Unification News for January 2002

Report on the Summit for Muslim World Leaders

Islam and a Future World of Peace
Jakarta, Indonesia ˆ December 21 - 23, 2001
by Dr. Frank Kaufmann

From October 19 - 21, the Interreligious Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) hosted the international conference, Assembly 2001, Global Violence: Crisis and Hope October 19-21, 2001, New York, NY (fully reported on http://www.iifwp.org/Activities/2001/Assembly/), the first major international conference in New York since the 9/11 attacks on New York.

During this conference, IIFWP founder Dr. Moon had a handful of private meetings with prominent conference guests. One such meeting was a luncheon to which former president of Indonesia Abdurrahman Wahid, and Nation of Islam’s leader Minister Louis Farrakhan were invited. The two had never met. Dr. Moon recognized them as poles apart but urged them to work together despite clear differences.

About one month later (November 23, 2001) while at breakfast with a couple of followers, Dr. Moon looked up and suddenly insisted, "Muslims should hold a peace meeting before the end of the year. Ask H.E. Wahid and Minister Farrakhan if they will convene such a conference. I will help if needed."

Within 22 days, 180 Muslim leaders, from 51 countries sat in the ballroom of the newly opened JW Marriot Jakarta to welcome speakers for the opening plenary of the Summit for Muslim World Leaders discussing Islam and a Future World of Peace.

Readers please fill in the necessary miracles from your own imagination. The direction came in the middle of the Holy Fasting Month of Ramadan (during which a great many Muslims are incommunicado), the start date for the conference was three days after Eid, one of the highest Holy Days of the Muslim Calendar, and the world of Islam is in an intense period of its history. Its most prominent voices of peace tend to be over booked to the extreme.

Additionally, whispers and suspicions floated about. But none of the obstacles held sway. For two days, Muslims of every nationality, faction, and sect engaged and embraced one another in peace. They worked hard in a variety of venues, seeking ways to chart a voice and a vision of harmony as a ground for the expansion of the faith in the world. Successful results were meant for the positive approval of friends from the other of the world’s faiths, and in the hearts and faith of Muslims believers in all traditions and nations.

Both Minister Farrakhan and H.E. Wahid agreed immediately to co-convene the conference. Additionally a number Wahid’s colleagues, prominent leaders in Indonesia (including Dr. Alwi Shihab, chairman of the Nation Awakening Party, Dr. Irawan Abidin, former Ambassador of Indonesia to the Vatican, Dr. M. Habib Chirzin, President of the Islamic Millennium Forum, and others), devoted themselves whole-heartedly and sacrificially to the conference, in effect guaranteeing a positive result in the arena of the conference logistics, program, and event management.

Minister Farrakhan was ably represented by Mr. Akbar Muhammad, as well as by a 15 minute video presentation he prepared specifically to address the conferees of the Summit.

In addition to the full investment of H.E. Wahid and his colleagues, and the Honorable Minister Farrakhan and his appointed representatives, it can rightly be said that the conference could hardly have succeeded without the additional factor of the IIFWP contribution, the sacrificial work of its leadership Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Mr. Taj Hamad, Dr. Thomas Walsh and others, its conference management team under the direction of Frank Lagrotteria, and the seasoned field representatives of the IIFWP in all 191 countries.

The venue was the brand new JW Marriott. 3 months old. Hosting its first ever, international conference. Their excitement and eagerness also helped give the conference energy and added in a lovely way to the experience of the participants.

Flight schedules precluded any activity on the day of arrivals. The opening plenary (0900, Friday, Dec. 21) included Speeches from Gus Dur, MLF's rep Akbar Muhammad, and Reverend Kwak.

Opening Plenary

The conference opened with a magnificent Qur’anic recitation by Indonesia’s, 2001 champion, Muhammad Ali.

Session Chairman: Mr. Taj Hammad, World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.

H.E. Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur), Former President of Indonesia spoke first offering a captivating comparison between Middle Eastern, and Asian Muslim social and political structures.

"Southeast Asian people are free to choose their Imams and make independent choices. South Asians are a little less free. In the Mideast, the government takes everything. Ayatollah Khomeini began to tell us this at the time of the Shah, and to boost up a new tradition of the Ulemas. But the government is still not free to anyone beyond the Ulemas. NGO’s need to fill the gap. Muslims put too much stress on the institutions; the physical institutions like the Islamic party or the state, and the non-physical institutions such as fiqh and tassawuf. We need to promote freedom for the layman."

Akbar Muhammad, Representing the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan compared what he referred to as different forms of terrorism, among which he included actions of Western nations.

"When you are in a troubled hour, nurse the Qur’an. 1,200 Muslims are in jail. The Qur’an says in chapter 17, "And say to my servants to say what is best. Surely the Shaytan ever sows dissension.... Peace is secured by strength, not weakness. We have to look for a principled peace."

Reverend Kwak, Chairman of the Board of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace explained what about Dr. Moon’s life and teaching causes him to involve himself so sacrificially with Muslims, as he has done, for example, with this particular conference.

