A one-day Forum on May 16th exploring Islamic teachings on Diplomacy in the light of global Peace & Security will be convened by IAIS-Malaysia with Malaysia’s INSTITUTE OF DIPLOMACY AND FOREIGN RELATIONS (IDFR) and THE CORDOBA FOUNDATION (U.K.). The Contributing Partners include The State of Qatar and the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation.
Ten scholars and officials offer insights into the concept and practice of the Islamic ideal of harmonious relations between nations. This Forum reflects the ongoing collaboration between IAIS chaired by the famous scholar Professor Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali (CEO of IAIS Malaysia), and IDFR helmed by YBhg. Ambassador Dato’ Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari (Director General, IDFR), along with a new partnership of UK based think tank, THE CORDOBA FOUNDATION whose CEO is Dr. Anas Altakriti.
Highlights of this Thursday’s Forum include the morning Keynote Address delivered by His Royal Highness Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah Ibni Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah, Regent of the State of Perak Darul Ridzuan as well as Royal Patron of IDFR. Also giving Opening remarks will be the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from The State of Qatar, His Excellency Dr Khaled bin Mohammad Al Attiyah; and the Foreign Minister of Malaysia.
In the evening a Banquet will be held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Kuala Lumpur sponsored by the Embassy of The State of Qatar, where YABhg. Tun Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi (Former Prime Minister of Malaysia and Patron of IAIS Malaysia) will deliver the Keynote speech on ‘Islam and Peace Building in the 21st Century’. HE Khaled bin Mohammad Al Attiyah will also attend. Guests are by invitation only.
This Forum reflects serious attention devoted to issues of Islamic Peace by IAIS and IDFR. In October 2011 the two institutes held their first conference ‘ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVES ON PEACE AND SECURITY’. The May 16th Forum highlights the close link between security and peace, since the word “Islam” signifies these two closely related ideas. There are two Panels: the morning session chaired by Dr Anas Altakriti on ‘Diplomacy – The Islamic Legacy’ includes Tan Sri Professor Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan (Distinguished Professor, ISTAC), Dr Hassan Al-Muhannadi (Director – Diplomatic Institute, The State of Qatar), Dr Karim Douglas Crow (Principal Fellow – IAIS and Mr. Amjad Saleem (The Cordoba Foundation, UK). The afternoon session is a Round Table exchange with the theme ‘In Search of Human Security’ chaired by Professor Chandra Muzaffar (JUST), including Professor Dr M. Hashim Kamali (CEO of IAIS Malaysia), the Chief High Priest Venerable Datuk K Sri Dhammaratana, Tuan Haji Nasharudin Mat Isa (Chairman of Al-Quds Foundation) and Mr. Asrul Daniel Ahmed (Global Movement of Moderates Foundation [GMMF]).
The ISLAM & DIPLOMACY Forum seeks to energise efforts by Islamic governments and Muslim civic organizations to take peace building more seriously, as well as shared efforts at reconciliation and humanitarian needs. The following morning Friday May 17th a closed door Workshop will take place at IAIS to plan a common strategy for policy dissemination, capacity building, and joint future activities. It is proposed that a Network be established to be known as the Islamic Forum for Peace & Security. This Forum could be structured as a global network of institutions both private and public linking Ministries, think tanks and International NGOs to advance Islamic solutions to conflict and violence.
Notes to editors:
1) For media enquiries please contact the following people:
– MAJOR MOHD RIDZUAN MOHD SHARIFF (IDFR) – Email: email@example.com Tel: 019-3528127
– MR MOHD NURUDDIN ABD MANAP (IAIS Malaysia) – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 013-2573667
– MR AMJAD SALEEM (TCF – UK) – Email:email@example.com Tel; +44 7941 008738
Iraq is edging closer to civil war and break up into separate states, with almost none of its pre-invasion promises coming to fruition, experts warned at a ground-breaking conference held on the future of the country in Central London.
Ten years after the fall of Baghdad, policy-makers, politicians, academics, military experts, ex-senior military officials and voices from across the Middle East converged at The Commonwealth Club in London (8th April) to debate Iraq’s future and its bloody past decade.
