or Kufi.

Hashtags: #khatsingapore, #khatsg, #islamiccalligraphy, #arabiccalligraphy, #madrasahaljunied, #thebustankhat


View pictures of the event on Facebook

Visit Belaid Hamidi's Facebook page to see highlights of the competition

Three publications gazetted as prohibited publications in Singapore

Source: Muis. The banned
S. Iswaran, the Singapore Minister for Communications and Information, has gazetted three publications as prohibited publications under the Undesirable Publications Act, effective 21 November 2018 following recommendations from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) that they be restricted from circulation in the country.

"Muis found that the publications advocate problematic and extremist views that promote enmity and hatred between Muslims and others, and encourage a culture of violence," the organisation said in a statement.

Those who are in possession of these materials should hand them to the police.

According to the Ministry of Communications and Information, the publications contain exclusivist or extremist religious views that promote enmity among different religious communities, with two publications also purveying divisive views against other groups within the same religion.

Such teachings and ideologies are detrimental to Singapore’s inter- and intra-racial and religious harmony and relations, the ministry stated. "The Singapore government has zero tolerance for individuals or publications which aim to incite hostility or violence among different religious groups, and has therefore decided to prohibit these publications," the ministry said in a statement.

It is an offence to distribute or possess prohibited publications. It is also an offence for any person to fail to deliver such a publication to the police. Those convicted of an offence could be liable to a fine, imprisonment or both.


The publications are: 

- Things that Nullify One’s Islaam by Shaykh al-Islaam Muhammad ibn ‘Abdil-Wahhaab, explained by Shaykh Saalih alFowzaan, 3rd edition, published by  TROID Publications, Canada, in 2013

- What Islam Is All About (Student Textbook) by Yahiya Emerick published by AS Noordeen in Malaysia 2007, and

- The Wisdom of Jihad by Abuhuraira Abdurrahman, published by Perniagaan Jahabersa, Malaysia, in 2000. 

According to Muis Things That Nullify One’s Islaam promotes hatred and animosity towards non-Muslims to the point of making it an obligation for a Muslim to be hostile to non-Muslims, while the author of the textbook accuses Muslim rulers of being hypocrites and slaves to the Christians and denigrates non-Muslims.
On The Wisdom of Jihad Muis commented, "Essentially, this book shares the same exclusivist and radical narratives as ISIS, and also glorifies a Muslim rebel group in the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)."

Monday, 19 November 2018

Submissions for the 11th IRCICA International Calligraphy Competition to close December 2018

Source: IRCICA. Poster for the 11th International Calligraphy Competition, held in the name of Mehmed Shawqi Efendi.
Source: IRCICA. Poster for the 11th International Calligraphy
, held in the name of Mehmed Shawqi Efendi.
Submissions for IRCICA’s 11th International Calligraphy Competition, open to calligraphers from around the world working in Islamic calligraphy, will close 31 December 2018.

The competition will be finalised in April 2019. In line with IRCICA’s tradition to dedicate each competition to an illustrious master of the art, the 11th competition is organised in the name of Calligrapher Mehmed Shawqi Efendi (1829-1887).

The 11th competition has 10 categories: Jali Thuluth (الثلث الجلي), Thuluth (الثلث), Naskh (النسخ), Muhaqqaq (المحقق), Thuluth-Naskh, Jali Ta'aliq (التعليق الجلي), Ta’aliq (التعليق, Nastaliq), Jali Diwani (الديواني الجلي), Diwani (الديواني), or Kufi (الكوفي).

The judges panel will be chaired by IRCICA Director General Dr Halit Eren while the advisory board for the competition is composed of masters of calligraphy from different countries.

The international calligraphy competition has been organised every three years since 1986. The 10th competition was finalised in May 2016. The 10 competitions, held over thirty years, saw 6,885 participants from around the world. A total of 762 calligraphers have received awards in various categories of writing styles.

