Special Reports

World Union of Scholars meets in Qatar

By Our Own Correspondent

Doha (Qatar): Muslim World’s most influential non-governmental organisation, the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), headed by the most respected contemporary Muslim scholar Shaikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, held the fourth meeting of its board of trustees in this city which has seen unprecedented transformation and progress during the last two decades. Thirty seven IUMS trustees (out of a total of 52) met here during 15-16 December to discuss a variety of issues and problems of the Muslim World and Muslim minorities. Members present included such luminaries as the head of the Tunisian ruling Nahda Party Shaikh Rashid Al-Ghannoushi, former Mauritanian minister and scholar Shaikh Abdullah Ben Bayyah, Ibadi Mufti of Oman Shaikh Khaleeli, former Sudanese minister Prof. Isam Al-Basheer, former speaker of the Indonesian Parliament Dr Hidayat and many leading scholars from around the world. From India, MG editor Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan participated. The other IUMS trustee from India, Prof. Siddiq Hasan, could not participate due to bad health.
 
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi speaking

The meeting started with a keynote address by IUMS President Shaikh Qaradawi in which he explained the history and ideas behind the IUMS and how no Arab or Muslim country was ready to allow its registration which led them to register it in Ireland  in 2004 but today it has been registered in Qatar with the permission of its Emir. Qaradawi said the IUMS has stood firmly behind the revolutions in the Arab countries known as “Arab Spring” and will continue to do so as well as offering its support to the Muslim causes all over the world. He announced that in order to place the IUMS on a firm footing, he is working on an ambitious plan to have waqfs dedicated to the organisation in a number of countries. Valuable chunks of land have already been donated to the organisation in a number of countries like Qatar and Sudan where properties will be developed so as to ensure a steady revenue to fund the various activities of the IUMS.

Shaikh Qaradawi announced that in a major initiative, IUMS will hold an international conference to stop attacks on religions. He said it it not just the question of protecting Islam but all religions should be respected and no one has the licence to make fun of any religion. He hoped that an international law could be promulgated through the efforts of Muslim countries to this effect.

A group photo

IUMS general secretary Shaikh Ali Al-Qurahdaghi presented a detailed account of the organisation’s work in various field during the previous period. Lebanon’s Shaikh Ahmad Al-’Umari presented the report of the IUMS’ Jerusalem Committee while Saudi Arabia’s Prof. Abdul Wahhab Nurwali presented the report of the Minorities and Issues Committee and announced that a conference on Muslim minorities will be held in Berlin within a year. He also announced that IUMS’ virtual university (www.iumsu.com) is ready to start functioning in the near future.

Noted scholar Shaikh Ben Bayyah opined that the Muslim World is now functioning under a new social contract. He said, in the post-colonial period we have reverted to the Age of the Constitution of Madina and the “Age of Jizya” which had started with the Islamic conquests came to an end with the advent of the colonial period. He came down strongly on the Salafis in the Arab World and described them as the new Zahirites who do not understand the delicate balances and do not know that the rules of Islamic politics, compiled as Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniah, are mere ideas and opinions formulated by scholars of yester-years and these do not bind us. He said that the so-called Islamic Revolutionaries in Mali are applying Shari’ah on a hapless and poor population which is living in an abode devoid of peace and security.

Zafarul-Islam Khan speaking

Noted scholar and a preacher of the ideology of Wasatiyah (moderate or middle path), Prof. Isam Al-Basheer of Sudan announced that he is overseeing the compilation of a dictionary of ideas to educate the Ummah about Wasatiyah. This is one of the projects coopted by the IUMS. Prof. Al-Basheer also announced that he is working on a charter of Islamic activism which will be shared with Muslim organisations all over the world. Shaikh Qaradawi quipped here that this is the age of sandwiches and light meals. He said that our hearts should be big enough to accept those who oppose us or do not rise up to our standards. He announced that the IUMS will soon have its own centre of research and studies.

Prof. Abdul Majeed Al-Najjar, a member of the Tunisian parliament, said that earlier we were talking about ideas and ideologies and now we have regimes and governments searching for ways to put those ideas into action.

