SECOND REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON: A Civil Islam: Prospects and Challenges in the 21st Century: Islam, State, and Civil Society
Date: 29th September -1st October 2017
Vanue: Cyberview Lodge, Cyberjaya
Robert W. Hefner, Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA) at Boston University
Topic: “Civil Islam in South East Asia: Prospect and Challenges in the 21st Century”
Syed Farid Alatas, National University of Singapore
Topic: “A Vision of a Civil and Progressive Islam in Malaysia”
Dr Zainal Abidin Bagir, Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS), Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia.
Topic: “Battling Islamic Sectarianism in the Nusantara”.
Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
The arrival of Islam to the world more than fourteen centuries ago signifies a momentous event in the history of humanity. Founded by the divine exclamation of monotheism, Islam calls for all men to submit only to the One God, to liberate oneself from the dictates of the world, to free humanity from the sufferings and enslavement of a fellow human being, to elevate the status of human dignity, and to strive towards justice and liberty for the human society. This call for the glorification of God has transformed slaves, bedouins and savage men, into men of courage, honor and civility. In such a short time, this generation didn’t just profess a declaration of faith, but also lived a life that can be best termed as a ‘Civil Islam’.
However, looking at recent times, only very few Muslim societies in different parts of the world could be identified as a living model of a ‘Civil Islam’. For a society to be termed civil, there must be at least some of the most basic of recognitions to be given to its members; respect towards human lives and dignity, individual liberty, democratic institutions, appreciation towards diversity, and actions toward social justice. These values and principles should blend well together to shape a functioning civil society. Unfortunately, the prospect of a Civil Islam in Muslim societies remains quite far from our imagination in this early phase of the 21st Century.
In Malaysia, there is also an increasing concern on the issue of sectarianism in Islam. Official statements and sermons have clearly declared minority Muslims including the Shias, Ahmadis and more recently, Liberals, as deviant groups. Serious violent conflicts may have yet to emerge, but recent trends can be described as worrying to those who aspire a more open, tolerant and harmonious Muslim society. Another prime concern is that although with the increasing sense of religiosity in the region; issues related authoritarianism, corruption and despotic rules remain unresolved. These are just among the few issues frequently raised within the region, remains the key challenges towards achieving a Civil Islam in the region.
With this backdrop of Muslim societies in Southeast Asia, particularly in Malaysia and Indonesia, the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) sees the need to organize the Second Regional Conference on “Civil Islam: The Prospects and Challenges for the 21st Century”.