The First Annual International Islamic Council
It is with great anticipation for the 2018 Conference and with a heavy heart now, I announce the closing of the 2017 International Islamic Conference on ‘Moderation and Balance in Islam’ held in Sydney, Australia. This year’s Conference which was entitled, "Muhammad - peace be upon him - the Prophet of Mercy and the Messenger of Peace" with the slogan: "We also made you a moderate nation", unfolded successfully yesterday Sunday and today Monday, 15th and 16th Rabi 'al-Awwal 1439H, corresponding with the 3rd and 4th of December 2017, in collaboration with Darulfatwa, the Islamic High Council of Australia and the Council for Indonesian Ulama (Scholars), Jakarta Branch, in the presence of a group of Islamic scholars who adhere to the moderate and balanced methodologies.
The contributors discussed the current situations of the Muslim nation and the integral role that moderate and balanced approaches play in affecting social reform and protecting the Muslim nation from the fierce attacks it faces from the outside and the lurking dangers of the abhorrent and obscene extremism pouncing at it from within. Also discussed was the role of the sincere practitioners of this nation and the need for them to converge their energies in order to mobilise Islamic jurisprudence from a framework of literature to a framework of practical application, through positive and constructive strategies, plans and programs. Moreover, that these steps need also to foster strong communication between the practitioners relied on in addressing the present crisis and remove the nation from stalemate.
The following is a summary from the submissions of the contributors including resolutions and recommendations:
First: The Conference contributors thank the Australian Government and the people of Australia for facilitating the establishment of the International Islamic Conference in Sydney.
Second: The timeliness of the International Islamic Conference being held in the month of Rabi^ul Awwal, the month of the birth of the great Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, facilitated talks about the history of the Prophet's birth, the signs that preceded his birth, peace be upon him, and the effect his birth had on civilization. Many participants discussed the historical context of the Mawlid celebration, particularly the rulers and scholars who upheld the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. They also clarified the judgement of the four schools pertaining to upholding the celebrating the birth of the Prophet. It was concluded that the origin of the celebration of the birth, which consists of drawing people to gatherings, reading the Koran, recalling the biography of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, reminiscing on the signs that occurred at his birth, and offering banquets; are all good innovations. Providing people do not go beyond the boundaries of acceptable acts of goodness, the patrons will be rewarded greatly, commensurate with their degree of aggrandizing of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and their reflection of joy to his birth.
Third: Emphasis was made on, the importance of mercy in Islam, the renunciation of abhorrent violence, and the positive impact of mercy on the unity of society.
Fourth: Emphasis was made on the importance of good coexistence between Muslims and others, especially in Western societies, and that wishing goodness for Muslims and non-Muslims alike is a praiseworthy trait. It was stressed that one should not wish evil on anyone – whether on himself or others.
Fifth: Emphasis was made on the fact that the Muslim nation globally and in Australia call for moderation and renounce abhorrent extremism and destructive violence. The point was made that Muslims call for the disassociation of Islam from abhorrent terrorism and Muslims from extremists. Also, it was stressed that is the duty of every individual regardless of positions and responsibilities, to campaign on their own turf, for the fortification of society with the weapon of knowledge. It was strongly viewed that knowledge is the weapon and it is through knowing that we can defeat ignorance, moderately fight the hateful extremism, and mediate the fortification of society. As well it is through compassion that we address brutal violence.
Sixth: The point was made that the war against abhorrent extremism is a war of articulation that must be accompanied with preventative measures. This brings to the foreground the important role of scholars, sheikhs and preachers, who are on the strong front line in the defence of the nation and the importance of empowering them to enable them to remain blockades to evil. In the event of their fall, the path of the extremists will become paved and their goals become easy to achieve.
Seventh: Emphasis was made on the importance of qualifying preachers and equipping them with the sound knowledge, refutations and scientific proofs that depict extremism and its advocates and expose the reality of extremists to what is known as ‘public opinion’ to hinder their passage and claim to common place.
Eighth: It was asserted that we, the Muslims of this nation and citizens, will not accept that Australia and other countries become hotbeds for extremists and their ideologies under the pretence of ‘freedom’, and that we do not accept that Australia become the stage for bombings. So, we hold hands with our fellow citizens to fight extremism and its advocates and adherents, and we reassure our fellow citizens that we stand by them in protecting them and this country we call home, from extremists and their evil.
Ninth: Emphasis was made on the fact that the true belief of the Prophet, his companions and those who followed them is what makes them ‘Ahlussunnah wal Jama^ah’ and that they are the greater majority of this nation. Their stance is the balance between exaggeration and laxity and between excessiveness and negligence.
