Friday October 17, 2003 09:15 AM




Hon Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Prime Minister of Malaysia and Chairman of the Tenth Session of the Islamic Conference

Your Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa AI-Thani

Emir of the State of Qatar and Outgoing Chairman of the tslamic Conference

Your Majesties and Royal Highnesses

Your Excellencies Fellow Heads of State and Government Hon Delegates, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Mr Chairman

Please allow me to congratulate you and the people, brothers and sisters in Islam of Malaysia on you relevation to the exalted position of Chairman of our Organisation, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. I am convinced that your vast experience and standing in international political affairs wi11 impart a new dynamism towards the achievement of the objectives and ideals that we have collectively set for ourselves in the Ummah.

The main topic for our discussion and consideration is Knowledge and Morality for Unity and Dignity for the progress of the Ummah. This is a most judicious theme for it is through knowledge that humankind has been able to exploit for its survival the Almighty Allah's bountiful gift of nature. It is also through knowledge that humankind has been able to begin to worship Allah, the Lord of Creations. It is also knowledge that creates the fabric of all societat interactions and the bedrock of civilisation. It is in recognition of the primacy of knowledge that the Holy Prophet Mohamed, (may peace be upon him) enjoined on all Muslims to seek knowledge, "even if it meant travelling to China".

Mr Chairman

As Muslims carried out this edict of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) they created through their endeavours and made the Ummah the pinnacle of enlightenment. Muslims became the fountainhead of knowledge, of human exaltation and of individual and collective intellect as the pioneers in the development of the arts and sciences. We must then seek knowledge for the rejuvenation of the Ummah. Know(edge will enable the Ummah to reaffirm to the rest of the world that the civitisational message of Islam is a message of peace, development and harmony.

Mr Chairman

Knowiedge impacts directly on the second aspect of the topic for discussion, that is morality. An ignorant person is very likeiy to be an immoral person as he or she wiil not be able to relate to any progressive value system. He or she wiil not be able to know what is wrong or right; what is acceptable or not, In short, Mr Chairman, a society composed of such people will be chaotic and unprogressive. It wiil be disunited because it is chaotic. There then can be no dignity in such a situation. it will then not be in any position to project unto the rest of the world that essential message of Islam, of inner harmony with oneself and a peaceful co-existence with the rest of the world. Mr Chairman, knowledge and morality for dignity and progress wiil lead to a renaissance of the Ummah, a very firm framework from which we can face the multifarious challenges of this age.

In this connection, my delegation welcomes the'sound proposal of Brother Musharraf entitled "Enlightened Moderation" which constitutes, in our view, real food for thought.

Those chailenges, Mr Chairman, are political as well as social and economical. They will situate the Ummah, Islam and our Organisation, the OIC, within the current international politicat context. We all know, Mr Chairman, that the events of September 11th have had a tremendous and far-reaching impact on the world at large and on the Ummah in particular. In the subsequent confusion and uncertainty that the world found itself, there has been an easy temptation in some quarters to equate Islam with terrorism. People have tried to say that terrorism is synonymous with being a Mustim. In this manner they have refused to face the necessity of addressing some of the burning political issues of the day. Mr Chairman, as an Organisation we responded to this hideous campaign through the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Terrorism: In this beclaration we reaffirmed the peaceful nature of - our religion. We reaffrmed the right of people underoccupation and subjugation to defend themselves and to regain their


This leads me directly to the Middie East crisis and the painful situation of the Paiestinian people. The Palestinian Leader is under a state of siege, his freedom and movement curtailed. As we continue to follow closely the situation in that region, we deplore yet again the recent spate of attacks and counter-attacks between Israelis and Palestinians and the recent raids by Israeli forces into Syrian territory. This does not augur weli for an early settiement envisaged in the Road Map. Trust and confidence-building measures must be reinforced and made to attend to every stage of the implementation of the Road Map, if the peace process is to endure. The Palestinian peopie need to regain the peace and tranquility that have been so long denied to them.

