The Southeast Asian Ulama Conference was held at the Sunway Resort Hotel in Selangor recently. It was officiated by His Excellency the Prime Minister 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, with the participation of His Excellency Senator Dato' Haji Idris bin Haji Ahmed Minister in the Prime Minister's Office for Religious Affairs, and 44 religious leaders and figures from 17 countries.
The conference appreciated the Malaysian Prime Minister's approval to establish the Southeast Asian Ulama Council in Kuala Lumpur under the umbrella of the World Muslim League. The conference also recommended that the unity of the ummah must be based on the principle of tolerance and good interaction among human beings as instructed by Islam.
The participants emphasized on confronting and rejecting extremism, and endeavoured to instil the principles of love and compassion in human hearts regardless of religion and races.
The participants also recommended that the principles of tolerance and respect for the rights of others should be a priority to achieve global peace and security, while emphasizing that future peace and security plans should be developed by the nation's leaders based on general Maqashid Shari'ah in order to build a country full of security, peace, progress, and unity, just as the Qur'an has called for in His Almighty word: "Baldatun Thayyibatun wa Rabbun Ghafuur".
The conference also recommended that Fiqh of Coexistence, which known as the fiqh of life, must be the basis for the agenda of every country to build a new future based on complete unity and harmony among all people of the nation.
The conference participants also recommended strengthening the unity of the ummah by adhering to the aqidah of Ahlussunnah wal Jamaa'ah to ensure that Islamic teachings reach the community in the right way and approach. The conference also stressed that the differences that occur among Muslims must be stopped, and Muslims must play a more effective role and commit to Islamic brotherhood and solidarity with each other to build the 'Khairu Ummah'.
The conference opened with a speech by His Excellency the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato' Sri Ismail Sabri Bin Yaqoub, in which he thanked the Department of Islamic Affairs Malaysia and the Muslim World League for holding this conference under the syi'ar "The Unity", saying: "I am proud that Malaysia was chosen to host this conference by the Muslim World League. This is certainly an acknowledgment of our country, and highlights Islam as a religion of harmony, security and prosperity in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious manner. Representatives from abroad, especially the Muslim scholars, attend this conference. So I welcome all of you."
His Excellency the Prime Minister conveyed that the holding of this conference took place at a time when Muslims are still facing various challenges, including differences among themselves, provocations from some parties, hatred of Islam or thoughts that endanger Islam, and in my opinion a solution must be found for that. That obviously requires the commitment and cooperation of all parties to maintain the purity of Islam and the solidarity of the Muslim ummah.
His Excellency the Prime Minister stressed the need for all Muslim Ulama to discuss, agree, unite and mobilize their ideas to reach solutions to the challenges facing Muslims around the world.
In closing, His Excellency the Prime Minister said: “We are knitting and strengthening the unity with bonds of love and tolerance as one nation, and it has started with the spirit and strength that unites us today. My great hope is that all Muslim Ulama can find common ground to play an effective role towards unity and forming a khairu ummah.”
After that, His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, delivered a speech in which he said: “We are all delighted today by this extraordinary gathering that brings together Ulama, in countries that have importance and weight on the map of our Islamic world and the world in general, namely the countries of Southeast Asia.
His Excellency emphasized that the diversity of humans and their differences, especially their religion, is a divine destiny determined by the wisdom of the Creator, as stated in His word: walau syā`allāhu laja'alakum ummataw wāḥidataw wa lākil liyabluwakum fī mā ātākum (If Allah wills , He would have made you one people (only), but Allah wants to test you against the bounty He has given you). So as long as religious and ethnic differences are universal problems that cannot be eliminated, then at least what everyone should do to ensure a “safe and just” coexistence is to prevent differences from turning into hatred and hostility towards others, then targeting them with exclusion and deprivation of their rights to decent life.
