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My content in Cyberspace

As of yearend 2006

By Abdel Aziz Dimapunong

Against the backdrop of what has been happening on our planet earth since 9/11,
the Muslims have been forcefully placed on preponderant identifications. The war in
Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon affects not only the lives of people who live there
but also Muslims who are far and near these war zones. The explosions in Bali,
Indonesia, Manila, Philippines, even in London, and in Spain, reverberate around
this planet earth with sounds that whisper Muslim names. The notorious Jyllands-
Posten cartoon highlights the Muslim identity. The controversy over the statements
of Pope Benedict XVI in Regensburg put to limelight the religion of Islam.

In the context of these major events, it is our duty as Muslims to introduce not only
ourselves but Islam as well, and what it stands for.

I have been in this digital world for only few months. In “My Cyberspace”, I have
stated why I have established my presence in the World Wide Web. Among other
things, I have said that I write on certain things but I don’t claim to be a journalist.
I take stand on certain issues whenever my duty as a Muslim is called upon. Like
other Muslims, I do this as a duty. I do not revile. I am hostile to no one. I believe in
tolerance and forbearance.

In relation to what is right and what is wrong, I take it as my duty as required of a


Muslim to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong as prescribed by the Holy Quran
and the Hadith. As an Imam, I call for Islamic guidance. I had been doing this for so
many years through sermons on my pulpit. And I write for the propagation of Islamic
principles which is a duty of every Muslim. Personally, I also have a duty to defend
myself, my children, family and friends.

My guidance in writing has always been the Holy Qur’an as complimented by the Hadith
And I follow the Traditions of all prophets including Moses (Musa), Abraham (Ibrahim)
Solomon (Solayman) and Jesus, the son of Mary (Nabi Isa ibno Maryam), peace on them.

In Cyberspace, there are evil whisperers that lurk in many deceptive forms. They include
the hackers and the pirates, the spammers and cyberpunks. They hide in computer virus,
worms, and Trojans. They camouflage in spywares and adwares. There are also personal
and corporate identity thieves. Through malicious postings, there are those who malign
other peoples' identities. My sons’ name, Abdel Azish S. Dimapunong, Jr., together with
some founders of our Islamic Bank, namely: Grande Dianaton, Usman Rasuman,
Maulana Alug, Kym Arthur Roy, and others have been among those posted in the
Internet. Farouk Carpizo, the one who had been responsible in maligning their names is
already dead. But the postings are still there.

Because of malicious postings against persons who are close and dear to me, I decided to
defend their names by responding to the malicious postings against them. That was how I
started to explore and venture into the Internet.

Publishing

At first I only wish to clarify certain issues, including some lingering controversies about
Islamic banking in the Philippines. My first published articles were hosted by
islamicbank6848.com, a website of the Islamic Bank international representative based in
California, U.S.A. Some other articles were hosted by maranao.com, a website based in
Saudi Arabia. The articles are all about Islamic banking in the Philippines. They are the
following:

1. The charter of the Islamic Bank Annotated


2. Islamic Bank Rules and Regulations
3. Arbitration in Islamic Bank

The Islamic Banking Research Institute, Inc.

The Islamic Banking Research Institute is the corporate identity that I used for the
business world. I have set up a website for this with URL at www.
freewebs.com./renamtao. This is the home of the Islamic Banking Research Institute of
which I am the Chancellor. Under the laws of the Philippines, the Institute was
incorporated and registered in 1991 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Since then, the Institute has been conducting research and studies on Islamic banking and
finance, Islamic laws and jurisprudence. Some of my research articles, booklets and
position papers were published on the website of this Institute.

