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PIA Press Release

Ulamas solidify network through NUCP

By Mai Gevera

Davao City (26 January) -- Following the three-year "Empowering the Ulama Project", the 200 ulama-led organizations and members of the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP) met yesterday to organize a national network of independent ulama organizations.

In the 3rd National Ulama Summit held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel, the interim NUCP board will elect its officers from the most respected Muslim religious leaders and imminent Islamic scholars.

Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID lead convenor Amina Rasul said that the summit is also the "reaction of Muslim scholars to the call of Pope Benedict XVI".

The fighting last August threatened to derail the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. It has again strained the relations between the Christians and Muslims.

The summit, with the theme "Common Word towards a Common Peace", hopes for the Ulama to look at a common ground and not on what divides the people.

"If Muslims and Christians cannot be at peace, then the world cannot be at peace," Rasul said.

Distinguished international speakers were invited like Dr.'Elwi Amin Al-Sayed Khalil, representative of the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ustads Firdaus Bin Yahya, former vice president of the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association, and Dr. Abu Hapsin, vice chairman of Central Java Indonesia Ulama Board.

The NUCP hopes to become as organized as the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). Despite having the largest number of membership, the ulama have never been formally organized into a religious national network.

However, NUCP as a loose organization in the past three years have brought in significant impact in the Muslim community. The Waterfront summit aims to establish a truly national network of independent ulama organizations.

Magbassa Kita Foundation Inc chairperson Dr. Santanina Rasul cited that the NUCP was invited by the Senate to discuss issues about the Sharia Courts.

"It was the first time that we were consulted and were asked for guidelines on who to be appointed in the said court," Rasul said.

In the recent elections held in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, both Muslims and Christians came together to monitor the conduct of the elections up until the counting of votes.

These, according to Rasul, are but some of the significant effects brought about by the principles shared and practiced by the members of the NUCP. (PIA XI) [top]

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