Dr. Al-Issa explained that we find similarities between religions that guarantee the achievement of national harmony and unity for all, and human brotherhood. And religion (actually) is not a call for division (both in the national level and humanity), but the religion of Islam "specifically" welcomes peace, and makes peace sentences in the worship of a Muslim and his social interactions, promising His servants heaven as a place full of peace, and He Almighty Allah also refers to Himself as the Most Peaceful Essence, and says of the enemies who fight with the words, “wa in janaḥụ lis-salmi fajnaḥ lahā” (But if they are inclined towards peace, then accept it). This is the reality of Islam, and not as faked by extremists and terrorists.
His Excellency pointed out that Islamic law can only be taken from Ulama Rabbani who inherited beneficial knowledge from their Prophet, our Prophet Muhammad PBUH, (just like the Ulama at this noble gathering). Emphasizing that the truth of Islam is not taken from an ignorant person, or from someone who goes down the path of extremism, violates Islamic guidelines in terms of convenience and does good to everyone, or who chooses to carry an ideology with goals that are contrary to Islam, such as a person who reduces this great and comprehensive religion to a narrow political goal. Just as Islam was not taken from the intent and purpose of falsifying facts, nor from people who hastily accepted religion from a single source and wrong perception, or who deliberately misled.
Dr. Al-Issa gave an example that among these misperceptions is the generalization of mistakes by some people who are affiliated with Islam so that they are considered as representations of religion, as has been reminded in the Charter of Makkah Al-Mukarramah, which was signed by more than 1,200 muftis and ulama (under the protection of the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud) May Allah protect him.
His Excellency stressed that the gathering of Ulama Muslim at one and the same level is an urgent need to address major issues, and because Southeast Asian Ulama have become an important association close to issues in general. That is why this historic conference was held in the capital city of peace, harmony and moderation, Kuala Lumpur. This is in addition to the geographical proximity to all, which also has an impact on a number of shar'i legal issues, where fatwas and legal decisions differ according to time, place and conditions.
Sheikh Al-Issa said: “We are pleased that this conference is a good start for a permanent assembly whose Ulama will meet from time to time under the global umbrella of Muslims, the World Muslim League, whose headquarter is the mecca that unites us all, and the Muslim World League is always happy to support any conference that brings together the voices of the Muslim Ulama, especially on the main issues of this ummah. I am also Happy with the approval of His Excellency Prime Minister Dato Seri Ismail Sabri bin Yaqoub, to establish this Assembly in Kuala Lumpur and to sponsor and open it for its first session next year, Insyaa Allah.
His Excellency concluded his speech by thanking everyone who contributed to this conference by praying for it, participating in its activities or directly sponsoring it, especially to the Malaysian government led by His Excellency the Prime Minister, who has shown all what is worthy of appreciation.
Furthermore, the Minister of Religious Affairs, Senator Dato Haji Idris bin Haji Ahmed, explained that Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, and is known internationally as a harmonious and safe country, and diversity in traditional and cultural life is not something new today, but rather something that has been passed down for a long time from previous generations, where every race, ethnicity and whole society cooperate with one another and enjoy equal freedom to practice religious and cultural beliefs in a peaceful and secure environment.
He also noted that Islam calls for tolerance and coexistence with non-Muslims and safeguarding their rights. Therefore, harmony between different races and religions must exist in every country.
At the end of his remarks, Senator Idris expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the World Muslim League for choosing Malaysia as a strategic partner to organize the conference, which was held for the first time in Southeast Asia, to show the solidarity of Islamic unity.
Meanwhile the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Abdullah Shahid, thanked the Muslim World League and the Malaysian government for hosting this conference, and their continued efforts to advance the true values of Islam. Humility, tolerance, empathy and cooperation among our people are the same Islamic values this conference seeks to promote and spread in this difficult time, where the world is witnessing deep trauma that we have not seen for generations.
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Mr. Shahid also explained that "the world is currently facing the impact of the conflict with (Covid 19) and the climate crisis. So it is these values that will unite us and help our people to increase their strength. Let us use this platform to strengthen solidarity in our society and to root out forces that undermine such solidarity, such as the forces of religious extremism and violence that have no place in the laws of our society, and the realization that this vision requires the collective efforts of all of us, including religious, intellectual and civil society leaders.”