Promoting the arts of the Islamic world is one of the priorities of IRCICA’s mandate. The Centre aims to preserve the classical artistic heritage while encouraging advancements and achievements. It undertakes research, organises training programmes and holds events to foster exchanges between artists. In this context IRCICA puts emphasis on the art of calligraphy on account of its special place and role in the cultures of the Muslim peoples.

The calligraphy competition aims to encourage artists of Islamic calligraphy to produce works within the framework of the traditional spirit and rules.

The 1st international competition (1986) was organized in the name of Hamid al-Amidi (1891-1982); the 2nd (1989) in the name of Yaqut al-Mustasimi (died 1298);
the 3rd (1992) in the name of Ibn al-Bawwab (died 1022);
the 4th (1997) in the name of Sheikh Hamdullah (1429-1520);
the 5th (2000) in the name of Sayyid Ibrahim (1897-1994);
the 6th (2003) in the name of Mir Imad al-Haseni (1554-1615);
the 7th (2006) in the name of Hashim Muhammad al-Baghdadi (1917-1973),
the 8th (2010) in the name of Muhammed Badawi al-Dirani (1894-1967);
the 9th (2013) in the name of Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (born 1943) and
the 10th (2016) in the name of Hafiz Othman (1642-1698).

The 11th competition is dedicated to Mehmed Shawqi Efendi, who worked in the Secretariat of the Ministry of Defence of the Ottoman state and as teacher of calligraphy in military schools of Istanbul. The exercise books for the Thuluth and Naskh scripts that he prepared and used in his teaching were published by IRCICA in 1999.


Read the 11th terms and conditions (PDF)

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Conference on Islamic banking and finance advances China-UAE relations

The 3rd China-UAE conference on Islamic Banking and Finance (CUCIBF III) in Shanghai, China, saw delegates hailing Dubai's strides in becoming a global capital of the Islamic economy.

Source: Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University. The event was a collaboration between the UAE Ministry of Economy, Dubai Center for Islamic Banking and Finance of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU), Dubai Islamic Economy Development Center, China Islamic Finance Club, and the ZhiShang Inter-culture Communication, with the participation of Thomson Reuters as a knowledge partner.
The conference discussed the prospects of the participatory economy and the financial system from the perspective of growth, development and integration, highlighting the importance of joint efforts between the UAE and China to meet the emerging challenges, and to enhance the role of Islamic finance in achieving the objectives of China's One Belt, One Road initiative.

The two-day forum focused on the present and the future of Islamic finance in the UAE and China, with a focus on China's growing economic impact in the Middle East. The session Blockchain Technologies: Opportunities and Challenges in the Participatory Economy also explored the potential of international capital cooperation in private and public sector partnerships, highlighting the need for joint financial openness and international strategic alliances in education. Another roundtable session, Sukuk and Economic Development: Opportunities and Challenges, discussed challenges and opportunities to enhance the contribution of Islamic finance tools to the success of the Belt and Road initiative.

HE Abdulla Al Saleh, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade and Industry, said that the t3rd China-UAE Conference on Islamic Banking and Finance, in conjunction with the official visit of the UAE delegation to China, further strengthens the relations between the two countries and adds new momentum to the growth of bilateral trade, joint ventures and investment flows.

He added that China continues to strengthen its position as the UAE's first trading partner in the non-oil sectors, highlighting the shared interest in applying the Islamic economy model to achieve the objectives of the Belt and Road initiative. This will stimulate and guide the economy to serve the sustainable development goals, underscoring the UAE’s and China’s roles as influential forces on the regional and global economic map.

He said: “The conference comes at a strategic time when economic relations between the UAE and China are growing stronger, reflected by the rise of non-oil trade in 2017 to US$53.3 billion, a growth of 15% year-on-year (YoY) and 10% over the past five years. Last year witnessed remarkable progress in terms of trade and economic relations. The UAE accounted for 30% of China's total exports to Arab countries and 22% of the total Arab-Chinese trade. The discussions were extremely fruitful and focused on ways to overcome the current and emerging challenges facing the Islamic finance sector.

