One-day Conference on the Role of Islamic Centres in Correcting Misconceptions
Dr. Mozammel Haque
One-day Conference on “The Role of Islamic Centres in Correcting Misconceptions,” organised by Muslim World League, London Office in cooperation with Islamic Cultural Centre, London, UK, was held in the Library Hall of the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC), London, on Thursday, 15th of August, 2013. Islamic Cultural Centre was very happy to host this conference and was also very happy to cooperate with the Muslim World League, expressed Dr. Ahmed al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre in his opening speech. The conference was conducted by Dr. Ahmad Makhdoum, Director of the Muslim World League London Office.
Proceedings of the Conference
There were three sessions besides the opening and final sessions on the recommendations. The Opening Ceremony was started with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an followed by a speech by Dr. Ahmed al-Dubayan, Director-General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London; HRH Prince Mohammad bin Nawaf al-Saud, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom & Ireland; Lord Mohammad Shaikh, Peer of the House of Lords, British Parliament and HE Dr. Abdullah bin AbdelMohsin al-Turki, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Makkah al-Mukarramah, Saudi Arabia. The conference was conducted by Dr. Ahmad Makhdoum, Director of the Muslim World League London Office.
In the First session on “Misconceptions between Truth and Falsehood”, chaired by Sh. Muhammad Ismail Rashid, Secretary General of the Association of Muslim Scholars of Britain. Muhammad Ali Harrath, Editor of Islam Magazine, CEO of Islam Channel spoke on Western Media and the Creation of Islamophobia; Dr. Abdul Hakim Murad, Lecturer in Islamic Studies and Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge University, UK lectured on Oriental Studies and Dr. Nour al-Din al-Miladi, Head of the Media Department, Qatar University, UAE spoke on Media & Importance of Renewing Religious Discourse.
The Second session on “Towards Comprehensive Correction on Misconceptions” was chaired by Dr. Abdul Rahman Abdullah al-Zaid, Assistant Secretary General of the Makkah-based Muslim World League. Dr. Aminah Osman, Director of the Turning Point Organisation, UK spoke on Projects of Introducing Islam; Dr. Suhaib AbdulGhafour, Secretary of the Sharia Council of Britain spoke on Terrorism and Extremism and Sir Iqbal Abdulkarim Sacranie, former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) spoke on Islamic Reference and the Position of Unity.
The Third session on “Islamic Associations between Duplication and Coordination” was chaired by Dr. Ahmad Turkistani, Director of the Cultural Affairs in the Saudi Cultural Bureau, London. In this session, Mr. Yousuf Muhammad Bhailok, former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) presented a paper on The Danger of Duplication in Islamic Work; Dr. Musharraf Hussain, Director of the Karimia Institute in Nottingham, UK spoke on Muslims in the West and Bridges of Dialogue; Sheikh Khalifa Ezzat, Imam of the Regents’ Park London Central Mosque, spoke on the Importance of Integration in Coordinating Islamic Organisations Work and Councillor Asghar Majeed of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, UK, spoke on Islamic Associations and Cultural Partnership.
The Final session was presided by Dr. Abdullah Mohsin al-Turki. Dr. Ahmad Al-Dubayan read out the Resolutions of the Conference in Arabic which was simultaneously translated into English.
Dr. Ahmed al-Dubayan
Dr. Ahmed al-Dubayan, Director-General of the ICC, first of all, spoke about the activities of the Muslim community and their needs. He mentioned that the Muslim community had made great advances in looking after all the aspects of the Muslims, such as building mosques, charity and social works, establishing Islamic schools etc. These works are increasing day after day.
Dr. al-Dubayan also mentioned about the two important needs of the Muslim community, one is education and the other the social side. “Recently we notice there are two needs: first one is, taking care of their education; because education is the basic need for this Muslim community after they got their citizenship in this country. The other one is the social side and the social services; looking after the families, educating the women and looking after the new generation of Muslims. Because the new generations have lot of problems, first of all the identity and belongings,” said Dr. al-Dubayan.
