Tengku Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen, PhD
Fellow, Academy of Sciences Malaysia.
BUILDING SUSTAINABLE FUTURES FOR THE UMMAH UNDER DIGITAL TRANFORMATION
It is a widely-held view among present-day thinkers that the entire human race is undergoing rapid transformation towards a knowledge-based society founded upon a knowledge-based economy. And that this accelerating pace of transformation is largely enabled and shaped by the digital revolution. What is emerging is a globally-connected network society which is more open and collaborative, and organizationally flatter, than the world has ever witnessed. In short many kinds of democratization processes are at play, hitherto impossible, giving practically every person on earth access to people, knowledge and services regardless of location, time or cost considerations.
In this milieu of rapid change, the Muslim world appears to be in deep slumber. Muslims are no doubt users of digital devices and systems as well as the services that are based on them. But they remain mere consumers, not ready or daring enough to set the agenda for the future by taking a leading role as producers.
In this discussion the speaker challenges the status quo by recalling that Islam is a religion based on knowledge. It is the duty of every Muslim, male or female, to acquire right knowledge, and thereby gain the legitimacy to carry out right action. Thus it is imperative that the Muslim ummah become efficient and effective learners in a world where knowledge is literally only a fingertip away. They have to become leaders in knowledge discovery, distribution and application, spreading the benefits of knowledge value-adding to the world’s masses. The message of Islam is for all mankind, and so should the benefits of knowledge be shared with all.
The Maqasid al Sharia provides a viable framework to address the challenges of building sustainable futures for mankind, including both the Muslim ummah as well as all humanity at large. In a world that has become more fragmented, contentious and divisive, life has become less sustainable. We must return to our basic values. Despite differences in history, culture and civilization, there is much common ground between communities. Basic values will bring about greater consensus than any other platform we may invoke, be it political, social or economic.
Using the Maqasid framework, the speaker will discuss the thinking process that we as pioneers will have to conceptualise and operationalise in order to build sustainable futures for the global ummah, particularly the Muslim ummah. This is a time for rediscovery and experimentation. There has to be many initial trials to test out ideas and to discover the better ones from among them. We should only scale up and roll out futures that have the best potential for success with the minimum risk to society as a whole. It is only by setting our own agenda for development, and embarking on our own journey towards the knowledge society that we can make a meaningful contribution in building a shared sustainable future for mankind.
Tengku Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen graduated from the University of Manchester with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, and masters and doctoral degrees in control systems. He first served as an academic at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Malaya for eleven years. For the next twenty-one years he was the founding Director General and CEO of the Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems (MIMOS). He led significant strategic national efforts in R&D and capacity building focused on ICT and microelectronics. During this period he also served for nine years as the ex-officio Secretary of the National Information Technology Council, chaired by the Prime Minister of Malaysia. In this capacity he was closely involved with the formulation and implementation of national ICT policies and strategies, in particular, the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) and the National IT Agenda (NITA).
He is currently active in sharing his experience in knowledge and innovation for development, particularly in projects in the Middle-East and the Asia Pacific Region. He is a Fellow, Academy of Sciences, Malaysia; Member, National Science and Research Council, Malaysia; Adjunct Professor, International Islamic University, Malaysia; Member, High-Level Advisory Panel, Global Alliance for ICT and Development, United Nations; Advisor, Al Aghar Group, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Member, New Club of Paris. He is a director of Pernec Corporation Berhad, a Malaysian IT company.