Tenth: It was unanimously presented that the Islamic doctrine, which is derived from the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet and the consensus of the scholars of the Salaf and what has been unanimously agreed upon by the nation, is free of anthropomorphism and of attributing boundaries, directions and places to God. Also that this pure clear doctrine is separate to atheism, incarnation, unification, and is clear of the complications imposed by philosophers and apostates like the Wahhabis, Kharijites, Jahmiyyah and Mu^tazilah and the like.
Eleventh: It is the unanimous belief of the contributors that the Imams of the credible and highly regarded schools of jurisprudence are the Imams of guidance, and that their differences in the subsections of provisional rules are a mercy to the nation. As well, they reject all forms of deviant and destructive extremism that is drawing our nation to a chasm and they consider the defiant extreme practices in the name of religion, is unrelated to Islam.
Twelfth: Unanimously, the contributors stressed the importance for every Muslim, especially members of royalty, scholars, and influential figures, to adhere to the mainstream Sunni faith from the routes of al-Ash^ariyah and Maturidiyah doctrines, and to utilize their role and professional capacity to spread and defend this pure methodology. They believe this strategy to facilitate empowerment of the nation, strengthening the Muslims and positioning them as revered role models. They assert that, this is the way to achieve security and safety of all nations, and the way to achieve patriotism and a social unity that rests their words and their hearts in the true doctrine, the doctrine of the Prophet, his companions, his family and those who followed them truthfully.
Thirteenth: The contributors stressed the importance of implementing the saying of the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him, which means: (The example of the believers in their compassion and sympathy to one another, is like the body; if one organ is inflicted, the rest of the body will suffer sleepless nights and fever). This hadith is agreed upon by consensus. The hardships that our Muslim nation is experiencing nowadays, especially in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar and many other countries, and given that we are in the month of the birth – Rabi^ul Awwal, these should compel us to renew our commitment to cooperate, to speak as one and to stand side-by-side on the correct path and guidance.
Fourteenth: Contributors discussed the importance of the role of Islamic schools in spreading moderation and the middle path, to protect the new generation from abhorrent extremism, asserting that it is vital for schools to implement programs that teach moderation and ensure the educators in the classroom assist in implementing these programs correctly to nurture a moderate generation of young adults.
Fifteenth: Contributors analyzed the role of the media in reporting about Islam and Muslims in these sensitive times and noted that the media has the capacity to facilitate positive reporting of Islam and Muslims to support social cohesion. The contributors emphasized the importance for the media to differentiate between pure Islam and destructive terrorism and its abhorrent radical ideological base and to refrain from conflating them in their news reporting. The contributors called for the media to cease referring to the destructive extremists by Islamic names, and pointed out that such conflation is confusing laypeople and encouraging Islamophobia. As well, that it is necessary for the media to mute such extremists, even those with the slightest affiliations, by not amplifying their rants and positioning them as valid sources. It was found that the media has the tools to report on Muslims in a positive manner, and that it should practice focusing on common grounds and framing differences as an asset to society, not a detriment.
Sixteenth: Contributors stressed the important role of women in society, and highlighted the suffering of Muslim women caused by destructive extremism and extremists who masquerade as Muslims and hide in the shroud of Shari^ah law. They also emphasized the important role of the parents, especially mothers, in nurturing the next generation of adults and instilling in their children the Islamic mannerisms and ethics.
Seventeenth: By consensus, contributors stressed the importance of sustaining the prominence of moderate Islamic references such as, al-Azhar ash-Sharif in Egypt, az-Zaytouna University in Tunisia, al-Qarawiyyin University in Morocco, and the universities of Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama^ah in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and other Muslim countries, for their crucial role in spreading balance and the middle path of Islam.
Eighteenth: Contributors called on governments to help promote the moderation and balance of Islam through its communique to mainstream institutions including educational, media and other Institutions, in order to promote rejection to hateful extremism and its tools and decontaminate societies from these corrupt ideas.
Nineteenth: By consensus, contributors affirmed their total condemnation to abhorrent terrorism and its perpetrators and that they do not support such activists or actions. They called on the international community to take the onus on itself to increase their efforts to combat this evil phenomenon and cease its spread by, adopting productive and sound measures that expose the abhorrent ideologies of these extremists which, are rejected by all the credible scholars of Islam. Also, to portray them as the threat and danger that they are, while simultaneously advocating for religious cooperation to manifest at international and regional levels to help this cause.
Twentieth: Contributors stressed the need to expand and increase efforts such as this International Conference including holding them in many countries, in order to maintain and amplify the dialogue on moderation and the middle path, and protect our homeland and its citizens.
In closing, the International Islamic Conference hosted religious ministers, heads of councils of jurisprudence, professors, academics, and other figures from Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Fiji, New Zealand and Australian states.