By Abdul Hannan
The Lanao Transformation Ulama 1st ULAMA LEADERS SUMMIT (1st ULS-2021) held on Saturday, Sha’ban 21, 1442, April 03, 2021 at the International Convention Center, Mindanao State University (MSU) main campus, Marawi City, Philippines.
The summit was hosted by MSU Main Campus, spearheaded by its System President, Dr. Habib Watamama Macaayong in collaboration with the Manila-based ASA Philippines Foundation represented by its Chief Executive Official (CEO) and President Md. Kamrul Hasan Tarafder. The King Faisal Center for Islamic, Arabic and Asian Studies (KFCIAAS), the Shari’ah Center and the Radio Telecommunication Office acted as the implementing and the executive organizing committee.
Under the theme “PEACE, EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT PROMOTION” WITH SPECIAL FOCUSED ON SCHOLARS “ULAMA” MOST CONCERNS, CLAMORS AND OUTCRIES, the summit attended by selected and limited to only 100 senior religious leaders mainly from two Lanao; Del Sur and Del Norte — because of the current health situation — was highly regarded and considered as one of the most significant and high profile religious conference taking place in the region in the recent history with the participation of two top officials of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM); Deputy Chief Minister, Alim Ali P. Solaiman, Parliament Member Alim Mohammad Zainoden Bato and the Secretary General of the Organization of Muslim Scholars in the Philippines, Sheikh Abdulhadie Ibn Al-Shaheed Gumander.
The participants have concluded their thorough and brotherly deliberation and discussion mainly on the main topics: 1) Understanding Madrasah and Its Role for Peace Building, 2) Principles and Characteristics of Vicegerent in Islam and Its Application in Moral Governance, 3) Transformative Education for Economic Prosperity and 4) Degeneration and its Remedy, the summit was concluded with the following collective and firm resolutions to wit:
1. Whereas, the summit reiterated and confirmed the great role and high level ranks of the Ulama to educate and reform the community, spiritually, socially, educationally as well as economic aspect (Shariah Compliance Transactions) while dealing with other citizens regardless of their (community) faith affiliation equally and respectfully as described by no less than by the Almighty Allah (S.W.T): “Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees” (Mujadalah 11)
“يرفع الله الذين آمنو منكم والذين أوتوا العلم درجات” (المجادلة آية 11) (إنما يخشى الله من عباده العلماء)
2. Whereas, Muslim scholars “Ulama” have been playing a pivotal role in shaping moral, peaceful and harmony society of a community and nation. They have a great influence on the youngsters and enjoy high respect of the people.
3. Whereas, Ulama are the heirs, substitutes or proxies of the prophets and the messengers of Allah S.W.T as role models not only for the youth but also for the entire communities. In this context, they should maintain and reflect a high level of their educational background and wisdom.
4. Whereas, the participants and in order to make a constant and close communication among themselves, a yearly Ulama Leaders with the collaboration of the Organization of Muslim Scholars in the Philippines (Hay-atul Ulama) and other duly registered both non-governmental and governmental organizations should be conducted and organized.
5. Whereas, the Ulama leaders reiterate and reaffirm the importance of the Senior Ulama (Officials and recognized Muftis) as the official reference and guidance in any fatwa matter or relevant judicial cases taking place under the area of jurisdiction of BARMM.
6. Whereas, the Ulama appeal to their fellow especially the juniors or new graduates among them to refrain from heated debate, personal attacks and accusations of being apostasy and disbelief.
7. Whereas, the various representative of different educational institutions presented by their heads and decision makers are willing to unify their ranks in addressing peace and order by providing the true teachings of Islam in a moderate and compassionate manner.
8. Whereas, the Ulama and for them to perform and play their role effectively and independently without the influence of any power or political gain they should be empowered and equipped with necessary tools and equipment that BARMM coud provide and address
9. Whereas, new graduates among them are more vulnerable to the influence of today’s state as a result of scarcity of opportunities, while the mindset and market needs of the Philippines cater only to the Western education because of lack of understanding on the potential of Arabic-speaking graduates.
10. Whereas, both foreign and local graduates still considered less fortune and chance in terms of job opportunities that could open and encourage them to engage in activities while navigating and surfing in the sophisticated digital world making them vulnerable and soft target of the cybercrimes both ideology and worldly materials.
11. Whereas, the participants agree to create a special committee to communicate with targeted young graduates especially with those graduates using networks (Facebook and others) as platform for their discussion involving religious matters (fatwa).
12. Whereas, and because of vacuum and unemployment among them not only new graduates but also among seniors became great concern because of its increasing negative impact on these important sectors and players.
13. Whereas, the participants are strongly appealing to both national government and BARMM to look into this great concern and address it seriously by tapping experts from the ranks of Ulama with exposure and actual experience in this matter.
14. Whereas, Arabic-speaking nationals should be treated equally in all job-related rights and benefits including financial aspect and the same consideration with their fellow local graduates in the Western education by identifying their worth and potentials. Some of them already have extra and extensive exposure in the rich-oil countries where most of them gained their degrees. They may need necessary training with the local market working environment needs.
15. Whereas, the foreign graduates in various courses and discipline including Arabic and Islamic courses should be automatically considered as passers or exempted from the civil services eligibility both national government and BARMM civil services eligibility so they will be able to work in the government agencies and BARMM without requiring them from the eligibility certificate.
16. Whereas, neighboring Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore and even Thailand have benefited positively from their nationals with Arabic background education in their Islamic finance and banking, halal industries and even halal tourism. Our country has huge advantages in all aspect by considering, identifying and making use of those Arabic-speaking who are bilinguals with exposure in the rich-oil and Islamic countries.
17. Whereas, Mindanao State University (MSU) under direct supervision of the System President is the ideal place to host such important conference (ULS) where modern knowledge, coexistence and tolerance are being in place and taught.
18. Whereas, the university where housing the King Faisal Islamic Arabic and Asia Studies is a neutral venue for such important event. MSU has been part of the global peace advocacy while teaching moderate discipline and curriculum meant to produce highly educated, moral and peace-loving generation as well as productivity citizens.
19. Whereas, the summit aims to identify the very cause of the subject matter. Strengthening and revisit the normal understanding among scholars with special focus on new graduates differences.
20. Whereas, the group would coordinate with relevant government agencies that would create training, job opportunities and livelihood for the youth and fresh graduates particularly Arabic-speaking graduates.
21. Whereas, on issue of BARMM’s term extension as suggested by two panelists, has triggered a serious discussion among participants as result of the strong opposition of few participants mainly from the Moro Liberation Front (MNLF) side.
22. Whereas, the vast majority, have outnumbered the opposition as such the majority supported strongly the said BARMM extension to be inserted in this resolution after applying voting and “Shourah” procedure.
23. As result, BARMM term extension for another three years was voted and won the majority.