An Open Letter to the
First World Islamic Economic Forum
Kuala Lumpur, October 1-3, 2005
Thursday 22nd September 2005, by Kamran Mofid
Dear Political and Business Leaders,
Many millions of people around the world wish you well and
pray that with God's blessings and guidance the Forum will
be a great success. However, given the enormity of our global
crises, this distinguished Forum should not be allowed to
become-like many other international gatherings before it
- a talking shop on value-free economics, ignoring true
human values, such as, justice, comradeship, spirituality
and compassion. This important and timely Forum must not
become another Davos or G8, long on Economic recommendations
and very short in achievements to eradicate world poverty,
hunger, insecurity and injustice. These international meetings
have failed to achieve their said objectives, because they
have failed to recognise and appreciate that, "the
marketplace is not just an economic sphere, it is a region
of the human spirit". The people of the East, I am
sure, will be able to show to the world that, it is their
spirituality and compassion that is the cornerstone of their
civilisation. Today's world of globalisation is marked by
immense wealth and acute poverty. Moreover, total concentration
on wealth creation and economic growth, without knowing
why, what for and how, has led to an erosion of moral and
spiritual values, as well as a destructive decline in the
institutions that traditionally promoted and protected these
true human values: the family, religious institutions and
Economic globalisation may be able to address economic problems
but neither the free market nor any other vale-free system
can fill a moral vacuum. The undeniable fact of life confronting
us on this planet of ours is that there is gross and growing
inequality, amongst people, different nations and within
nations. Material wellbeing, economic growth and wealth
creation are important. But, to create a world of true happiness,
peace and wellbeing, wealth must be created for a noble
Today's business leaders are in a unique position to influence
what happens in society for years to come. With this power
comes monumental responsibility. They can choose to ignore
this responsibility, and thereby exacerbate problems such
as economic inequality, environmental degradation and social
justice, but this will compromise their ability to do business
in the long run. The world of good business needs a peaceful
and just world in which to operate and prosper.
Economics, commerce and trade, without a true understanding
of the aspirations of the people it is affecting, cannot
bring justice to all. Social transformation can be achieved
only when unselfish love, spirituality and a rigorous pursuit
of justice are embraced.
Whilst considering the many economic questions and issues
we should also reflect on the Divine dimension of life.
Moreover, and should, in contrast to what is practised today,
be concerned with the world of heart and spirit. Although
self-interest is an important source of human motivation,
driving the decisions we make in the marketplace every day,
those decisions nevertheless have a moral, ethical and spiritual
content, because each decision we make affects not only
ourselves but others too. Today's modern economists consider
their discipline a science, and thereby divorced from ethical
details, the normative passions of right and wrong. They
have turned their discipline into a moral-free zone.
If we want to truly succeed, globalisation will need to
combine economic efficiency to meet human needs with social
justice and environmental sustainability. Moreover, we should
do our utmost for the creation of an "ecumenical space",
for dialogue amongst civilisations and the building of community
for the common good by bringing economics, spirituality
and theology together. A cornerstone of promoting ecumenical
and inter-faith dialogue is that world religions can be
paths, rather than obstacles, to peace. Religions can jointly
contribute to the process of peacemaking by sharing the
depth of their accumulated wisdom and reflective resources.
Through education and meaningful interaction in settings
of openness, dignity and respect, people of faith can bring
about significant societal transformation. Therefore, what
the world needs now is a "Spiritual Revolution".
One of the main causes of today's global disorder is the
absence of justice and the rise in the false religion of
materialism. When justice disappears, it becomes no wonder
to see oppression, corruption, occupation and terrorism
reigning. So, applying justice is a key factor and necessary
step towards restoring peace and security in the world.
Coupled with this, materialism, the philosophy that argues
what matters most is the matter itself, denies the existence
of all spiritual entities, and God Himself.
The major religions of the world prescribe the unselfish
love and service of others. Only when this love extends
to all humanity without exception can a dignified and peaceful
human future become possible. The Hindu faith states that
in service to others is happiness; in selfishness is misery
and pain. For the Sikhs, God is love and love is God. St.
Paul wrote, "Love (agape) is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It
is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no records of wrongs" (I Corinthians 13).
