Preamble to the IRI Standards
Islam provides a basis for living life. The rules of practice embedded in its precepts are both inherent and natural, underpinning a philosophy that has guided human activity for 1400 years. It includes very detailed concepts of ethical and social behaviour that extend to all aspects of individual, social, business and political endeavour.
The relationship between commercial activities and civil society reaches beyond motivation and expectation, embracing the value of righteousness (taqwa) in all situations. The duty of every person, indeed every organisation, is to fulfil the responsibility to develop the world in accordance with the Shariah.
The purpose of this Reporting Standard is to enable organisations throughout the world to examine the principles and values that guide their activities and express with clarity and simplicity their contribution to sustainable society and the environment.
The concept of faith is primary in Islam. It comes from the primacy of Allah as the creator of the earth, the universe and everything in it, including all of humanity. More than an expression of belief, it is the conscious acceptance of Allah, manifested not in doctrine, but in ideal values. Faith enables people to integrate the political, economic, social and religious aspects of their lives into a homogeneous whole, unifying the Infinite and the finite, the Creator with the created. It also lays the foundations for moral equality and respect. Purposely, neither wealth nor nationality, race, colour, status or any other quality play a role during prayer or pilgrimage. Through faith, all are equal, unified in the divine totality that encompasses life on Earth in its entirety. By accepting the unity of Allah, there exists an inexorable obligation to undertake all behaviour and activities according to principles and values of Islam.
Islam holds that each person is a vicegerent (khalifah) or representative of Allah on earth and as such is a steward for all of Allah’s resources. This notion introduces meaning to humanity, providing a specific role for mankind to undertake the responsibility to promote falah, support hayat tayyibah and to fulfil the obligation to the maqasid al-Shariah. In the context of organisational behaviour and activity, the notion of resources in Islam extends beyond the natural elements of the Earth to wealth and property as well as to human capital and capacity. Mankind, during his brief stay on Earth, is but a temporary custodian of these resources and is responsible for utilising those things that belong to Allah to the best of his ability and in the most equitable manner for the benefit of the community as a whole.
As a vicegerent, each person carries a responsibility to participate according to his capabilities in the service of Allah. Faith demands a moral compass set to righteousness. Social justice is an extension of the ideals of the individual to the collective. It is crucial in Islam to maintain equilibrium in society as a service to Allah, who created everything in balance. Social justice is based on trust, sincerity, humility, honesty, compassion and truth in all human interactions. More than that however, social justice specifically addresses the underprivileged beyond charity (zakat) and philanthropy (sadaqah). Equilibrium requires that the needs of all members of a society should be provided for to a standard that is humane and respectable. Harmony does not allow for resources to flow from the poor to the rich.
Islam acknowledges that every individual is endowed by Allah with intellectual capabilities to choose a path of action using free will (ikhtoyar) on the basis that each is accountable and responsible for his actions. As khalifah each individual shall apportion the power he holds according to Shariah principles that preserve and protect the collective falah and adl of society. Islam expects but does not require righteous action. People are free to choose. However, true faith in Allah prevents an individual from acting in a manner counter to the principles and values of Islam. True faith despises every kind of corruption on earth as if they were a direct corruption of the Word of Allah. Therefore, the responsibility of all humanity is to be a custodian of Allah in every sense, morally protecting the Earth, all of its inhabitants and all the elements that harmoniously maintain human existence.
These Standards are applicable to any organisation, regardless of legal form, geography, size, industry or sphere of influence. They enable and enhance stakeholder transparency. More than just disclosure however, these Standards provide appropriate direction for the implementation and the assessment of activities that fulfil the social and environmental obligations inherent in the teachings, traditions, practices and influences of Islam.
Additionally, while aspirations of social responsibility in Islam are based on philosophical grounds, there are clear demarcations which make activities either lawful (halal) or unlawful (haram). These demarcations may undergo translation that results in varying cultural interpretation. IRI Standards are not intended to substantiate or accommodate any particular view, but to allow for self-determined evaluation and appropriate expression of responsible activities.
The preservation and enrichment of faith, life, posterity, intellect and wealth are essential objectives (maqasid al-Shariah) to any Islamic society. They support the cornerstone precepts of well-being (falah) and a good life (hayat tayyibah), both emphasizing a tight relationship between social justice and economic fairness.
The IRI Standards utilise the goals of Islamic social behaviour together with the five preservations to define and guide responsible activities and reporting transparency. Definition and guidance are established through the fundamental values of Unity, Vicegerency, Social Justice and Responsibility, all of which contribute to the harmony and benevolence that encompasses Islam, both as a faith and a way of life.
Each of these values carries a powerful meaning and message, directed not just to the whole Islamic world, but to all those that embrace true peace and prosperity throughout humanity.
The framework for the Standards of the Islamic Reporting Initiative beyond the preamble will require the collaboration of a wider group of participants from the Academic, Business, Government and Clerical communities.
The IRI Reporting Standards Body will address both the GUIDANCE and DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENT segments of the framework prior to public consultation. It is expected that these sections will comprise the bulk of the Standard when released, as each will delve into their respective objectives through each of four fundamental values of Islam; Unity, Vicegerency, Social Justice and Responsibility.
The timeline for the Standard takes us to full release in April 2018.