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Leaders kick off global drive for peaceful Islam

  • Haeril Halim

    The Jakarta Post

Malang, East Java | Thu, November 26, 2015 | 05:06 pm

A three-day international forum on moderate Islam, attended by hundreds of domestic and global religious leaders, wrapped up in Malang, East Java, on Wednesday, producing a message about the importance of promoting a peaceful Islam to combat radicalism worldwide.

In a commitment stated in the charter, dubbed the Malang Message, each Islamic leader attending the fourth International Conference of Islamic Scholars (ICIS) vowed to spread messages about a tolerant Islam in their respective countries to curb radicalism, extremism and terrorism, which often spring from a misinterpretation of Islamic teachings.

The event took place just weeks after the radical Islamic State (IS) group made headlines with a series of fatal attacks in Paris on Nov. 13.

'€œRecognize the importance of ethical guidelines as significant contributions to global peace, where every culture and religion actively communicates their values through civilized dialogue,'€ said one of the attendees, Michael Privot, director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), while reading one of the charter'€™s agreements during the closing ceremony of the event on Wednesday.

The ICIS-organized event was held at the UIN Maulana Malik Ibrahim campus in Malang from Nov. 23 to 25.

Carrying the theme, '€œUpholding Islam as rahmatan lil alamin (a blessing for the universe): Capitalizing on intellectuality and spirituality toward a better life for human beings'€, the conference attracted about 300 domestic and world Islamic figures, as well as Sufi personages from around the globe.

The Islamic religious forum agreed that transformative education was the key to reform misinterpreted Islamic values that had been held as beliefs for a long time in society.

'€œUnderline the urgency for an integrated and transformative education that combines spirituality and intellectuality and that integrates science and technology as the best approach for addressing challenges in the modern world, particularly extremism and radicalism,'€ a point in the Malang Message reads.

In his closing remarks on Wednesday, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that extremism in the Middle East and terrorist acts in other parts of the world were a result of the mismanagement of governments of the home countries of the perpetrators.

'€œThere is nothing religious about such attacks because Islam never justifies them. The recent conflicts and killings in Islamic countries are a result of domestic violence committed by dictatorships,'€ Kalla said.

He added that the influence of external powers in the Middle East, especially of superpower countries that had invaded some of the Arab countries, should also share blame for the increasing radicalism in the world, a situation that created the massive tide of refugees who flee their war-torn homes to seek better lives in European countries.

'€œInternal and external influences have created a generation of radicals not only in Islamic countries, but also in other parts of the world,'€ Kalla added.

Kalla urged the attendees to implement the Malang Message in their respective regions, not just take it as reading material for when they arrive home.

ICIS secretary-general Hasyim Muzadi said that it was important for Indonesia to follow the moves of developed countries and to establish a national security system to filter the influx of radicalism coming through information absorbed from abroad.

'€œThat'€™s an effective way to curb extremism and radicalism,'€ he said.

'€œAt the upstream level, it is the job of clerics to combat embryos of terrorism, while on the downstream side it is the job of law enforcement institutions to do so,'€ Hasyim said.

As the situation of the Middle East is not conducive to campaigns for teaching the world about a tolerant Islam, it is the duty of Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, to assume the role of promoting Islam to the world, said Hasyim.

'€œIn this particular context, Malang will not import any knowledge of a tolerant Islam to be promoted to the world, but as it already has its own concept [produced during the conference] then it will become an exporter rather than an importer of tolerant Islamic values,'€ Hasyim added.

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