- Islamic IssuesReports
- July 26, 2008
- 13 minutes read
Two in one: dual platform on religious dialogue
It was a cultural Binali, or in the words of one participants “the awakening of conscience”. The conference that took place over two days in London (July 1 & 2) was not merely a gathering of pro-Islamic unity enthusiasts, nor was it an event to exchange superficial good wishes and sweet words while brushing aside “serious” differences amongst adherents of various schools of thought and jurisprudence within the realm of Islam.
Those who took part in the convention had deep convictions that it would be foolish to continue on the path of disunity, fragmentation and mistrust. It may have been a small gathering compared with the lavish conferences often draped in officialdom and lavishly conducted, but the spirit that surrounded the discussions and debates was far superior to many other similar congregations.
The Islamic Unity Forum (IUF) which convened the conference at the Quality Hotel, next to the grand stadium at Wembley, Middlesex, had been formed by activists from various Muslim countries over the past twelve months, with the declared aim of creating “meaningful dialogue, cooperation and practical integration”.
The idea arose after the decline in the bond between the adherents of the various schools of thought in the Muslim world, and particularly the Shi’a and Sunni Muslims. The events in
The conference was attended by religious scholars from
On the other hand, Chairman of the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS), Sheikh Abdul Hadi Awang, presented fresh ideas on searching for commonalities amongst Muslims and re-iterated the famous saying of Shaykh Muhammad Rashid Ridha (19th Century Islamic thinker and a pioneer of modern Islamic political thinking): “Let us cooperate in matters of agreement, and let us excuse each other in matters of contention.” Dr Mohammad Al Baltagi, a Member of the Egyptian Parliament representing the Muslim Brotherhood block, emphasised the need for wisdom, seriousness and a truthful approach in matters of extreme importance such as the relations between Muslims.
Dr Abdul Majeed Al Manasra, a Member of the Algerian Parliament, called for a Pan-Islamic code of conduct that prohibits the exchange of accusations of blasphemy when opinions differ.
To complement the intellectual debate, the participants were invited to attend receptions by several mosques and Islamic centres. For four consecutive evenings, leaders of these bodies added to the calls for unity. At the inaugural reception at Abrar Centre on
To complement the Unity Conference, the IUF organised a one-day conference on July 3 to discuss Muslim-Christian relations. During the three sessions of the day, speakers presented new dimensions to the debate. Revd Canon Peter Challen and Dr Rodney Shakespeare called for Muslim Christian joint efforts to challenge the worldwide interest-based banking system which, they said, was responsible for the ongoing global financial crisis. The Islamic concept of Riba (interest) on loans lies at the heart of financial illnesses of the world. Father Toma Dawood representing the Assyrian Christian community in
The two conferences were, in reality, more than platforms for the exchange of good ideas; they were launching pads for what the organisers had always promoted: “the creation of meaningful dialogue among the adherents of faiths.”