The Colombo Declaration — A call for peace

17th of August, 2016 is a monumental day. It marks a personal, communal and a national milestone. A step in the right direction for the Muslim community in confronting it’s demons.

The 5th annual Aqeedah Conference organised by As-Sunnah Trust(A non-Charitable Organization). It is an event held for the benefit of the community to educate itself of the aspects of Islam that are starting to be dismissed and the history that is slowly being forgotten. Throughout the years this conference has tackled many crucial topics, educating the people on fiqh, aqeedah and seerah. The central focal point of these conferences has being to bring about awareness of what traditional Islam is and what it teaches, and to ward ourselves away from the newly cropped interpretations that have become the cornerstone for countless sorrowful events.

As the global Muslim community is at a crux, being accused as a religion of hate which inspires violence. We took upon ourselves, to theme this year’s conference in confronting those accusations and to exhibit to the world what Islam and it’s teachings has to say about violence and what emotions do the Muslims harbour regarding the violence and the groups that orchestrate this violence.

Are we what Fox News tells we are?

Post 9–11, the right-wing media has being accrediting several acts of terror to be influenced by Islam and it’s teachings. This rhetoric has served well for those media news outlets, since controversy has the highest potential of gaining viral attention, which in turn results in better TRP ratings for the TV channels which translates to cash.

The sensationalism tendencies of the media has brewed Islamophobia in the Western parts of world, creating an alarmist environment. Where peace loving innocent Muslims have being subjected to unfair discriminations and acts of bigotry.

For the past decade numerous movements, Organizations and religious bodies have come together unanimously denouncing the violence that has being carried out in the name of Islam.

The message that was intended to convey through the conference is the denouncement of all terrorist groups and factions that orchestrate their political agendas under the guise of religion. The coming together of the scholarly body and the general public of the Sri lankan Muslim community in voicing their opposition for the actions and ideology of those groups. It was an event organized for the purpose conveying Islam’s truest values, in which peace, communal harmony and empathy are paramount in living and identifying oneself as Islam. An earnest attempt at showing the world that we too are victims at the hands of these terror groups.

It boggles my mind when I get to know that suicide bombs detonated in public places killing 100s of innocent people to be Islamic. Since it is not what my religion has taught me, it is not what my Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) has taught me. I as a self-identifying Muslim do not associate myself with violence, killing or any of such bigoted actions.

Where do we go from here?

A signed document by Sri Lanka’s leading Muslim Organizations from the academic realm and civil service bodies have expressed their total disapproval of the Global Epidemic of terrorism. This document serves as a desperate attempt of redeeming our religion from monstrous grip of these terrorist factions.

A clearly constructed document of what the Muslims through the millennia have stood for and this religion has taught us in it’s purest essence. We do live in an unfortunate time in history that this community has being pushed to an edge where it needs to be constantly clarify itself of who it is. Yet, we will defend what has transpired to us from our Holy Prophet(Peace be Upon Him). Love. Compassion. Empathy.

Declaration of United Islamic Organizations
We, the Muslim community of Sri Lanka come in unison to make this declaration regarding the teachings and identity of our religion. In a time of great crisis where Muslims are absurdly labelled as terrorists, we have come forth to clear many misconceptions that are being conjured in the name of Islam.
This declaration serves as a magnanimous gesture by the undersigned Scholars and organizations in condemnation of the killings and violence that are being carried out in the name of our religion, Islam. We as a community and practitioners of Islam, both from the lay community and the academic realm, vehemently condemn the extremist, violence inducing rhetoric that is spewed out by a small but yet vocal groups that have deviated heavily from the normative traditional teachings of Islam.
Who we are —
Followers of the 4 schools of jurisprudence by Imam Shafee, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Imam Malik. (May Allah have mercy upon them) which are unanimously accepted by the Islamic world
Followers of the 2 schools of Aqeedah (Ideology) (Asha’ri and Maturidi)
Endorsers of the spiritual paths (Thareeqas) that promote peace and tranquility through devotion to God.
What we denounce —
The members of the normative traditional Islam (Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamah) do not condone any form of violence or taking of another’s life under the pretext of Islam, the Almighty Lord, Allah or our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam )
We condemn all movements and ideologies that have deviated from the traditional peaceful teachings of Islam.
We do condemn the rhetoric of these separatist movements that sow discord and hatred towards non-Muslim communities. In contrary, we are of the strong faith and belief that Inter communal harmony is an integral part of Islam and our way of peaceful living.
We Declare —
As Sri lankan Muslims declare and take responsibility to refrain from providing any moral, materialistic, financial or any other ways and means to support to acts of terrorism.
We declare that we the following organizations and members of the Ulema are committed to fully implement this declaration on behalf of our Mother Land Sri Lanka and our Community.
We also declare that the Muslims of Sri Lanka stand for an undivided Multi Ethnic, Multi Cultural, Multi Religious Sri Lanka with equal rights to everyone.

The above declaration was endorsed by 20 Islamic Organizations, including the Majlisul Ulama of Sri Lanka the Major Islamic scholarly board comprising the whole of Islamic colleges in Sri Lanka.

Endorsed by Professor Dheen Muhammad, Lecturer at the University of Qatar on the discipline of Comparative Religion.

The principal values expressed in the ‘Declaration of United Islamic Organization’ were formulated by M. Razik Hassan, penned by Omar Hassan, later on edited and refined by Hazrath Musnad Sufian and Hafiz Ehsan.

From God we came, and to Him we may return!