Buddhism teaches us to cultivate universal compassion. Judaism
teaches that "those who are kind reward themselves"
(Proverbs 11:17). The Quran reads, "My mercy and compassion
embrace all things" (Quran 7:156). In these and other
traditions, unselfish love is deemed a Creative Presence
underlying and integral to all of reality, participation
in which constitutes the fullest experience of spirituality.
There is an urgent need about realizing unselfish love in
our globalising world. Love is a joyful and full-hearted
affirmation of the well-being of others that can be expressed
in the forms of tolerance and forbearance, forgiveness and
reconciliation, compassion and care, and service to the
neediest as well as to the nearest. When we extend ourselves
to others in this way we become happier and more content,
for paradoxically, in the giving of self lies the unsought
discovery of self. Moreover, given our desire to realise
a globalisation which is good for all, it should be noted
that, social transformation can occur only when unselfish
love, spiritual experience and a rigorous pursuit of justice
People everywhere, given a chance prefer to be compassionate,
spiritual and caring. They want to be able to practice their
religions freely. More and more, they also want to see that
their religious values have a bearing on their economic
systems and structures. This philosophy is stronger more
so in many parts of the Eastern world and Muslim countries,
whose people by and large are very spiritual, religious,
hospitable, informed and cultural.
They largely do not reject the pivotal values behind the
market economy. Indeed, this region throughout the history
has been the major area of, and for, business, trade and
commerce. They do know that, under the right conditions,
a market economy can drive development, decrease poverty,
encourage productivity, and reward entrepreneurial energy.
Moreover, Great many Muslims everywhere want their societies
to be economically and politically compatible with the West,
while remaining in social and spiritual terms true to their
Islamic heritage. They want to trigger both the equivalent
of a renaissance and a rationalist enlightened movement
in the Islamic world. Based on our commonly shared values
of love, compassion, justice and progress for the common
good, we should be able to formulate a partnership for mutual
benefit and development.
However, it is a great tragedy that many so-called modernisers
in the region itself, as well as great many specialists
/advisors from the West, have misunderstood the people of
the region by forcing upon them a social engineering model
that is not in harmony with the region's culture, civilisation
The ethical and spiritual teachings of all religions and
their striving for the common good can provide a clear and
focused model of moral behaviour in what has been termed
"the market place". The religious and business
values and sentiments, such as human dignity, communal solidarity,
humility, patience, service, compassion, reciprocity, social
justice, equity, efficiency, growth and profit should go
together, hand-in-hand, leading to Globalisation for the
Common Good, where every one is a winner. We should acknowledge
that, "the marketplace is not just an economic sphere,
but, it is a region of the human spirit, compassion and
The call for this dialogue is an appeal to the deep instinctive
understanding of the common good that all people share.
It is an appeal to our essential humanity to deal with some
of the most pressing concerns of peoples the world over.
Religion has always been a major factor in the growth of
human civilisation. Business and wealth creation when they
are for a noble reason are blessed and vital for human survival.
As a global citizen, with a deep understanding of both Eastern
and Western traditions and values, as well as an economist
who has promoted spiritual economics and economics of compassion,
I would like to present- Globalisation for the Common Good
- for your kind consideration at the Forum, which I believe
is in great harmony with the tradition of the people you
are representing at this gathering.
Globalisation for the Common Good
Globalisation for the Common Good means the promotion
of ethical, moral and spiritual values - which are
shared by all religions - in the areas of economics,
commerce, trade and international relations. It emphasizes
personal and societal virtues. It calls for understanding
and collaborative action - on the part of civil society,
private enterprise, the public sector, governments,
and national and international institutions - to address
major global issues. Globalisation for the common
good is predicated on a global economy of sharing
and community, grounded in an economic value system
whose aim is generosity and the promotion of a just
distribution of the world's goods, which are divine
Globalisation for the Common Good is not about charity.
It is not about collecting money. It is about justice.
To know justice and to serve it, is to feel the pain
of, and to become one with the sufferer; is to ask
fundamental questions about the roots of injustice
and to fight for their eradication. Today's global
problems are not economic or technological only. The
solutions are not more economic growth, privatisation
or trade liberalisation. What the world needs is a
Spiritual Revolution, where I, I, me, me, culture
is replaced with we and us culture.
