This week Muslim scholars and leaders from across the world came together for two major events to promote both interfaith and intrafaith efforts- the World Muslim Communities Council (TWMCC) conference on ‘Islamic Unity’, and The Forum on Common Values among Religious Followers, hosted by the Muslim World League.
“Islamic Unity: The Concept, Opportunities and Challenges”
Themed “Islamic Unity: The Concept, Opportunities and Challenges”, the TWMCC’s international conference explored the history of Islamic unity and its effects on all aspects of life, as well as its role in establishing human civilization. In attendance from 8th-9th May, 2022, were more than 500 political, religious, intellectual, and social leaders in Muslim countries and communities worldwide.
Islamic unity has created a pioneering civilisation that has contributed to the advancement of humanity and shaped the social and cultural unity of the Islamic world. Major strides have been made by the Islamic world in the fields of science, arts, literature, philosophy, architecture, astrology, mathematics, medicine and music. This cultural unity has lasted for many centuries, embraced communities and cultures and promoted the values of pluralism and acceptance.
Under the framework of these historical facts and to ingrain Islamic unity in all areas of life, as well as to promote its role in establishing human civilisation, the conference discussed over 110 academic papers on how to develop and enhance the concept and promote education and scientific research, as well as addressed the challenges facing Muslim communities, including extremism, violence and sectarianism.
At its concluding session, the conference produced several key recommendations, which are:
1. The participants thanked the UAE and its leadership for always planning for the future and supporting Muslim communities to shape a better future and achieve stability and prosperity, in addition to promoting traditional Islamic values aimed at achieving peace, security and stability.
2. The participants stressed that Islamic unity is a cultural fact covering all areas of political, intellectual, social, cultural, and educational life and is embodied in architecture, arts and literature. However, it is not ingrained in political and administrative areas. Islamic groups that emerged in recent decades have misused the concept of Islamic unity to implement political agendas aimed at achieving personal interests.
3. The participants highlighted the special nature of all Muslim communities and the many challenges facing them in areas of development. Therefore, the conference highlighted the mutual respect for this special concept and the will to operate under domestic legal frameworks that will protect the stability and security of countries.
4. The participants highlighted the importance of including the fundamental concept of Islamic unity in public education curriculums.
5. The participants affirmed the importance of reforming and developing religious discourse in all Muslim communities, in accordance with each community’s needs and requirements. Therefore, religious discourse in mosques or educational establishments should be in line with the cultural level of each community.
6. The participants affirmed the importance of employing traditional and new media to shape the collective awareness of Muslims in all communities and all languages, enabling them to understand all major topics that concern Muslim minds in the 21st century.
The Forum on Common Values among Religious Followers
The Muslim World League (MWL)- the world’s largest Islamic NGO- held the ‘Forum on Common Values among Religious Followers’ event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from the 11th-12th of May, 2022.
The Forum, for the first time in history, convened within Saudi Arabia Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist religious leaders alongside Islamic leaders to explore shared values and a common global vision for interfaith cooperation. Approximately 100 religious leaders attended the first of its kind conference, including over 15 Rabbis.
Abdulwahab Al-Shehri, the league’s undersecretary-general of corporate communications, said that the founding of the forum is based on Islamic teachings that call for dialogue and working together, based on the common values that help to ensure peaceful coexistence in a diverse world. It was in such a context, Al-Shehri added, that the modern international system was established under the auspices of the UN, comprising international organizations, groups and programs around which all peoples can converge. They include the UN Alliance of Civilizations, in which Islamic countries, through their scholars and thinkers, play an active role, he said.
Recommendations from the Conference included:
· Relevant national institutions and United Nations organs must do more to confront all forms of discrimination and exclusion against religious, cultural, and ethnic minorities; And work to create strong and effective legislation in doing so.
· Various platforms of influence; especially the media and social media platforms must remain mindful of the moral responsibility entrusted upon them.
· We appeal to all countries and the international community to do all they can to provide adequate protection for places of worship, to ensure free access to them, to preserve their spiritual role, and to distance them from intellectual and political conflicts and sectarian strife.
· Launching of a global forum called: “Religious Diplomacy Forum for Building Bridges” based on the influential role of religions in human societies, and the important role of religious followers in bridging the relationship between religions and cultures for the purpose of peacebuilding.
· To work on issuing an international compilation under the name: “The Encyclopaedia of Common Human Values”.
· Inviting the United Nations General Assembly to adopt an international day for “Common Human Values” that celebrates the commonalities between religions and cultures around the world