Thursday, May 24, 2012

Myanmar Muslims Intellectual Forum (MMIF) and Islam in Myanmar

MMIF,
A one day Seminar on Islam in Myanmar
jointly organised by
IAIS Malaysia
Myanmar Muslims Intellectual Forum (MMIF)
International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) East Asia
Regional Islamic Da'wah Council of Southeast Asia and The Pacific (RISEAP)
Institute for the Study of the Ummah and Global Understanding (ISUGU)

Topic

"DEMOCRATIZATION IN MYANMAR: OPPORTUNITIES & CHALLENGES FOR ITS MUSLIM COMMUNITY"


Date: 29 April 2012 (Sunday)

Time: 09:30am - 04:30pm

EVENT NAME: INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR ON ISLAM IN MYANMAR
THEME: DEMOCRATIZATION IN MYANMAR: OPPORTUNITIES & CHALLENGES FOR ITS MUSLIM COMMUNITY
CO-ORGANIZERS: IAIS MALAYSIA
MYANMAR MUSLIMS INTELLECTUAL FORUM (MMIF)
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ISLAMIC THOUGHT (IIIT) EAST ASIA
INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF THE UMMAH AND GLOBAL UNDERSTANDING (ISUGU)
REGIONAL ISLAMIC DA'WAH COUNCIL OF SOUTHEAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC (RISEAP)
DATE: 29 APRIL 2012 (SUNDAY)
TIME: 9.30 am - 4.30 pm
VENUE: CONFERENCE HALL, IAIS MALAYSIA
OFFICIATING ADDRESS BY: TUN ABDULLAH HAJI AHMAD BADAWI
PATRON OF IAIS MALAYSIA & FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF MALAYSIA
BACKGROUND OF THE SEMINAR


INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR ON ISLAM IN MYANMAR

Theme: Democratization in Myanmar: Opportunities and Challenges for Its Muslim Community
Seminar Background


This seminar is the second of three events concerning Islam in Myanmar scheduled to be held at IAIS Malaysia in 2012. The main organizers of this series of events are IAIS Malaysia and the newly established Myanmar Muslim Intellectual Forum (MMIF). The first event was a roundtable discussion on the theme “Islam in Myanmar: Past, Present, and Future.” Held on 21st January, 2012, it was primarily meant to introduce participants to the history of Islam in Myanmar and the socio-cultural and political conditions of the Muslim community in the country. About 60 participants attended the event. Three speakers, all of whom are Myanmar Muslims living in Malaysia, presented papers pertaining to the theme.
The third event, an international seminar, is scheduled to be held in November this year. The theme chosen for the event is “Myanmar and the ASEAN Community: Defining the Place and Role of the Myanmar Muslim Community.” The focus of this November seminar will depend on the outcome of the present seminar. The organizers plan to invite Dr Surin Pitsuwan, the present Secretary-General of ASEAN, to the November seminar as the keynote speaker.


IAIS Malaysia’s initiative in organizing these events is mainly motivated by its deep concern with issues facing Muslim minorities in the world, particularly in the ASEAN region. The offer of partnership by the MMIF in co-organizing these events was readily accepted by IAIS Malaysia, because it would help IAIS to strengthen its studies and research on ASEAN Muslims in general and the Myanmar Muslim community in particular.


Objectives of the Seminar
 To promote studies and research on Islam and the Muslim community in Myanmar
 To promote better relationships between Myanmar Muslim intellectuals and those of ASEAN
 To seek a better understanding of the new political realities in Myanmar and trends towards liberalization and democratization and their implications for the Myanmar Muslim community
 To generate ideas that would help the Myanmar Muslim community respond effectively to the opportunities and challenges arising from the new political changes in the country