The Institute was founded in 1991 in anticipation of the formal organization in 1992 of
the Al Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines. Since 1991, IBRI covered
and monitored every step of the way in formally organizing and privatizing this bank.
The Institute was also a founding stockholder of the Islamic Bank. The Islamic Banking
Research Institute, Inc. is the corporate soul-mate of the Amanah Islamic
Bank. Therefore, the Institute is the most knowledgeable and authoritative source of
information about Islamic banking in the Philippines. It has a compilation and review of
all banking laws (old and new) in the Philippines which were in effect since 1948. The
Institute has also a compilation and review of the popular Supreme Court
Decisions involving the old Central Bank of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,
and their respective Monetary Boards. As a research institute specializing on Islamic
banking, it has also some compilation of Sharia' principles and related Hadith (Tradition
of the Holy prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peace be on him) concerning trade and
commerce.
During the year 2005, the Institute has published several of my articles including:

1. “Islamic banking in the Philippines”


2. “Islamic Investment banking”
3. “How the Islamic Bank was privatized”
4. “The Monetary Board in relation to the Islamic Bank”
5. “Kutbah online”, and many others

In addition, the Institute has published three articles in recognition of three outstanding
bankers par excellence as follows:

1. Prince Muhammad Faisal Al Saud, banker par excellence.


2. Sheikh Abdullah Kamel, banker par excellence
3. Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Ali, banker par excellence

About Pope Benedict XVI

While surfing the Internet, I came across with the controversial statements of Pope
Benedict XVI which prompted me to analyze. My being an Imam prompted me to make
some comments. It is my duty.

On September 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a lecture at Regensburg University
where he was quoted to have said “offensive remarks about Islam and Muslims”. It was
clear that the pope linked the religion of Islam to violence. The Muslims all over the
world reacted faster than they did on the issue of Danish cartoons. By Friday, September
15, 2006, Palestinian protestors marched in the Gaza Strip waving the flags of Hamas and
chanting Allaho Akbar.

Among the things that I have noted was the fact that the Pope had expressed his regrets
five days after he made the remarks. He expressed regrets that he may have offended the
Muslim world. This was where I got the tile of my article: “Pope Benedict XVI regrets”.

I also have noted that, in making his remark, Pope Benedict XVI wishes to set back the
time to the Byzantine days of conflict. Nobody seems to understand why he quoted
Emperor Manuel II Paleologus who was anti-Islam. Why Joseph Ratzinger had to say
those hurting words befuddled so many.

However, I have noted that there was no reason to wonder. The Holy Qur’an has the
explanation. Benedict is already 79 years old in the Gregorian calendar. By reckoning of
the Hijra Islamic calendar, Benedict is already about 82. He is already an octogenarian in
lunar time frame. In Islam, Muslims who live during and after the Prophet Muhammad,
peace be on him, are told to expect a life expectancy of only 60 years. Any longer life
maybe considered as a chance to live and believe in God-Alone. It is also of common
knowledge that after the age of 60, a person’s intelligence and reasoning may start to
decline. At the age of over 70, this decline may amount to forgetfulness and memory
lapses. Reaching the age of 80 and above, amnesia or schizophrenia may set in. By the
standard of Islam after Hijra, 82 is an old age. In the Philippines, under a special law,
they are called “senior citizens”; they bring Identification Cards because they are treated
separately from others. By Freudian theories, octogenarians are susceptible to commit a
Freudian slip.

In summary I have stated that, considering the age of the pope, the Muslim world should
just consider the popes remarks as a slip-up

According to Sigmund Freud, this condition results from the operation of unconscious
wishes or conflicts and can reveal unconscious processes. Besides, the pope has already
said he is sorry. He already expressed his “sincere regrets”.

There was another reason why we should let go the remarks of Pope Benedict XVI. The
day I wrote the article was the start of Ramadhan fasting. That was a holy month when it
is required of every Muslim not to be hostile. Yes, even when a Muslim is challenged to a
fight, he should just say: “I am fasting”.