"Probably you know that these initiatives from Father Moon, and the deep friendship among Unificationists and Muslims is no recent thing. Through the Council for the World’s Religions (CWR), the Interreligious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP), and most recently the IIFWP, we have had many occasions of working together to show the world Islam’s wisdom and beauty. This cooperation and investment has gone on for decades...

"This is how we can create an ideal world of peace. We imitate Allah by living for the sake of others. The first frontier of living for others is the true family where husband and wife love and serve the other, parents love the children, and the brothers and sisters love and serve one another. In such a family, God can dwell and through such families God can exert His Will throughout the society and the world. A world of no boundaries, no enemies, no one rejected, and no one unwelcome. Simultaneously lineage arises so that God’s presence need not disappear horizontally in one generation. It remains in lineage, and God’s eternal, unchanging traditions.

"Life for the sake of others, True Family, and no boundaries. This is the simple way of life for Father and Mother Moon, and this is the natural reason why we have been with you for decades, why we are with you here today, and want to stay with you forever, ... in one world under God."

In this session The Honorable Ambassador from the Philippines, Sanchez Ali read personal greetings to the conference from Philippines Speaker of the House Jose Devenicia, and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In addition to this and the closing plenary, the program had a closing plenary, an introductory small group discussion, and three additional plenary/small group packages which explored core elements related to the conference theme. Discussion groups were assigned randomly so as to have as broad and diverse a cross section of participants in each group.

Each program component was meant to support the conference theme, Islam and a Future World of Peace. Session 1 explored Religion and Spirituality, Session 2 - Politics and Society, and Session 3 - Interfaith, Intercultural, and International Relations.

Religion and Spirituality

Chairman: Dr. M. Habib Chirzin, President, Islamic Millennium Forum, Indonesia.

Syed Mussawi, Ahlul Bayt Islamic League, England said, "Bombing cannot solve the current problem. Terrorism exists in every society, and is not specifically a Muslim problem. From our side however, we are responsible to explain the peaceful side of Islam to the masses. Prevention is always preferable to the difficult work of a cure. Terrorism is always against Islam, regardless of which Sheikh or how long his beard. This same form of summit should be held for leaders of all religions."

Ahmad Tijani Ben Omar, Imam, Universal Islamic Center, USA said,

"The Umma should unite. Muslims should not trail behind the rightful position that Allah expects of us. Wealthy Arab nations should take the lead to create Arab unity. We are hindered by our compartmentalization, and disunity."

Dr. Alwi Shihab, Chairman, Nation Awakening Party, Indonesia stated, "As Muslim leaders we bear great responsibility to remind ourselves and others that Islam is not the only religion of peace, since Peace is a universal religion. "The Quran is not meant to be simply an object of contemplation, but a divinely revealed scripture whose world view are meant to be pondered, comprehended and implemented in the life of human society... It must therefore be emphasized that the Quran recognizes the plurality of religious communities and the essential validity of their beliefs."

The paper was a careful study of positive interreligious relations while avoiding pitfalls like accommodation, which the author decries.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, The Nation of Islam (by videotape) said, "Allah answers ... ‘My purified ones’. So we might become what He wanted us to be, enjoining good, forbidding evil, believing in Allah. Our jealousy, envy and so forth have kept us trodden under foot. Many of us are trying to get back to the Path, but some take such an extreme way that it is not recognizable.... [The] Khalifate was destroyed by our own corruption and the machinations of the Europeans. We’ve become nationalistic, not for the Umma. We must find the path of unity, and hold fast to that handle, settle our differences internally and show the world a united front."

Civic Responsibility and Political Society

Chairman: Dr. Irawan Abidin, Chairman, Conference Service Committee, Indonesia, and Indonesian ambassador to the Vatican, said, "This session is about the duties and responsibilities of the individual Muslim citizen to the society that gives him protection and provides the environment for his work... The responsibility of the citizen to the nation-state. It is a two-way track of rights and responsibilities. Rights, by virtue of his citizenship and by virtue of being a human being. He owes the state, as the formal representative of society, civic responsibilities to society. Question: is there any difference in this between Muslim citizens and non-Muslim citizens? The teaching of Islam has answers to all civic and political relationships. The most effective politics is one informed by justice. The Prophet, peace be upon him, was a wise and just citizen before forming a wise and just government."

Mumtaz Ahmad, professor of political science, Hampton University, USA said, "How to create a life of fairness and compassion, a society based on justice, international relations based on equity? There are three points. 1. is terrorism an Islamic problem? 2. What social, economic and political conditions exist today to give rise to political violence and terrorism? 3. What can we do to ensure a lasting and just peace?

"A new Marshal Plan policy would go a long way towards giving new hope to an alienated generation. We were quick to put together an alliance to fight terrorism. Why not be as quick to ally against poverty, injustice, and wartime occupation? Any nation can drop bombs. The real test of a responsible nation in power is to work toward a peaceful world...

"Civil liberties, respect for civil rights ˆ the whole world is moving towards democracy and openness ...

