The President of the Forum for Promoting Peace, His Excellency Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah paid a working visit to New York, from September 27 until October 7, during which he held a series of meetings, which represented an opportunity to inform the world of “The Message of Peace in Islam.”
Speech to the United Nations summit: A portion of war or defence budgets should be allocated to support peace programs in the world.
The visit began with a speech delivered by Professor Bin Bayyah to summit leaders to combat violent extremism, which was held in the presence of a number of heads of state, in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly.
Shaykh bin Bayyah called upon the summit leaders to save the “ship of humanity” and extinguish the fire which has flared up at home and around the world, and insisted on the need for cooperation and solidarity to integrate efforts, in conformity with the levels and functions of everyone, requesting an allocation of part of the budgets for war to support the promotion of peace programs in the world.
He reminded the attendees of the function of Muslim scholars and their many sacrifices, saying that “the task of scholars is to change mentalities and correct concepts, and their job is to put out the fire in souls and hearts,” likening religion to energy which is capable of producing well-being and prosperity but can also bring about devastation and destruction. Thus, Bin Bayyah is calling for religion to be regarded as a way to peace and not as an enemy of humanity.
With respect to this he presented some intellectual projects being carried out by the Forum for Promoting Peace such as the conference “Protection of Minorities in the Muslim World” to be held in Marrakech, jointly organised by the Forum and the Moroccan Ministry of Endowments; and efforts made in Nigeria between Muslim and Christian religious leaders who have worked in cooperation to combat extremist ideology. He pledged that those involved with the Forum for Promoting Peace “are involved in this way and are reaching out to people with the good intentions of seeking peace for all creeds and for walks of life both within and outside the Muslim world.”
From this perspective Shaykh bin Bayyah called upon all parties to develop a “cultural and intellectual strategy to face the threat of wars, violence and the madness of the age.” He concluded with a call to maintain the hope of bringing peace to the world.
Meeting about the situation in the Central African Republic: Stressing the need to protect the oppressed Muslim minority.
In addition to his participation in UN summit to combat extremism, Shaykh Bin Bayyah called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Religions for Peace, based in New York. The meeting was attended by Catholic and Protestant religious leaders as well as representatives from the International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue. A statement was issued after the meeting about the situation in the Central African Republic which stressed the need to protect the oppressed Muslim minority and stop the stream of escalating violence in this region.
A meeting with Secretary General of the United Nations: Agreement on coordination mediation in order to stop the wars in the region.
At the conclusion of his visit to New York, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, personally met with Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, in his office at United Nations Headquarters, in which they discussed regions of tension and agreed on the need to stop the raging wars, and that peace is the guaranteed path to achieving justice. They also agreed to communicate and cooperate in order to support world peace. Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace, also attended the meeting.
This meeting was an opportunity to inform the Secretary General about the philosophy of the Forum for Promoting Peace and its intellectual projects of addressing the culture of violence and extremism by dismantling the structure of extremist rhetoric and re-establishing a culture of peace from the depths of Islam. In like fashion, the Forum’s practical initiatives focus on strengthening the capacity of religious leaders to address extremist discourse in hotbeds of conflict and in environments that are exposed to violence; this engagement and leadership is aimed at promoting peace throughout their communities.
The Forum for Promoting Peace is an initiative launched by Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah in 2013 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to attempt to heal the rift in the Muslim world and bring together differing views in places of conflict and tension.
Translated by Yusuf Lenfest