The occupation of Arab lands must stop. In reiterating our position on the Arab-Israeli confiict we call for the creation of an independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside the State of Israel. Mr Chairman, it is my firm belief that the issue of Palestine requires an even greater involvement and effort of our Organisation, the OIC. I would therefore like to suggest that the quartet of the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and fhe United States of America be expanded to include the o1C. Israel's recent military raid into Syria can only compound the Middle East crisis.

There are in addition to the Middle East crisis, other violent conflicts that continue to rage around the world, leaving death, destruction and desolation in their wake. Let me start with the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq. The people of these two countries, hitherto beacons in the Ummah, need urgent international assistance in order to regain normalcy. The OIC, our organisation, shouid be in the forefront in this endeavour.

Mr Chairman

We are encouraged by the recently concluded agreement for peace in Sudan. We shall not relent in our prayers for the success of the process, for the good of the brotheriy people of Sudan and of the region at large. In this vein, Mr Chairman, I would like to pay tribute to my brother, His Exceliency Mr Omar Hassan EI-Bashir, President of the Sudan, for his great wisdom and his commitment to peace and progress of the ummah.

On the issue of Kashmir, we support the initiatives being taken to reduce tensions between two great countries, Pakistan and India. We urge both sides to strive harder to reach a mutually acceptable solution to their differences.

In other conflict situations in the world in general, and within the Ummah in particular, we beseech the protagonists to revert to Allah the Almighty and strive for peace. This is particularly true of Somalia.

Mr Chainman

We can say without any fear of contradiction that human security is not threatened by conflicts alone. Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis are fast becoming serious security issues. Thus, the urgent need for more resources for research.

The points that I have raised, Mr Chairman, have a direct bearing on the social and economic condition of Muslims all over the world. A renaissance of Islam will perforce be nurtured by a consoiidated and sustained prosperity, throughout the Ummah. We must therefore intensify ali the efforts geared towards the creation of wealth and prosperity that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference has undertaken so far. These range from institutional arrangements that seekfora beneficial synergy, such as the Ministerial Conferences of Culture, information, as weil as Science and Technology, to the mobilisation of the private business sectors of the OIC member states. We should encourage the business community, the engine of growth for the creation of prosperity. This is the only way to tackle the pervading poverty that only serves as the breeding ground for despair and extremism.

We need a more energised cooperation focused on the issues that are of primary importance to us. These among others are the transfer of capital and technology from the more endowed members of the Ummah. Let me in this context proffer some words of encouragement to the initiatives taken by the OIC to reach out to other entities such as the European Union and the African Union, notabiy. I pray that these efforts wiil yield the envisaged dividends. Whatever is undertaken with these entities however can only come as a supplement to what we can do together in the Ummah.

However, Mr Chairman, it is high time we gave more meaning to. the operation of the OIC and the cooperation mechanism amongst member states. For instance given the prevatence of conflict situations in various parts of the OIC membership, we need to be more proactive and establish dispute settlement and conflict resolution mechanisms within the framework of an OIC Security Council. This would allow us to be more involved in the resotution of conflicts and disputes within the OIC. Such dispute settlement and conflict resolution mechanisms can be reinforced with an QIC Court of Justice to which members in dispute can refer to for the settlement of their disputes as a first step to avoid escalation into serious conflicts.

Mr Chairman

I am aware of the good work the Chairmen of the various Standing Committees have been doing. Their good work can only impact in a more meaningfui way on our people if the numerous recommendations made are diligently implemented in the area of Trade exchanges, there is nothing stopping us to accelerate our efforts towards the dismantling of tariff barriers and work towards an OIC Common Market which is not impossible to achieve by the next summit in 2006 if there is the sincerity and political will.

Mr Chairman

I would like to conclude byvoicing a most ardent desire, and that is, to see the Ummah, united and purposeful, become once again a beacon of enlightenment, in perfect harmony with itself and engaging, from a vantage point, in the cross-fertilizing dialogue with the rest of the world. 1 voice the strong desire to see the Ummah transformed into that area of prosperity and knowledge stretching from Asia to Africa to the Americas, to Europe and beyond. I know that this can be achieved if only we want it to happen. This is the task before us.