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Issue 18 view printable version

Islamic Tourism Prospects

View World Tourism Exhibitions

 

How to build bridges of communication between Islamic nations in the 21st century?

My pen has stopped from venturing to discuss any one of the topics that I have in mind during this difficult time for our Islamic Umma. Reason and human conscience are unable to explain the indiscriminate, deliberate slaughter in Iraq and in other Arab and Islamic countries.

 

My only option was to discuss how to build bridges of communication among Islamic nations in the 21st century. Let us begin analyzing what can be analyzed and indicating the reasons for the divisions and obstacles between Islamic states throughout the centuries:

 

  • Governments have imposed prohibitions and obstacles to protect themselves.
  • Historically, some entities and governments, have adopted a sectarian outlook as a means to protect their power and to disseminate their message inside and outside their countries.
  • During the last decades different ideologies have invaded the planet: fascism, communism, socialism, pan-Arabism and others. They were used by governments to extend their influence over their people and to defend their power. Fortunately, these theories are in decline - they have cost humanity dearly in terms of lives and blood.
  • As a consequence of these restrictions on nations, human thought has been paralyzed to varying degrees by sectarian inclinations and creeds and according to the degree of government repression. This became a source of division among nations with different traditions, values and incomes.
  • Nobody questions that Islam is a religion that calls for unity. The opinions and interpretations of the imams and the fatwas (religious judgments) are lights along the road to a happy life for all Muslims regardless of their diverse opinions and countries.

 

If this is true, and if this is the vision of each Muslim as he looks at his Muslim brother, whichever his doctrinal tendency, what is the reason for the rigidity, violence and division among us?

 

According to divine order and will, Islam is a force for unity. The evidence for it is that God has made the sacred Kaaba the central point of the earth towards which all Muslims must direct their prayers five times a day. There is a continuous line of worshippers stretching from the earth towards almighty God, united by language and the recitation of the same prayers.

 

The magnificence of this religion and the unity of its different sects becomes evident during the time of the pilgrimage to Mecca. The dimensions of the holy become clear: «O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things).» (sura Al-Hujurat/13).

 

We also have in our Prophet an excellent example of someone who united the tribes and nations making of them a single Umma, in spite of their different origins. There is no essential religious divergence among the different sects, or in the fundamental principles or rituals, - there is only some divergence in the interpretations of certain sects and certain theologians. These differences should not have a negative influence on the unity of Muslims.

 

That is why I am asking what can one do? How do we eliminate the obstacles to communication that have been accumulated over hundreds of years? How do we build bridges of communication among Muslim nations or among one nation with its different communities?

 

I pose this question from the perspective of the beginning of the 21st century when the world is becoming smaller. Different countries, continents and nations are moving closer to one another in all fields, especially travel and the diverse tourism movement. A look at the number of international tourism exhibitions held annually in different parts of the world to promote this tendency are a source of amazement.

 

To overcome the divisions of our Islamic reality in this historic age, governments, imams, mosque preachers and media personalities should all work to:

 

1. Stop Takfir (saying that the other is not a Muslim) and prohibit the use of this word against any Muslim;

 

2. Punيsh all those who have the intention to kill, help in killing or cause damage to another Muslim who believes and pronounces the two acts of faith. «If anyone slew, unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if it had slew the whole people, and if anyone saved a life it was as if he had saved the life of the whole people» (sura Al-Maida/ 32).

 

3. Give freedom to all universities and specialized religious institutes to teach the doctrines of different well-known Islamic schools and to promote the elements that unify the Umma.

 

4. Reconstruct the mausoleums of the imams, the Prophet's companions and saints of Islam, as well as the historical Islamic and cultural symbols in all countries especially Saudi Arabia, which has cemeteries and locations prominet in the history of Islam from the early time of the revelation received by the great messenger, Muhammad (Peace be upon him). It is necessary that the memory of this illuminating age is enhanced with all its human elements, as a sign of fidelity to all those people who believed in the divine message revealed to our Prophet, especially when their memory continues to be alive in the hearts of the Muslims of the whole world. To reconstruct their cemeteries is to reconstruct the values and comunication among the different sects of our Islamic Umma. This will ensure the elimination of obstacles to our communication not to mention the economic profitability that will benefit the inhabitants of those places in the coming centuries. The other religions use their resources and invest millions investigating the foundations and places where their beliefs were born. Is it wise for us to erase the history of our masters and the features of their life sacrificed to reinforce the pillars of Islam?

 

5. Support intellectuals of our Islamic nations who have numerous ideas for cultural, economic and other projects, with the objective of building bridges of communication among Arab and Islamic nations.

 

This call is aimed at the nation, theologians and government of Saudi Arabia, so that they take the initiative to build bridges, with all the wealth that God has granted them, since he founded his House in the noblest corners of the earth, in the sacred Mecca. Medina had the honor equally of receiving the most illustrious messenger during his life, and it was here that his message continued to spread.. Each grain of its sand and each of its stones received that brilliant light that illuminated the whole world with the name of Muhammad, his family and companions who followed in his footsteps. What would be more noble and virtuous than for Saudi Arabia to enhance the Islamic treasures and expand bridges of communication between the sects and nations of Islam?

 

Let Saudi Arabia start granting permission to rebuild Al-Baqia’ and all the Islamic historical places in Meca and Medina, as well as all the locations that have witnessed the birth of the divine message and were guarded by the life and the souls of the believers, so that they illuminate the history of Islam and glow in the sky of the good. Let these locations be a meeting place for all Muslims and their sects, because the rebirth of Islamic heritage is of concern to all Muslims.

 

If we want to know if the Islamic Umma accepts or rejects the reconstruction of the tombs of the Prophet's family, his companions and the saints of Islam, so that they can be visited by Muslims from all over the world, we only have to carry out a general referéndum. These are not the tombs of ordinary individuals but people who lived in the time of the divine message or continued spreading the religion.

 

We expect those who have responsibilities or interest in this matter to welcome these ideas and other similar ones that call for the reconstruction of bridges of communication between our Umma. The culture of Islamic tourism is a way to achieve that communication.

 

May God guide us to success.


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