"Islam is dealing with modernity and the conservative slant of Islamic thought: these issues are totally irrelevant to the terrorism issue. These issues are part of an internal theological debate. Alternate visions of Islamic society will emerge as the result of internal debate within the Islamic interpretive community. Outsiders cannot make normative judgments of influence the outcome of the debate."

Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, Director of Institute of Objective Studies, India stated, "Civic responsibility demands a peaceful moral struggle to eradicate injustice from human society.... We must understand the nature of change, as the best Umma, and work together to save the humanity..."

H.E. Dr. Hadi Nejad Hosseiman, Ambassador of Iran to the United Nations, Iran, said, "Terrorism is a global menace and needs a global response. We must take greater responsibility to address the root causes; people of vision are needed to rise above the situation to see fairness and compassion. We need to address social marginalization, injustice, double standards as possible situational causes leading to terrorism. We need to distribute the benefits of globalization more equally. We need a long term multi-disciplined strategy whereby every representative of civil society has a chance to pronounce on how to mend the situation...

"Either we draw close to the divine human community envisioned by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ˆ or ˆ we get bigger bombs, stronger police, and so on...

"In 1998 President Khatami, in the United Nations, spoke on the dialogue of civilizations. Dispose of hostility. Any dialogue has to take into consideration religion, emphasize the essential and leave aside the historical baggage. We want a new paradigm of international relations to replace the old paradigm of hegemony."

Interreligious, International, and Intercultural Relations

Chairman: Professor Dr. Rahmah Binti Bujang, Director, Academy of Malay Studies, Malaysia.

Dr. Mustansir Mir, Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Youngstown State University, USA, said, "How can Muslims, drawing upon their religion, show love to the "other" in a world of diverse people and faiths at a time of increasing ignorance of people towards their faith? This question is applicable to all the great religions. We need an answer which is both authentic and practical, to draw a Muslim response...

"The issue of peace is primarily legal. The solutions to all the great issues in Islamic history have become a part of the Islamic traditional repertoire, with the stamp of approval of the great Muslim legal minds."

Dr. Nagasura Madale, Professor, Mindanao State University, Philippines said, "The conclusion from this information was to use the UN, non-violence, and Islamic concepts in developing peaceful solutions to conflicts. One cannot impose the western concept of peace on the Muslims because Peace is one of the 99 names of Allah.

"We have to break the ‘invisible walls’ of prejudice...

"The solution is educational overhaul to produce a breakup of prejudice, and to teach respect of life, the practice of active non-violence, and the process of sharing time and material resources."

Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed Ali Yusuf, Head, Dept. of Religion, Graduate School of Philosophy and Religion, Assumption University, Thailand offered a sensitive and deeply considered presentation on Buddhist-Muslim dialogue, touching upon issues such as non-theism, the status of prophethood, and other core points of theological, and cultural contact.

"To achieve a civilized face of Islam to the world, take the all-around moral high ground and don’t fight. Each can regard the other as a world view. Muslims can learn much from Buddhism about respect for all life and meditation...

"Don’t a priori condemn any religion in this world."

Shaykh Imam Hassan Cisse, President, the African American Islamic Institute, Senegal, elaborated on the obligations of Muslims to stay united and not to allow people to attack Muslims under any name.

"Islam has no problem with other religions. We are ready to make peace with Muslims and not Muslims. The Qur’an says there is no compulsion in religion. Who want to believe, he is welcome to believe. Who wants to deny, he is welcome to deny.

"I suggest that another conference be held in Africa."


The formal conference program finished with a closing plenary. Imam Tariq Aquil (assistant to W. Deen Muhammad), from the Muslim Society of America presented his thoughts on the conference, as did Professor Dr. Rahmah Bujang of Malaysia. Two randomly chosen, small groups reported on their deliberations, and members of the drafting committee presented a draft declaration for approval.

The declaration read by Sister Mutazaa was unanimously accepted by all present.

Many would like to have made it a stronger statement, but realized that in the time allowed we could not hammer out something which dealt with potentially divisive and very sensitive issues.

President Wahid noted the wisdom of such a start during his informal dinner speech, saying "Many have suggested that the conference declaration was too ‘soft.’ For the sake of educating the wider masses, it is much better to start with something ‘soft.’ Once we have achieved a certain degree of success with our education, we will have much greater success with our demands and with presenting matters that are ‘harder’ and more challenging."

H.E. Wahid offered a lovely spirit in closing at the farewell banquet. He noted how his struggles to know the truth and goodness from each of the four lines of Muslim interpretation rather than a burden, have actually been the light which has guided him to have greater depth, breadth, love and compassion. This same dynamic moves in his heart when relating to other religions, and has been a big part of the delightful relationship he has enjoyed with Dr. Moon.

The closing speech by his excellency was warm, light, funny, and provided a final stroke to urge the community in the direction of greater unity and responsibility.

The conference enjoyed excellent local press coverage. Front page, positive press coverage for 3 days running. Additionally, at the time of this writing, already, a great many initiatives and follow up activity has already begun.

 Download entire page and pages related to it in ZIP format
Table of Contents
Tparents Home