by Zafar Bangash (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 40, No. 8, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1432)
The First International Conference on Islamic Awakening held in Tehran on September 17 and 18 was a grand affair. There were more than 700 delegates from 84 countries representing all shades of opinion and thought in the Ummah.
The First International Conference on Islamic Awakening held in Tehran on September 17 and 18 was a grand affair. There were more than 700 delegates from 84 countries representing all shades of opinion and thought in the Ummah. There were leaders of almost all Islamic movements, current and former government officials — presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers and ministers — as well as academics, political activists and journalists at the conference.
Reflecting the great importance the Islamic Republic of Iran attached to the conference, the Rahbar of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei himself addressed the opening session of the conference (see pp. 27–33 for his opening address). President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Attorney General Ayatullah Sadegh Larijani, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani and Conference Chairman, Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati (a former foreign minister) accompanied the Rahbar as he entered the hall to loud cheers and was ushered to the stage. As the Rahbar took his seat on the stage, the others walked down to the conference floor to take theirs.
In his wide-ranging address, the Rahbar touched on several important points. He paid rich tribute to the courageous people of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain and other places where Muslim masses are involved in struggles to regain their dignity and honour. The Rahbar urged them not to be discouraged by the undoubted challenges they will face and also warned them against the beguiling smiles of the satanic powers that had kept them in bondage by propping up corrupt dictators for so long. He urged the Muslim masses to remain on the scene until they had achieved their objectives.
Naturally not all 700 delegates could have been given the platform to speak but leaders of some of the leading movements were asked to address the conference. Other participants were accommodated and recognized by being invited to sit on the platform for each of the four daily sessions. Leading conference delegates were divided into five committees to tackle various issues and report back to the conference on the final day. Before the concluding address of President Ahmadinejad on the final day, the conference chairman, Dr. Velayati, read out the Conference declaration. Iran’s Foreign Minister Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi, also addressed the conference on the morning of the second day.
In his address, President Ahmadinejad talked about the common bonds of humanity and its quest for peace based on justice. He emphasized that all human beings are created equal but it is because of Shaytan and the imprisonment of humans by carnal desires based on the distinction of race, color or birth that they have been chained. Such people, he asserted, will never taste true freedom. Iman (faith-commitment) was in the nature of human beings and no society would achieve true happiness based on shirk. Describing freedom as the greatest gift bestowed upon humanity by Allah (Â), President Ahmadinejad asserted that no society could have peace and happiness without freedom. He also pointed out that all prophets were sent with the same message of tawhid (oneness of Allah – Â), and that their mission was one: to establish justice in society that could only come about through divine rule.
President Ahmadinejad asked whether the seven billion people in the world are happy today and if not — as they clearly are not — then what are the reasons for their unhappiness? He placed the blame squarely on the mismanagement of global governance by the predatory powers led by the US. If there were proper management of world affairs, there would be justice and peace, he insisted. There would be no mass starvation and there would not be endless wars to plunder the resources of the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America. In referring to the current uprisings and Islamic awakening in the Muslim world, he said it was not helpful for Muslims to be quarrelling among themselves. He extended a hand of friendship to the people of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and all other countries and said that Islamic Iran was willing to help them in whatever way possible. His call was greeted with resounding cries of Allahu Akbar and prolonged applause.
In addition to recognizing the contribution of speakers at the conference, the plenary sessions and committee meetings were held to address the following:
1. develop historical, conceptual and theoretical foundations of Islamic awakening;
2. recognize prominent players in the Islamic Awakening;
3. identify challenges and threats facing the Islamic Awakening;
4. identify goals and objectives of the Islamic Awakening; and
5. clarify the outlook and future prospects of Islamic awakening.
Mindful of their responsibilities as a single Ummah, the participants expressed their sympathy and solidarity with the drought-stricken people of Somalia and underlined the Islamic imperative of mobilizing humanitarian assistance to help them. The valiant struggle of the people of Palestine facing Zionist aggression was also recognized and the continued occupation of al-Quds (the Holy Land) was seen as a great affront to Islam and the worldwide Muslim Ummah. A clear distinction was made between what is referred to as “Western-style democracy” in which vested interests manipulate the system to their advantage and the representative system of Muslims backed and supported by the will of the people. Muslims have their own system of governance distinct from the West.
The conference participants resolved to establish a permanent Secretariat of the Islamic Awakening Conference in Tehran that would be headed by Dr. Velayati as its first Secretary General. The Secretariat will hold consultations with Muslim activists and welcome any input through email, letters or any other means to promote the legitimate aspirations of Muslims.
This important conference for the first time brought Muslims from divergent backgrounds and outlooks onto a single platform and urged them to work toward the common goal of achieving honor and dignity in society. It will go a long way toward making Muslim strugglers more confident, secure in the knowledge that they are not alone in their quest. The world is certainly on the threshold of major changes in which Muslims for the first time in many decades will be in the driving seat. It will certainly usher in a more just and fair world than what we have hitherto experienced.