17 January 2009

MLT 09 - Day 1.5

The official conference program started today with a high powered session by a very charged up American dude. The Americans have so much energy and they sound so cool. At least I think he was American, but I am having great difficulty figuring this out- the Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow (MLT), come from 90 different countries on all 5 continents, but they all sound American! Apparently it is coz loads of them either studied in the USA or schooled at American foreign schools.

When asked for one word to describe your identity and one word to describe your grandparents, these were some of the answers:
simple and complicated
courage and passion
noble and striving
simple and complicated
not privileged and privileged

There was then a poll- ‘Are there certain Islamic values that conflict with "Western" values?’ It was fairly split and then the following comments were made by two MLT’s:
Yes- individualism in the West, compared to collectiveness and community in Islam.
No- depends on your period in history. Values are dependent on time.

The sessions were fine and I’m sure the transcripts will be available on the website at some point- www.muslimleadersoftomorrow.org The morning started off with a comment by a brother from Canada who asked what people thought about Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow, hugging & kissing between males & females, and apparently some even drinking alcohol?!

These are some of the comments that followed, other things overheard at the conference, and points made by some of the panelists:

‘We spend too much time judging people- actions are between you & God. Beware before you 'end up being alone in cave'!’
He was attacked for asking this question and reprimanded and then even judged himself!!
Only people who kissed me on cheeks have been big bearded okes, and that should stop!

'Have justice for all as your compass.'
'I have no authority to talk about Muslim authority!'
'My issue with religious leaders, and I dont care who they are, I dont trust them!'
‘Freedom and democracy can’t be bombed into people- Iraq. Or even bombed out of people- Gaza.’

Ulema bashing 101. How to bash an Alim in 4 words: I don’t trust them, They are stupid idiots, What do they know?, I know more!!

Sheikha Hanan al-Thani
Qatari women empowerment- taking place in Qatar today. The issue of integration of women into public life has become the main concern for Qatar society. After having long suffered marginalisation and exclusion from public life.

Shamil Idriss (USA) - UN Alliance of Civilizations
‘Try to remember always, that we brought together here as Muslims and leaders, but we represent countries that are on different sides of this cultural divide.’
‘All cultures have similar or same values, but at different times different values are stressed.’

Abu Eesa (UK)- We have to define what is Islamic values? These are things which have existed for decades. But West is focused on individualism- separation of Church and State, secularism, etc.
Those who believe in a secular Islam, will disagree. But we all live and benefit from secular society, because there is a glaring absence of a true Islamic society.

Mona (USA/Egypt)- I am a secular Muslim. Living in Egypt and Saudi Arabia made me a feminist. And when I lived in Israel, I called myself a secular Muslim.

Malik (Saudi)- Youngest Harvard graduate- It’s the freedom, not to submit, that gives value to the act of submission itself.
Let’s try to make this meeting productive- there are differences but let’s try to be tolerant.

Osama (Scotland)- I am from Scotland and we invented the modern world. Roads, telephone, democracy and even football.

Madiha (Pakistan)- I come across this everyday, ‘What will happen if our youth start living like the youth in the West?’ But most people don’t understand what an Islamic value is. If it’s according to Islamic principles, a value from anywhere in the world can be an Islamic value. We need to clarify what an Islamic value is. We also don’t understand the difference between Islamic and cultural values.

In Pakistan, it’s a value to keep women out of public life. They use Islam to justify this cultural value. Western Muslims do the same. It is not an Islamic value to have absolute freedom- Islam puts boundaries on you.

Yasir (USA)- People who profess to be scholars have no knowledge of what they saying. Their criticism may be valid, but they have no qualification. You can’t tell a neuro-scientist how to do is job unless you study that field as well.
Way forward- not to discard the 1400 years of tradition that made us who we are- but need to create a new breed of Ulama who understand the classical sciences and understand the world we live in.
Don't reject tradition, but understand it and embrace it. We have lost it.

Nadeem (UK)- I believe in separation of Church and state- and that makes me a secular Muslim
Should be concentrating on bigger issues rather than having marginal debates
An Alim in Saudi has passed fatwa that it’s fine for 10 year old girls to marry older men- we should use this platform to speak against it.

300 of some of the brightest young Muslims in the world- what questions would YOU like to as them?


emancipatingmymind said...

I so wish I was there. Thank you for posting and keeping us updated. I'm hoping the transcripts go up.

What I would be interested in is, who is responsible for the Community? The finger pointing is easy, the Imams? Elders? Comunity Organisations? How do we decide who speaks on our behalf?

Maybe the question is too broad and I know we've spent days talking about it without coming to an answer. I find that it's esy to sit there and bash the Imams or anyone who has decided to take up a leadeship position but don't spend enough time at looking at our role within the community.

It's time we moved forward and I think that young people are the answer. I hope this conference proves that with the outcomes.

M Junaid said...

i regret not applying

emancipatingmymind said...

Mj let's go for teh next one :D

Saaleha said...

I wish I could have been there. But maybe I'm not young enough