Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies opens in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI: Over 250 of the world’s leading Islamic scholars, academics and thought leaders have gathered to attend the opening of the “Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies” under the patronage of HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister. The Forum is the first global conclave of scholars ever organized to form a unified front against the scourge of extremist ideologies, sectarianism, and terrorism that has afflicted the Muslim world for decades. The ground-breaking initiative is the brainchild of Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, President of The Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, one of the world’s pre-eminent Islamic scholars who wields enormous influence over Muslim scholars and intellectuals from various denominations from around the world. Shaykh bin Bayyah serves as Forum President and Chairman of the Scientific Committee, which will be hosted by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi at St. Regis Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island on March 9th and 10th.

The opening address will be delivered by, HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, followed by an introduction by Dr. Ahmed Al Tayyib, Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, with the keynote address delivered by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah.

Over two days the delegates and high profile speakers will confront the heresies and misunderstandings that have confused ordinary Muslims and divided and devastated societies across the Muslim world.

“The only way to counter the forces that are tearing the Muslim world apart is to get to the roots of the misinformation, misunderstandings and heresies that drive extremist ideologies, sectarian hatreds, and murderous and destructive violence,” said Forum, Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah. “The Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies is a landmark initiative that aims to refute extremist ideologies absolutely with a true understanding of Islam as a religion of wisdom, compassion, tolerance and forbearance clearly articulated in the Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet Mohamed.” According to Shaykh bin Bayyah, extremism has been fuelled by four primary deviations, which will be addressed in the Forum. “The first is a complete misunderstanding of the concept of Jihad, which has been used by extremists with political agendas to incite unwitting Muslims to hatred, violence, suicide and terrorism. The second is the gross heresy of “takfir” whereby a Muslim unlawfully declares another Muslim as an unbeliever and then, on those unsupportable grounds, justify his or her murder.

The third deviation is the misinterpretation of the meaning of commanding to good and prohibiting evil’ as a license to interfere with and dictate personal behaviour even to the extent of executing violent and inhumane corporal punishment. The fourth deviation is the unqualified pronouncement of religious edicts (fatwas) by individuals and groups ignorant of the conditions, disciplines and qualifications required by Shariah law to issue authoritative religious opinions. By bringing these deviations to light and refuting them with deep, informed wisdom and authentic, Shariah-based legal opinions, this gathering of esteemed scholars and intellectuals aims to form a basis for an active reformation of society based upon the profound humanitarian principles that form the core of our faith and practice.” Another critical theme on the Forum’s agenda is the challenge of accommodating differences within pluralistic Muslim societies that include communities of many confessions.

Among the distinguished scholars presenting papers on the first day are Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani from Pakistan, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Dr Shawqi Allam, Moroccan scholar Dr. Mohammed Al-Rouki, President of the University of Qarawiyyin, Bosnian scholar Dr Mustafa Ceri? and Dr Ahmed Abbadi, Secretary-General of the League of Mohammedan Scholars and advisor to King Mohammed VI of Morocco, and leading Lebanese Shia cleric Sheikh Hani Fahs.