Religious scholars must preach moderation to do away with extremism, says Ahmad Zahid

KUALA LUMPUR: Religious scholars must utilise their leadership by practising empathy and preaching moderation to instil unity among nations, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said that ulama should also be advisers to policy makers by advocating tolerance and guiding a middle path to do away with the ideas that Muslim religious scholars were extremists in nature.

Ahmad Zahid said this in his closing speech to religious scholars from various countries gathered here on Wednesday (May 8) at the Asian Ulama Council 2024.

"The active participation of scholars, thinkers and leaders in this conference underscore the potential of collaborations which can be used to face global challenges.

"Malaysia is committed to ensure stability while preserving values and instilling unity among diverse communities but this is based on respect, and patience while upping prosperity and innovations.

"These values we uphold are not just for Malaysia but universal aspirations for peace and harmony.

"Unity among nations should go beyond borders. Ukhuwah Islamiyyah (Islamic brotherhood) should transcend borders and embrace cultural and racial differences without discrimination on skin colour and as such," said Ahmad Zahid.

He said an action plan by Muslim religious scholars was crucial in promoting religious unity and harmony to facilitate discussions among scholars and leaders across borders.

"Scholars should advocate tolerance and guide a middle path for their followers while promoting moderation.

"The Asian Ulama Council should foster social cohesion and collaboration among diverse groups.

"Engagement with policy makers is vital to advocate moderate Islamic values for an inclusive and equitable society," said Ahmad Zahid.

At the event, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Dr Mohd Na’im Mokhtar called on the Muslims to go beyond their own school of thought and stop being divisive.

"There is a need to realise this unity, Muslims need to cross the walls of various schools of thought and ideologies with the goal of achieving the welfare of the ummah and rejecting extremist and extreme beliefs.

"Differences should be used as advantages instead of weaknesses, while any similarities should be used as a source of strength. Indeed, the glory of the Muslim Ummah and the ups and downs of a community, nation or country lies in its unity," said Mohd Na’im.

The conference’s guest of honour was the Muslim World League's (MWL) Secretary-General and Chairman of the Organisation of Muslim Scholars, Sheikh Dr Mohammad Abdulkarim Al-Issa.

The Asian Ulama Council was organised by the Office of the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) and the Islamic Development Malaysia Department (Jakim) in collaboration with MWL.

The MWL was an international non-governmental Islamic organisation founded in Saudi Arabia in 1962, that focuses on promoting and clarifying the worldwide understanding of Islam. It is headquartered in Makkah and maintains offices around the world.

Participants from more than 17 countries had gathered to unite efforts addressing extremist ideologies.

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