Thursday, 3 September 2009

Interview with Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef

Do good to humanity for peaceful
world – Dr. Naseef

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Promote service to humanity, to do good to the Mankind is the best thing you can do to make this world a peaceful world,” said Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, the Secretary General of the International Islamic Council of Da’wah and Relief (IICDR) in reply to my question - what his message to the Muslims is in general. For more than thirty years, I have been watching Dr. Naseef traveling from east to west and north to south and engaged in humanitarian activities, helping the poor, orphans, and disadvantaged people and doing his utmost to spread the light of education to those who have not seen the light.

Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, the former President of Jeddah-based King Abdul Aziz University, the former Secretary General of Makkah-based Muslim World League and the ex-deputy chairman of the Saudi Parliament (Majlis-e-Shoura of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) has been involved in so many humanitarian activities besides his own field of activities, education, teaching and preaching (Da’wah).

Dr. Naseef, the present President of the World Muslim Congress and Secretary General of the Cairo-based International Islamic Council of Da’wah and Relief (IICDR) were passing through London in the first week of July, 2009. I had the opportunity to meet him and to interview him about his recent activities, particularly the last two/three months, from April to June.

On the 9th of April 2009 Dr. Naseef was in Cairo, Egypt where he attended the meeting of the Supreme Council of Da’wah and Relief (IICDR) as its Secretary General. The IICDR usually meets many times a year to discuss how it works and how to coordinate its work and also discuss its budget and other things. It was a normal meeting. The meeting was attended by all the members under the chairmanship of Sheikh-ul-Azhar, At-Tantawi.

On the 13th of April, Dr. Naseef went to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, where many young people have started their own projects: schools, centres and other activities. “These young people invited me and I promised to go there,” said Dr. Naseef who went to the south-west of the country on the state Arsi. “It is a Muslim majority area. There are many Imams and Dais and other institutions. On our way, we visited a big centre established by Khalid Dawud who was also working in Rabita (Muslim World League). He has also established college, mosque and clinic and other institutions. Fifty per cent of the students are Muslims and out of other 50 per cent, 40 per cent are non-Muslims. They teach Islamic education besides regular curriculum. They also teach the national government curriculum,” said Dr. Naseef.

“It is a degree college. Mr. Khalid also set up a Centre of Tahfizul Qur’an where people are memorizing Qur’an and Hifz and perfecting their recitation and reading,” said Dr. Naseef and mentioned, “They have very good teacher from Yemen.”

From Addis Ababa, Dr. Naseef went to Jamboora, the capital of Burundi on the 17th of April. Dr. Naseef visited this place before. The area was facing a lot of ethnic conflicts and problems between Hotu and Tutsi tribes and others. But this time Dr. Naseef went to Burundi for two days on 17th and 18th of April to visit the University of Peace and Reconciliation. “The University of Peace and Reconciliation is to bring unity among the people of the country. It was in the capital Jamboora. Mohammad Rokara was the initiator but donations came from several individuals, government and the Islamic Banks,” said Dr. Naseef.

The initiator of the project, Mohammad Rokara, was in Tanzania, Uganda and part of Africa. He is still the representative of the Motamar al-Alam al-Islami (World Muslim Congress) in that part of the world. Dr. Naseef said, “He is our representative in Africa, he is the initiator of the project. He is a Member of the Parliament and the Vice-Chairman of the Senate.”

Dr. Naseef was officially invited by the Government of Burundi, so it was an official visit. Dr. Naseef was given a big reception by the Government; the chairman of the Senate came to receive him at the airport. At that time, the President of Burundi was in the village border of Rwanda. Dr. Naseef went there to see the President of the Burundi at the north. Dr. Naseef and the President of Burundi knew each other from before; so they exchanged ideas. Dr. Naseef said, “He (the President of Burundi) promised support and continued to support to the Islamic projects and so on.”

Besides this, Dr. Naseef visited some of the Mosques and the Centres. This time Dr. Naseef did not visit the War Museum in Rwanda which he visited last time; because this time he did not go to Rwanda.

On the 13th of May, Dr. Naseef went to Istanbul, Turkey, to attend and participate in a meeting of the strategy and development of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. Dr. Naseef said, “This meeting was discussing about the difficulties, the futures of the Oxford Centre and how to increase the finance and how to cover the expenses and so on. So it was an administrative and financial meeting; of course strategy looking for the future. I think it was a very successful meeting. The President of Turkey was very happy and the people were enthusiastic that this Centre will carry on very well.”