Watched by international media, Dr Anas Altikriti, CEO of The Cordoba Foundation, reflected on his time as a hostage negotiator, attempting to secure the release of fellow conference speaker Professor Norman Kember and other hostages in 2005/6. He said: ‘The people of Iraq have been through quite a rollercoaster. But we didn’t just come and discover these problems in 2003: we have seen divisions for centuries.’
Co-organiser, Wadar Khanfar of Al Sharq Forum and former Al Jazeera director general, recalled seeing the signs of a ‘new’ Iraq as part of Al Jazeera’s bureau in the country: ‘Ten years ago I was covering the war in Iraq. I remember as I entered Baghdad that all the state buildings were on fire. It was not the image of a free Baghdad that people wanted to see.’
‘Ten years later I don’t see Iraq and Baghdad as having moved forward.’ The failures, he said, could be traced back 100 years to the end of the First World War, with ‘deep suspicion’ among many observers about the latest conflict. He warned that three de-facto states could soon appear where now one (Iraq) exists.
‘Iraq is not at a crossroads,’ suggested Middle East Monitor director Dr Daud Abdullah, ‘it has passed it. The north is a de facto state, with Irbil not even talking to Baghdad about oil contracts. The world’s third-largest oil producer has 36% of its citizens living in poverty.’ He suggested that the presence of death squads and private militias was similar to the El Salvador “dirty war” in the 1980s, with current premier Al-Maliki concentrating power in his hands alone.
The attitude of the Americans and their allies was ‘naive, lacking depth and profundity’ prior to the 2003 invasion, said Professor Rosemary Hollis, former research director of Chatham House. ‘There was too much emphasis on elections, as though that would create democracy.’
Clare Short, former Minister for International Development, counselled against attempting to re-draw colonial boundaries, arguing it was time to ‘unite the region’ rather than recreate it. She referred to the former neo-conservative movement, the Project for a New American Century, and its ‘terrifying documents’ planning the (mythical) future of Iraq.
Various academic speakers, including Professor Phil Marfleet of University of East London, said that there was a dearth of academic research into Iraq post-2003, particularly the humanitarian costs, labeling this ‘the politics of denial’.
Dr Nabil Ramadhani of the Human Relief Foundation revealed shocking statistics showing the decline in living standards, increase in poverty, and the threats women face – attacks and sexual assaults – even travelling in their own neighbourhoods. ‘Iraqi women have paid a high price for the war and occupation of their country.’
Drawing the event to a close, Dr Altikriti said that the Iraqi people and the rest of the world had been offered a false choice between Saddam and what the Americans said they would bring afterwards. ‘There were other ways, other choices,’ he said, arguing that international law had been degraded and flouted, creating a world in which we were all now less safe and damaging democracy even here in the UK.
1) Please click the links to get the conference briefing, the speaker profiles and the schedule for the conference
2) Please see below for a selection of photos (courtesy of Richard Chambury; William Barylo and Noridine Bendou)
“non violence is a set of attitudes, actions, or behaviours intended to persuade the other side to change its opinions, perceptions and actions” was the message that was presented at a talk held on the 21st of January 2013 at St Ethelburgas Centre for Peace and Reconciliation and co sponsored by The Cordoba Foundation to commemorate Martin Luther King Day.The speaker was Dr Ayse Kadayifci from Georgetown University, an expert on Islamic peace building and non violence.
According to Dr Kadyifci, successful non violence requires great strength of character, perseverance and discipline. It is a means of awakening a sense of injustice and moral shame in the supporters of a power structure, showing them that they have more to gain by ending injustice and oppression than by maintaining them. It is also about exposing the unjust means of a power structure, the isolation of actions, changing the narrative that can be used for justification.
Strategic use of non violence thus is means to resist the power structure though long term social and economic policies including education and microfinance. You let the community acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to advance in society and challenge the status quo of the power structure and provoke it in order to expose its unjust means and illegitimacy by seeking to prevent the advancement of the community.
Noone communicated this moral priority more than Martin Luther King, who despite losing his supporter base would shift attention from the civil rights movement to economic injustice and the Vietnam war in 1965, which unfortunately have been erased from the cultural narrative of his life and legacy.
In his 1963 letter from Birmingham jail in particular, King drew inspiration from the gospel and biblical teachings in order to justify his fight against injustice. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. He mentions just and unjust law and offers insight into how not only the church but other faith leaders and communities should act in the face of injustice. In King’s words, it is about being a thermostat that transforms the morals of society.
