Saturday, 24 August 2013

Interfaith Dialogue Conference in Islamic Cultural Centre London

International Interfaith Dialogue 
Conference at Islamic Cultural Centre

Dr. Mozammel Haque

The ISESCO & The Islamic Cultural Centre, London, held a joint two-day international conference for the 13th Meeting of the Supreme Council of Education, Science & Cultural for Muslims outside the Islamic World and the 10th Meeting of the Directors of the Islamic Cultural Centres and Islamic Associations in Europe at the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, on 26th and 27th of June, 2013. The Two-day conference has four sessions besides the Opening and Concluding sessions.

The Two-day conference was mainly focussed on Interfaith Dialogue and many Islamic organisations in the UK were involved in this conference. The members of the Supreme Council of Education, Science & Cultural for Muslims outside the Islamic World came from very different places starting from South-East Asia with Dr. Mohd Hasbi Abu Bakar, President of the Jamiyah Singapore and his colleague Mohamed Yunos who presented later on one of the latest projects of advanced technology in terms of dialogue of the tradition of Islamic wisdom. Then other members of the Council came from Latin America, South America, from Argentina Dr. Yousuf and all other members coming mostly from Europe, Russia, Switzerland, France and Dr. Yahya from Italy.

Opening Session
The opening speeches were delivered by Dr. Ahmad Al Dubayan, the Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London; Dr Abdelilah Ben Arafa, expert in cultural policies and cultural diversity at ISESCO Directorate of Culture and Communication, Rabat; Dr. Yahya Pallavicini, Chairman of the Supreme Council for Education, Science and Culture; Dr. Nasir Al Hujailan, the representative of  the Ministry of Culture in Saudi Arabia and His Excellency Mr Faisal Bin Muammar, Secretary General of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in Vienna, Austria.

HE Faisal Bin Muammar
Secretary General of KAICIID
HE Faisal Bin Muammar in his opening speech introduced King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in Vienna. HE Bin Muammar mentioned about the three founding member-states of KAICIID. He said, KAICIID was established in Vienna, Austria with its three member states, Austria, Kingdom of Spain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was opened at the Hofburg Palace, Vienna, in the presence of The Holy See, the strong supporter of the Dialogue Centre, on 26th November, 2012. He also mentioned about the trustees of KAICCID who belong to three religions and cultures such as, three Christians, three Muslims, a Jew, a Hindu and a Buddhist.

Then His Excellency mentioned about the aims and objectives of the Dialogue Centre. He also elaborated the programmes of the KAICIID. After his speech, a film on KAICIID was shown to the conference.

First Session
After introductory and opening speeches, the first session was on Introducing the Initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to strengthen the dialogue between Religion & Culture and was followed by brief discussion. This session was chaired by Dr. Yahya Pallavicini, member of the Supreme Council of Education, Science & Cultural for Muslims outside the Islamic World and the speaker is Abdelilah Ben Arafa.

While introducing the first session, Dr. Pallavicini spoke about the initiative, the issue is the scope, development and engagement in interfaith dialogue. Referring to the film shown on KAICIID earlier, Dr. Yahya Pallavicini said, “Thanks to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz who actually took the initiative of a very outstanding and important engagement in the field of dialogue which is actually somehow inspirational issue that opened the centre of KAICIID in Vienna but ISESCO has taken the intellectual and international development of this analysis in order to develop strategy, guidelines, network and implement this vision of dialogue in concrete terms but also adopting these guidelines according to situations and places.”

Dr. Yahya Pallavicini also said, “I am very glad to mention that the development of this situation is quite easy because I came back just last week from a meeting with Pope Francis that was actually somehow followed by Dr. Hamed al-Rifai with Dr. Abdullah Omar Nasseef, two leading personalities coming always from Saudi Arabia engaging with new Pope Francis and trying to develop a better qualified relations with Islamic World, with Muslims and with Islamic civilizations and with our own identity and spirituality.”

Dr. Ahmad Al-Dubayan
Dr. Ahmed al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London gave a summary of what has been said before in the paper. He said:

“Number one: Need cultural dialogue centres in the major cities in Europe; at least adopt projects in major Islamic centres in Europe. Number two: it is very important to have database, events, publication, supporting the culture of faiths, Muslims and non-Muslims. Number three: it is important to target the youth, the young with some cultural activities especially, arts and sports, like football, or whatever; to concentrate on sports, supporting the culture of dialogue and understanding. Number four: They suggest having Islamic cultural art activities, I welcome the idea; because from my experience, Islamic art is a very big approach for non-Muslim to come to Islam; how Muslims think, how they see the world. Art is very very important.”

While dealing with the fourth point on Art, Dr. Dubayan mentioned, “These things will bring more understanding, I think, the non-Muslims will understand Islam and they will see Islam not just as they think something we can summarise it in a word of hate or terror. Art is a very real approach, I know some Europeans who became Muslims and embraced Islam because of art. They started with art; some of them started with calligraphy, some of them started with architecture, some of them started with manuscripts and at the end of the day, they are Muslims.”

