Thursday, January 29, 2009

Muslim Religious Leaders Form National Ulama Conference of the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 29, 2009) - Some 200 Muslim religious leaders gathered in the 2nd National Ulama Summit of the Philippines have formed the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP) to serve as the vehicle for unity among thousands of Ulama in the country.

Ulama are Muslim scholars trained in Islam and Islamic law and are the interpreters of Islam's sciences, doctrines and laws.

The ulama on Wednesday elected 14 members of the board, coming from the different sectors of the Muslim communities, to the 15-member interim board of trustees. The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) was given the 15th seat on the Board.

Those elected to the board of NUCP included: Dr. Hamid Barra from Marawi City, Dr. Abhoulkhair Tarason from Basilan, Sulu Mufti Sharif Jul Asiri Abirin, Tawi-Tawi Mufti Abdulwahid Inju, Aleem Abdul Majid Said from Cebu, Aleem Ahmad Darping Nooh from Davao, Dr. Abdussalam Disomimba from Lanao del Norte, Prof. Moner Bajunaid from General Santos City, Shari'a Court Judge Aboali Cali from Marawi City, Aleem Jaafar Ali from Cotabato City, Aleem Abdulhadi Daguit from Manila, Bro. Hassan Garcia from the Balik Islam community, Ustadza Albaya Badrodin and Aleema Khadijah Mutilan from the Aleemat (Muslim women religious scholars). Former Senator Santanina Rasul, Chair of Magbassa Kita Foundation, Inc (MKFI) and Advisor of the PCID, was given the honor of occupying the 15th seat.

The newly elected officers of the NUCP interim board are scheduled to meet and elect from among themselves a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and a secretary general. They are expected to set into motion plans that will empower Muslim religious scholars to provide leadership to Muslim communities in terms of peace and development.

The approval of the bylaws and the election of the members of the interim board came after a series of regional consultations held in Zamboanga City, Cagayan de Oro City, Manila and Sarangani province culminating the 2nd Ulama Summit in Quezon City.

The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) and the Magbassa Kita Foundation, Inc (MKFI) are responsible for organizing the 2nd National Ulama Summit, with the support of the Embassies of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

"Not By Fatwa Alone"

The summit of Muslim religious leaders opened Monday night with dinner ceremonies attended by the Ulama, representatives of the diplomatic corps, government officials and other guests. Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., GRP Peace Panel Chair Ambassador Rafael Seguis, Court of Appeals Justice Hakim Abdulwahid, Defense Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina, Ambassador Robert Gerard Brinks of the Netherlands Embassy and Mr. Chris Wright of the British Embassy were among those who attended.

PCID lead convenor Amina Rasul, stated that it is important for the Ulama to come together because "In today's world, society demands a wider and more participative role of the ulama, that they get involved directly in the transformation or reformation process. Our societal problems today can no longer be solved by the formulation of a fatwa alone."

Dr. Endang Turmudi Secretary General of Nadhlatul Ulama, considered as one of the largest independent Islamic organizations in the world with estimates of their membership ranging as high as 40 million, gave the opening keynote address.

As Islam continues to spread globally, Turmudi said that it becomes incumbent upon all Muslims "to review and put in an appropriate way" their relationship with their fellow Muslims and with people of other religions as well. He also urged the Ulama to lead in the effort to inform the whole world that the "violence done by Muslims or those who acknowledge themselves as Muslims is not derived from the doctrine of Islam but from certain interpretations affected by the political situations surrounding them."

"Engage the Changing World"

The summit also featured Muslim academics from Australia and Britain. Dr Abdullah Saeed who holds the Sultan of Oman Professorial Chair of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne, argued that while the Ulama need to be versed in the classical tradition of Islam they also need to understand the contours of the changing world so they can lead their people in addressing the challenges faced by Muslims in the modern world.

Dr. Hisham Hellyer, a British Muslim who is currently a Principal Research Fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies in Malaysia, emphasized the great and noble role of the Ulama but noted that the Ulama should gain the respect and acceptance of the people noting that the loss of religious authority will negatively impact the world at large. He also urged Muslims "to critically engage in the changing world".

"Peace and Development Sessions"

In the morning of January 29, the summit will feature sessions with some members of the international donor community doing work in Mindanao. Expected to address the Ulama and discuss possible areas of collaboration with the new Ulama organization are US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, European Union Ambassador Alistair Macdonald and Australian embassy's deputy head of mission Mr. Stephen Scott.

The afternoon session will feature a workshop on electoral reforms with Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) Chair Ambassador Henrietta de Villa, former COMELEC Commissioner Mehol Sadain, and former Human Rights Commissioner Nasser Marohomsalic.

Former President Fidel Ramos is scheduled to lead the officers of the NUCP in their oath taking during the closing dinner ceremonies on January 29.


Salmanranaw said...

Manila, January 28 –Debate rages on as members of the Ulama League of the Philippines. Ulama disclose findings of bidaa or innovations of faith committed in the handling of peace process in Mindanao. A confidential report circulated in the gathering of 200 Muslim religious leaders cited serious accusations to Muslim personalities including the host of the National Ulama Summit being held in Manila today.
Ulama lambasted the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) in its declaration of principle that only solution to the peace problem in Mindanao is meaningful democracy. In a counter-proposal, Ulama affirm Islam as the solution to the peace problem in Mindanao saying that the PCID declaration has put a parameter of dialog not acceptable to the Muslim rebels.
Ulama emphasize that the Muslims are not against the rule of democracy in the Philippines. They said that they are enriching democracy by the exercise of their true faith in Islam. National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales on the other hand had earlier appealed to Muslim religious leaders to ensure that the “correct version” of Islam is taught.
Ulama also criticize some colleagues issuing statements for the peace efforts but closing door for dialog at the same time. It cited a particular statement by an officer of the Muslim World League Elias Macarandas declaring Commander Bravo of MILF a terrorist despite findings of his innocence.
Ulama also accuse other Muslim representatives in the Bishops-Ulama Conference to commit serious lapses in principles and organizational protocols which have resulted negative implications to the Ulama in the country.
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Excerpts from a statement by the Ulama:

A Critique to the PCID’s Principle of Meaningful Democracy
For submission to the 2nd National Summit of the Ulama in the Philippines
January 26, 2009
The contentions highlighting disunity among Ulama should not supersede the positive dynamics of various groupings in the Ummah under the wide bounds of Halal. First, Allah (s.w.t.) has mentioned this in the Qur’an and that implies about the band of people among the Ummah who will excel in inviting what is good and forbidding what is wrong. The law of contradiction has affirmed to this organizational dynamics that raise people and society into higher level. In the Ummah, it raises us to further purification of our theory and practice in Islam.
For instance, many of our concepts has transcended from the bounds of Halal as we compelled ourselves to express Islam in non-Islamic context. The declaration of “meaningful democracy as the only solution to the peace problem in Mindanao” is a farce! Democracy by itself is ruled by man-made laws or a “rule of majority” which is directly inconsistent with Islam. If we use this as parameter in peace process that involves the Bangsamoro struggle, we are just curtailing them from the very foundation of their existence as Muslims. Will the peace effort we assume still be feasible by this precept?
Democracy by the way, is a constricted equivalent of freedom which is actually rich in an Islamic society. Islam has all the meaningful contextual expressions that the so-called civilization of today has yet to discover and benefit. We should not be deceived by the western semblance of Arabic terminologies abound to ploy the real and encompassing meanings it had.
Furthermore, this very Summit by itself has contended to undermine the existence and contributions of the Ulama League of the Philippines being a national organization in the country by claiming that no other Ulama organization ever exists and therefore it is then imperative to organize an umbrella organization. These contentions are in effect has capitalizes the federated provisions in the By Laws we supposed to ratify today. By the mandate of a ratified By Laws, this Federation will become a supreme clearing house for all major and strategic transactions representing the Muslims in the Philippines locally and abroad. Essentially, this set-up is contrary to their public declarations. This will eventually put to death the positive and complimentary dynamics of existing Ulama groups in the country.
Besides, a Federation adapting open-ended provisions in a By Laws prone of abuse is dangerous enough. With due respect to some colleagues, our statement releases with the BUC for the past months have to some extent committed lapses in principles and organizational protocols seriously implicating officers and members of the organization. Binding ourselves in an umbrella federation is putting our participation and affirmation to its declarations and actions which may have negative implications in the immediate or strategic time.
With these in light, an alternative set-up should be defined as follows:
1. Instead of creating an Umbrella Federation, this National Ulama Conference of the Philippines or whatever organization' s name we may agree upon, should be a Consultative Assembly or an annual developmental summit of the Ulama in the Philippines;
2. Its Constitution and By Laws should only serve as ground-rules of the Assembly limiting powers to the Board of Trustees as Institutional working body playing the rule like an NGO serving its PO’s;
3. The Assembly should not be a regular organization in authority over individual members but an open assembly of Muslim groups, clerics and leaders convening in a conferential, consensual and recommending forum;
4. Whatever it may resolved should have its executory programs both and according to the level of the national conference and as well as on the level of member groups and individuals.
Claims madaris used to recruit extremists
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:16:00 01/09/2009
MANILA, Philippines — National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales appealed to Muslim religious leaders to ensure that the “correct version” of Islam, centered on peace, is taught in their schools or madaris (plural of madrasah), some of which he claimed are used to recruit extremists.
“What government is appealing to Ulama is for them to have a little bit more responsibility in making sure that our Muslim groups in the Philippines are taught the correct version of the Islamic faith,” Gonzales said at a news forum in Manila on Friday.
“We are not asking them to shape their faith into being loyal to the government…authentic Islamic teaching, as far as we understand, is about peace,” he added.
Asked if the madaris were being used to recruit extremists, Gonzales replied: “Totoo yun [That's true].”
Gonzales said the government has intensified its dialogues with Ulama or Islamic religious leaders, asking them to distinguish between “responsible” and “irresponsible” members, while making it clear it was not meddling in their religion.
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