His phrase, ‘if the church of today doesn’t recapture the sacrificial spirit of the past, it will lose its authenticity. It will forfeit the loyalty of millions and will be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning’, is the challenge that he sets for us today, people of faith and no faith to see where we stand during times of challenge and controversy, rising above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
‘Faith is a restraint against all violence, let no believer commit violence’ (Hadith, Recorded sayings of the Prophet Peace Be Upon Him)
This saying formed the backdrop for a seminar on ‘Peace building and Non Violence from Islamic Principles’ organised by Initiatives of Change, The Cordoba Foundation and Islamic Relief Worldwide on the 22nd of January 2013 where scholars Dr Ayse Kadayifci-Orellana (Georgetown University), Professor Mohammed Abu Nimer (Salam Institute and American University) and Imam Ajmal Masroor gave their unique perspectives on the subject.
Speaking first, Ayse painted a theoretical picture of the concept of peacebuilding from an Islamic Perspective. Whilst Muslims agree that Islam is a religion of peace and the application of Islamic precepts will bring justice, harmony and order, consequently peace to the world, academic scholars often paint Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, which permits the use of violence only under certain well-defined conditions focussing instead on the specific conditions and circumstances under which Islam allowed the use of war to settle conflicts.
Prof Abu-Nimer contends that, although these scholars have attempted to present a more balanced perspective of Islamic traditions, they have “approached this topic from a framework of security, power politics, strategic studies or classical Islamic studies, not peace and conflict resolution” (Abu-Nimer 2003, 26) and therefore failed to pay sufficient attention to inherent traditions of non violence and peaceful resolution of conflicts which have been an integral aspect of Islamic tradition since the time of the Prophet Mohammed ( PBUH). In particular, the practice by Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) attitude towards peace and his diplomacy, can be summarized as the “reconciliation of hearts” which meant “coming to terms with adversaries and enemies and the contractual guaranteeing of agreements”, and that he preferred peaceful regulation of conflicts and peaceful resolution of enmity. Based on the Qur’anic verse “We did raise among every people a Messenger (with a teaching): Worship God and Shun the Evil one” (Q16:36), scholars such as Jawdat Sa’id of Syria argue that “the Prophets come with the message to avoid wicked tyranny and they disclosed that the tyrant could not continue to exist without our obedience to him.”
Derived from the Quran, the Hadith and the Sunna, an Islamic conception of peace begins with its attribution as a divine name since the Arabic word for peace, as-Salam, is one of the ninety-nine names of God (Qur’an – Q 59:23). There are many references to peace (salam, silm, sulh, etc.) in the Qur’an that suggest that peace, together with justice (adl) is a central message of Islam (Q 3:83; 4:58; 5:8; 10:25; 16:90; 41:11; 42:15; 57:25) These references make it clear that peace in Islam is not limited to a negative understanding of peace that is often defined as the absence of war, oppression or tyranny but it actually refers to a process in which human beings strive to establish foundations for interacting with God’s creation – human and non-human alike—in harmony and to institute just social, economic and political structures where they can fulfil their potential . Such an understanding of peace thus requires a condition of both internal and external order that encompasses both individual and social spheres as “the individual must be endowed with the necessary qualities to make peace an enduring reality, not only in the public sphere but also in the private domain”.
Dr Kadayifci then spoke about some of the values that drive Islamic principles of peace building and non violence including the quest for justice (political / social / economic) or Adl; the concept of social empowerment or Ihsan ( benevolence); the concepts of : compassion or Rahmah; wisdom or Hikmah; service or Amal; faith or Yakeen; love or Muhabbah and patience or Sabr.
Ajmal Masroor presented his own experiences growing up in the UK of tackling prejudice and extremism on the road to peace building. He spoke about the need first to reconcile within ones heart as the first step towards peace building and non violence and finding peace with enemies.
Resolving conflicts in different Muslim contexts requires an understanding of the dynamic relationship between the Islamic tradition that unites Muslims and the unique geographical, cultural, historical and political contexts of each Muslim community that impacts specific tools for resolving conflicts. Islamic culture is not an ‘object’ that can be reified into one objective or dimension;” nor is it distributed uniformly among all Muslims. Culture is not a static entity that can be identified as a constant, but it is always in the making, constantly evolving and changing with the experiences and context of society. Furthermore, there is more than one Islamic culture depending on geography and demography as well as various subcultures, within each community. Therefore, conflict resolution practices in different Islamic countries such as Egypt, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and Palestine, amongst others, have various differences due to their unique contexts. Such an understanding of culture allows us to recognize that each Muslim community will have many internal paradoxes, subcultures, and identities. This perspective also recognizes that each Muslim responds to the realities and challenges of life in their own unique way influenced by the many identities and subcultures s/he is a part of. These contextual factors and cultural differences have also led to different understanding of Islamic teachings and practices. In fact, as long as they do not contradict Islamic teachings, local customs (urf) are often considered a source of Islamic law.
In this regard, Professor Abu Nimer addressed some key issues surrounding the context of peace building within Islam. Looking at peace building within an Islamic context has to deal with the concept of justice and dignity. There is heavy emphasis on public image and the role of third parties cannot be underestimated whilst a lot is dependent on relationship building. Professor Abu Nimer also pointed out that a lot of the communities where peacebuilding is needed are burdened by colonial history adding additional challenges to narratives of coexistence and non violent resolutions of conflict.
The seminar touched very briefly on various community conflict resolution mechanisms that have been developed and effective applied to resolve conflicts in the Muslim world such as wasata (mediation), sulha (reconciliation) and hewar (dialogue).
Please click here to view a video of the proceedings (video courtesy of IoFC)
A selection of photos are presented below courtesy of Jonty Herman and Amaani Niyaz
The following speakers have now been confirmed to speak at the forthcoming conference ‘Iraq 10 Years – Examining a Decade of Turbulence’ on the 8th of April 2013.
- Wadah Khanfar – Director, The Sharq Forum (former DG of Al-Jazeera)
- Clare Short – Former Minister for International Development
- Jonathan Fryer – British writer, broadcaster and academic
- Dr Basil Hussein – Expert on Iraqi politics
- Professor Rosemary Hollis – City University; formerly with Chatham House
- Professor Norman Kember – Christian pacifist activist, held captive in Iraq in 2005
- Ahmed al-Hemyari – Head of Public Relations, Al-Shaheed Al-Sadr Office, London
- Professor Phil Marfleet – Director, Refugee Research Centre, University of East London
Places still available. Please click here to register
For further information about the conference, please click here
The 9th of April 2013 will mark 10 years after the fall of Baghdad and in what was to be a symbolic justification for the intervention by Allied forces, the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad amidst televised scenes of ‘jubilation’.
Ten years on, Iraq continues to search for a unifying national identity. After 2003, Iraq’s different communities retreated to their sectarian and ethnic enclaves for protection and for the survival of their various cultures. Presently, the country is fast descending into de facto three separate entities.
A timely conference to be held on 8th April 2013 at The Commonwealth Club, organised by The Cordoba Foundation and The Sharq Forum will primarily review and examine the achievements and failures of a decade’s long intervention in Iraq by Western-led forces and regional powers. The conference will also examine the nature and shape of future international interventions in the region. Despite the huge cost to state and society, Iraq will continue to play a strategic role in the region provided it addresses its internal political and social challenges.
Speaking at the conference will be a number of dignitaries including the Rt Hon Ms Clare Short, former minister for International Development; Waddah Khanfar, former Director-General of Al Jazeera & Director, the Sharq Forum; Professor Norman Kember, Emeritus Professor of Biophysics at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry and a Christian pacifist activist, who was held hostage for four months after travelling to Iraq in 2005; Dr Anas Altikriti, CEO of The Cordoba Foundation, and, part of the team that successfully negotiated the release of Western hostages including Professor Kember in 2005; Mohamed al-Daini, former member of the Iraqi Parliament; and Professor Rosemary Hollis from City University, London, and former Director of Research at Chatham house.
The organisers hope that through this gathering of international stakeholders, it will help chart a course to a proper democracy and human rights, where all Iraqis feel safe, equal and enjoy the fruits of a real change.
For more information about the event, please click here
The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) helped organise a two-day event in Brussels, Belgium, from 19-20 March, consisting of discussion and debates concerning fair treatment for all in Europe.
The main organiser, European Network on Religion and Belief (ENORB), is being consulted by the European Commission (DG Justice) on the current 10 year review of implementation of the Directives on Equalities and Fundamental Rights – which cover Religion and Belief.
Legal experts from member states and academic institutions as well as from R&B (Religion and Belief) organisations and networks at grassroots level took part in the two-day event. Conclusions and recommendations from the event will be submitted to EU officials.
Abdullah Faliq (Head of Research) and Noridine Bendou represented TCF in Brussels. Day one kicked off with a roundtable where chief guest, László Surján, Vice-President of the European Parliament, spoke about the need for communities to understand each other better for better community cohesion. The second day consisted of discussions, presentations, workshops, networking as well as site-seeing.
Please click here for a selection of pictures from the two-day event
Notes to editors:
1. Picture credits: Noridine Bendou, The Cordoba Foundation
2. Abdullah Faliq (The Cordoba Foundation) is a founding member of ENORB.
3. To find out more about the work of ENORB, visit www.enorb.eu
The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) commemorates the UN designated World Interfaith Harmony Week which takes place annually in the first full week of February. The week provides a platform from which all people of goodwill can recognize that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provide a strong dosage of peace and harmony to their communities
Commenting on this, the Chief Executive of TCF, Anas Altikriti said ‘The start of 2013 has been marred with inter and intra faith clashes across much of the world. More initiatives that can allow people to come together and acknowledge each other’s uniqueness whilst working for the common good needs to be encouraged’.
Now more than ever is the need to move towards a sense of peace and mutual respect for people of faith and no faith. Religious scriptures all envision a pluralistic world, mutual understanding and religious tolerance, emphasising love of the Creator and love of the neighbour in contributing towards meaningful peace around the world. This has to be realised in reality so that we treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves.
Thus we need to collectively work to restore empathy and compassion to the forefront of our initiatives such that breeding violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate. We need to ensure that our youth are given accurate information about other traditions, religions and cultures. We need to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity. We need to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings.
Whilst recognising this week as a platform for dialogue leading to respect and understanding, TCF calls for multi-faith action that produces tangible outcomes for communities in the front line and that also engages practically with faith leaders in order to resolve and avoid conflict and bring about peace, tolerance and harmony at the grass roots.
TCF calls for the creation of more organised response mechanisms at all levels and the support of existing initiatives such as the Interfaith Harmony Week or The World Parliament of Religions in order to build momentum that can educate people about each other and that can condemn all forms of discrimination, intolerance and oppression against ethnic and religious minorities.
There is a need to speak out and stand for justice in the spirit of the following verse from the Quran “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” Surah An Nisa 4: 135
It is only with this type of attitude that the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community is possible.
1. If you are doing some events to celebrate this week, please do share your stories and photographs with us, so we can put it on our website.
The Cordoba Foundation launches, The MENA Report, the first in a series of monthly reports, providing insights and analysis of events and developments in the Middle East and North Africa. Aimed at European and Western readerships, the report provides impartial, accurate and authoritative content and analysis, through The Cordoba Foundation’s unique access to rare and highly important primary sources in the Middle East and beyond.
Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at The Cordoba Foundation, Dr Fareed Sabri described the Middle East and North Africa an ancient place were religions, sects, communities and empires have risen, ruled, withered and passed over the past 7000 years. “Each historic experience, war, religion and rule carved its mark on the human topography of the region. Nowadays, democracy has become the rallying cry for the masses and the elite. It is not uncommon to hear the most ardent of dictators in the region talking about the democratic way of life, free expression and participatory politics making it very difficult and tricky to separate truths from deception and inaccuracy. The MENA Report seeks to unpick and unravel some of this, and provide objective and strategic insights into events and developments in the region.”
The first issue of The MENA Report focuses on some of the salient issues and developments in the region, including crises facing the new governments in Egypt and Tunisia; the situation on the ground in Bahrain and the role of Gulf countries; the Israel-Palestine conflict and the recent French operations in Mali.
Anas Altikriti, Chief Executive of The Cordoba Foundation, explained the launch of the new report as “being part of The Cordoba Foundation’s ever-expanding work, namely in the fields of research and publications. Our in-house experts and researchers are acquainted with the region’s traditions, its socio-political and cultural mosaic as well as the many layers of society. We hope to fill the void of academic and political analysis of events in the region through this new series.”
To download the report please click here
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For further information on this and the MENA program of The Cordoba Foundation, please click here