Program Agenda
09.30 am: Registration
10.00 am: Welcoming Address by Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Osman Bakar
Program Chairman and Deputy CEO, IAIS Malaysia
10.05 am: Welcoming Remarks by Dr Nay Aung Kyaw @ Mohammed Ali Hassan
Vice President, Myanmar Muslims Intellectual Forum (MMIF)
10.10 am: Opening Speech by Professor Dr Hashim Kamali
Founding Chairman and CEO, IAIS Malaysia
10.15 am: Officiating Address by Tun Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi
Patron of IAIS Malaysia and Former Prime Minister of Malaysia
10.45 am: Refreshment & Press Conference
11.00 am First Session
Moderator: Ambassador Dato’ Dr Mohd Yusof Ahmad
Principal Fellow and Director, Institute of ASEAN Studies and Global Affairs (INSPAG), University Technology MARA (UiTM), Malaysia
Topic: Education of Myanmar Muslims in the Age of Globalization: Opportunities and Challenges
Speaker: Dr Maung Maung @ Haji Mohammed Hussein (from Myanmar)
Topic: Economic, Social and Welfare Position of Myanmar Muslims:
Opportunities and Challenges
Speaker: Mr Soe Myint Than (from Myanmar)
Q&A
1.00 pm: Lunch & Zuhr Prayer
2.30 pm: Second Session
Moderator: Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Osman Bakar
Deputy CEO, IAIS Malaysia
Topic: The Future of Muslim Youths in Myanmar: Opportunities and Challenges
Speaker: Maulana Akbar Shah @ U Tun Aung
International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)
Respondent/Discussant: Ambassador Dato’ Mat Amir Jaafar
Expert, Asia-Europe Institute (AEI), University of Malaya, Malaysia
Q&A
4.15 pm: Concluding Remarks “The Future of Myanmar Muslims in the ASEAN Community”
by Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Osman Bakar, Deputy CEO, IAIS Malaysia
4.30 pm: End of seminar/Refreshment


BIODATA OF MODERATORS AND SPEAKERS


AMBASSADOR DATO’ DR MOHD YUSOF AHMAD holds a BA (Hon) degree from the University Malaya, a Master of Arts in International Relations (MA), a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) and a Ph.D in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, USA. Dato’ Dr. Yusof was a former Malaysian diplomat. He had served in various capacities in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia and at the Malaysian missions in Iran, Sweden, Taiwan, Bangladesh and Spain, the last two as Malaysia’s head of mission to these countries. His last post was as the Malaysian ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain. He had also served as a trainer / lecturer at the National Institute of Public Administration Malaysia (INTAN) in the 80s. Prior to his appointment as the Malaysian ambassador to Spain, Dato’ Dr. Yusof was the Director General of the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR), Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia. His expertise and research interest covers the fields of international relations, diplomacy, globalization, negotiation, security studies and regional and international politics. He is currently the Principal Fellow and Director of the Institute of ASEAN Studies and Global Affairs (INSPAG), Faculty of Administrative Science and Policy Studies (FSPPP), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM). Dr. Yusof is also Associate Research Fellow at Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia. He can be reached at dryusof@gmail.com.


DR MAUNG MAUNG @ HAJI MOHAMMED HUSSEIN has a Diploma in Ultrasound in Medicine, MD(Alt-Med), MSc Health Care Management,(USA), PhD. (Alt-Med), graduated from the International Open University, Colombo. He is the CEO of Hnin Myitta Medical Specialist Center, Mandalay, Myanmar, and of the Academy Bio-Science Technology Co. Ltd. He is an Executive Member of the Islamic Religious Affairs Council, with its Head Office in Yangon, and is the secretary of the Central Committee on Islamic Education. He is also a founder and patron of the "Joon Masjid Free Clinic," situated in Mandalay, which has been providing free medical care to Muslims and Non Muslims of Upper and Middle Myanmar since 1997. He has been actively involved in Islamic Educational activities. He is the patron of several basic and higher Islamic Schools in Mandalay, and of Pyin Oo Lwin of Upper Myanmar. His main interest is in providing educational support to the poor as well as healthcare and social service to Myanmar Muslims. He can be reached at dr.maungmaung@gmail.com.


MR SOE MYINT THAN was born in 1968 in Mandaly, upper Myanmar. He received his B.A. (Hons) Degree in Hospitality Management and his B.Sc. in Botanical Science. He also holds a Diploma in Hotel/ Restaurant Management and a Certificate of Mass Communication (IIMC, New Delhi). At present, he is a lecturer of Mandalay Hotel & Tourism Training and Management Centre at MCC training Institute Mandalay Campus. At the same time, he holds the position of Senior Academic Advisor for Eduzone, Educational outreach Center in Mandalay. He was working in the Hotel and tourism sector for about 15 years in various positions as well as in the area of hospitality management. He also writes articles on tourism and Islamic educational activities and social skills for Muslim students. He is an instructor for Eduzone Muslims students where he teaches social skills and management. His pen name is “Koung Loon.” He writes article in the Muslim digest published monthly in Mandalay. He can be reached at soe.myint.than@gmail.com.


