Special Reports

Qaradawi re-elected as President of International Union of Muslim Scholars

Istanbul: The fourth general body meeting of the world's premier non-governmental Muslim organisation, the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) was held here during 19-23 August. About one thousand scholars and community leaders from around the world including all the muftis of Russia and allied republics attended. Jamaat-e Islami Hind head Maulana Jalaluddin Umari and MG Editor, Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan were among those came from India to attend the conference.

Shaikh Rashid Ghannoushi and Shaikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

Shaikh Ali Al-Qaradaghi

The meeting unanimously re-elected Shaikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi as the President of the organization although he had requested to be excused and had nominated the Tunisian leader Shaikh Rashid Al-Ghannoushi as his successor.  Speakers during the opening session included the Turkish deputy prime minister Dr Amrullah Ishlir and the head of the Turkish department of religious affairs Muhammad Gormaz who came down heavily on the "Ulama of the Sultans" who sell their conscience to the rulers and become tools in their hands. He described such scholars as worse than the dictatorial rulers themselves.

A workshop on role of ulama in preaching moderation

The meeting deliberated on organizational and policy issues and elected the new office-bearers. Beside the President, Dr Ali Al-Qaradaghi was re-elected as General Secretary while the noted Moroccan scholar Dr Ahmad Al-Raisuni, Oman Mufti Shaikh Ahmad Al-Khalili and the Malaysian Islamic leader Shaikh Abdul Hadi Awang were elected as vice presidents. The meeting also elected 31 members of the board of trustees while the President will appoint 15 others as trustees who meet at least once a year to formulate policies and decide on organizational matters. The organization, first registered in Ireland, is now registered as an NGO in Qatar.

After deciding the organizational matters and elections, the meeting concluded with a conference titled “Role of Islamic Scholars in the Renaissance of Ummah” under which Islam as a moderate and enlightened faith and the issue of Bait al-Maqdis and Al-Aqsa were highlighted.

The 4-day mammoth meeting ended with a final statement which lauded the people of Gaza and eulogized the resistance which has successfully thwarted the Israeli aggression which the statement strongly condemned. The statement also came down heavily on the Egyptian regime of General Al-Sisi for crushing the democratic movement and ousting the elected President of Egypt. The statement demanded the setting free of all political prisoners taken in custody in the wake of the military coup. IUMS demonstrated its strong support to the political detainees in Egypt by electing a number of them as members of the board of  trustees.

The statement condemned ISIS and rejected its claim to have established “Caliphate”. The statement said, "Establishment of Caliphate is not the right of a certain group; it is the right of the Muslim Ummah represented by its scholars and representatives." The statement advised Muslim youth “not to pay any importance to these claims which are not based on any correct Shar'ee bases or fiqh (understanding) of the higher interests of the Ummah." It further advised the youth “not to get involved in shedding blood so that they do not meet their Lord while they stand accused of shedding the blood of Muslims." The statement further advised the youth to seek the advice of the scholars in such matters.

The statement condemned the divisions in the ranks of the Ummah and called upon the Muslims to unite, accept difference of opinion, democracy, multi-culturalism, peaceful settlement of problems, and to desist from exclusion, marginalization and takfir of others. The statement called upon the Ummah to accept peaceful coexistence and civilisational overreach and to desist from the use of force in settlement of international disputes and to take the road of dialogue instead of clashing  with others and to believe in the right of others to differ with us and to do justice to rights and duties.

The statement condemned the foreign support which dictatorial regimes in the [Arab] region receive from outside forces and condemned the Zionist system of racial discrimination and occupation which is getting monetary, military, media and veto support  from western countries, which is an impediment in the cooperation and peaceful relations between East and West, between civilizations and faiths.

The statement asked the Muslim Ummah to resist injustice using legitimate means. It reiterated the rights of nations to freedom, dignity and self-determination and supported the right to resist, with legitimate means and ways, all shades of dictatorships and exploitation. It also stressed upon nations' right to freely choose their rulers and the way of life and to exploit their natural resources without hindrance from local and foreign forces.

The statement forcefully supported the Palestinian cause saying that it will remain the central issue of the Muslim Ummah all over the world. It said, this issue is facing a crucial stage now as the Zionists are trying to occupy parts of the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, and are trying to divide the holy site in terms of time and space, and Jerusalem is being Judised. Moreover, the racist apartheid wall has crippled the Palestinians.

The statement further said that the Israeli war on Gaza Strip during and since Ramadan is a naked aggression against unarmed and blameless civilians. Homes,  government infrastructure, schools, mosques and UN buildings have been attacked and yet the UN Security Council and major powers of the world have kept not only their silence but have helped the aggressor since the start of the Zionist project about a century ago.

The statement stressed that Jerusalem has a special place in the heart of the Muslim Ummah for its religious, historical and civilisational importance and no Jewish occupation plans can change the fact that Jerusalem belongs to the Arab-Islamic Ummah. The statement stressed that no individual or group has the right to give away the right of the Ummah in Jerusalem or to surrender even an inch of its land. The statement asked the Arab and Muslim governments to bear their responsibilities towards the holy places of Islam, and to protect Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque, in particular.

The statement supported the right of all occupied people to resist, saying that this right is enshrined in all divine faiths and in international covenants. Therefore, the arms of the Palestinian resistance in general and in Gaza Strip in particular must not be touched. The statement condemned the calls to disarm the resistance in Palestine.

The statement condemned the serious human rights violations in Egypt and called for the release of all prisoners who were only exercising their democratic right through peaceful protests. It also called for the cancellation of all the arbitrary death sentences which have been handed out unjustly against the accused in matters of conscience and freedoms. The statement called upon the Yemeni people to seek a comprehensive dialogue in order to build  a modern state. It further condemned the communal genocide and mass expulsions going on in Syria and asked the Syrian opposition groups to unite to fight the dictatorial regime and asked countries which are still supporting the Syrian regime to desist from doing so.

The statement called upon the Iraqi people to unite and demanded the new Iraqi government not to follow the path of the previous government and asked it to work for national reconciliation and to stop murders and mass arrests and to create conditions to encourage the displaced persons to return to their homes. The statement condemned the massacres, uprooting and forceful expulsions being carried out by both Shi'i and Sunni extremist groups.

The statement called upon the world powers to help in rebuilding Somalia, and condemned the dictatorial regime in Bangladesh and supported the cause of persecuted Muslims in Mayanmar, Bosnia and Central African Republic. It also supported religious minorities including Christians and Yezidis who are facing genocide and forcible expulsion from their homelands. It also asked Muslim minorities to discharge their responsibilities and duties as faithful citizens of their countries, to respect the laws and to take care of the public interest in their countries.

In his emotional speech at the concluding session, Shaikh Yusuf Al-Qaradwi, while saying that "I may not see you after this year," stressed on two issues which, he said, are very serious and impede the progress of the Muslim Ummah. The first is that women must be allowed to attend mosques for prayers. He said that this is the opinion of the Hanafi school of though despite the fact that women attended mosques for prayers during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) and his Rightly Guided Successors and there is no ayah in the Qur’an or saying of the Prophet prohibiting their attendance in mosques. He said that this way, we are keeping half or may be more than half of our population from participation in the affairs of the Ummah. The other issue he stressed upon was Da'wah, that is preaching and propagation of Islam which he said is a primary duty and Muslims are not giving it its due despite the fact that Islam is a universal faith while Christians, whose faith was limited to the Jews, are extremely active in propagating their faith and have translated the Bible into all languages of the world while Muslims have failed to do the same.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 September 2014 on page no. 13

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