The Muslim World League serves lot of works around the world, Asia, America and Europe. Dr. al-Dubayan said, “Muslim community look toward the Muslim World League for their needs. Education needs lot of supports and these communities look forward to cooperate with the Muslim World League because Muslim World League represents Muslims all over the world. We, in the Islamic Cultural Centre, are very happy to host this conference and to cooperate with the Muslim World League.”
Mr. Abdul Rahman Aneezi of the Saudi Embassy in the UK
Mr. Abdul Rahman al-Aneezi from the Saudi Embassy in London spoke on behalf of His Excellency, Prince Mohammad bin Nawaf al-Saud, the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom & Ireland. First of all, after conveying the greetings on behalf of the Saudi ambassador, Mr. al-Aneezi said, “The Saudi Ambassador Prince Mohammad could not attend today because of his previous engagement long time ago. He directed me to deputise him and attend this conference which is talking about misconception about Islam.”
Mr. al-Aneezi also mentioned, “The choice of this title is a very good one and now we need to spotlight the role of the Muslims and the Islamic centres in the West.”
Lord Mohammad Shaikh
Lord Mohammad Shaikh, Peer of the British Parliament, commended Dr. al-Dubayan for organising this conference, especially about the theme of the conference, The Role of Islamic centres and the misconceptions. Lord Shaikh said, “Unfortunately, there are some misconceptions about Islam which I think we have to rectify but we need to do it gently.”
Lord Shaikh said, “Education is very very important. In fact, we are proud of our educational inheritance. Our achievement has been marvellous,” In this connection, Lord Shaikh reminded the education heritage going back to the time when the Ummayyad were holding ruling and the development in Cordova, Spain.
Referring to the social side, Lord Shaikh said, “We tackle this concept or term of misconception. In the last meeting of the Conservative Muslim Forum people of the Christian community came to me and said we do not know that there is a chapter in the Holy Qur’an relating to Jesus Christ.”
“I think this is very very important that we tell the world what is Islam all about. It is indeed the religion of peace. In the Holy Qur’an, Prophet Issa, Prophet Moses were mentioned more times than Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). We also need to tell the people of the Books, the Christians and the Jews and all the revealed Books of Allah, the Injil, az-Zabur, at-Taurat and the Holy Qur’an. So there are misconceptions which we must correct. The way to do it is a gentle way,” mentioned Lord Shaikh.
Speaking about how Islam was spread in the largest Muslim country like Indonesia, Lord Sheikh said Islam was spread in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country, by Muslim missionaries and traders and we never conquer Indonesia. Similarly, he mentioned about Sri Lanka and Maldives, he visited recently. He also talked about how Islam is spread in Malaysia by Muslim missionaries and traders.
Lord Shaikh said, “I like to say, every one of us has a role to play. We all are ambassadors of Islam. It is incumbent on all of us to tell others what Islamic principles are all about.”
HE Dr. Abdullah Mohsin al-Turki
After thanking all those brothers who participated in the conference and who collaborated to organise this conference, especially Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan Director-General of the Islamic Cultural Centre London and Dr. Ahmad Makhdoum Director of the Muslim World League, London Office and also all the participating researchers and scholars, Dr. Abdullah Mohsin al-Turki, Secretary General of the Makah-based Muslim World League (MWL) said, “We appreciate their efforts and their collaboration in this important subject of the role of Islamic centres in correcting the misconceptions.”
Dr. Al-Turki said, “We do not forget that there is a conflict between right and wrong since mankind started and it is going to go on until the doomsday. So we are not surprise that there is someone who distort religions and their prophets and talks about the wrong ideas about this.”
From Adam until Muhammad (peace be upon him) they all faced challenges and objections. Some of the prophets had only very few followers; so this thing is not a surprise, he said.
