As I sat down to write about the recently concluded Marrakesh Conference in Morocco, I realised how important it is, in the current scenario where radical Islam has dominated international discourse, to revive and reaffirm the faith in the Charter of Medina. Between 25 and 27 January Marrakesh played host to over 250 scholars from 120 countries, including Islamic clerics, muftis, religious authorities of other faiths and politicians from different nations, to discuss the rights of religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries. At the end of the conference, a document was released called the ‘Marrakesh Declaration’: Calling upon politicians and decision-makers to take the political and legal steps necessary to establish a constitutional contractual relationship among its citizens, and to support all formulations and initiatives that aim to fortify relations and understanding among the various religious groups in the Muslim World.
From Bharat I and Shri Shyam Jaju, National Vice-President of the Bharatiya Janata Party, got the opportunity to take part in the conference organised by the renowned scholar Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah. In the chaos the world has been submerged in with the advent of radical elements in Islam and the complete misinterpretation of Islam which has happened around the globe, Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah has been one of the few voices of sanity and peace. Today, an authority on Islam and an expert on the old grammar of the Arabic language, Bin Bayyah is recognised internationally as the moderate voice of Islam. He has been quoted by President Barack Obama in his speech before the UN security council in 2014 where Obama mentioned a speech by Sheikh bin Bayyah: ‘We must declare war on war, so the outcome will be peace upon peace’.
Bin Bayyah founded the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies in UAE to promote the peaceful message of Islam. It took him four years to conceptualise and implement his ideas in the Marrakesh Declaration, convened under the aegis of the King of Morocco Muhammad VI, who issued a decree for this piece of history to take place in his country, a land which has known the most exalted forms of conviviality among various religions and races. The three-day conference began with a message from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, thanking Bin Bayyah and Kingdom of Morocco for the initiative.
The conference witnessed the meeting of intellectuals from diverse nationalities and religions and included several women panelists who shared their views. It is the need of the hour that the world view Bharat, home to the second largest Muslim population, as a place where solutions can be found for difficult issues, particularly those referring to religion since Bharat, throughout the centuries, has seen such close relationships between civilisations, cultures, religions and races.
Marrakesh Declaration will transform the way the world view Muslims and how Muslims look upon the world. It is a matter of great importance that intellectuals within the Muslim world are working hard to find solutions to the nuisance created by radicals, who have misinterpreted Islam to serve their political ends. Bin Bayyah summed up the ten values of Islam in dealing with other communities: Peace; Kindness; Honour; Cooperation; Solidarity and Rectification; Reconciliation; Human Fraternity and Interaction; Wisdom; Commonweal; Being Just with Others; and Mercy.
I believe the success of the conference will depend on the successful implementation of the Marrakesh Declaration in not just Muslim countries but in to the minds of Muslims living everywhere in the world.
( The writer is the author of the book The True Face of Islam )