"These sessions highlighted the UAE’S pioneering experience in developing the Islamic economy, with the unlimited support from wise leadership, while also enabling Chinese companies to access investment and learning opportunities, education and knowledge related to the Islamic economy. We look forward to building bridges with our counterparts in China to develop strategies and frameworks that further strengthen the Islamic economy, which is expected to grow at an annual rate of 8% to reach US$3 trillion by 2023, globally.”

Dr Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor of HBMSU, emphasised the importance of the conference’s 3rd edition as a reflection of the strong relationship between China and the UAE, pointing out that it is a great step towards strengthening the strong economic ties between the two countries. This is further underscored by the historic visits made by GG Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; and the Chinese President Xi Jinping, who agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership and to deepen cooperation within the Belt and Road initiative to achieve shared goals.

Al Awar expressed his happiness in the success of strategic discussions, which reflected the concerted efforts of the UAE and China in supporting the global Islamic economy. He noted that the economy is currently experiencing an accelerated annual growth rate of 8%, reinforcing its role as one of the key sectors of the future.

He cited HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Executive Council and General Supervisor of the Dubai The Capital of the Islamic Economy strategy, who said: “We look forward to effective dialogues on the alternatives needed to promote the growth of the Islamic economy and to explore the opportunities that support sustainability from a global perspective.”

"The event provided an ideal platform to highlight the competitiveness of the UAE in playing a pivotal role in the achievement of the Belt and Road initiative’s objectives. Its position as a link that connects the East to the West, and as an important centre for the re-export of Chinese imports to the world, particularly Africa and Europe, supported by infrastructure, sophisticated economic growth and a vibrant cultural environment play key roles in this,” he said.

“The 3rd edition of the forum was an ideal platform to discuss the opportunities arising from the expansion of China's economic influence in the Middle East, which will drive the growth of Islamic finance in the Chinese market. This was held at a time when the Islamic finance sector is attracting unprecedented global attention as an integrated system that provides innovative and supportive models for economic growth, based on feasible alternatives of investing in the traditional financial system, which have been strongly affected by the global financial crisis.

"It also strengthens the UAE-China relations in the banking and finance sector, which has more than 1,000 institutions in 75 countries around the world, as part of our confidence in the prospects of both countries, with unlimited government support to invest in new sectors that will mark the beginning of a new phase of growth, sustainability and prosperity."

Two agreements were signed at the event. The first was between HBMSU and the ZhongGuanCun the Belt and Road Industrial Promotion Association (ZBRA); the China Islamic Finance Club (CIFC); and Xunlei to promote cooperation between China and the UAE in innovation and entrepreneurship research, education, training, artificial intelligence (AI) and Blockchain technology, sustainable development and exploring new horizons to promote innovation in environmentally-friendly technology in the future. Xunlei is known for its peer-to-peer downloading software, and began offering Blockchain products in 2017.

The agreement was signed by Chin Lee, CEO of XunLei, China; Zhang Xiaodong, President of Zhongguancun the Belt and Road Industrial Promotion Association, China; Huang Lei, CEO of the China Islamic Finance Club; and Professor Nabil Baydoun, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, HBMSU.

All parties highlighted the need to promote international innovation for young people and entrepreneurs under the joint agreement. The partnership establishes solid foundations for promoting dialogue, communication and cooperation between countries to support innovation, leadership spirit and excellence and building the capacities of young people in the world, in line with the requirements of the 21st century.

The Shanghai Overseas Education Exchange Center and the China Islamic Finance Club (CIFC) signed another agreement to explore the prospects for cooperation in education and student exchange to support the Belt and Road initiative, through the development of human capital in the participatory economy, providing education, training, research and development and dissemination of international best practices using virtual learning environment and lifelong learning approach.

The agreement was signed by Zhang Minhua, Director of the Shanghai Overseas Education Exchange Center; Huang of the China Islamic Finance Club; and Professor Nabil. Both parties emphasized their commitments to facilitate the exchange of faculty and students, exchange of knowledge, experience and best practices, through organising conferences and interactive workshops.

