UAE-based Islamic council seeks to reconcile region's rifts

JAKARTA // The Muslim Council of Elders is conducting a reconciliation and peace intervention in Somalia between leaders of clashing religious groups. The council, based in Abu Dhabi, already started implementing the initiative by having thorough discussions with the Somalian minister of religious affairs. The next step will involve sending experts from Al Azhar to […]

JAKARTA // The Muslim Council of Elders is conducting a reconciliation and peace intervention in Somalia between leaders of clashing religious groups.

The council, based in Abu Dhabi, already started implementing the initiative by having thorough discussions with the Somalian minister of religious affairs. The next step will involve sending experts from Al Azhar to talk to the groups’ leaders and to Somalians themselves.

“This has been on our agenda from a long time, and we started implementing it last November,” explained council member Dr Abu Lubaba Al Taher, a Tunisian higher education professor at UAE University, and former chancellor of Zitouna University in Tunisia.

“Somalia has been suffering from clashes since 1999, and has been the concern of Muslims everywhere, and as the council made it their responsibility to bring security to Muslims, it is spending all its power and effort to bring peace back to the Somali society.”

The minister was invited to Al Azhar to speak to the council thoroughly about all the obstacles standing in the way of peace, and the concerns of the people of his country.

How much longer it will take to actually reach a resolution depends on the receptiveness of Somalians to accept peace and end their disputes.

“Even if they are not receptive of the idea, we shall not lose hope no matter how long it takes, because it is in the nature of Muslims to have a desire for reconciliation,” said Dr Al Taher.

There are plans to carry out reconciliation missions in other countries as well, “depending on their situation”.

“Whenever there is a chance to intervene the council will, but sometime there is not even a chance to come close,” he added.

Dr Ali Al Nuaimi, chairman of the council, said such efforts started in Yemen.

“There were discussions with some parties and there has been continuous communication with them, but nothing has come to light yet.”

Member Al Sayed Ali Al Ameen, a scholar from Lebanon, said his country – which has also suffered from sectarian conflicts – has been brought up in the council’s meetings.

“There has been a study by the council’s executive committee and something might happen soon,” said Mr Al Ameen.

During its seventh meeting at the Indonesian capital, the council set agendas for a new set of missions.

A comprehensive report is being conducted about the situation in the Muslim world, and why it has become this way, after which solutions will be found and implemented.

“Specialised teams already started investigating from all aspects – what are the streams of thought? What are the challenges and what caused the damage that brought Muslims backwards and caused the radicalism and terrorism we see today?” explained Dr Al Nuaimi.

The report will take a year to prepare.

The council will also continue to hold talks with Western religious leaders. The first set of talks started in Florence, Italy, and the next meeting will be held in Paris.

“A number of European religious leaders will attend, and they stressed on the importance of this meeting to decide how Muslims and non-Muslims can reach a common ground.”

A new batch of 16 peace envoys will kick off this March to different countries in Latin America, Europe and Africa. The first one will head to Nigeria.

Dr Ahmed Al Haddad, Dubai’s Grand Mufti and a member of the council, said the envoys were highly welcomed in the countries they visited. He said that their role was not to preach, but to correct misunderstandings and bring people together.

The envoys include instructors and students from Al Azhar who speak the native language of the country they are sent to, and at least one native member from the country itself.

hdajani@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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