Monday, August 29, 2016

We salute you EPF for your ‘Simpanan Shariah’ but…

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.


The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)
1. By the declining day,
2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,
3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort 
one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.

I was among the early birds to sign up for the Employees Provident Fund's (EPF) new Shariah-compliant savings scheme. I joined the crowd at the Melaka EPF office in Ayer Keroh on Monday morning (August 8th) and after half an hour waiting in a ‘special queue’, my ‘business’ was done – I was only needed to have my thumb print on a sheet of paper – ‘Akad Simpanan Shariah KWSP’ (Agreement to the 'Simpanan Shariah' of EPF).

Well, for me it was ‘as easy’ as ABC, but for the people behind the scene, it was hard work; they toiled for years to made ‘the dreams of many people’ became a reality. In fact, EPF had set up a Shariah Advisory Committee which would oversee the management of the ‘Simpanan Shariah KWSP’.

EPF's chief executive officer, Dato’ Shahril Ridza said the retirement fund has allocated an initial RM100 billion, which is about 15% of its's total investment assets of RM681.7 billion as at March 2016. He said at least 5,000 members have applied for ‘Simpanan Shariah’ savings at 68 branches nationwide as of 8.30 am on that day.

The RM100 billion allocated for 2017 would be based on a first-come, first served basis and it was among the reasons why contributors throng EPF offices throughout the country early Monday morning but officials were quick to announce that it will aim for additional allocations of between RM20 billion and RM30 billion annually starting from 2018.

Officials said EPF's venture into Islamic investment assets is not new as more than 45% or RM295 billion of EPF's total investment assets are already Shariah compliant. As for the dividend rate, under the conventional savings, it is based on actual performance but for Shariah, the dividend rate is based on actual performance, with no guarantee of a minimum dividend rate.

The membership is open to all members regardless of race, religion or nationality thus critics from certain sectors parties such as MCA carried no weights. MCA strongman, Gan Ping Sieu was quoted saying the new shariah-friendly EPF will further divide Malaysian and urged the government to scrap it. He claimed it may deepen racial and religious segregation.

But Gan pushed a point I would like to highlight here when he said: “Concerns over non-halal investments by EPF could be solved with the present scheme being selective. It can choose to stay away from investments in the gaming or alcoholic beverages industries.”

Yes Gan, regarding this aspect I agreed with you; but in my opinion not only EPF should be free from ‘haram’ activities such as what you had mentioned but in every identities and sectors of society. For example why not intensify efforts against gambling licence in our country.

For a Muslim country like Malaysia, whats more its leaders claimed that our country is a leading and being look as an example by other Muslims nations and 'ummah', please note this verse from the Qur’an:

“O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, Al Ansab, and Al Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Satan's handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful. Satan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from the prayer. So, will you not then abstain?” (Al-Ma'idah 5:90-91).

Taking alcoholic drinks, gambling, seeking ones luck and believing and praying to deity; all were the acts of Satan, and it is responsibility of all Muslims to stay away from them. If other Muslims were involved, they had to be advised and action taken against them in line with the laws mentioned in the Qur’an and the hadiths (saying and action of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, s.a.w.).

All quarters of society, Muslims and non-Muslims should intensify efforts to oppose the government decision in awarding gambling licence. Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Mu`awiyah, Ibn Salih, `Ata', Tawus, and Mujahid said that the Arabic word ‘maysir’ in the verse refers to gambling. Accordingly, anything that involves gambling is regarded as ‘maysir’, which is prohibited by this verse, except for the kind that involves competition, which is permissible according to a legal Islamic proof as will be shown later.

Gambling is also prohibited according to the following verses: [O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly except it be a trade amongst you, by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you. And whoever commits that through aggression and injustice, We shall cast him into the Fire, and that is easy for Allah] (An-Nisaa' 4:29-30), and [And eat up not one another's property unjustly, nor give bribery to the rulers (judges before presenting your cases) that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully] (Al-Baqarah 2:188).

Eating up other people's property unjustly has two forms. The first is taking the money of someone against their will, through oppression, theft, treachery, usurpation, etc. The other form is taking someone's money with their consent but through a prohibited way, such as gambling and 'riba' (interest). In this regard, Muslim scholars unanimously agree upon the prohibition of gambling.

The Lawgiver of Shariah prohibits gambling, including today's various kinds of bets, because of the resultant evils that we witness every day. Gambling has caused the bankruptcy of many bettors and ruined their homes and families. It has also led many of them to commit all kinds of crimes, such as theft, embezzlement, and even suicide.

Whoever reflects on these and other disastrous consequences of gambling has increasing faith that it is out of Allah's mercy that He has prohibited gambling as well as many other things that have disastrous consequences. 
If the authorities could not controlled gambling activities (such as the existence of 4D outlets including in a majority Malay/Muslim area) among the 'rakyat' including the licensing aspect, what could be said about their commitment in working for the implementation of the Islamic laws such as ‘hudud’ for those involved in gambling and drinking or even PAS's effort in strengthening the 'Mahkamah Shariah' (Islamic courts).

If EPF is going for a shariah-compliant scheme, to captains and tycoons of newspapers industries especially from the Malay press; please stop publishing advertisements and SMSes of 4D results. To editors who write and spoke brilliantly and vocally about decaying morals among youngster please do something to block gambling advertisements in your papers!

In Malaysia, ‘haram’ (forbidden) drinks are sold openly in convenience stores including those situated in Muslims densely populated areas. Nowadays 'our boys' could have their 'happy hours boozing away' and some 'add the kicks' by trying 'dadah' (drugs). Who actually cares about them?

Please digest this fact: Malaysia, though a small country, is the tenth largest consumer of alcohol in the world. Each year Malaysians spend over US$500 million (nearly RM2 billion) on alcohol. Whilst the per capita consumption is 7 litres, those who do drink alcohol consume heavily.

Among the drinking population, the Malaysian Indians who make up about 8 per cent of the population are by far the heaviest drinkers with an annual consumption of absolute alcohol exceeding 14 litres. Beer consumption in Malaysia at 11 litres per capita is comparable to that of European countries known for their high consumption.

The easy availability of alcoholic drinks in coffee shops, supermarkets, sundry shops (including convenient 24 hours stores), and plantations together with aggressive advertising and promotions are driving Malaysians to drink. The average age for alcohol dependence is 22 years.

Malaysia, self proclaimed the most dynamic Islamic nation on the planet was the 10th largest consumer of alcohol in the world...yes EPF we salute you for your ‘Simpanan Shariah’ but there are still many, many things for all of us especially the government to do! 

No comments: