KUALA LUMPUR: The recent international conference on the Islamic approach to fight HIV/AIDS, held here, has help dispel the notion that Muslims are not responding well to the issue.
Despite some hiccups, the conference showed that Muslims cared for the well being of their people and were willing to seek new ways to control the spread of the disease.
Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) president Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir said the controversy during the five-day Second International Muslim Leaders Consultation (IMLC) on HIV/AIDS, had actually taught the participants true religiousness.
The fact that the controversial paper by Dr Amina Wadud, Virginia Commonwealth Universitys associate professor of Islamic Studies, was voluntarily retracted from the conference, had pushed the participants to deal with the real issue of HIV/AIDS.
Marina, IMLCs International Advisory Committee chairman, said this humble gesture reflected true Muslim conduct.
They (participants) felt closer to religion because they saw the act of religious people. It is very important to be humble as only God knows everything, Bernama quoted her as saying.
At the conference, Amina courted controversy when she spoke of Islams failure to combat AIDS and said that in Islam women were sex objects.
This caused a stir and Amina was accused of committing blasphemy. She later retracted the paper and apologised for the choice of words and analogies. Marina said the ILMC ended on a good note and that majority of the 250 participants felt the recommendations made were very useful.
Stating that the real issue was that more people were getting infected by HIV/AIDS, Marina said the whole Muslim community including their religious leaders needed to act and respond collectively to the HIV/AIDS related problems.
She said religious leaders should go down to the grassroots and provide adequate emotional and spiritual guidance to the HIV/AIDS sufferers.
She said the MAC was liaising with the Malaysian Islamic Advancement Department and United Nations Development Programme to draw out of a programme to train religious leaders to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Meanwhile, on a different subject, the Malaysian Aids Foundation and Singapores Action for AIDS are jointly organising a cycling adventure to reach out to many people and raise awareness of HIV/ AIDS in Riding for Life from June 1 to June 8.
Cyclists will go through a 949km journey that will see them stopping at 17 towns and villages in Malaysia before reaching Singapore, the foundation said in a statement.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will flag off the cyclists at a one carnival held in conjunction with the event at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa on Sunday. For more information, log on to www.mac.org/LOVE /RFL