Latheef Farook- For the first time almost all Muslim religious, social and cultural and other organizations and groups, buried their differences, and met in one platform under one roof at Wellawatta Miami Reception Hall on Thursday 2 May 2013 to announce the formation of an Interim Consultative(Shoora) Council-ICC.
The main purpose of ICC is to meet the emerging challenges and deal with burning issues facing the community besides seeking to play a role in the overall development of the country.
The need for such a body has been felt for sometimes in view of the continuous moral decadence of Muslim politicians who had become community’s shameful liability Even the others failed to rise up to the occasion to protect the interest of the community.
It was also reminded that such efforts were made in the past and the failure to do so had cost the community a great deal.
Under such circumstance, when the community was left in lurch, the need for a genuine group of people to take over the task of guiding the community was felt badly .This was especially so in the context of fierce anti-Muslim campaign unleashed by a small number of ethno religious fascists aimed at pitting the mainstream Sinhalese against peaceful Muslim community.
The result was the formation of Interim Consultative Council, ICC, aimed at rescuing the community.
In the short term the ICC will seek to deal with challenges faced by the community whose very existence is threatened due to the abrupt rise of anti-Muslim forces with their sinister agendas against the Muslim community. They are suspected to have been backed by powerful local and foreign forces hostile to Muslims.
The organizers explained the purpose, shape and all other relevant details of the ICC which would pave the way for the final consultative council. These details were submitted to the participants for their comments which will be discussed at an open forum early next month.
Some of the main organizations attended the gathering include All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulema, ACJU, Tabligh Jamaath, Thowheed Jamaath, Jamiathe Islami and Thareekas besides professionals, intellectuals, businessmen and others.
In his inaugural speech Yusuf Mufthi of ACJU explained the great importance attached to consultation in Islam in arriving at any decision.
It was also addressed by General Secretary of ACJU Sheikh M,.M.M.Mubarak, Sharia Council President Moulavi Hasbulla, Shaikh Mufti Yusuf Haniffa, Professor M Siddeeq of Peradeniya University, Moulavi A.L.M. Ibrahim, former Ameer of Jamaathe Islami, Ustad M.A.M.Mansoor, Professor A.L.H.M Ibrahim, former Sri Lanka Ambassador to Iran M.M.Zuhair, former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Javid Yusuf, Shaikh I.L.M.Hashim, Shaikh Ismail Salafi, Moulavi A.L.M.Hashim and Mansoor Dahlan.
They all supported the move in one voice as timely .There was consensus that the establishment of such a Shoora council may take time and thus they welcomed the decision to set up an interim consultative council as a prelude to the formation of a permanent Shoora Council.
Dr Musthafa Musthafa, Chairman of Colombo based Abrar Institute, explained the issues, around 132, faced by the community to be tackled. Thus the task ahead is gigantic.However,as the age old Chinese adage says that ”one thousand mile journey begins with a step” the need to start somewhere to reach somewhere was highlighted.
As part of its overall agenda the proposed NSC will be concerned about any threat to communal harmony or any threat to the country by local NGOs, international forces, extremists from all communities besides doing everything possible to ensure peace and harmony in the island.
The NSC will encourage people from grassroots to involve in participatory democracy to overcome issues; the centuries old ethnic politics and decorative political leadership.
Tracing the circumstances which led to the formation of the ICC it was pointed out that it all happened when some dedicated young Muslims
from all walks of life belonging to diverse professions and committed to the welfare of the community met around early last January to discuss what could be done to save the sinking community. They met at a time when the racist elements were building up hatred towards the community and destroying communal harmony in the country.
Since then they held meeting after meeting .Following lengthy stormy sessions they prepared a list of names of people who could fit into this agenda. They screened and selected each and every one and finally ended up selecting around 200 people, from different fields, who could play a significant role in guiding the community in the right direction.
Such careful screening was essential, because as Jemath Islami former chief Moulavi Ibrahim rightly said” there are Bodu Sala Senas within our own community .Thus the need to bring together likeminded sincere group which would place the interest of the community above their own interests.
Once the list was finalized they didn’t rush. Instead they formed into different teams and met individuals, groups, associations and personally explained the concept .The overall response has been spontaneous reception. Encouraged by the response and equipped with all relevant details they formed an Interim Committee for National Shoora Initiative.
The Interim Committee absorbed ideas from eight different models and prepared a provisional concept which could be adjusted to suit the need of the time within the framework of Islamic teachings. In doing so it was decided that the NSC will not directly discuss or decide on any matter relating to Shareeah, not overshadow or pose a threat to the existing organizations in any manner and the voluntary interim committee consisting of persons of diverse backgrounds will not opt to be members of the Shoora.
The characteristics of the proposed NSC will be inclusive and participatory, widely represented, consultative, united and coordinated, independent, recognized and accepted, accommodative, assertive, authoritative and able to make decisions binding all.
Some of the qualifications to be members of the NSC include the need to abide by Islamic principles, genuinely committed to the development of the community, will to dedicate time and energy, president/chairman or an authorized member of an organization who has a say in it, locally or internationally recognized person in relevant fields, patriotic and supportive of national development and be apolitical.