The world’s first International Islamic Peace Conference was opened in Mumbai on November 23, 2007. More than 20 renowned Islamic scholars from all over the world graced the occasion. The peace conference claimed to offer a solution to humanity by spreading the importance of peace. “When peace is destroyed – no matter which side of the fence you are on – you are bound to lose,” it said.
“The conference focuses on presenting the proper understanding of Islam and its message of peace for the entire humanity in an effective and objective way as well as allay the misconceived fear and hatred towards Islam,” said Dr Zakir Naik, the only Indian speaker at the conference, and the president of Islamic Research Foundation, which is organising the event.
The speakers did not preach Islam per se, but addressed various social issues like “The curse of the consumer society”, “Culture confusion”, “Our children-our future” and “Peace-the solution for humanity.” The conference aimed to remove the misconceptions and wrong notions from the minds of Muslims as well as non-Muslims.
“It is sad that Islam is misrepresented. This peace conference aims to show that we Muslims are loving and caring people. We have nothing to do with violence and terrorism and we believe in the spirit of Islam, that is peace,” says Mr Hussain Yee, a Chinese scholar, who was born in a Taoist Chinese family but chose to embrace Islam at a very young age.
On being asked about the infamous association of Islam with terrorism and violence, Dr Naik said that there are many weird misconceptions about Islam because a huge section of Muslims is ignorant.
“Islam is derived from the word salaam, which means peace. It is a religion of peace whose fundamentals teach its followers to maintain and promote peace throughout the world,” Dr Naik explained.
The conference got a fair amount of non-Muslim audiences, who were encouraged to ask questions on any issue on Islam after every speech. Scholars also paid attention to the problem of rising extremism in the name of Islam.
Speaking on the topic “Culture Confusion,” a British scholar, Mr Abdur Raheem Green emphasised the fact that a person should know the right from the wrong and then follow a culture, “When I embraced Islam, different people gave me different versions of the same thing, but instead of getting confused, I did my own research.”
The organisers said that the conference does not focus on delivering passionate sermons, but rather to provide well researched, academic and administrative solutions to communities, governments and administrations to implement.
Aside from the conference, an Islamic exhibition and Halal expo was also on display offering various books, CDs, etc. on the subject.