MAIN THEME : Sharing Our Humanity

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).



The Future of Islam

This sub-theme hopes to lay the groundwork and foundation for a civil discourse on the current state of Islam and the need to create a new cultural and ideological landscape for its future. The historical nature of Islam is to be first understood, its current challenges identified, and its reforms interpreted. The present World of Islam must take stock of and embrace current realities in order for Muslims to progress and move forward.



Nusantara Islam

The Nusantara, understood as the archipelagic maritime Southeast Asia, refers to the whole of the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago that includes the countries of Brunei, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The historical beginnings of Islam in the Nusantara saw a peaceful and diplomatic Islam that won the hearts and minds of the indigenous people through love, respect, tolerance, acceptance, assimilation, and cooperation. Nusantara Islam triumphed in its early period not out of force, compulsion, or sanctimony, but out of humility, openness, and readiness to embrace differences. The romantic image of Nusantara Islam is perhaps the very kind of Islam that we so much long for as an alternative to radical and extreme ideological Islam that is becoming normalized and entrenched today. This segment seeks to explore the extent to which Nusantara Islam could be an alternative model to the global images of Islam.



Silent Takeover

‘Silent Takeover’, a term coined by the socio-economist, Noreena Hertz, speaks about how big corporations “in the age of globalization are changing our lives” and are “threatening the very basis of our democracy.” Growing dominance of big businesses demands that we become more aware of the burgeoning “contradictions of a world divided between the haves and the have-nots”. In this segment, while we attempt to unpack and understand the undercurrents of the silent takeover, we also look into the actual experiences, practices and measures that have or should have been put into place to safeguard our interest in the future of our humanity. It is also hope that Muslims can put forth an alternative to tackling the problem.



Lost in Poverty

Lost in poverty refers to the proverbial expression that speaks both in actual economic and material term, as well as in abstract, transcendental way. In economic terms this segment calls upon our consciousness and recognition to examine or re-examine the way we have been thinking about the Muslim World – on how it has evolved and become the way it is today – which is primarily and predominantly, a life of abject poverty. The question of why the lofty theoretical values of Islam have failed to live up to their ideals and bring success to the Muslims need to be squarely and honestly addressed. In the other spectrum, ‘lost in poverty’ as a transcendental expression point to the intellectual and cultural poverty or bankruptcy that we are seeing growing in the Muslim World. The perceived threat Muslims are generally feeling all over the world, weather real or imagined, and the corresponding response to it often resulted in responses that are typically unwarranted and extreme, a direct reflection of their lack of intellectual imagination and ideas to deal with such threat.



Health and the Environment

This sub-theme addresses the important issues of health and the environment that matter in and to our lives. They are keys to the sustainability of the future of our humanity. The need to maintain our individual well-being in the form of healthy living and healthy lifestyle is paramount to the strength and survival of any given community or 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. It is rather unfortunate that in all these concerns, Muslim countries have collectively been most affected by. Concrete action plans are therefore to be drawn and followed up with at the local state, national and international levels, and Muslims ought to willingly and actively participate in addressing th

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