“Pope Benedict XVI regrets” was originally published by aljazeerah.info, a very


powerful site from where many websites pick up news information. Because Pope
Benedict himself is a celebrity in Christendom, my article about him was picked up by a
number of websites, including the following:

- Pope Benedict News at pope-benedic-news.newslib.com


- Interfaith, Religion and Spirituality at regarded.org
- Abdel News at abdel-aziz-news.newslib.com
- Winding Creek Homes at windingcreekhomesspickerington.com
- news.sulekha.com/newsitemdisplay.aspx
- defcon11.blogspot.com
- Subspace Channel at hostmybb.com
- Valpolicelladoc.it at valpolicelladoc.it/news/index.isp?
- Pope Tribute at popetribute.com/component/option.com_zoom
- Javory.com at directory.exil.sk – Shopping, Ethnic and Regional
- Tagvy – life is one tag away at tagvy.com/cgi-bin/tagvy.cgi?

In a follow up article, “Muslim Dialogue with Pope Benedict XVI”, I appealed to my


Muslim brothers to leave behind the controversial statements of Pope Benedict XVI and
resume instead the dialogue proffered by the Vatican. For this reason, I offered to answer
inquiries about Islam. I have made this offer of Islamic services in my capacity as an
Imam of Masjid Al Khairi in Manila since 1995, father of a very young Imam by the
name of Abdul Qahhar, of Masjid Al Ikhwa also in Manila. I am also a son of another
Imam, the late Imam Abubakar.

I felt qualified for a Muslim-Christian dialogue because I have read both the Holy Quran
and the Bible. Even as a scion of Islamic preachers, I was permitted by my parents to be
enrolled at a Jesuit institution known as Xavier University, or better known as Ateneo de
Cagayan. Every time we start our class in this university, I would stand, along with
others, to respect the Catholic prayer: ‘Our father who art in heaven; hollowed by thy
name, thy kingdom come…’ and so on. From there, I transferred and finished my college
in a university that is run by Vencentian fathers. It is known as Adamson University. I
read the Bible only many times but I read the Holy Qur’an five or more times every
single day.

Blogging

While surfing more and more, I realized that I have a bigger duty to do. I realized that the
Internet could reach a number of people who could be interested to know about Islam.
Therefore, I thought of expanding my duty as an Imam of Masjid Alkhairi by publishing
some of my Friday sermons. My first Blogging experience was with the Blogger at
blogger.com. I have used my real name so that my site is identified as “Yours truly, Abdel
Aziz Dimapunong at dimapunong.blogspot.com. This blog has published the following
articles that I have written:

1. Christmas Greetings
2. Growing travel restrictions
3. The Islamic Bank as a chartered bank
4. Ahmad Muhammad Ali, banker par excellence
5. Prince Muhammad Faisal, banker par excellence
6. Saleh Abdullah Kamel, banker par excellence
7. Pope Benedict SVI regrets
8. Rejoinder on Islamic Bank in RP
9. Issues about Amanah Islamic Bank
10. The Islamic Bank as Investment House
11. Privatizing the Islamic Bank
12. Islamic banking in the Philippines
13. My Jewish good friends
14. Al Hamdullillah

Then I started another blog on 16 October, 2006 with sulekha.com for some reasons.

• Islamic Bank Profile2


• Greetings to everyone
• My Cyberspace
• Declining hospitality
• Yes, he was a Muslim
• Saddam Hussein on the spotlight
• Dialogue with Pope Benedict XVI
• The founders of Islamic banking
• Hello

The war in Iraq


During the outgoing year, it has been very tempting to write about the war in Iraq. Except
for a few lines about Saddam Hussein, I tried not to touch on any issues about the Iraqi
war. I wrote a piece about “Saddam Hussein on the Spotlight”. It is posted on my blog at
sulekha.com.

Last November 4, 2006, a death sentence was read to Saddam Hussein, former president
of Iraq. The reading of that judgment drew some colorable reactions in the Philippines. I
have noted that in the Philippines, those celebrating are more than those denouncing the
judgment. That is because the Philippines is not a Muslim country. The Muslims here are
in the minority. At the start of the war in Iraq, the Philippine Government was also among
the so-called Coalition of the Willing.