Professor Nabil, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of HBMSU, said: “The 3rd China-UAE Conference on Islamic Banking and Finance has once again established itself as an important international forum to explore the future of the participatory economy by taking advantage of the leading position of the UAE and China with a focus on unifying joint efforts to drive the growth of the assets of the global Islamic finance industry, which is expected to reach US$4 trillion by 2020.

"The outcome of the event was equally ambitious, as it resulted in the creation of strategic partnerships and the establishment of a clear roadmap to advance the growth of the Islamic economic system based on the optimal investment in education, training, development and research, which are all important components in building a human capital with technical expertise, knowledge and practical skills to direct the economy towards new levels of excellence, growth and leadership.

"We look forward to utilising our expertise at Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University in serving international efforts to improve the state of Islamic banking and finance, with a focus on knowledge, science and strong will to envision the future of the economy and to enhance Dubai’s position as the world capital of the Islamic economy.”

Contemporary Irsyad Series address questions by Muslims in modern times

Source: Muis. Cover for volume 1 of the  Contemporary Irsyad  Series.
Source: Muis. Cover for
volume 1 of the
Contemporary Irsyad
The Singapore Office of the Mufti has published the Contemporary Irsyad Series, which discusses the realities of finding solutions to current realities.

In the foreword, Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram, Mufti of Singapore, notes that Singapore is secular, multiracial and multireligious, with complex economic structures and advanced technology. "There is
a compelling need for us to be discerning – we have to stay true to the higher objectives of our religion and the broader jurisprudential and ethical frameworks, without necessarily attempting to force fit historical solutions to our current challenges and issues," he states.

Volume 1 focuses on questions of rituals, prayers and fasting, food, and interacting with other faiths.


Read volume 1 (PDF)

Hashtag: #BeingMuslimandSingaporean

Monday, 12 November 2018

SIAL Middle East returns in December 2018

SIAL Middle East, a business-to-business (B2B) food, beverage and hospitality event, will showcase 1,000+ exhibitors from over 40 countries, and 30+ country pavilions in 2018.

SIAL Middle East continues to be the platform for food, beverage and hospitality companies to make their mark in the region. Face-to-face conversations are still the best way to do business in the Middle East, said organisers. In 2017, 76% of visitors attended the event in a decision-making capacity, they stated on the event website.

Now in its 9th year, SIAL Middle East 2018 builds on the success of the last edition, which attracted 1,072 exhibitors, 30+ national pavilions and 26,003 trade attendees*.

Deals worth AED4.6 billion were recorded at the 2017 edition of the three-day exhibition. More than 26,000 visitors and experts from the food, beverage and hospitality industry visited the show. The 2017 show survey also found that:

- Almost all visitors (95%) were satisfied with their visit and agreed (94%) that SIAL Middle East is an important event to visit each year

- Nearly everyone (97%) will return to visit SIAL Middle East in 2018

- Nine in 10 (93%) visitors were satisfied with the diversity of exhibitors at the event in 2017

Part of the SIAL Network, SIAL Middle East is backed by 50+ years of experience, industry knowhow and an international network of eight B2B events. SIAL is the meeting place for almost 14,700 exhibitors from 109 countries and 365,800 visitors from 194 countries, making it the world’s N°. 1 food innovation network.

Source: SIAL. SIAL in 2017.

Co-located with SIAL, the Abu Dhabi Date Palm Exhibition is organised by the same team behind the Emirates International Date Palm Festival, which has been running for eight years. Expect more than 80 exhibitors from 15 countries including six pavilions showcasing varieties of dates.

The world's only dedicated B2B event for date palm fruit is held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy PM of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority.


SIAL Middle East is open to industry professionals from the food, drink, hospitality and catering sectors.

10-11 December 2018
10 am - 6 pm

12 December
10 am - 5 pm

Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre

Entry to SIAL Middle East is free

*includes repeat visitors.