Kuala Lumpur (UNA-OIC) – His Excellency Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob, and His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, inaugurated in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, the work of the “Conference of Southeast Asian Scholars”. With the participation of His Excellency Senator Dato Haj Idris bin Haj Ahmed, Minister of the Religious Affairs along with 44 senior religious figures from 17 countries.
The conference commended the approval of the Malaysian Prime Minister to establish a Council of Southeast Asian Scholars in Kuala Lumpur under the umbrella of the Muslim World League. The conference also recommended that the unity of the Islamic nation be based on the principle of tolerance and work on the basis of interaction among human beings as enjoined by Islam. The participants stressed confronting and rejecting extremism, and working to instill the principles of love, tolerance and compassion among followers of religions.
The participants recommended that the principle of tolerance and respect of the rights of others should be a top priority to achieve global peace and security. They also emphasized that future peace and security plans should be drawn up by the nation’s leaders on the basis of the purposes of the Sharia, with its broad and comprehensive horizon, to build nations full of security, peace, progress and unity. The conference recommended that the jurisprudence of co-existence be a basis for the priorities of each country to build a future based on unity and complete harmony among all its members.
The conferees also recommended reinforcing the nation’s unity by living up to its firm belief in order to confirm that the teachings of Islam reach people in a proper and correct manner and approach. The conference also stressed the necessity of overcoming any differences related to national unity and Islamic unity, and that the winners in this are the national countries, the Islamic states and the reputation of the nation in general.
The conference kicks off with a speech delivered by His Excellency Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Bin Yaakob, in which he extended gratitude to the Muslim World League for organizing this conference in collaboration with the Malaysian government under the slogan “Unity”. The Malaysian Prime Minister said: “I am proud that Malaysia was chosen to host this conference by the Muslim World League to shed light on Islam as a religion of harmony, security and prosperity in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious community” the conference was attended by representatives of foreign countries, especially Muslim scholars. His excellency also added: “I welcome you all.”
His Excellency made clear that the convening of this conference comes at a time when Muslims are still facing various challenges including differences among them, provocations made by some parties, hatred of Islam or opinions harmful to Islam. In my opinion, a solution should be found for these problems, and this requires the commitment and cooperation of all parties with the aim of preserving the true image of Islam and the solidarity of the Islamic Ummah.
Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Bin Yaakob, stressed the need for all Muslim scholars to discuss, agree on, unify and mobilize their ideas to reach solutions overcoming challenges faced by Muslims all over the world. In conclusion, His Excellency said: “We are forging and reinforcing unity with the bond of love and tolerance as one nation out of the spirit and strength that unite us today, and my great hope is that all Muslim scholars would be able to find common ground to play an effective role towards unity and the creation of the goodness of the nation.”
Afterwards, His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League and Chairman of the Association of Muslim Scholars, delivered a speech in which he said: “We are all happy on this day with an exceptional meeting that brings together a set of scientists, from heavy-weight countries on the map of our Islamic world and the whole world, which are the countries of Southeast Asia.
His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa emphasized that the diversity of human beings and their differences, especially in their different religions, is a divine decree set by Allah the Almighty who said in the Holy Quran: “And if Allah had (so) decided, indeed He would have made you one nation; but He leads into error whomever He decides to, and He guides whomever He decides to; and indeed you will definitely be questioned about whatever you were doing.”
Dr. Al-Issa explained that we find common ground and denominators among religions that guarantee the achievement of harmony, peace, national unity for all, and their human brotherhood, and that religion (in fact) is not an advocate of division (neither national nor human), rather the religion of Islam “in particular” welcomed peace, made the word of peace in the worship and dealings of Muslims, and Allah the Almighty promised his obedient servants Paradise, which is the abode of peace, and He called Himself Peace. Allah the Almighty said about the enemy, the aggressor, the warrior: “And in case they are bent on submission, then be bent on it and put your trust in Allah; surely He, Ever He, is The Ever-Hearing, The Ever-Knowing.”
His Excellency Dr. Al-Issa made clear that the provisions of Islam can only be taken from the divine scholars who inherited the beneficial knowledge from our Prophet Muhammad (May God bless and grant him peace). He stressed that the truth of Islam is not taken from an ignorant person, nor an extremist who has taken the path of extremism, violating the guidance of Islam in terms of facilitation and kindness to servants. His Excellency confirmed that the meeting of the scholars of the Islamic nation on one level is an urgent necessity to address major issues, and since the scholars of Southeast Asia form an important association that converges on a number of general issues; therefore, this arrangement came for this historic conference in the capital of peace, harmony and moderation, Kuala Lumpur, together with the geographical proximity among all, which has an impact on a number of legal issues, where fatwas and legal rulings differ according to time, place and conditions.
Dr. Al-Issa said: “We are pleased that this conference will be a good beginning for a permanent council whose scholars meet from time to time under the global umbrella of the Islamic peoples, which is the Muslim World League, where its headquarters is Makkah the Qibla of all Muslims. The MWL is always content with sponsoring any conference that brings together the scholars of the Islamic Ummah, especially on its major and important issues. Yesterday, I was pleased with the approval of His Excellency Prime Minister, Mr. Dato Seri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob, to establish this council in Kuala Lumpur and sponsor and open it for its first session next year.
His Excellency Dr. Al-Issa concluded his speech by thanking everyone who participated in the activities of the conference as the Malaysian government, led by His Excellency the Prime Minister, comes on top of those calling for holding this conference.
Subsequently, Minister of Religious Affairs, Senator Dato Haji Idris bin Haji Ahmed, explained that Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, known internationally as a harmonious and safe country and that diversity in cultural customs is not a new phenomenon today, but rather it is inherited from a long time ago from previous generations. Races and communities cooperate with each other and enjoy the freedom of practicing religious and cultural beliefs in a peaceful and secure atmosphere. Senator Dato Haji Idris bin Haji Ahmed also noted that Islam called for tolerance and coexistence with non-Muslims and the preservation of their rights. Therefore, harmony and peace among different races and religions should exist in every country.
At the conclusion of his speech, Senator Idris expressed his thanks and appreciation to the Muslim World League for choosing Malaysia as a strategic partner for holding this conference, which is being held for the first time in Southeast Asia, to show the solidarity of Islamic unity.
President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Abdullah Shahid, extended gratitude to the Muslim World League and the Malaysian government for organizing this conference, and their ongoing and arduous efforts to promote the true image of Islam. Humility, tolerance, empathy and cooperation among our communities are the same Islamic values that the conference aims to promote and disseminate in this hard period, when the world is witnessing deep traumas never witnessed for many generations.
Mr. Abdullah Shahid also explained: “the world is facing the consequences of the conflict with “Covid-19” and the climate crisis. These values will bring us together and help our communities to reinforce their strength. Let us use this platform to strengthen solidarity within our societies, and eradicate the forces that undermine this solidarity including the forces of religious extremism and violence that have no place in the law of our societies.
The scholars addressed the important role played by the Makkah Charter, represented in its global message, which reflected the level of Islamic awareness, thus the importance of adopting it in training imams of Southeast Asia, and a mechanism for this training was proposed in the next meeting of the Southeast Asian Scholars Council.