MAIN THEME : Securing the Future

The world of Islam today is generally in turmoil and uncertainty. Islam is “at the crossroads”. Despite the Muslim population of 1.7 billion, Islam has been and continues to be a misunderstood religion, just as Muslims are continuously and constantly being vilified. As such, the future of Islam has been a popular subject of political and academic discussions.

There are, sadly, in some quarters people making a demagogy and demagoguery of Islam. There are also, in some others, attempts at marginalizing Islam and making Islam irrelevant in the new world order. This is a result of, in the words of Karen Armstrong, the “West’s widespread ignorance of, and entrenched reluctance vis-à-vis Islam”.

Muslims are partly to be blamed for all the mockery and ridicule that Islam is being subjected to, and the contempt that others feel towards them. For most instances, the vile that we witness against the Muslims is, in part, a function of the Muslims’ own evil and destructive ways.

There was a time in our history when our world bore witness to the magnificence of Islam and the significant and prominent roles that the Muslims once played in bringing order and innovation. Islam and the Muslims have contributed a great deal to the world of human civilization. The truth is, in an increasingly inter-connected and co-dependent World, the World cannot exist without Islam and the Muslims, just as the latter two cannot exist in isolation and oblivion to the former. The future is a shared community. Islam and the Muslims, therefore, are one and together with all in a shared humanity. Understanding how Muslims could reinvent themselves in modern terms is thus necessary.

It is under the above observations that WCIT 2020 feels the main theme of the Conference is relevant and timely. It serves to signal to all parties that Islam and the Muslims will always remain relevant to our global human existence, and, primarily and particularly to the Muslims, that the burden is upon them to show to the world that Islam is a blessing for all (Rahmatan lil ‘alamin).


Learners Today, Leaders Tomorrow

The nature of modern education and the trajectory of education in the future are important both for the present teaching and learning environment as well as for the training and preparation of future leaders. Leaders of tomorrow must not only be tech savvy but also be culturally and environmentally sensitive. The direction academic institutions choose to take must also incorporate the latest in the socio-technological world such as the consideration of IR4.O (Industrial Revolution 4.0). ‘IR4.O’ and ‘Education 4.0’ are buzz-words for Malaysia in 2018. Education 4.0 is about embracing global connectivity, smart machines and the new media as some of the drivers that will reshape how we think about work and how we learn and develop the skills to work in the future.


Economy Matters

The history of our economic world has demonstrated the kind of intricacies life has dictated upon us. We have come a long way in the way we have developed and progressed as a single world community and within our individual multiple communities. From the premodern state to the post-industrial modern situation to our present high-tech knowledge-based economy, and now, to our digital economy, we are witnessing the fluidity and rapid changing of our economic progress and development. Our global economy is in a constant flux of revolution. We are now riding along and surfing into the third wave or the second economy. The sustainability and survival of any given society hinges upon its economic viability. Our future starts today and the future is ours only if we manage to navigate and anticipate the instrumentation of tomorrow’s economy.


Healthy Environment

Health and the environment are two very important matters in our life. They are keys to the sustainability of the future of our humanity. The need to maintain individual healthy living and healthy lifestyle is paramount to the strength and survival of any given nation. There is also an organic and integral relationship between human health and the environment. Humans are dependent on their environment. Notable health and environmental issues that have confronted us, such as, malnutrition, unhygienic living conditions, unhealthy living practices, loss of natural biodiversity, environmental pollution, global warming, and population depletion, are therefore to be consistently addressed and definitively dealt with. Actual action plans are to be drawn and followed up with at the local state, national and international levels. The Conference therefore serves as a platform for the disentangling of the problems of environmental change and human health.


Cultural Language of Religion

Religion is perhaps the most complex and often misunderstood constituent of human associations and social superstructure. It sets the tones and moods of human behaviour and defines the limits of our cultural and civilizational boundaries. Yet, what is often missed is the fact that religion is a cultural expression. It speaks to the underlining cultures of our human communities. One has to acknowledge the fact that while religion brings about the best of the human soul, it does lend itself to human pretexts and hypocrisies. The present conditions of religious tension in our inter-religious relationships are but an expression of this fact. Notwithstanding that fact, our humanity still has hope in the power and beauty of religion. A way for us to seek a long-lasting solution to the global breakdown of interreligious, communal amity is to embrace the idea of religion as a cultural expression and allow religion to speak of itself as a cultural language.


Humanity, Security and the Arts

Human artistic expressions are manifestations of the creativity of the human minds and emotions. They reflect the critical thinking ability of human beings as they locate their idealism and articulate the quality of a peaceful life. The power of the performing arts cannot be under estimated. It is in the performing arts that we witness the conflation of critical and independent thinking, powerful and perceptive reading, lucid and precise writing, and articulate speech, all at once. It is the quality of life that the arts bring us into – “the imagined worlds created by different minds” – and that they enable us to understand the differing lives we live. Our ability to enter other worlds and minds give us a larger context for thinking about life and how we should live, and our readiness to experience and participate in the arts makes us more perceptive and sensitive to human diversity. In short, engaging in the performing arts helps create a deep sense of a shared world and widens our horizons about history and culture, and these in the end allow us to appreciate the forces that shape our behavior. A world confronted by a collective appreciation of historical and cultural diversity is certainly a world of peace.

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