Saturday, December 29, 2007

Asean Charter on Islam

Charter on Islam, democracy drafted

After roundtable meetings in Manila, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, efforts to build closer cooperation between and among Muslim leaders and Muslim communities of Asean came full circle.

The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy [PCID] played host to the First Southeast Asian Forum on Islam and Democracy (SEAFID) held at the Manila Hotel on December 10 to 12, 2007. The delegation of 44 experts and leaders representing various think tanks, universities, religious, and civil society groups came from of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

The 2007 Manila conference gathered Muslim advocates of democracy, human rights, and peace in what could be the first platform that could represent the multifaceted voices of the Muslims in Southeast Asia—the region that is home to the largest Muslim community in the world with more than 200 million adherents of Islam.

Welcome Banquet

Gracing the forum’s welcome dinner was former President Fidel V. Ramos. In his keynote speech, Ramos congratulated the participants for the regional forum which he felt was a vital step toward addressing concerns on issues such as security, human rights and democracy in the Southeast Asian region. According to Ramos, regional efforts such as SEAFID are necessary to stress the fact that “Southeast Asia is not a hotbed of terrorism nor is the region teetering on the brink of anarchy and sectarian violence as is sometimes suggested.” He adds that political will, democratization, and regional strategies would be the most effective strategies in addressing the problems in the region. Ramos noted that the rich experiences of South East Asian Muslim communities in democracy should be shared with the Islamic world.

Organized by the PCID with support from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Australian Embassy, The Asia Foundation, and the Magbassa Kita Foundation, Inc., the forum is actually the fifth in a series that has been organized for the region, according to the PCID’s lead convenor and chair of the Manila conference, Amina Rasul. “The first roundtable discussion was held in September 2005 in the Philippines, and then subsequently held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Jakarta, Indonesia; and finally in Bangkok, Thailand in September of 2006. We hope this will evolve into an effective forum that contributes to democratization in Muslim coimmunities.”

Regional platform for cooperation

“This is a strong commitment of Southeast Asian Muslims to enhance democracy, pluralism, human rights and justice” says Dr. Syafi’i Anwar from the Jakarta-based International Center for Islam and Pluralism (ICIP). Haji Maarof Bin Haji Salleh from Singapore’s Center for Contemporary Islamic Studies expressed their happiness to participate as it gave them “an opportunity to share success stories of how the minority Muslim community in Singapore has contributed to nation-building in the context of their multiracial and multireligious society.”

According to Dr. Abdul Rahman Bin Awang of the International Islamic University of Malaysia, the forum is “an excellent platform for the Muslims in the region to exchange views and share experiences on Islam and Democracy,” with Dr. Sukree Langputeh of the Thailand Center for Muslim and Democratic Development states that this exchange of experiences and success stories is an important part in spurring the democratization process in each country in Southeast Asia.

Islam, democracy and peace

“Islam is often associated today with terrorism or violence. This is not a true reflection of Islamic values. Muslims, particularly Muslims in Southeast Asia, firmly believe in human rights, tolerance, and equality, as do the majority of Muslims in the world. We want a mechanism by which we can systematically engage and educate the world to the true tenets of the Islamic faith,” said former Senator Santanina Rasul, one of the co-organizers of the event.

In an unprecedented move, after only two days of discussions, the participants approved a draft charter. A work in progress, the draft charter would guide the process of institutionalizing the forum as a platform from which Muslims in the region would promote, among others, peace, tolerance, mutual understanding, economic opportunity, good governance, sustainable development, human security and human rights.

Rasul, praised the efforts of the participants in not allowing their political, historical and social diversities to get in the way of organizing the historic forum. She described the forging of the charter, despite debates and contestations, as proof of the possibility of democracy in Muslim communities.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo, who delivered the closing speech on December 12, congratulated the group for their landmark act, highlighting the need for interfaith initiatives and strengthening pluralism in the region. Manalo stressed the need for collaboration bridge the gulf of misunderstanding between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Philippines is a leader in UN led global inter­faith dialogues.

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.