Ulamas waging war extremist groups

Ulama, or Muslim religious scholars, are waging an ideological war against the spread of radicalism and extremism through a holistic approach in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“We are engaging all sectors to address the spread of religious extremism and radicalism in the country,” said Abdulmuhmin Alyakanie Mujahid, the executive director of the Darul Ifta, or the Fatwa Council of the ARMM.

On Thursday, June 8, Islamic scholars in the island province of Basilan forged several agreements with the regional and provincial governments, as well as with line agencies, to carry-out “multi approaches” to deny the spread of extremist ideology in their area.

The effort, Muhajid said, is an offshoot of the Ulama Summit that was held in Cotabato City in early May. During the summit, the Ulama issued a declaration against terrorism, saying that “It is Haram (forbidden and unlawful) to use Islam to justify or legitimize violent extremism and terrorism.”

The Ulama also challenged themselves “to reeducate (their) constituents to rediscover Islamic faith for justice, compassion, harmony and peace.”

“It is imperative upon us all to cooperate and collaborate with the stakeholders in preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism in its many forms and manifestations,” the declaration said. Mujahid said they are now proactively engaging all stakeholders to overcome the challenges of extremism as what is happening in Marawi City.

“These extremist groups are using the creed of Islam. As a matter of fact, they are using the so-called 13 doctrines of Islam and citing verses of the Holy Quran in justifying their criminal and inhumane acts. We can’t allow that and we will not allow that,” he said. “Our call is to fight against violent extremism and terrorism,” Mujahid underscored.

Alih Aiyub, secretary-general of the Ulama Council of the Philippines, said what they are employing is multi-disciplinary approaches in “concretizing preventing violent extremism and countering violent extremism.” He said they have identified “seven interventions” to address the threat.

“Ulama will handle the spiritual aspect to combat terrorism targeting the youth and winning the hearts and minds of those radicalized through sermons in the mosques and other means,” he said.

Aiyub said for educational intervention, the program includes working “with educational institutions to provide a primer, or module, as reference material and train teachers for effective prevention of violent extremism among their students.

“Scholarships will also be provided on skills training for out-of-school youth by tapping the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) as a partner,” he said.

The effort will include “psychological intervention” such as values formation that will be carried out by local government units and the Department of Social Welfare and Development targeting the youth sector.

“The program will also have a component for social intervention, which will help mold an individual to be productive and peaceful through trainings. This will also be implemented along with economic intervention such as providing livelihood programs for the youth through government line agencies like the Department of Agriculture and TESDA, among others,” Aiyub said.

Part of the program, he said, is to engage with the security sector to “shield the youth from being recruited” by extremist groups, and “to provide peace and security in the community.” Mujahid said the program will be piloted in Basilan

“We are going to implement it in the different parts of the region. We are piloting this initiative in Basilan. We will conduct an assessment and fine-tune it before implementing it in other provinces,” he said.

For his part, ARMM governor Mujiv Hataman said he instructed the Department of the Interior and Local Government in the ARMM to initiate forums for local government officials across the region to understand the complexity of the problem and how to combat it.

“When the masses, the religious leaders, and the political leaders are united to work together for the betterment of our society, we can succeed, In Shaa Allah,” he said.

Gov. Hataman has earlier said that Muslim scholars can contribute in the advocacy against terrorism by educating people about the true teachings of Islam, most especially on the principles of justice, compassion, peace, and harmony. (Bureau of Public Information)