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News Code: 1095

 

Journey of Faith, 1st Intl Islamic Conference in Kenya

The conference was meant to address issues of spreading Islam awareness, greater peace and coexistence, and fostering unity between various communities in Kenya and throughout Africa.

Over 2000 Muslims and non-Muslims from various parts the country attended the event. The two-day conference also gave an opportunity to youth to learn how to portray the correct Islamic ethos of a peaceful, tolerant and harmonious religion.

The conference was held at a time when tensions are running high in the country after a series of terrorist attacks that led to heightened security and the arrest of hundreds of suspects with a lot of misrepresentation of Islamic religion.

The “journey of faith” conference is an extension of journey of faith conferences, which are held annually in Toronto, Canada.

Objectives of the conference include to advance understanding and propagation of Islam to Muslims and Non-Muslims in Kenya and Internationally, to advance harmony and tolerance within the communities in Kenya, to promote a better understanding of the Muslim faith within the Muslims community and wider community, to promote an atmosphere of Islamic propagation (dawaah).

The conference also aims to encourage the participation of Muslims and non-Muslims in the democratic process and to actively promote discourse through means of political representation, dialogue and interaction and to uphold shared values, understanding and mutual respect for all.

Sheikh Said Rageh, organizer of the conference and a scholar in Islamic Studies and Shariah in Canada, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Mansoor, a Professor of Jurisprudence from Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Hameed, well versed with the principles of Da’wah and a graduate of the Islamic University of Madinah, Imam Wasim Kempson, Imam of Al-Muntada Masjid in London and also expert in the fields of fiqh and Aqeedah and Sheikh Badru Jafar, expert in the field of Jurisprudence and a member of Nairobi Jamia Masjid Council of Imams and Scholars were the speakers at the first edition of the conference.

The love of the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and living as a minority in harmony, tolerance and peace especially in Kenya were the main themes of the speeches.

All the Muslim clerics who spoke at the conference urged the local religious leaders to reach out to the youth and deter them from falling into the trap of radicalization and extremism.

The clerics said the core message of Islam had been corrupted by a few individuals posing as Sheikhs with the intent of turning the youth to violence.

“Many in the world have misunderstood and abused the message of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). That is why we call on all local Imams and sheikhs to refresh the people’s understanding of the lifestyle and teachings of the Prophet,” said Sheikh Ahmed Hameed from United Arab Emirates.

On the topic of the love of the Prophet the cleric said that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a peaceful man and came as a mercy for all creatures in the universe.

London-based Muslim scholar and Imam Wasim Kempson said Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) love supersedes the love of anyone else. He said the prophet was chosen by Allah to be the final prophet and therefore deserved to be beloved and whatever the prophet ask us to do we must do and whatever he forbids us we must abstain.

And as for those who insult the prophet like for instance in the form of drawing cartoons, the sheikh said that we should respond them in a way that reflects and demonstrates the good nature of the Prophet.

Kenyan National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale who also attended the conference said that a small group of false Sheikhs had managed to grab media attention and propagate false stereotypes about the religion and those who practice it.

“Islam stands for peace, tolerance and co-existence, and none of these radical Sheikhs seem to be preaching this message”, said Duale.

He said Islam is not about killing and terrorism. He said in fact Islam says if you kill one life, it is as if you kill the whole mankind.

The Canadian based Sheikh Said Ragge gave a speech on the lessons from the battle of Uhud in which he urged the Kenyan Muslim leaders to always consult their people (Shura) as this was the usual habit of our beloved Prophet (PBUH).

He asked all the Muslims to take a stand and be united and should never allow the enemies of Islam to divide them on the basis of sunni, shia, salafi, tabligh, wahabi. He said the over 8 million Muslims in Kenya must stand together as one for them to be respected and succeed in all front; economically, politically, and socially.

He said if Muslims, as an Ummah, are not united and each one of them want to do his own thing they will surely be defeated in many level.

He urged the Muslims to spread Islam and show the true picture of Islam through peace and tolerance.

Sheikh Ragge said the event is aimed at portraying the correct innate Islamic teachings of peace, tolerance and dispelling misconceptions and myths about Islam and Muslims.

"In light of the recent unfortunate events at the Westgate mall and other attacks, it is an opportunity, especially to the youth, to portray the correct Islamic ethos of a peaceful, tolerant and harmonious religion," he said.

Sheikh Abdul Rahman Mansoor from Saudi Arabia gave a talk on remaining steadfast (istiqamah) upon the religion of Allah which he said is the objective of every Muslim who wishes to maintain himself upon the straight path.

He said the condition in which the Muslims live nowadays, requires steadfastness in religion with the multitude of trials that they face and the desires and temptations they are engulfed with, as well as the suspicions, doubts and false propaganda that are raised against the religion.

He told the audience being steadfast means not allowing the temptations of this world and its materialistic inclinations distort our thinking or objectives in life. He concluded his speech by saying Muslims are not asked to suppress their needs and desires entirely, but to control them effectively and not to make them the source of the disobedience of Allah (swt).

In summary the purpose of the conference was to correct the misconceptions about Islam and it came at a pivotal time in Kenya when many Kenyans were posing serious questions about Islam.

Mandera senator Billow Kerrow asked the audience during his speech a difficult question. He asked if the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent to mankind to preach Mercy, why is there so much violence associated with Muslims and Islam? He said it is important that such conferences happen from time to time to clear the misconceptions concerning Islam.