Shaikh Farooq Al-Batal of Syria gave a description of the situation in his country while Shaikh Ahmad Al-’Umari offered a short account of the situation in Lebanon while Shaikh Harith Al-Dhari of Iraq explained the situation in his country. He said that the American forces have not left Iraq and the Iranian influence is increasing by the day and the government of Al-Maliki has committed more crimes than the Americans in Iraq. As a reuslt of the war and continued uncertainty, about four million Iraqis are living as refugees outside their country.

L/R: Shaikh Harith (Iraq), Hamdi Arsalan (Turkey), Shailkh Marwan (Palestine)

Pakistan’s Abdul Ghaffar Azeez presented a report about the Rohingyas of Burma while Shaikh Marwan of Gaza spoke about the situation in Palestine in general and Gaza in particular.

The Tunisian leader Shaikh Ghannoushi said that since independence, Tunisia had emerged as a rejector of faith and believer in secularism, so much so that hijab was outlawed, waqfs were nationalised and the oldest Islamic university Al-Zaitunah was closed down.  He said that all this has changed now after the revolution two years ago. The secular forces were routed in the last year’s elections though they are yet to concede defeat.

Turkey’s Shaikh Hamdi Arsalan offered a report about the situation in his country and how the Turkish people are slowly returning to their origins.

Egyptian scholar Shaikh Muhammad Al-Mukhtar  Al-Mahdi, president of Egypt’s influential Al-Jam’iyyah Al-Shar’iyyah, offered an overview of the situation in Egypt and said that the judiciary and the media are yet to accpet the new situation after the revolution. He said that the media has invented the term of “Ikhwanisation” in order to defame the new government which is not working for the Ikhwan but for Islam.

Libyan scholars Dr Ali Sallabi and Shaikh Salim Al-Shaikhi offered an overview of the situation in their country. They said that various internal and external forces are trying to frustrate the Libyan revolution. Sallabi said that some Islamic activists in Libya refuse to learn from the Tunisian experience. He said that even secular and liberal people in Libya are not opposed to Islam. Shaikhi said that 70,000 people took part in the armed revolt and now they are being absorbed in various departments.

Shaikh Abdul Wahhab Al-Dailami of Yemen spoke about the situation in his country while Russia’s Dr Lui spoke about the situation of the Muslim minority in his country. Kuwait’s Shaikh Khaled Madkour explained the situation in his country. Bosnia’s Prof. Safvet Khalilovic explained the situation in the Balkans while Malaysia’s Shaikh Abdul Ghani Shamsuddin and China’s Shaikh Yusuf Siraj Ma Foda explained the Islamic activities in their respective countries. Former Indonesian speaker of Parliament Dr Hidayat offered an overview of the situation in his country and how Islamic activities are taking place freely in a secular polity. Similar reports were presented by scholars from Sudan and Uzbekistan etc.

India’s Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan offered a report about the condition of the Muslim minority in India. He especially mentioned the continuing communal riots, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Muslims from their homes and lands in Assam and the continuing official war on the Muslim community in the garb of fighting against terror.

The conference issued a number of resolutions about the international and regional issues. This included a resolution about the anti-Muslim campaign under the garb of fighting terror. A translation of this resolution is as follows:

“IUMS condemns the continuing campaign against the Indian Muslims in the name of fighting terror despite the acquittal of hundreds of Muslim youths by Indian courts after spending long years in jails and despite abundant evidences showing that the cases are manufactured against Muslim youths and confessions are extracted through torture which is internationally prohibited.

“IUMS demands the Indian government to desist from arresting Muslim youths in the name of fighting terror and to establish fast-track courts to try those who are already arrested so that they are not acquitted many years after their arrests. Moreover, IUMS demands the Indian government to compensate Muslim youths who have been acquitted and to offer an official apology to them and to the Muslim community in India.”

Other resolutions concerned Palestine, Arab Spring, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Kashmir (in which implementation of the UN resolutions was demanded), Mali, Sudan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Rohingya Muslims of Burma and the Islamophobia in the West.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2013 on page no. 13

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