DECEMBER 29 — The world we live in today is much more interconnected than ever before. The lightning speed of communication, ease of travelling abroad, advancement of education as well as expansion of worldwide business network, have all contributed towards making every person a global citizen. Arguably, no country could survive on its own in this millennium without working well with each other.
Despite such rapid development across regions and continents, some problems remain within countries where the majority of their population share a common trait, i.e. the religion of Islam.
As the saying goes, correlation does not imply causation, but one could not stop wonder, why are Muslim-majority countries the ones that continue to be plagued with civil wars, international terrorism, famine, extreme poverty, epidemic, armed conflicts, coup d'état and human rights violations?
How could a source of personal faith and spiritual belief, touted as the blessing to mankind and universe (rahmatan lil alamin), be the common denominator for all the troubles brewing in the backyard of its followers?
A learned Islamic scholar, Muhammad Abduh once said, “I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam.”
It may sound cynical, but we must take cognisance of two things. Firstly, Islamic values in essence are parallel with any universal good values that are practised by people all over the world, and secondly being Muslim per se is not enough for one to be deemed as Islamic; one must match it with behaviours and actions. In other words, we have to walk the talk.
When the proponents of KL Summit 2019 brandished the idea, skeptics opined that it could end up being another event where people would scrutinise the religion more than they scrutinise themselves.
The truth is, KL Summit is a platform for Muslim-majority nations to share their views, challenges, experience and potential solutions that could be applied throughout the Muslim world. The discussions ranged from humanitarian mission to corporate governance, from renewable energy to youth exchange programmes.
Issues which are previously not discussed among Muslim nations such as the industrial revolution 4.0, digital economy, science & technology and sustainable development goals are now put under the spotlight, because these are issues that matter to the Muslim global community as much as they are to the rest of world.
Contrary to what some may posit, it does not possess the intent to undermine the existing avenues such as the United Nations (UN) or the Organisations of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), but more to complement them in a way that is more action-oriented and result-driven.
International diplomacy could take years or even decades to resolve a conflict, and underneath those layers of politically-correct languages and diplomatic notes, the rhetoric tends to drown the elephant in the room instead of finding ways to address the real problem. We need results, and we need them now.
The first step towards achieving these objectives would be the willingness of stakeholders to sit at the same table. Religious and regional conflicts should not be a hindrance towards cooperation between Islamic nations. It is not helping to know that 60 per cent of the conflicts in this world today occur in Muslim countries.
Whether it evolves around the Rohingyas in Myanmar, the condemnation of Uyghur reeducation camps in China or the military blitzkrieg between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the Muslim world should remain as one and put aside differences, since the benefits that would flourish out of unity far outweigh the bane.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed is a pragmatist, and so do many other leaders in the Muslim world. They fully understand that problems are caused by the people, and not by the religion. The tenets and foundations of the society must be strong in order for it to withstand global challenges, what more to keep up with other established nations around the world.
Muslims cannot simply rely on their past glory and hoping that their great history somehow would bring back the good old days; they have to work hard wand work together to achieve it. Based on such understanding, ideas were mooted and presented during the summit, and we could now witness collaborations in the areas of youth exchange, food security, media cooperation, trainings and defence.
The clear narrative from this summit is that everyone wants progress and they are willing to mutually play their part from their respective country to build the long lost Islamic golden era.
The focus is not about competing with the Western world or Far East economic powerhouses, but more on improving livelihood through better infrastructures, systems and shared prosperity. In the end, true sovereignty lies when a country could chart its roadmap to success while dictating its own terms.
Quoting the Holy Quran Chapter 43 Verse 13, “All human is equal in sight of Allah irrespective of their colour, race or nationality. Human beings, we created you all from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”
If Muslims could spend an equivalent amount of time, effort and resources to rebuild their country as much as they did, let’s say, in continuing the violence between Sunni and Shiah, the Muslim world would been a great empire today.
It is hoped that the congregation of Muslim leaders, politicians, technocrats, religious scholars, policy makers and academicians from all over the world in Kuala Lumpur have opened our eyes towards a better understanding with each other and a brighter future for the Islamic community.
* Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman is the Minister of Youth and Sports.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.