Globalisation for the Common Good is that needed culture:
the culture of solidarity and oneness with the poor,
suppressed, marginalised and excluded. Globalisation
for the Common Good is for the practise of Economics
of Compassion, Economics of Kindness and Economics
of Solidarity. These kinds of economics can only be
practised by people who are compassionate and kind.
Globalisation for the Common Good is the way to build
a world that is just, free and prosperous.
THE ESSENTIAL DIMENSIONS OF GLOBALISATION FOR THE
The acknowledgement of God, Ultimate Reality, or the
One. Our lives are grounded in an Ultimate Reality,
the source of the sacredness of all life and of the
spiritual power, hope, and trust that we discover
in prayer or meditation, in word or silence, and in
our striving for just relationships with all existence.
The investment of Spiritual Capital. The most
powerful way for faith and spiritual communities to
influence beliefs, norms and institutions is through
prophetic voice and public action. Highly visible
faith and interfaith affirmation of the great spiritual
truths of peace, justice, and the sacredness of the
Earth and all life can make a tremendous contribution
to Globalisation for the Common Good. Action and service
by spiritual and faith communities and groups can
provide a vital source of inspiration and energy for
the healing of the world.
The practice of selfless Love. The most important
point of convergence shared by the world's great spiritual
traditions is to be found in the practice and power
of selfless love for all humanity. It is the wellspring
of the best hope for a better future.
The cultivation of interfaith Dialogue and Engagement.
It is absolutely vital that religious and spiritual
communities come together with one another in honest
and open dialogue. It is also essential that these
communities enter into dialogue with secular groups,
organizations and governments working for a better
world. Religious and spiritual communities - in mutual
respect and partnership - must engage the critical
issues that face the planetary community as the 21st
The nurturing of cultures of Peace. True cultural
evolution is perhaps best measured in the growing
rejection of violent approaches to conflict resolution
in favour of the cultivation of the infrastructures
of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. Our greatest
contribution to the future lies in ensuring that our
children grow to maturity in cultures of peace.
The struggle for Justice. Justice is the heart
of all creation. It is the profound feeling of oneness
with all other beings in the universe. Today, it finds
its most vital expression in social and economic fairness,
concern for others and the vigorous defence of human
The realization of Gender Partnership. Challenging
the assumptions and infrastructures of patriarchy
is essential to cultural evolution. Women and men,
living and working together in harmony and equity,
can build stronger, more creative religious communities
The path of Sustainability. In this rapidly
changing world, our reverence for the Earth will determine
the fate of the entire community of planetary life.
This deep, visionary and unconditional caring for
what is yet to come, is the love of life embedded
in ecological sustainability.
The commitment to Service. Service is our link
to spirit. Personal action for a better world is the
discernable manifestation of the divine in the human.
The essence of service is the grace of giving. We
give because giving is how life begins and how it
continues. This process will enhance personal responsibility
for the common good.
Globalisation for the Common Good affirms that economics
is, above all, concerned with human well-being and
happiness in society and with care for the Earth.
This cannot be separated from moral and spiritual
considerations. The idea of a "value-free"
economics is spurious. It demonstrates a complete
misunderstanding of what it means to be a human being.
We affirm our conviction that genuine interfaith dialogue
and cooperation is a significant way of bringing the
world together. It is indispensable to the creation
of the harmonious global culture needed to build peace,
justice, sustainability and prosperity for all. The
call for Globalisation for the Common Good is an appeal
to our essential humanity. It engages the most pressing
concerns of peoples the world over.
Globalisation for the Common Good, by addressing the
crises that face us all, empowers us with humanity,
spirituality and love. It engages people of different
races, cultures and languages, from a wide variety
of backgrounds, all committed to bringing about a
world in which there is more solidarity and greater
harmony. This spiritual ground for hope at this time
of wanton destruction of our world, can help us to
recall the ultimate purpose of life and of our journey
in this world.
Kamran Mofid, PhD (ECON)
Founder, An Inter-faith Perspective on Globalisation
for the Common Good
and co-author (with Rev. Marcus Braybrooke), Promoting
the Common Good: Bringing Economics and Theology Together
Again, Shepheard-Walwyn, London, 2005