Dr. al-Turki said, “Islam is a summary of all the Divine Books that were revealed by Allah the Almighty. They might have differences about the environment or about time but in summary they don’t. They all call for obedience to God and following God; talked about justice, peace, security and anything that will bring happiness to mankind.”
Speaking about the similarity in origin and message, the MWL chief said, “If we go about the story of Prophets Adam, Noah, Ibrahim and many many prophets at different times we find that the main goal of these Missions is to convey that human being is the creation of God and this message is from God just to guide mankind into the right path and correct direction. It is not that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was telling us about this Mission. The Message of Moses or of Jesus to his people is the same.”
Dr. Al-Turki said, “But we have to admit that there are many many personalities who are fair and they know that Islam is all about the religious messages. So there is a big role for all Muslims and non-Muslims to correct the bad image that is damaging Islam and all the messages from God.
Mentioning about dialogue, MWL chief said, “Everyone must collaborate on this subject and they have to find the means and ways to help them. That’s why we have to engage in dialogue. We have to come back to dialogue between religions that was started by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and his Crown Prince. They are keen to take any step that helps and serves the Muslims and the humanity and everything that will take humanity out of wars and conflicts. Of course dialogue is a very good thing in this subject.”
“I have to say there are lot of ways used to distort the image of Islam,” said Dr. al-Turki and added, “Muslims have a great role. They have to introduce Islam to people who do not know anything about Islam. It’s a trust that any Muslim has to convey the correct message of Islam. In this meeting, we have to talk about the appropriate ways that Muslim minority should take in Europe generally and especially in Britain because there are people, who are open to learn, open to know from Islamic organisations and non-Islamic organisations. Yes, Islamic organisations should have a strategy and they should collaborate with other organisations in order to clarify the facts.”
“Media, of course unfortunately, can give distorted image of Islam; that’s why we should look into the media; and we should look into the appropriate media ways to collaborate with them to correct the image of Islam through conferences, exhibitions, forums and contacting Muslims and the scholars and researchers in Britain. We are talking about the people of Britain and also that of Europe and everywhere else. Are they contacting the non-bias researchers and people who are interested in research in all the universities and institutions?” enquired Dr. Al-Turki and said, “This thing is very important. Muslim minorities have responsibilities to educate their children and direct them like what Dr. Dubayan said we need to educate the youngsters so that they can face these problems and they can communicate with others.”
Speaking about the method of cooperation with scholars and non-Muslims, the MWL chief said, “I must say that the Muslim communities must cooperate with other communities. They should not isolate themselves; they should cooperate with the communities and the countries they are living in. They should respect the laws of the countries they are living in and they should also contribute in the social and religious affairs of those countries they are living in. That is the way to show the truth about Islam.”
Another aspect about which MWL chief emphasized is communication between Islamic communities, especially the scholars and thinkers of these communities because Islam is one nation with all the racial differences. “The communication between all these communities should be to serve and clarify the misconceptions about Islam and Muslims and this communication should serve this important cause. This matter, of course, needs a lot of efforts and this conference should play a role,” he said.
“After this conference, there should be meeting of all Islamic thinkers in the European and non-European countries to formulate a strategy; specific strategy to introduce Islam by the communities in order to rectify the misconceptions,” proposed Dr. al-Turki.
MWL chief said, “Islam is not fanaticism or terrorism. It’s a fact that Islam is against terrorism and fanaticism. Islam stresses on security of organisations and respect by the Muslims of the rules and laws of the countries they live in. If some individuals make any mistake they should not be assigned to Islam.”
While concluding his speech, Dr. Abdullah Mohsin al-Turki expressed his thanks to all the brothers for their efforts. He specially thanked the Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom for his efforts and for his cooperation and also Mr. Abdul Rahman Aneezi for his efforts and cooperation on this occasion and also thanked Lord Muhammad Shaikh for his contribution and his speech.”