1st Legacy of Prophet Muhammad Conference
The Novotel Hotel, Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush
September 17, 2005
Conference Summary Report
Affinity Intercultural Foundation presented the : ‘1 st Legacy of the Prophet Muhammad’ Conference on 17 th September, 2005 . It was held at Novotel Hotel, Olympic Park, Homebush and attended by a mix of people from different backgrounds and faiths.
Keynote Speaker: Dr Muhammad Al Habash
Dr Al Habash joined us live from Syria via a video conference. He discussed: how Muslims can follow the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in their life; the relationship between Islam and citizenship in terms of whether Australia comes first or Islam; whether there is actually a conflict between these two and what Muslims can understand from the legacy of The Prophet (pbuh) in understanding these areas.
He began with three points that formed the foundation in his address. The first: that for a believer, there is the recognition that our life, the earth and all that is contained in it belongs to God. All things prostrate to God, he stated. Second, the implications of what Allah (swt) says in the Quran: ‘You have indeed in the Prophet a good example’. Thirdly, that the Prophet (pbuh) did in fact teach that loyalty to your land, nation and religion are all acceptable for a believer.
The Prophet’s (pbuh) statement proved this, said the Professor, when the Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘May Allah give us love to Medina as he gave us love to Mecca ‘. There were many things he did in his lifetime which stemmed from this hope. His teaching others to be good to the earth, his decision to clean the city of Medina when he arrived / immigrated there. Within a year the natural surroundings were transformed in Medina , the water and irrigation systems were improved. Medina became the first city, lightened by lamps and more. The first constitutional development occurred in Medina , between the Jews and Muslims, in addition to the establishment of the first civil society in the Arab peninsula and with that peace between the people in Medina .
The Prophet (pbuh) saw no contradiction between loyalty to one’s land and loyalty to your religion. In fact he taught how to balance between these two. In the first constitution, the Jews and Muslims were considered one nation, Islam giving them equal human rights, concluded Dr Al Habash.
1st Speaker: Dr Zachariah Mathews
Mr. Zachariah Mathews speech focused on conflict resolution at the time of the Prophet (pbuh).
He began clarifying quite simply that diversity actually means to understand each other, referring to the Holy Quran: ‘He created you in nations and tribes so you may know each other’. The way to address diversity is by learning ethics and values to deal with it, at the same time acknowledging that methods of resolving conflicts differ from one context to another.
However rather than conflict resolution being the goal, Mr. Mathews stressed that conflict management is what’s needed because its impossible to resolve all conflicts as this is the test that God has set out for us. With equality and freedom being the core values, the search for peace he stated must go via the process of 2 sources as follows.
The Prophet (pbuh) was a ‘Mercy to the worlds’ (Quran). When one examines his exalted character, tender heart, his persona being neither seeking rewards from people or for his own and someone whose sole duty was to confirm that which was brought by messengers before him, we can become aware of the foundation that gave him success in conflict management in his lifetime.
Various cultural and religious practices prevalent during his time gave him a range of experiences, but most importantly gave him informed perspective. Stories are abundant, a famous one, ‘the placing of the black stone on the Holy Kaba’, where the issues involved could have led to a tribal war, yet was averted by the way the Prophet (pbuh) strategically resolved it. His commitment to resolving conflicts peacefully and in promoting social order for all citizens was at the core of his success in conflict management.
The rise of Prophet Hood was a shock to pagans whose efforts to suppress Islam increased and led to the Prophet (pbuh) immigrating to Medina . With the new community in Medina , the Prophet (pbhu) was a leader of all, Jews, polytheists etc, all whom contributed to forming the Constitution of Medina – a Pact of friendship and co-operation that safeguarded all. Further, the change in political and social organization benefited minority groups. He was the supreme spiritual leader and law giver at the same time.
The Treaty of Hudaibeyah is another example, where though unfavorable towards the Muslims, he consolidated the community and although the polytheists violated the conditions, the Prophet (pbuh) negotiated with them and chose not to retaliate against those who had earlier persecuted them, why because he rose above hatred, pardoned and forgave them. These were the dimensions of his level of humanity that formed the success of his conflict management. Mr. Mathews ended his speech saying: today’s leaders should consider this Prophetic example.
2nd Speaker: Mrs. Fulia Celik
Mrs. Fulya Celik’s speech focused on how the Prophet (pbuh) transformed society. She began, stating: Islam gives great importance to knowledge; the first verses revealed of the Holy Quran were ‘Read….’ Offspring of this being that piety and worship are possible only via knowledge.
