Ulama are Muslim scholars trained in Islam and Islamic law and are the interpreters of Islam's sciences, doctrines and laws.
The ulama on Wednesday elected 14 members of the board, coming from the different sectors of the Muslim communities, to the 15-member interim board of trustees. The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) was given the 15th seat on the Board.
Those elected to the board of NUCP included: Dr. Hamid Barra from Marawi City, Dr. Abhoulkhair Tarason from Basilan, Sulu Mufti Sharif Jul Asiri Abirin, Tawi-Tawi Mufti Abdulwahid Inju, Aleem Abdul Majid Said from Cebu, Aleem Ahmad Darping Nooh from Davao, Dr. Abdussalam Disomimba from Lanao del Norte, Prof. Moner Bajunaid from General Santos City, Shari'a Court Judge Aboali Cali from Marawi City, Aleem Jaafar Ali from Cotabato City, Aleem Abdulhadi Daguit from Manila, Bro. Hassan Garcia from the Balik Islam community, Ustadza Albaya Badrodin and Aleema Khadijah Mutilan from the Aleemat (Muslim women religious scholars). Former Senator Santanina Rasul, Chair of Magbassa Kita Foundation, Inc (MKFI) and Advisor of the PCID, was given the honor of occupying the 15th seat.
The newly elected officers of the NUCP interim board are scheduled to meet and elect from among themselves a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and a secretary general. They are expected to set into motion plans that will empower Muslim religious scholars to provide leadership to Muslim communities in terms of peace and development.
The approval of the bylaws and the election of the members of the interim board came after a series of regional consultations held in Zamboanga City, Cagayan de Oro City, Manila and Sarangani province culminating the 2nd Ulama Summit in Quezon City.
The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) and the Magbassa Kita Foundation, Inc (MKFI) are responsible for organizing the 2nd National Ulama Summit, with the support of the Embassies of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
"Not By Fatwa Alone"
The summit of Muslim religious leaders opened Monday night with dinner ceremonies attended by the Ulama, representatives of the diplomatic corps, government officials and other guests. Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., GRP Peace Panel Chair Ambassador Rafael Seguis, Court of Appeals Justice Hakim Abdulwahid, Defense Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina, Ambassador Robert Gerard Brinks of the Netherlands Embassy and Mr. Chris Wright of the British Embassy were among those who attended.
PCID lead convenor Amina Rasul, stated that it is important for the Ulama to come together because "In today's world, society demands a wider and more participative role of the ulama, that they get involved directly in the transformation or reformation process. Our societal problems today can no longer be solved by the formulation of a fatwa alone."
Dr. Endang Turmudi Secretary General of Nadhlatul Ulama, considered as one of the largest independent Islamic organizations in the world with estimates of their membership ranging as high as 40 million, gave the opening keynote address.
As Islam continues to spread globally, Turmudi said that it becomes incumbent upon all Muslims "to review and put in an appropriate way" their relationship with their fellow Muslims and with people of other religions as well. He also urged the Ulama to lead in the effort to inform the whole world that the "violence done by Muslims or those who acknowledge themselves as Muslims is not derived from the doctrine of Islam but from certain interpretations affected by the political situations surrounding them."
"Engage the Changing World"
The summit also featured Muslim academics from Australia and Britain. Dr Abdullah Saeed who holds the Sultan of Oman Professorial Chair of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne, argued that while the Ulama need to be versed in the classical tradition of Islam they also need to understand the contours of the changing world so they can lead their people in addressing the challenges faced by Muslims in the modern world.
Dr. Hisham Hellyer, a British Muslim who is currently a Principal Research Fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies in Malaysia, emphasized the great and noble role of the Ulama but noted that the Ulama should gain the respect and acceptance of the people noting that the loss of religious authority will negatively impact the world at large. He also urged Muslims "to critically engage in the changing world".
"Peace and Development Sessions"
In the morning of January 29, the summit will feature sessions with some members of the international donor community doing work in Mindanao. Expected to address the Ulama and discuss possible areas of collaboration with the new Ulama organization are US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, European Union Ambassador Alistair Macdonald and Australian embassy's deputy head of mission Mr. Stephen Scott.
The afternoon session will feature a workshop on electoral reforms with Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) Chair Ambassador Henrietta de Villa, former COMELEC Commissioner Mehol Sadain, and former Human Rights Commissioner Nasser Marohomsalic.
Former President Fidel Ramos is scheduled to lead the officers of the NUCP in their oath taking during the closing dinner ceremonies on January 29.