DAVAO CITY – The Regional Darul-Ifta and Institute for Autonomy and Governance, gathered hundreds of Young Ulama (Muslim) Leaders across the region in the first ever National Young Ulama Conference on Peace processes and Federalism last July 16-17, 2017 in Davao City, with the Theme “My Lord, make this place (A place) of peace and security”. The said historical event was attended by the Young Ulama ages 20’s to 30’s representing the different region and provinces in the country. The participants arrived safely at the Waterfront Insular Hotel. By 11 am, the registration and welcome lunch followed by Salatul Dhuhr at 12 pm.
The program started at 2:00 pm with an invocation led by ‘Alim Mohammad Atiya Amanoddin followed by the Welcoming Address given by ‘Alim Jamal Munib. During his speech, he emphasized that the youth are the most vulnerable sector of the community, and thus, need to be guided properly in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah. It was shortly followed by the Conference Overview given by Dr. Noor Saada, the Internal Mediators Group, and enumerated the objectives of the program as follows:
Updates on the peace process and Federalism Inputs session on Wasatiyyah, Interfaith dialogue, and the Amman Message Exploring spaces and opportunities for Young Ulama Understanding Violence, Extremism, and Terrorism
Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, the Executive Director of Institute of Bangsamoro Studies discussed the current political environment and the Bangsamoro Peace Process. Hence, there are three types of approaches in achieving political goals: (1) the peaceful means through negotiations and dialogue, (2) utilizing violence by targeting military targets, and (3) utilizing violence which includes the military targets as well as the non-combatants. “The MNLF and MILF uses military approach and negotiation to defend themselves and the Bangsamoro community”, he said. He also discussed the different gains that the Bangsamoro attains from the Peace Process, which includes: Identity as a Bangsamoro, Homeland with definite territory, Self-governance, and Self-determination.
Prof. Lingga also clarified that the implementation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the quest for Federalism doesn’t contradict each other. He explained that in a federal set-up every state are unique, since there are rules (i.e. Shariah Law) applicable for a certain state but is not suitable for others. An open forum was then opened to entertain inquiries regarding the topics discussed by Prof. Lingga.
It was then preceded by an Update session on the GRP-MNLF FPA Implementation delivered by Atty. Randolph Parcasio the MNLF Peace Implementing Panel, Chairperson. Topics discussed were: How to strengthen cooperation between MNLF and the Government, Implementation of the Peace Agreement, Agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte on Federalism, and Resolving Bangsamoro issues and problems. Included in his presentation was the history of the Bangsamoro homeland which was previously known as “MinSuPala” in which the pre-colonial governance is ruled by Sultanates. Thus, the root cause of Bangsamoro problem started during the Colonial Annexation of the Bangsamoro Homeland to the Philippines by the American government in which “no law is granting a title of royalty or nobility (i.e. Sultanate)”. He also highlighted the famous quote of our Bangsamoro ancestors during the Dansalan Declaration in 1920; “wag ninyo kaming isali sa Pilipinas, dahil hindi kame Pilipino”, as quoted.
Atty. Parcasio also updated the participants on the current MNLF peace process which focuses on the assertion of rights of the Bangsamoro to self-rule in the entire Bangsamoro homeland through Federalism. MNLF believes that Federalism is a formula for the restoration of peace and right to self-determination and to rectify historical injustices. A question and answer forum was again opened to facilitate inquiries from the participants. During the forum, one of the Ulama asked Atty. Parcasio if there is a possibility for MILF and MNLF to unite. Atty. Parcasio’s remarkable answer that amazed the participants was: “There is no disunity between MILF and MNLF. Hji. Morad and “Maas” Misuari had an agreement. We all have differences, but it doesn’t mean that we are disunited. You know what’s our real problem? Kulang ang ka-Islam natin, ibibigay satin ni Allaah ang tagumpay kung tayo ay tunay na Muslim”.
After the presentation of Atty. Randolph Parcasio, Prof. Ramon Beleno III discussed comprehensively on the advantages and disadvantages of Federalism. He presented the different models utilized by the different Federal states worldwide. As a result, each state has their own unique model of implementing Federalism depending on the need of their country and people. Finally, he ended his discussion with the question: “Is there a perfect government?” It was then preceded by an open forum. During the forum, one of the Ulama emphasized that there is one perfect law, and that is the LAW OF ALLAH.
Dr. Aboulkhair Tarason, the Grand Mufti of ARMM delivered the first topic on Islamic Moderation and Interfaith Dialogue (A Common Word and Marrakesh Declaration).
