Contrary to the labeling of Islam as “violent extremism and terrorism” Muslim religious leaders from this city especially the Ulama (Islamic scholars) hold a two-day dialogue among themselves and with the youth from the Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (ZAMBASULTA) to reflect and draft “doable actions” to help suppress the escalation of these ‘ideologists’ in the region as they too are denouncing these un-Islamic actions.
The activity dubbed as “A dialogue among the Ulama and Youth Leaders” carried the theme “Issues of Radicalism and Extremism Affecting the Peace Processes in Mindanao” was held last July 10 and 11 in a local hotel in the city. The said activity were sponsored by the Zamboanga Basilan Integrated Development Alliance (ZABIDA), Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), Interreligious Solidarity for Peace (ISP), Zamboanga Peace and Security Forum (ZPSF) and the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG).
Aleem Jamal S. Munib, the convener of the dialogue said that violent extremism and terrorism are not Islam. “Islam is living in the culture of peace,” he said as he welcomes the religious leaders during the first day of the dialogue.
Aleem Munib admittedly said that there are many issues that are needed to be corrected in Islam, such the association of “violent extremism and terrorism” to Islam.
“I urge you [the Muslim religious leaders] to participate in the discussion as this is the right venue where we can make a difference,” he said adding that “the issues are not only affecting the peace processes but also affecting the harmonious relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims”.
Prof. Ali T. Yacub, the Muslim convener of the ISP and one of the initiators of the dialogue said that they recognize the “vital participation of the Ulama and other Muslim religious leaders in addressing the socio-political problem of the region,”
The Ulama and Youth dialogue was one of the outcomes of the recent peace forum conducted in the city by the stakeholders of peace particular the ISP and ZPSF together with security sector to assess the effect of the on-going Marawi City conflict brought by the Maute local terrorist group in the city and in the entire Mindanao Island. During the said peace forum it was revealed that the “foreign ideology” such as the violent extremism and terrorism are now penetrating the youth sector in the country especially in the southern Philippines making them vulnerable to recruitment.
Aleem Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, the Executive Director of the Regional Darul Iftar in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) who presented the topic “Why mobilize Ulama for Peace and Security” told the Ulama that the great Jihad is “teaching (to the youth) what the teaching of Islam is not advocating terror and fear.
The second day dialogue was centered on the youth where the resource speakers lectured the on the Qur’an Verses and Its Correct Application, Youth Vulnerability to Radicalism and the Common Words between You and Us.
Aleem Munib, challenged the youngmind to “understand correctly the Qur’an so that it can be applied correctly,”
The young participants were coming mostly from the Muslim Students Association (MSA) from ZAMBASULTA areas and other youth organizations.
Both the Ulama and the youth crafted doable actions to suppress the escalation of violent extremism and terrorism in the region as their culminating activity. (Albert F. Arcilla/Peace Advocates Zamboanga)