Before the light of Islam hit Mecca , it was a hopeless situation, the social climate, customs and civilization were lawless, persecutions against the weak were prevalent and more, she explained. The Prophet (pbuh) overturned these and other barbaric ways and transformed the people into leaders of the world, by becoming the ‘trainer of their hearts and minds’, inculcating qualities that became second nature to them.
In 23 yrs, he brought peace to the lands, living the principle, ‘All actions are done first and then translated/taught to others’. He produced the most just rulers in history. He spread literacy and knowledge and through this educational transformations in society (in pre-Islamic Arabia only a few people could read and write). Written materials and records increased (where there was absent afore). Islamic civilization was transformed into ‘roads full of students and scholars’. In addition, he also solved all the prevalent social and economic problems.
Learned persons were appointed to educate people in mosques. Suburban schools were established. Every opportunity to increase literacy was taken until the illiterate became the exception over time and this carried to produce the great civilization of Islam. With the obligation to ‘READ’ – at that time there were no books, but this implied – ‘Read the book of the universe…Humanity is to observe the universe and thereby know God’.
3rd Speaker: Sheikh Ahmad Ihsan Abou Sharaf
Sheikh Ahmad’s speech was of a spiritual nature and perspective, namely the practical application of the message of lslam and of devotion to humanity. The connection between humans and The Creator, he said is one of sustenance, life, guidance, all of which are in place so the system of life works perfectly.
How do we get connected to the Creator, he posed to the audience. Via constant striving. We have needs and this makes us look for the source of our needs. Whoever one calls, one is actually calling ‘The One’ regardless of the title one uses.
Is it the earth or the Controller of the earth that manages/sustains it, another significant question he asked. He (God) did not create it and leave, as is obvious in the continuous operations of the earth. Our connection with Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala is via our feelings, our conscience. Everywhere on earth our innate nature is guiding us to what’s right and wrong. If we realize via the attributes of Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala, then the self will turn to Him, via all our senses and our heart and when that moment happens this moment will change our hearts.
The role of the Prophets is of a higher level, they understood all this at a higher level, they taught us how to be accepted in the presence of God. Sunnah is the way to God, the practical application between you and your God. Messengers were enlightened to see the Truth, playing the role model for humanity, showing us in practical applications how to be with Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala as a slave, in sorrow and joy, in strength and weakness, to be a neighbor, husband, wife, child – all on the right way.
We can’t be perfect, he said, but striving to be good/better is like perfection. So sunnah is the way to God and denying other prophets, won’t get you to God, he ended.
4th Speaker: Mr. Mehmet Ozalp
Mr. Mehmet Ozalp spoke about the Universalisation of the message of God. He began by addressing the assumption some people have, that the Prophet (pbuh) created the religion of Islam from his observations of Jews and Christians. To address this accurately, he stated, raises three questions: Did he call only Arabs to Islam; was the content universal and did Muslims carry a universal message and represent it.
The evidence, he said, is the Holy Quran with its clarification of the ‘Seal of Prophets’ implying that if the message was going to be given one last time, it has to be acceptable to all. The Prophet (pbuh) ‘was sent as mercy to all the worlds’, he had a special mission to all. The Holy Quran terms: ‘Oh Humanity’, hence not only addressing Arabs but all humanity. His last sermon was addressed to all human beings, at the end imploring, ‘those who are here, should relay it to others’.
The Prophet (pbuh) was granted for the first time something that was never given to previous Prophets and that is that the whole earth was now a place of worship. After Mecca ‘s conquest, the Prophet (pbuh) sent letters to leaders of the world to consider the message of Islam. Hence he understood his mission as being for all human beings.
Addressing the second question regarding the content of his message, he began explaining how the Prophet (pbuh) had a spiritual, cosmic and social essence. He taught to love neighbors and fellow human beings, as you love self and to understand the universe with light of belief in One God. Monotheism is the fundamental message here and that all humans are equal.
To address the third question, he discussed the contribution of the Prophet (pbuh), whose most supreme message was to believe in One God and love him most, this was the message of mercy and grace of God– as it extends throughout the universe. Acknowledging that humans created in the fitrah of the All Merciful.
The way people related to God until Islam was in one of two ways: idolatry or incarnations of God. Islam introduced that one can do this via His attributes and qualities. The oneness of humanity is an essential quality, ‘Be merciful to those on earth and He in the heavens will be merciful to you’. And with this the equality of races, before the Prophet, no-one had expressed it as explicitly.
The Prophet (pbuh) had a detailed version of how God governs the universe, through his ascension to the Heavens on the night of Isra An Miraj, the significance of this being that he witnessed the glory of God. In conclusion, Mr. Ozalp said that the message from God for all human beings, resonates with previous revelations, but was reaffirmed in practice one last time for humans via the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).