He opened his speech with a verse from the Qur’an, from the Chapter Nahl (The Bee) verse 125: “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.” Accordingly, Muslim and Christians make up half of the population of the world, without peace and justice between them, there will be no peace in the world. And the content of the Common Word between Muslims and Christians is: “Love of God”. As quoted in the Bible: “Hear O Israel, the Lord, Our God is ONE.” He also emphasized that it is not Faith that is being discussed in the Interfaith Dialogue, but the TOLERANCE of having different faiths.
Dr. Tarason also read the Marrakesh Declaration which is transcribed in Arabic Language. He encouraged everyone to have a copy of the said Declaration in English Language for information and dissemination purposes.
Shaykh Moner Bajunaid, the Secretary General of the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines, proceeded with his topic Exploring spaces and opportunities for Young Ulama. He presented some of the spaces that are available for the development of our young Ulama such as Continuing Education and Career opportunities. He also encouraged them to engage in inter and intra-faith dialogues such as the Common Word and the Amman Message. During his closing statement, he advised everyone to be the change we want to happen; quoting a verse from the Qur’an: “Lo! Allah changed not the condition of a people until they (first) change that which is in their hearts.” [Surah Ar Ra’ad: 13:11]
Dr. Alim Hassanor Alapa, RDI-ARMM DMO-III, lectured on Understanding Terrorism. Followed by ‘Alim Jamal Munib, the Executive Director of Madrasah Comprehensive and Development Program with his topic the Amman Message: Towards Intra-Ulama Dialogue. The Amman Message started as a detailed statement released the eve of the 27th of Ramadan 1425 AH / 9th November 2004 CE by H.M. King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein in Amman, Jordan. It sought to declare what Islam is and what it is not, and what actions represent it and what actions do not. Its goal was to clarify to the modern world the true nature of Islam and the nature of true Islam. In order to give this statement more religious authority, H.M. King Abdullah II then sent the following three questions to 24 of the most senior religious scholars from all around the world representing all the branches and schools of Islam: (1) Who is a Muslim?(2) Is it permissible to declare someone an apostate (takfir)? (3) Who has the right to undertake issuing fatwas (legal rulings)?
This amounts to a historical, universal and unanimous religious and political consensus (ijma’) of the Ummah (nation) of Islam in our day, and a consolidation of traditional, orthodox Islam. The significance of this is: (1) that it is the first time in over a thousand years that the Ummah has formally and specifically come to such a pluralistic mutual inter-recognition; and (2) that such a recognition is religiously legally binding on Muslims since the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) said: “My Ummah will not agree upon an error.” [Ibn Majah, Sunan, Kitab al-Fitan, Hadith no. 4085].
This is good news not only for Muslims, for whom it provides a basis for unity and a solution to infighting, but also for non-Muslims. For the safeguarding of the legal methodologies of Islam (the Mathahib) necessarily means inherently preserving traditional Islam’s internal ‘checks and balances’. It thus assures balanced Islamic solutions for essential issues like human rights; women’s rights; freedom of religion; legitimate jihad; good citizenship of Muslims in non-Muslim countries, and just and democratic government. It also exposes the illegitimate opinions of radical fundamentalists and terrorists from the point of view of true Islam.
At 2:30 pm in the afternoon, a workshop was conducted which requires the active participation of the Young Ulama participants. There were 6 categories with sub-questions on each category. Each participant is free to choose which category and questions to answer. Below is the documentation of the said workshop showing how actively our Young Ulama participated on the activity; sharing their opinions and perceptions on the major issues surrounding the Muslim Ummah of today.
The workshop ended at 4:30 pm in the afternoon. Selected participants were tasked to give an impression on the topics presented and on the program as a whole. It was followed by distribution of Certificate of Participation to the Young Ulama participants.
Closing remark was then given by ‘Alim Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, the Executive Director of RDI-ARMM. On his closing statement he said: “I personally felt how it is to come home as overseas graduate aleem, and realized the need for unity between factions. We were young and fiery and for the things we did, we were in the order of battle. We were emotional. I was an orphan. My father died in action and to date we have not seen his dead body. Our community needs you. We need successors. We need to prepare you to succeed us. Let us take care of our homeland. This is the only one we have. We wanted to implement immediately without realizing the difference between the Middle East and our community. We tend to forget the long period of revelation of the Holy Qur’an, revealed according to situation and circumstances. Let us look at our situation … let us look at Fiqh al Aqaliyyat … suited to our situation. Let us also consider I’lān Marākish. Rest assured we keep you all in mind as we realize our mandate and do our programming.” The program was officially ended with an invocation by Dr. Aboulkhair Tarason.