PUTRAJAYA: The Muslim community in the Asean region should unite and serve as the collective voice of moderation and tolerance, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today.
Najib, in his speech at the launch of the inaugural Asean Mosque Festival (AMF), said the 240 million Muslims in the region should act as a “unified congregation of the Ummah”.
“I need hardly tell you that in these dark times, the message of Islam as a religion of peace, justice and inclusivity needs to be spread far and wide.
“We (in Asean) are uniquely placed to do so,” said Najib, whose speech was read out Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki here today.
Asyraf this morning had launched the festival at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre on behalf of the prime minister, who attended the event in the afternoon.
“The story of Islam (as a religion of peace) should be repeated to both ourselves and others, so that they do not fall for the falsehoods of the terrorists who blaspheme the name of Islam, and who have brought death and destruction to so many,” Najib said in his speech.
Under the theme “Knowledge, Ukhuwah and Understanding”, AMF aims to redefine, support and enlarge the roles of mosques in the region, besides overcoming misconceptions about religions.
It also aims to empower the transformational values of the mosque.
Present were Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan, key industry professionals and Islamic scholars from the 10 Asean countries.
Stressing the importance of mosques, Najib in his speech said mosques were more than places for worship.
“They (mosques) are also centres for education, places at the heart of communities that helps bring people together — and not just Muslims.
“They can and should play a valuable role in our efforts to celebrate our diversity and put into practice the Quranic injunction: “Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes so that ye may know one another,” said Najib.
The prime minister also expressed confidence that AMF would make a big difference for the good of everyone in the Asean community.
“This initiative can also be part of a wider effort for better understanding and respect among our different faiths and ethnicities, which is why I am glad that the IKHLAS Inter-Faith Conference is a key component of this festival.
“The conference is a multi-faith event that brings together well-known scholars from across our 10 nations to speak about the religious traditions and beliefs,” said Najib.
He also said there would be opportunities for everyone to deepen understanding and promote peace co-existence, as well as to ask some “hard questions” on religion.
“For instance, I note that one session asks the question: “Moderate Muslim: Is there such a thing?” I can assure you that the short answer is “yes”!
“But it is good to discuss such matters, for that can only reaffirm our faith in the necessity for moderation and its absolute centrality to Islam.”
Najib said this was in line with Malaysia’s goal to co-create a “people-oriented, people-centred and rules-based Asean community”.
“There are rules that we must implement, and a true single market to create… this festival is a notable contribution to that effort, as it is concerned with something that is at the core of the vast majority of our citizens’ lives — their faith.” (NST)