بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم
اَلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ، وَالصَّلاَةُ وَالسَّلاَمُ عَلَى نَبِيِّنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَأَصْحَابِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ
Chancellor of the Islamic University of Maldives, Dr. Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, Professor Omar Hasan Kasule – Secretery General, International institute of Islamic thought (IIIT) USA, Dr. Muhammed Tahir Khalily - Conference Secretary, Professor Dr. Anis Ahmad and the chair of this Conference Dheeba Moosa, Deputy vice Chancellor, University Staff, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, Brothers & Sisters,
السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ
I am delighted to be here today to inaugurate the 3rd International Conference of Islamic Awakening which the theme for this year is The Role of Islamic Thought, Culture and Civilization in Building Peace, Harmony and Tolerance. I thank the organisers Islamic University of Maldives and International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) for giving me this opportunity to honour and to be here with you today.
As I stand here today in front of you, my thought goes back to 2016, where the first International conference of Islamic Awakening was held in this University for the very first time in this university and I had the privileged to deliver the keynote speech and inaugurate it. I clearly remember what the Chancellor Dr. Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed said on the day where he stated that with the will of Allah SW IUM was going to hold ICIA annually. Today, I am happy to witness the 3rd ICIA and I congratulate the Chancellor Dr. Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed and his able team for their unabated efforts in organizing this international conference for the third time. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank IIIT for collaborating to organize this conference with IUM.
I was told that in this year’s conference 43 papers will be presented of which the local 6 papers are presented by local scholars. Having participants from 7 different countries indeed proves IUM’s effort with IIIT to promote this conference internationally.
Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, and my Brothers and Sisters,
The theme of this year’s conference as I have mentioned earlier, The Role of Islamic Thought, Culture and Civilization in Building Peace, Harmony and Tolerance is indeed a very relevant topic to be discussed and deliberated for the sake of uniting Muslim Ummah. The most critical challenge we face today is lack of tolerance towards each other creating disunity and disharmony of the world. Contention along sectarian lines has amounted to cataclysmic civil discord plunging the Muslim world into proxy wars, widespread human suffering, death and irrevocable destruction.
We ought to reaffirm that we are all essentially Muslims regardless of tribe, clan, sect or ethnicity. Saheefatul Madina or the first Constitution enacted by Prophet Mohammad SAW in fact proves the importance of unity and tolerance in Islam irrespective of religion, culture and civilization. The preamble of Saheefatul Madinah declares the document to be "a book or [kitab] of the prophet Muhammad to operate between the believers [mu'minin] and Muslims from the Quraysh tribe and from Yathrib and those who may be under them and wage war in their company" declaring them to constitute "one nation [ummah wāḥidah] separate from all peoples". It established the collective responsibility of nine constituent tribes for their members' actions.
By choosing to stand docile as the Muslim world appears to collapse within itself, we are doing a grave disservice to our by-standing brothers and sisters who fall victim to the multitude of warfare raging everyday. In doing so, we are negating our collective responsibility to uphold the true teachings of Islam grounded in tolerance, love of peace and unity. Let us instead amass our forces to free ourselves from the chauvinist belief of “otherness”, envy and hatred, and espouse understanding, goodwill and a renewed sense of brotherhood. A united Ummah will better withstand and quell internal and external threats, for the survival, prosperity and progress of Muslims around the world especially in this region.
As such, I believe that the theme of this conference will lead us to deliberations on how to revive the thought embedded in Sahifatul Madina linking it to the issues that we face today globally in this regard.
In fact, I believe that the theme of the conference has relevance to the situation in Maldives today. In Maldives we are witnessing the era of democracy we received with the new constitution 1n 2008 fused with technology particularly with the widespread of internet and social media.
Article 10 of the Constitution states that the religion of the country is Islam and Islam shall be the basis of all the laws of the Maldives. It also further states that no law contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted in the Maldives proving the significance of Islam or Shariah to our country. Therefore, in all our dealings we have to bear this in mind and we will have to govern all our affairs in accordance with Shariah. Even the democracy we have and the freedom of expression must be kept within the ambit of Shariah.
We have to take notice that freedom of expression is recognized in Shariah in a highly ethical and responsible manner. The broad objective of expression is to spread love, tolerance, social harmony, and understanding among members of the society to create a peaceful coexistence.
Islam confines freedom of expression where it is blasphemous or creates social disorder. This is something we need to realize today at the age of social media where everyone plays the classical role of a news reporter spreading news by publishing it in the social media platforms that we create.
Today we see that spreading of falsehood and rumours via social media is common in the Maldives and within a blink of eye the reputation of a person is tarnished or ruined. Damaging a person’s reputation in Islam is something forbidden and protecting one’s reputation is given paramount consideration in Shariah.
Though we hate someone, we have no right to destroy his reputation or her reputation by spreading false news. We have to learn how to tolerate each other and respect each other whether in friendship or animosity. Some may think, a mere like or a repost or a share or a retweet has no harm and he is not the one who created the news in the first place. But we have to bear in mind that we have to be responsible for our actions and a mere like or repost or a share or a retweet may destroy the life of a person and create disharmony in the society.
This is a short message I would like to give to all of you. I wish I have more time. Always remember the following hadith of our Prophet SAW: according to hadith, A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand other Muslims are safe (Muslim, No. 69). Also remember an offense is an offense if we commit it offline, i.e. in physical world or online; i.e. in virtual world. It is still offense.
Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen
I have no intention to make this speech any longer. I have every confidence that at the end of these two days, the objectives of this conference will be achieved. At the same time the students of this University will have the experience to sit and share knowledge with international scholars which I see around here who had come exclusively to share their thoughts in this conference.
I would also like to thank Dr. Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed for giving me this opportunity once again. I would also like to thank our President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom for his untiring efforts to promote Islam and protect Islam and to educate Maldivians in Islamic education, and also the build infrastructure in Maldives for us to practice Islam. I won’t take much time.
I welcome all international speakers and presenters to our beautiful country and trust that you will have a pleasant stay here. This will be a good opportunity for you to experience the sunny side of life. Not the rainy side of life. And I hope the local host of this conference; IUM will provide you with this opportunity. I am sure Dr. Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed is ready for it.
Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I conclude, I would like to request all the students of IUM who are here in this hall or not in this hall to utilize this opportunity to gain knowledge wisely. I wish all the participants of this conference all the best.
May Allah SW bless our efforts to disseminate knowledge for the betterment of Muslim Ummah. May Allah SW unite all of us together and make us balanced humans who shape all their conduct in accordance to the teachings of Islam. May Allah SW give us Hidayah!
والسّلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته