Ateneo de Davao University

Ateneo de Davao

4th Bitiala Series: Essence of Islam

THE international community is alarmed by the new threats posed by the so-called Islamic State (Isis). With this new type of Islamic extremist group, it has overtaken vast areas in Iraq and Syria and shocked the conscience of the world with its slaughter of thousands of civilians and the crime of beheading Muslims and Christians. ISIS is also promising to spread its reign of terror to the entire Middle East region and beyond.

Muslim scholars believe that the phenomenon of ISIS seems new and its success unprecedented, but its causes are not. A key element in the growth of radicalism in Iraq and Syria is the failure of national governments and regional and global powers to address core political issues and grievances. In the local setting, with the failure of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to be passed in Congress within the PNoy’s administration, Filipino Muslims are wary about the reports of ISIS recruitments on the ground. ISIS inspired youth organization are being reported on different areas in Mindanao. It is in this context that Al Qalam Institute, Forum ZFD, and AFADMIN decided to conduct the 4th Bitialasa Maguindanao in this theme, The Essence of Islam.

For this round of Bitiala, we invited the Grand Mufti of the Bangsamoro, Aleem Abu Huraira Udasan as the lead discussant.

Coming from Grand Mufti Abuhuraira Udasan opened a conversation by defining first Islam as he said its Arabic word meaning peace Which also implies justice, freedom, security and submission to Allah. He also implies that Islam uphold peace and that it is essential part of the world survival. War in the other hand may be justifiable as a last resource in attaining peace even quoting the line of Salamat Hashim “if you want peace, prepare to go to war”. Grand Mufti encourages and reflects on what cause hindrance in attaining genuine peace.

Endless rido/clan war: In addressing rido, the Bangsamoro should be guided by the Qur’an that there is no room for revenge in a real meaningful human society. Instead of revenge, one should pour hatred with love, ignorance with knowledge, and folly and wickedness with a friendly message of revelation.

Misunderstanding of religion. As a religion, Islam has been misunderstood by many laymen even among many of the Bangsamoro people. There are views that religion should not interfere with politics or else there will be no progress. Disunity. In addressing disunity and disputes, the Qur’an states that all people are brothers and sisters belonging to one parent, Adam and Eve. All people are equal in the eyes of Allah regardless of religion, nationality and ethnicity.

In addressing issues currently confronted by the Bangsamoro people, the Grand Mufti challenged all Muslims to exert maximum effort to effect change and attain success. As stated in the Qur’an, whoever wants to be successful here and in the life hereafter, s/he must have knowledge of the Qur’an.

Islamic leadership over dynastic leadership Islamic leadership based in the Qur’an should rule over dynastic leadership. Leaders and their offsprings whom are groomed to become future leaders should learn and carry out Islamic leadership basing from the Qur’an and Surah. Good leaders following Islamic leadership could help change societies.

The true essence of Jihad. The word Jihad does not only mean war or armed struggle as it is usually portrayed or commonly understood. It may also mean the inner struggle of a Muslim not to do things that are against the teachings of Islam. It is a struggle to do good and to control oneself from doing bad.

Countering the strong influence of the social media among the youth. While formal education is important, there is also a need to know whether the youth is getting the right education. The Moro youth nowadays are becoming hooked with various forms of social media. Instead of the Ulama and the Uztadz, Google and Facebook became their sources of information. These social medium might be helpful in some ways but the youth should be careful and critical enough in determining which information is right or wrong.

Exerting effort for the upliftment of own community. On the resource exploitation, the Grand Mufti pointed out that the Bangsamoro land is very rich in resources and this richness is appropriated by Allah for the Mindanaoans. In the context of the Bangsamoro, the people of the land should not just wait for the economy to improve but to exert effort and work towards the improvement of the economic, social and political situation of the Bangsamoro. If hunger and oppression is addressed, lesser people would be tempted to do things against humanity just to feed and protect one’s self and the family.

The continuing struggle for justice, freedom and security. Some would consider the statement “Islam is peace” as a ‘cliche’ or a paradox because at present, Muslims in any part of the world has been associated with global violence. They are allegedly involved in terroristic activities such that of the Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

This raises the question, is conflict inherent in Islam? Will there be any war if there is no Islam? On this note, the Grand Mufti explained that there is always conflict in the history of the Muslim world. Prophet Mohammad for instance was on a defensive mood when the Persian and the Roman Empire targeted to annihilate him. The Arab countries have been colonized, the reason why they are demanding to regain their right to independence. As peace without justice, freedom and security will not last long, it is the duty of the Muslims to find solutions to their problems. This is also true with the Bangsamoros who are only claiming for justice and freedom.

Synthesis: The fate of the Bangsamoro has already been predicted by Prophet Muhammad thousands of years ago. The experiences of the Moro people had been experienced by the disciples, scribes and family of Prophet Muhammad.

On the emerging issue of radicalism among the youth, the Grand Mufti emphasized the need for the youth to revisit and reflect deeper on the true meaning of the word Jihad. Jihad in Islam is defensive, rather than offensive in nature. Jihad is a defense against oppression and injustices.

With all the experiences happening within and among the Bangsamoro, there is a need to exert effort on initiating an intra-faith dialogue among Muslims on the issues of aqidah, the Bangsamoro and the different ideologies of its people and most importantly on the role of social media in the emerging diverse ideologies among the Bangsamoro youth and the changing narratives of Jihad.

Diverting from the true path of Islam by the leaders of the Bangsamoro is also another issue highlighted by the Grand Mufti. The Bangsamoro needs to revisit and find the true teachings of Islam instead of misinterpreting the scriptures based on the outcome they wanted. The tarbiyah (the process of nurturing or rearing a child from stage to stage until he/she becomes obedient and righteous) should be strengthened as it seemed to be weakening nowadays.