EMERITUS PROFESSOR DATUK DR OSMAN BAKAR, PhD, formerly Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) of University of Malaya and Malaysia Chair of Southeast Asian Islam at the Prince Talal al-Waleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, Washington DC. He is currently Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies, Malaysia (IAIS). He is also Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Science at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Malaya and a consultant at the University’s Center for Civilizational Dialogue of which he was the founder (1996); and Visiting Research Fellow, Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Monotheism (CISMOR), Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan. Dr Bakar is an author of 17 books and nearly 300 articles on various aspects of Islamic thought and civilization, particularly Islamic science and philosophy and Islam in Southeast Asia. He was a member of the Council of 100 Leaders of the West-Islamic World Initiative for Dialogue founded by the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland. In 2009 he was named among the 500 most influential Muslims in the world. In 1994 he was made a Dato’ by HH the Sultan of Pahang and in 2000 he received a Datukship from the Malaysian King. He can be reached at obbakar@yahoo.com.


MAULANA AKBAR SHAH @ U TUN AUNG is currently a lecturer in the Department of Islamic Studies in the Kulliyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, IIUM, Malaysia. He is also an advisor for the Global Community Club, IIUM and the president of the Myanmar Muslims Intellectual Forum, Malaysia. He is in-charge of the Islamic Da’wah Program for Myanmar initiated by Khalifah Institute, Malaysia and a patron of the Myanmar Muslim Community School and Surau, KL. He was a professional staff member in the United Nations World Food Programme, Rome, where he served in different positions in different countries during (1989 - 1998). He also served as a lecturer at Jamia Darul Uloom, Rangoon (1998 - 2004) and was the Secretary General of Jamiat al-Ulama al- Islam, Myanmar (2002 - 2007), He has written 19 books relevant to basic Islamic Education and contemporary Issues relating to Islam. He received his BSc. Degree from the Rangoon Art and Science University (R.A.S.U.) in 1982 and B.A. Degree in Islamic studies from Jamia Darul Uloom, Rangoon in 1998. He received his M.A. in Usuluddin and Comparative Religion from the Kulliyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences in 2010. U Tung Aung is currently PhD candidate conducting research in the area of Usuluddin and comparative religion in IIUM, Malaysia. He is also a Da’wah Blogger in Myanmar, http://myanmarwind.blogspot.com, providing information on Islamic religious and contemporary issues. He can be reached at maularna@iium.edu.my.


AMBASSADOR DATO’ MOHD AMIR JAAFAR is a former Ambassador and a former Independent Director of an international bank. He graduated in 1966 from the University of Malaya and served as an Administrative and Diplomatic Officer in Wisma Putra until his retirement in early 2001. During his 35-year career in the Malaysian Foreign Service, he had served in various capacities at the Malaysian Embassy in Japan, Austria, Geneva, Singapore and Bangladesh. He was then appointed as Under Secretary (Planning) to assist in the peace restoration in Kampuchea, based on an ASEAN initiative. Between 1984 and early 2001, he was appointed Ambassador and High Commissioner to five consecutive countries, Myanmar, India, Germany, China and finally United Kingdom. Upon retirement in 2001, he sits on the Board of several companies. He was appointed Senior Research Fellow at the Asia-Europe institute from 2006. Since August 2011, he has been a specialist at the Institute. He can be contacted at amirmc59@gmail.com.


ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS PRESENTED
EDUCATION OF MYANMAR MUSLIMS IN THE AGE OF GLOBALIZATION:
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
Dr Maung Maung @ Haji Mohammed Hussein
The educational development of the Myanmar Muslim Community is far behind global levels as Myanmar has been left behind in the process of globalization. Although the process of globalization is rapidly spreading out around the world, Myanmar benefits little from its advancement.
As a result, the position of education in Myanmar is behind Asian regional levels and the educational standards of Muslims in Myanmar are far below the norm. The prime purpose of this seminar is to explore various ways to improve Muslim education in Myanmar in the 21st century and to share our experiences.
From the primary to the tertiary level, Myanmar Muslims need a lot of improvement. In Myanmar religious leaders still advise the community to pursue purely Islamic studies i.e., Quran and Sunnah and do not encourage expanding studies to include modern education. Many Muslims parents have the same attitude. Of course, our first priority in Islamic studies is our religion (Islam). According to the Sunna, we must acquire knowledge from cradle to grave. But the ilm (knowledge) pointed out by our Prophet Muhammad (s) is all the knowledge belonging to this world and the hereafter. Unfortunately, Muslims of Myanmar are not aware of this particular requirement for the acquisition of knowledge.
Today, in the highly competitive global arena, Muslims also need to adopt a cautious approach in utilizing the media. The mass media depends on information technology and requires the use of all kinds of methodologies, either online or offline. Today's information technology is rapidly developing, offering many advantages. If we want to develop ourselves with the help of modern facilities, we must utilise contemporary means and methods, based on Islamic moral values. In principle, we need to be firm in our beliefs, as it is important to remain committed to Islam as a religion of peace. Cordova in Islamic Spain and Al Azhar University in Egypt remind us of our golden civilization and that our ancestors proved to the world that Muslims once had an excellent education. Hence we need to learn and improve our education.
In brief, Muslims enjoyed the best education in the past, but today their approach leaves much to be desired. We are in need of an urgent modification of our education system to enable holistic ways of religious and scientific learning in order to rise to Asian and global levels.


ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND WELFARE POSITION OF MYANMAR MUSLIMS:
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
Mr Soe Myint Than
British rule brought social, economic, cultural and administrative changes to the once-feudal society. Since independence in 1948, the country has been in one of the longest running civil wars among the country's myriad ethnic groups that remain unresolved. Myanmar is a resource rich country. However, since the reforms of 1962, the Burmese economy has become one of the least developed in the world. Myanmar’s GDP stands at $42.953 billion and grows at an average rate of 2.9% annually – the lowest rate of economic growth in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The once famous “rice-pot of South-East Asia” is now among the poorest countries. The economic and social position of the Muslims in Myanmar declined to the point where everyone in the country has unsolved problems. The most important issues include the decline in business and educational levels, the lack of business management and educational aid/facilities for the Muslims, lack of qualified lecturers, lack of adequate syllabi, schools, colleges, universities for business management, and lack of vocational training opportunities for Muslims. These inadequate conditions of Muslims businesses and educational institutions cause many social and economic problems for Muslims such as poverty, high unemployment rates, homelessness, social dislocation, and the decline of the economy of Muslims. At the same time, they cannot manage social development, provide social skills for the young Muslim men and women, offer cultural activities and so on.
These problems cannot be solved by Muslims alone as they are all technical and linked to the growth of country’s economy and political development. The current democratization process is the best moment for the Muslims to participate hand in hand with the rest of the people and engage in the development of Myanmar as our fore-fathers worked for the betterment the country.


THE FUTURE OF MUSLIM YOUTHS IN MYANMAR: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
Maulana Akbar Shah @ U Tun Aung
Success in future depends on past and present experience. Many people were actively involved in the building of Myanmar in the past. The contributions and endeavors they made in their respective fields pave the way for the development of the future generations. History indicates the existence of two principal groups of Muslims in Myanmar. They include Muslims who have been residing in there for more than a thousand years, since the periods of the Myanmar Kingdom. Secondly, they include the Indian Muslims who arrived in the period of British administrations (1823-1948). There are other Muslim groups namely Pantay, Pathi, Rohingya, Kaman, Pashu and others.
Among the ancestors of Myanmar Muslims, the most helpful persons were Sayar Gyi U Nu, U Razak, U Rashid and U Pe Khin, etc. These leaders made important contributions in the areas of politics, religious, education, literature, the economy and social activities. This seminar will focus on these five areas.
The current political development of the Muslims in Myanmar is stagnant compared to the past, when leaders were actively engaged in the political struggle for the independence of Myanmar and the development of the Muslim community. Little significant contribution by Muslims currently takes place in Myanmar to the process of democratization.
Another important issue is the need for unity and reconciliation among the descendants of the Myanmar Muslim and Indian Muslims. This has been an issue since the British administration. The disunity between these groups is an unnecessary burden to the country. This situation indicates that Muslims leaders are still unable to establish unity. Unity among the Muslims in Myanmar can be achieved without the assistance of the Government. This could take the form of the setting up of a Muslims’ Affairs ministry or Department. Such a ministry would be solely responsible for affairs of the Muslims, as was done in the period of Konbong Myanmar Kingdom and is currently being done in Thailand and Singapore. A sense of dissatisfaction and concern among the Myanmar Muslims can only grow if sufficient emphasis is not given to this area.
The reform of education and the economic advancement of the Muslims are contingent on a change of their mindset that currently emphasizes only traditional subjects. The Muslim world is already on board of the holistic educational system and Islamic Banking. Thus, a change is a must. However, a dramatic change toward greater democratization in Myanmar politics is an immediate task that our government is enthusiastically implementing. Hopefully, Myanmar Muslims will participate with a firm resolve.


INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED ISLAMIC STUDIES (IAIS) MALAYSIA
Based in Kuala Lumpur, the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia was established in 2008 as a non-profit independent research institute. The Institute is dedicated to rigorously pursue objective academic research on Islam and contemporary issues of concern to Malaysia, the Muslim world, and Islam’s engagement with other civilisations. The Founding Chairman and CEO of IAIS Malaysia is world renowned scholar Professor Dr Mohammad Hashim Kamali. IAIS Malaysia’s research seeks to be pragmatic and policy-oriented yet well-grounded in the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, the history of Islam, its civilisation and intellectual culture.
IAIS Malaysia publishes a quarterly international peer-reviewed journal – Islam and Civilisational Renewal (ICR) – as well as books, Monographs and Occasional Paper Series. ICR carries articles, viewpoints, interviews and book reviews that aim to promote advanced research and quality discourse on the perennial principles of civilisational Islam (Islam hadari) and the related issues of tajdid hadari (civilisational renewal) as well as on the contribution of Muslims to knowledge and culture.
The Institute advances moderation and social harmony within the multi-religious environment of Malaysia, while promoting constructive engagement with other world civilisations. As a uniquely Malaysian initiative, Islam Hadhari helps equip the Ummah with needed intellectual and cultural resources to negotiate the challenges of globalisation and claims by dominant powers to global pre-eminence. With its refreshing focus on a cluster of primary values, Civilisational Islam works to re-center the Shari’ah-driven legalist discourse of Islamic revivalism over recent decades, upon deeper universal Islamic principles.
The civilisational momentum generated by Islam is envisioned in the Qur’anic principle of Human Trusteeship on earth mediating a social order founded on moral virtue, compassion, human dignity and justice. The Qur’an teaches Muslims to respect freedom of conscience and religious pluralism, to promote what is just and prohibit what is reprehensible, and work for realising human welfare. It is emphatic about preserving ties of kinship, honoring one’s neighbors, helping the needy and destitute by means of obligatory taxes and charity, and earning one’s living through lawful work. Furthermore, the Qur’an insists upon the pursuit and mastery of knowledge as pre-requisite for social progress and cultural efflorescence.
The principle of Tawhid (divine Oneness), fundamental in Islam, reflects a unitarian vision of humanity without discrimination of any kind – moral excellence being the only criterion of distinction in the eyes of God. Mutual recognition among nations, cooperation in good works and fraternity constitute the conceptual framework of man’s vicegerency on earth. These are all integral, according to our reading of the Qur’an, to Islam’s view of itself as both a religion and a ‘civilisation’ – which may be rendered as ‘a way of life.’
For further information, kindly visit IAIS website at www.iais.org.my.


INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ISLAMIC THOUGHT (IIIT)
The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) is a private, non-profit, academic, cultural and educational institution, concerned with general issues of Islamic thought and education. The Institute was established in the United States of America in 1981 (1401 AH). It is independent of local politics, party orientations and ideological bias.
The headquarters of the Institute are situated in Herndon, Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington DC. IIIT has established cooperation with a number of institutions and organizations in a number of capitals world-wide in order to carry out the Institute’s activities and programs. The Institute is governed by a Board of Trustees that meets regularly and periodically elects one of its members to serve as President.
The Institute is an intellectual forum working on educational, academic and societal issues from an Islamic perspective to promote and support research projects, organize intellectual and cultural meetings, publish scholarly works, and engage in teaching and training. It has established a distinct intellectual trend in Islamic thought which relates to the vivid legacy of the Ummah (Muslim nation) and its continuous efforts of intellectual and methodological reform, principally in the field of education, classical knowledge and social science. This involves a large number of researchers and scholars from various parts of the world. The Institute conducts its educational and training activities and courses through its institutional division, The Fairfax Institute.
The International Institute of Islamic Thought is dedicated to the revival and reform of Islamic thought and its methodology in order to enable the Ummah to deal effectively with present challenges, and contribute to the progress of human civilization in ways that will give it a meaning and a direction derived from divine guidance. The realization of such a position will help the Ummah regain its intellectual and cultural identity and re-affirm its presence as a dynamic civilization.
The Institute promotes academic research on the methodology and philosophy of various disciplines, and gives special emphasis to the development of Islamic scholarship in contemporary social sciences. The program, which has become known as "Islamization of Knowledge", endeavors to elucidate Islamic concepts that integrate Islamic revealed knowledge with human knowledge and revives Islamic ethical and moral knowledge, through education, teaching and support of scholarly research.
IIIT aspires to conduct courses in order to promote its objective to reform Islamic thought, to bridge the intellectual divide between the Islamic tradition and Western civilization. In its teaching and selection of teachers and courses, IIIT endeavors promote moderation, inter-faith dialog and good citizenship.
For further information, kindly visit IIIT website at http://www.iiit.org.