Dr. Dubayan continued with the summary of the papers presented, “Number Five suggestion in the paper Coordination of the Islamic centres here with the British Institutions. I think coordination with the British institutions particularly why we put it in the paper in this centre here because Muslim communities in UK have achieved a lot of things more than other active communities in France, in Germany, in Denmark, in Italy or anywhere. Muslim Communities in Britain have their own experience. They have achieved a lot of things or built institutions. They have more schools, more Muslim figures who work in the political arena; Islamic media or press, more than other Muslim communities around in Europe, even more than Muslims in America.”

In this connection, he also mentioned the role of the British government who has “given Muslims more space and their philosophy is co-existence; country supporting co-existence. London itself is a city of multicultural nature; that’s why; you find interfaith activities are more than other European countries. The directory of the interfaith network, their book, they registered about 300 organisations only in UK dealing with interfaith and dialogue activities. Some of them, of course, are local, between the mosques and the church or synagogues or temple or something or some of them really are nationwide. Some of them are international,” Dr. Dubayan said. .

Proposal to establish ISESCO Regional
Research Centre in Singapore
Dr. Mohd Hasbi Abu Baker, President of Jamiyah Singapore expressed his gratefulness and gratitude at the very outset to ISESCO, in particular, for choosing Jamiyah to work with ISESCO for more than ten years now. “We shall do our best to closely work with ISESCO. We are proposing to establish an ISESCO Regional Research Centre in Singapore to serve the Ummah in South East Asia, in the Pacific region. The Regional Research Centre shall be the focal point of scholars, researchers, institutions, organisations within and outside of South East Asian countries and deal with the studies and research on various aspects of Islamic civilization. I will forward the complete detail of this regional research centre to ISESCO, through Dr. bin Arafa soon,” Dr. Mohd Hasbi said.  

Jamiyah President also mentioned, “We are moving towards utilising technology to spread our Islamic work. For example, two weeks ago, we launch a project called I-council at our 37 free legal clinics where I constantly use the internet technology to provide legal counselling.” He requested his colleague, Mohamed Yunos to make the presentation. This is another attempt by Jamiyah to talk to more people to learn reading Qur’an in 48 hours through utilising the modern technology to reach out to more Muslims around the world.

Learn Qur’an in 48 Hours
Muhammed Younus, Jamya Singapore
Mr. Mohamed Yunos, Vice-President-II of Jamiyah Singapore presented and demonstrated the most effective and productive way to learn Qur’an through the use of modern technology. He said, “Jamiyah Singapore have to find an effective way how to educate our brothers and sisters in Islam in the most efficient and in a more productive manner. That’s why; recently there is big interest, a big charm in Islamic education. Jamiyah Singapore has seized this opportunity and come up with various programmes to address the needs of brothers and sisters in Islam.”

Mr. Yunos mentioned, “One of the projects that we are embarking on is to learn Qur’an in 48 hours. We have completed this book. We have been using this book since December 2012 and we have great response from brothers and sisters who do not know how to read Qur’an.  They have zero knowledge. Alhamdo Lillah, within 48 hours they are able to read Qur’an with Tajweed. This is quite a remarkable achievement.”

Brother Yunos demonstrated how to use the technology, learning the lesson which emphasize on reading Qur’an with proper Tajweed. “The book is designed for all age-groups, whether seven years old or seventy years old, who have zero knowledge of the Qur’an, they can use this. And this book is suitable for beginners, as I said before. Zero knowledge of Arabic language,” said Jamiyah Vice-President-II.

Mr. Yunos also mentioned, “This Apes will be launched on the 7th of July 2013 and it will be available. We call it learn Qur’an in 48 hours. If you go to the apotos; you make a search learning Qur’an in 48 hours, you will be able to see this Aps and you can download from there Insha Allah. This is our first step to impart Dawah, especially in Singapore and we are minority Muslims and we have to do something that most efficient and most effective in order to educate our Muslims in Singapore.”

Mr. Yunos made a proposal to ISESCO and its members to get endorsement from ISESCO. He said, “We have no choice but we have to speed up our efficiency in delivering the knowledge of Islam and my proposal down here today to ISESCO is to get endorsement from the ISESCO and its members before you go to the apes. When you saw this with the symbol, the logo from the ISESCO, logo from its members, people would not have any doubt whether this Aps is valid, real or whether it has been verified by Muslim scholars. We have done it and continue with all the Muslim scholars all over Singapore to come up with programme learning Qur’an within 48 hours.”

Jamiyah Singapore is an Islamic society which has been in existence for 81 years. Mr. Yunos expressed his hope to get the support, the endorsement, from ISESCO and all its members.”

We are asking ISESCO to teach Arabic for non-Arabic speakers in collaboration with Ibne Sina Institute in Leeds/Leon.

We are asking ISESCO for the 14th meeting of the leaders of the Islamic Councils collaborating with their head office also asking the Vatican to collaborate with ISESCO.

We are also asking ISESCO to have the 9th meeting in the Caribbean and Latin America in the Republic of Guinea during 2014 to study the activation of Latin America.

The conference thanks Jamiyah Singapore for their centre promoting Islam asking their representative to collaborate with the ISESCO for scholars.

We are asking ISESCO and all other organisations to have initiative called Muslim Makers of Peace.

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