In a two-day conference over the weekend, Muslim, Jewish and Christian religious leaders from around the world gathered in Abu Dhabi to discuss the challenges of violent religious extremism and identify ways to combat it. The conference emphasized that religious leaders must take an active role in developing the counter narrative by providing their followers with an authentic narrative of peace.
The conference’s five panels also examined the drivers of violent religious extremism, including socio-economic causes like joblessness among youth.
Organizers announced a “10-point action plan that they will initiate over the next three years aimed at combating religious extremists who misinterpret religious text to advance their own agenda.”
Religious leaders of all faiths concurred that it is their “sacred duty in this fight against violent religious extremism to use their knowledge and influence to provide their followers with the correct explanations of their religious texts.”
Shaikhbin Bayyah (photo, second from the right) and Cardinal Onaiyekan both empirically stated that their respective texts must be re-interpreted for their followers so that they are applicable to the conditions of modern day. Shaikh bin Bayyah states that extremism is fueled by “the misconceptions and misunderstandings of Sharia” and that it is up to the scholars to help the religious followers understand the text. According to Cardinal Onaiyekan “the bible has been in existence for thousands of year but every generation has interpreted the bible to reflect the needs of their generation; we are not scandalized when the interpretations of 6th century are different from today. We need to interpret for today, for our own people”.
(READ more from The National)
Photo credit: Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies
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