MYANMAR MUSLIMS INTELLECTUAL FORUM (MMIF)
Myanmar Muslims Intellectual Forum (MMIF) is a group of like-minded Muslims from Myanmar who have decided to contribute to helping the Muslims of Myanmar, mainly in the fields of Education, Economics and Social Sciences. MMIF believes that Muslims of Myanmar should actively participate in the current democratization process led by the Government of the Union of Myanmar. Our members come from various professional backgrounds and all of them have knowledge and experience in their respective fields.
In accordance with our namesake MMIF, we will be working as a think-tank that emphasizes research and communicating with various Myanmar Muslim Organizations and the Government of Myanmar to contribute to nation building. In other words, we want Muslims from Myanmar to become assets rather than a burden to society. For that we need to help facilitate advancements and improvements in Education, Economics, Health and Social Sciences.
Our Vision
To transform the Muslims of Myanmar to become valuable human resources of the motherland and the Ummah, in accordance with the true teachings of Islam.
Our Mission
1. To unite the Muslims of Myanmar by using all available platforms to achieve the status of “One community, One voice.”
2. To help in dynamic ways to improve the overall education of the Muslim youth to serve the Country and Ummah. To reduce poverty among the Muslims of Myanmar by finding ways to access economic opportunities, research and training, while collaborating with various International Institutions.
3. To promote and form bridges of understanding among people of different faiths in Myanmar.
4. To participate and support the ongoing process of democratization led by the Government of Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
For further information, kindly contact the President of MMIF;
Maulana Akbar Shah @ U Tun Aung Lecturer
Department of Islamic Revealed Knowledge, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). Email: taakbs@yahoo.com


REGIONAL ISLAMIC DA’WAH COUNCIL FOR SOUTHEAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC (RISEAP)
The initiative to form the Regional Islamic Da’wah Council for Southeast Asia and the Pacific (RISEAP) arose out of a conference that was jointly organized by the Muslim Welfare Organization of Malaysia (PERKIM) and Muslim World League (Rabitah al-Alam al-Islami) that was held in Kuala Lumpur from 11th to 14th January 1980. RISEAP was born on 11th November 1980 coincided with 3rd Muharam 1401 which was the beginning of a new Islamic calendar year in a new Islamic Millenium. The founding member organizations were from 17 countries, namely Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Australia, Fiji and New Zealand.
Yang Teramat Mulia Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj became the first president of RISEAP until 1988. From the start, the Tunku wanted RISEAP to bring together the Muslim-minority countries in the East Asian and the Pacific, in order to pursue the collective ambitions, and to remain fired with enthusiasm of the Islamic cause. The Tunku’s sentiments were echoed in a RISEAP slogan “In service of Muslim minorities”. Datuk Patinggi Abdul Taib Mahmud, who was then the Minister Federal Territories of Malaysia succeeded the Tunku as President until to this present day. Taib intimately shares the Tunku’s passion in encouraging the leaders of Muslim organizations, particularly in the Muslim-minority countries, to grow in self-confidence in managing their respective organizations.
There are presently 44 Ordinary Members and 10 Associate Members from 22 countries and territories. RISEAP can reasonably claim to be a truly represented body since the committee members are democratically elected during the General Assembly.
The main objectives of RISEAP, besides promoting international Muslim unity in the spirit of brotherhood for the advancement of Islam, are:
a. To foster cooperation and close relationships between Muslim organisations in the region and coordinate efforts toward creating an efficient and unified Islamic Movement.
b. To support the activities of member organisations in promoting the development and practice of Islam through da’wah, education, training and welfare activities.
c. To promote reseach into the problems affecting Muslims in the region, particularly Muslim minorities and to investigate any alleged discrimination against Muslims and any misrepresentation of Islam with the view to take appropriate corrective measures.
d. To establish charitable trust for the purpose of collecting, investing and distributing funds to support Islamic activities in the region.
For further information, kindly visit RISEAP website at http://www.riseap.org/.

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