The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has summoned its Islamic scholars, the ulama, from across the country to help bolster its fight against terror.
Two of the country’s known terror groups are operating in the area.
The ARMM gathered the ulamas for a three-day summit, from May 12 to 14, in Cotabato City to explore their role in the fight against terrorism.
The ARMM has already recognized the admonition of Islamic leaders that terror groups have used the fundamental line of Islam to persuade Muslims to their side, targeting Westerners and governments supporting the West, in armed attacks and suicide bombers.
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Gov. Mujiv Hataman said, “Terrorists use inappropriate interpretations of Islamic principles to strengthen their cause and encourage the commission of vicious acts”.
“We urge our ulama that if we are in the right position, we should move to show what is right, and let’s condemn what is wrong,” he said.
The ARMM Bureau of Public Information said the Philippines ranked 12th among the countries heavily affected by terrorism in the 2016 Global Terrorism Index of the Institute for Economics and Peace. It said the presence of the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Maute group, the country’s leading terrorist groups, in at least two of its provinces brings the ARMM at the forefront of the fight against terrorism in the country.
The ARMM has recently declared war on terror, and it said the three-day Ulama Summit Against Terrorism was an initial step of the ARMM government “to enlist the support of Islamic scholars to combat terrorism”.
The outcome and resolutions made during the summit could not be immediately ascertained. Hataman said, “Muslim scholars can contribute to the advocacy against terrorism by educating people about the true teachings of Islam, most especially on the principles of justice, compassion, peace and harmony.”
The ARMM noted the national government has considered terrorism as an urgent and critical national security threat.
In November last year Maj. Gen. Datuk Wira Zamrose bin Mohd Zain, head of mission of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team Batch 11, said terrorists may have been using the unregistered Islamic schools to raise local recruits.
He said his site visits across Maguindanao and Lanao picked up information about the presence of terror groups.
He said the frequency of reports was increasing, although he said the reports were still mainly coming from the National Police and the Army. “There are no reports coming from civilians or local officials,” he told journalists here who joined the site visit in Maguindanao and South Cotabato of the community projects funded by either the Japanese embassy or the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
He said the Maute group of Lanao del Sur has been mentioned as one of the terror groups. The group has been also flagged as a major operator in the September 2 bombing of a night market in Davao City that killed 15 persons and wounded 71 others.
During the three-day summit, Sheikh Abdulrahman “Abu Hurayra” Udasan, mufti of the Darul-Ifta Bangsamoro, said “there should be a distinction between the normative teaching on Islam based on the glorious Koran and the cultural practices of the Muslims that may or may not be consistent with the normative teaching of Islam.”
He said Islam means peace “and this can automatically counter terrorism and extremism, because peace in Islam is a key of association not isolation; it is a key of accommodation, not marginalization.”
Aside from the ulama, the summit was also attended by local and regional government officials, military and police officials, representatives from civil-society organizations and the media.
Source: Business Mirror Philippines