Wednesday, January 26, 2022

PROMOTING NARRATIVES OF PEACE IN A VOLATILE WORLD: (Islamic Media Role in Preventing Extreme Violent Practices).

Assalamu’alaikum Wr. Wb.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful.

Distinguished panelists and all participants.

Thank you for having me today in this seminal event; an international conference whose theme is “Building International Co-operations to Reinforce Commitment and Practices of Islam as Rahmatan Lil ‘Alamin,”. It is a joint cooperation between the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID), Nahdlatul ‘Ulama (NU), and Muhammadiyah, which are major and influential civil society organizations in the nation. INFID has become one of the most highly respected NGOs since its inception in the 1980s, while Nahdlatul ‘Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah have been world-renowned as the two largest Islamic organizations in Indonesia and the world.
In my understanding, the conference theme has portrayed the sense of urgency not only felt by all Indonesian citizens in general and the Islamic ummah of the country in particular but also beyond them: The entire international community and the global ummah. It has, time and again, underscored the truism that extreme violent practices, perpetrated by certain groups whose political ideologies based upon misinterpretations of religious (re: Islamic) teachings and manipulations of religious narratives have, for more than two decades, horrified and threatened the world and humanity. Those extreme violent practices have resulted in a huge number of human fatalities that are unlike that of the current deadly COVID-19 pandemic. But more than the pandemic, such extreme violent practices have also brought about the destruction of property, human dignity, human sanity, and the degradation of human civilization.

One of the devastating consequences has been that both Islam and Moslems around the Globe have become the accused and victims physically and psychologically. Furthermore, they have been forced to endure all kinds of denigrations and vilifications as if the two are the ultimate source of whatever catastrophic events just occurred and, therefore, they must take the sole burden of responsibility.

Ladies and gentlemen,

At least for more than two decades, the global community and ummah have engaged in the ongoing struggles for combating extreme violent practices even if the efforts have, arguably, been painstakingly slow and difficult. In my humble opinion, one of the most persistent problems has come from the fact that there has been a wide gap between the religious (re=Islamic) narratives of peace and the reality of violent extremism originated from inside and outside the ummah itself.

The need to narrow the gap down between the two seems to be one of the most pressing tasks, to demonstrate to humankind that Islam is the religion that becomes “rahmatan lil ‘alamin” or the blessing for the universe and it has to be based upon the reality of the Moslem ummah throughout the world.

Here the role of the media, unquestionably, is pivotal. In a world that has become globalized the role of media in disseminating information from the source to the audience, particularly in the current volatile situation, is essential. The notion of real-time information sharing can be one of the key factors in determining our efforts to establish national, regional, and global networks to mitigate the ever-flowing of distorted information in the forms of fake news, propaganda, hoaxes, et cetera. However, the media itself does not exist in a vacuum. Political, economic, and socio-cultural realities on the ground cannot be ignored and they would eventually appear in the media and be known by the public no matter how sophisticated the former is in trying to hide and manipulate the truth.

Distinguished conference participants,

I do hope that all distinguished speakers of this particular session would address the intricacies and complexities associated with the role of media in this global environment in much detailed manner based on their academic eminence, experience as well as wisdom, the purpose of which is mobilizing and strengthening our efforts in curbing extreme violent practices that have been remaining a real threat to humankind.

Of particular importance is the issue of extremist violent practices perpetrated among the predominantly Moslem countries where structural injustices, in its broadest sense, have been rampant and remained unresolved. So much so that even if we might have access to the most sophisticated media or most powerful control over it, but without addressing and narrowing down such a gap between the narratives of peaceful religion and the existing reality of structural injustices, there would be no effective way to solve our human misery, including extreme violent practices.

Distinguished panelists,

In closing, allow me to quote the Qur’an, Surah 49, Al-Hujurat (The Chambers), from verse 6:

“O, you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.

May Allah bless all of us, Amin, and thank you.

Wassalamualaikum wr wb


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