On the 17th of May, Dr. Naseef went again to Cairo, Egypt to attend a meeting of the Follow-up Committee of the Ten-year Plan of the OIC. Dr. Naseef is the chairman of this Follow-up Committee, which is a NGO, a non-governmental committee to follow up the Ten-year Plan in the field of Da’wah. Makkah-based Muslim World League, Karachi-based World Muslim Congress and others are its observers. Dr. Naseef said, “This Committee is under the OIC. This is a committee of joint work in the field of Da’wah, Relief and Education. It is a non-governmental committee under the OIC. Rabita Al-Alam Al-Islami (Muslim World League), Motamar al-Alam al-Islami (World Muslim Congress) and others are its observers. They have been meeting for twenty years. This committee meets regularly; but this is not meeting itself; it is only to follow up part of it in preparation of the meeting of the Committee itself. It was also very successful meeting.”

Dr. Naseef said, “It is supposed to meet regularly but it is not. Sometimes it meets and sometimes it doesn’t. Now we have started a new movement in the field of Da’wah and coordination. This committee also prepared annual report and that report is only for the OIC. This is for their benefit.”

On the 5th of June, Dr. Naseef went to Geneva and from there he went by car to the town called the Black Lake to attend the meeting of the Swiss-Islamic Cultural Association. It is a new organisation. About this meeting, Dr. Naseef said, “There was a meeting to establish that Swiss-Islamic Cultural Society. Its aim is to take care of the social needs of the orphan and deprived people. The people in Switzerland, mainly the Muslims, are in very bad shape. The requirement to establish the Society is that we meet and sign papers and give money to the Charity Commission there in Switzerland.”

Besides that meeting, there was a Conference on Financial Crisis of the World on the 6th of June, 2009. Many organizations attended the conference. Speaking about this Conference, Dr. Naseef said, “This was one-day conference on the 6th of June, 2009. Our meeting was on the 5th of June and on the next day, there was this seminar. It was very good. What is happening today is due to lack of sincerity and honesty and also due to the people who are in charge of that are not following rules and regulations and ethics of the work. It will continue like that until something big is changed. Of course, the western system of interest and all those problems. Big people are taking loans to build houses and buy cars and to finance projects and they cannot pay because the rate of interest is increasing.”

“Anyhow, this is not our job. We thought very little is being affected to us; because the people who are donating they are not banks or the people who have been suffering from credit crunch,” said Dr. Naseef.

On the 10th of June, 2009, a meeting of the International Union of Muslim Scouts, the Supreme body of the Union of Muslim Scouts, was held in Kuwait. Dr. Naseef is the President of the International Union of Muslim Scouts. So he went Kuwait to attend the meeting. About this meeting, Dr. Naseef said, “We meet in Kuwait to discuss all the affairs of the Union of Scouts. Besides that, there was a meeting of those who are concerned with media in the field of Scouting. The meeting also discussed how to develop media and how to improve the publicity about the Scouting in preparation of the workshops which will take place later on.”

Then on the 19th of June, Dr. Naseef went to Tripoli, the capital of Libya where all other organizations including, Riyadh-based World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) was there. Dr. Naseef attended the meeting of the Committee of the Coordination of Islamic works under the OIC as Secretary General of the International Islamic Council of Da’wah and Relief. Speaking about this meeting, Dr. Naseef said, “We are not meeting regularly; we should improve it. Finance is the main problem. The OIC does not have the finance. OIC has its own difficulties. Somebody has to do that.

On the 24th of June, Dr. Naseef went to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia to attend the meeting of the trainers for National Dialogue. Speaking about this meeting, Dr. Naseef said, “It was a very successful meeting. The total number of trained people is 100,000 which include school boys and girls, community workers and others. But the trainers are 400 people - 200 boys and 200 girls. The meeting was addressed by the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh. He said, ‘I don’t know that national dialogue is so important.’ He is supporting that. The Minister of Culture and Information, Mr. Abdul Aziz al-Khoja and the Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowment, Mr. Saleh Ali Sheikh were also present at the meeting.”

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