As to the Muslims in the Philippines, the mix reactions depend on the way they perceived
Saddam Hussein as a former president. The mix reactions are based on Islamic
considerations among Muslims of the world and they have nothing to do with non-
Muslims. Under the principles of Islam, for example, Saddam was required by Islamic
standard to reach out to those in need among his Muslim brothers through Zakat. This is
an Islamic tithing that is not optional but mandatory of every rich Muslim individuals or
governments, like Saddam and his former regime, in an oil producing country.

Saddam Hussein has been prejudged by his enemies (I am not among them because I
have no enemies). Some people even predate their reactions over Saddam Hussein on the
basis of the Persian Gulf War (September 1980 to August 1988). Some Filipinos do not
mind any judgment about Saddam Hussein because they were disappointed with his
military misadventures in Iran and later in Kuwait in the 1980s up to the 1990s. When his
government invaded Kuwait, many overseas workers in the Philippines were displaced.
Hundreds of Muslim students under study scholarship to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were
sent back home.

We now pray for all the people of Iraq, Sunnis and Shiites alike. And we hope that
freedom and democracy grow stronger in that country under any legitimate and
constitutional government of the Iraqi people. For those who find it hard to search for the
location of the “freedom verse” in the Holy Quran, an, please read the first three verses of
Sura Balad (Qur’an 90.v1-3). “Hillun” on the second verse has been translated by Josef
Ali as “a man with lawful rights. A man freed from such obligation as would attach to a
stranger in the city (that is in his native country). “That is freedom in Islam.

Saddam Hussein was executed on December 30, 2006, a holiday that marks Eidul Adha.
Just hours before the morning congregational prayer for Eidul Adha, He was hanged for
a crime against humanity.

Virtual library in Cyberspace

Cyberspace could be a repository of some values, so I discovered. These are my public


folders which are accessible in many ways: They are hosted by esnips. They may be
accessible by a search via google or yahoo thru my name either as Abdel Dimapunong or
Abdel Aziz Dimapunong or by title of the Public folder. I have set this account with
esnips only two months ago. I was only able to upload few articles but I shall upload
more. I also have very few visitors at this point in time. My folder on “The world of
Islamic bankers” is the most popular based on the number of visitors.

1. The World of Islamic Bankers - The world of Islamic bankers for a new world
order in banking, finance, investments, trade and commerce. This is the ultimate
alternative to the western traditional ways and means in business and industry. It
is for everyone, rich and poor, the strong and mighty as it is for the weak and
docile. Visitors: 117
2. Investmentbanking - My Investmentbanking folder contains updates on laws,
rules and regulations on investment banking in the Philippines and elsewhere. It is
focused on Islamic investment houses including the Amanah Islamic Bank of the
Philippines. Visitors: 93
3. Muslim Identity - The Muslim Identity is my folder that contains issues on the
identity of Muslim personalities and ordinary citizens. Muslims are Muslims first.
Then comes their respective national identities. Visitors: 32
4. Muslim Politics - Muslim politics covers issues on political leadership in the
Muslim world including systems of governance such as democracy, monarchy,
emirates, and sultanates.
5. My Travelandhajj - My Travelandhajj folder is about travel and travelogues, hajj
and umrah, places and related topics. Visitors: 16
6. My Quran Readers - Reading the Holy Quran is a duty of all Muslims, men and
women. Visitors: 25
7. Shariabanking - Shariahbanking folder contains Shariah laws, jurisprudence,
Islamic guidelines, and other references concerning Islamic banking, finance,
investments, trade and commerce. Sharia is for Islamic bankers to follow and
comply with all its terms and conditions. Visitors: 82
8. The Islamic Way - The Islamic ways of life in practice, in words, in deeds, in the
heart, and most of all in the mind constitute the religion of Islam. It is my duty
and responsibility as a Muslim, and as an Imam, to share with you my knowledge
of Islam. Visitors: 115

May I invite you then to my public folders and to all my contents in Cyberspace.

Abdel Aziz Dimapunong