• Muslim clerics seek peace-building role for Bangsamoro

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    MARAWI CITY: Groups of ulama (Muslim clerics) here in the south conducted public consultations across Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) seeking the creation of Darul Ifta (Islamic House of Opinion) for ARMM that would play a vital role on peace building.

    “We are raising many issues about Muslims in Mindanao, but we never heard about the side of Ulama,” Saad Amate, one of the organizers of Ulama consultations on institutionalization of Regional Darul Ifta for ARMM (RDI-ARMM) that convened first in this city on February 8 and followed up in Zamboanga city on February 16 to 17, told The Manila Times.

    Amate said the event was attended by ARMM officials and groups of ulama from different Muslim institutions including armed groups Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and “unanimously” expressed t
    heir need over the creation of the RDI-ARMM.

    Ulama groups include Muslim Mindanao Ulama Council, Jamio Muslim Mindanao, Jamiyatul Waqf, Kamilul Islam, Jamiatu Marawi Islamic Foundation, Jamio Mindanao Islamic Center, Jama’ah Tablig, and other groups including two giant armed groups MNLF and MILF. Among representatives of the groups are mufti, Amate said.

    Mufti is a Muslim cleric leader and issuer of fatwa (Islamic legal pronouncement), which is being followed by their members.

    “It is very disturbing to have many mufti, sometimes we do not know whom we will follow,” local folk said in vernacular here.

    RDI-ARMM aims to unite and unify ulama from various groups in ARMM under one umbrella institution for them to be in charge of Muslim affairs in ARMM and be involved in the social services, said Department of Education (DepEd) of ARMM for Madaris Undersecretary Alzad Sattar.

    Darul Ifta was established largely for spiritual and ritual activities such as khutba (giving sermon), attending funerals, conducting wedding ceremonies, leading of daa (prayers) and gracing kanduri (thanksgiving), but has no greater participation in policymaking and governance since the creation of the ARMM.

    Sattar, who attended the event, said “this is now the opportune time for the ulama to play an active role in transforming the society and combat the social menace affecting the community.”

    “The time has come for the ulama to think out of the box. Their significant role on moral transformation, peace building, good governance, and socio-economic development should not be undermined,” he said.

    During the convergence, the ulama have come up with seven resolutions that to be submitted to the concerned agencies or individuals for appropriate actions.

    “A covenant was also signed by the ulama reiterating their commitment and support to the peace processes between the GRP-MNLF and the MILF-GPH respectively,” Sattar said.

    One of the resolutions is “urging the Organization of Islamic Coordination (OIC) to immediately convene the Bangsamoro Coordinating Council between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for unity and solidarity among Bangsamoro for peace and development in the Bangsamoro homeland,” Sattar said.

    Another resolution is “urging OIC through Peace Council for Southern Philippines, Government of the Republic of the Philippines, MNLF and MILF to convene as quadripartite meeting for unity and solidarity among Bangsamoro.

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