Imams, Youths Urged to Project True Image of Islam

April 5, 2010

An international conference on terrorism has called for waging the global battle against terror on rational, equitable, and unbiased foundations.

“It should also adopt a policy of dialogue between religions, and reject the theory of clash of civilizations,” said the final communiqué issued at the end of the four-day conference at Madinah Islamic University on Wednesday.

The conference, which was opened by Second Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Prince Naif, stressed the need to have an internationally accepted definition of terrorism to prevent countries from setting their own definitions that only serve their vested interests.

Participants called on prayer leaders (imams and khateebs) and Muslim youths to adhere to the moderate teachings of Islam. The communiqué further said they should reject unreliable teachings related to takfeer (declaring someone to be a disbeliever) and jihad.

The conference also called on Muslim youths to create websites that defend Islam, shed light on its lofty values of tolerance and moderation, and invite others to the divine faith. “Before doing so, they must acquire correct Islamic knowledge and learn how to engage others in a meaningful dialogue,” said the communiqué.

The conference urged all peace-loving forces in the world to help find just solutions to conflicts in the Islamic world in a manner that meet Muslim aspirations. “These conflicts are exploited by extremist groups and used as a pretext to justify their heinous acts,” the communiqué said.

Participants condemned all acts of terrorism regardless of the place or the perpetrators as well as the use of vengeful tactics, collective punishment, and disproportionate force. “The conference condemns any harm done to civilians and civilian facilities under the pretext of combating international terrorism,” the communiqué said.

The conference also called for the establishment of an international award for each global media outlet that plays a prominent role in portraying the true image of Islam and Muslims. It also urged educational institutions to institute an annual award to be given to teachers who promote moderation among their students.

The conference — “Terrorism: Between Extremist Ideology and the Ideology of Extremism” — asked affluent Muslims to launch satellite channels in various global languages to educate others about Islam, in addition to translating the works of Islamic scholars into prominent world languages and distributing them among non-Muslims.

Muslim families have been told to inculcate in their children a culture of dialogue and acceptance of others; encourage them to befriend upright people, follow positive role models and adorn themselves with exemplary Islamic character. It also cautioned them against allowing their children to watch dubious TV channels and surf websites belonging to extremist groups.

“The conference recommends that the state honors and supports every family that plays an active role in preventing their children from joining the ranks of extremist groups, or participates in the rehabilitation of their misguided child,” the communiqué said.

Muslims living in non-Muslim countries have been asked to encourage their children to be moderate in their understanding of Islam, build bridges, respect others and be law-abiding citizens.

The conference urged the governments of non-Muslim countries to respect the rights of Muslim minorities and treat them equitably and fairly. It also urged extremist groups claiming to be linked to Islam to fear Allah and to think seriously about the ramifications of their actions and their negative impact on Islam and Muslims. “Abstain from criminal acts, return to your senses and follow the way of groups that have abandoned terrorist acts and openly declared their regret; and refrain from dragging Islam into your misguided propaganda,” it said.

The conference advised religious institutions to prepare imams to properly carry out the mission of the Masjid, and to help them play a more active role in society by raising the community’s awareness about the perils of fanaticism, extremism and terrorism.

Friday sermons should avoid inciting or promoting fanaticism and extremism, and simultaneously aim to correct misconceptions and deviant ideas.

The conference stressed the need to consolidate the efforts of Islamic propagators who actively educate and enlighten the youth about ideological deviations and urged Islamic countries to establish purpose-oriented centers dedicated to the preparation and training of imams and Islamic propagators.

The conference called on educational institutions in Muslim countries to include programs aimed at the upbringing of students in Islamic way, the strengthening of their national belonging and promoting a culture of moderation, dialogue, and acceptance of others. Ministries of culture and information have been urged to reform media discourse, and enforce journalistic integrity and a code of conduct that ensures Islamic values and symbols are not degraded. Sensational journalism and programs that are provocative in nature, instigate animosity, fuel extremism and feature self-proclaimed Islamic scholars must all be avoided, the communiqué said.

The conference called on the international media to realize that Islam is a divine, universal religion led by the values of love, peace, justice, freedom and tolerance. It also demanded a halt to deliberate distortions of Islam’s image.

The participants urged Muslim governments to apply Shariah in all aspects of life, support human rights organizations, carry out development programs to reduce unemployment, find solutions to the problem of slum areas and eliminate the social exclusion of young people.

“The conference urged international organizations that are involved in combating terrorism to deal with all international issues justly, and avoid double standard when dealing with Muslims,” said the communiqué, denouncing the state terrorism practiced by Israel against Palestinian civilians.

The conference also urged all Arab and Islamic satellite channels to continue their coverage and exposure of Israeli crimes against defenseless Palestinian civilians, in particular the Israeli Holocaust in Gaza, take necessary measures against countries involved in supplying weapons or money to terrorist groups, and which provide safe havens to extremists from other countries.

The participants expressed their support for the creation of an international center for combating terrorism, which was first proposed by the Kingdom at the International Counterterrorism Conference held in Riyadh in 2005.

Ref: ArabNews via Fatwa-Online Newsletter.

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