KUALA LUMPUR: The convening of the Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 is not meant to discriminate or isolate anyone, but an attempt to seek ways to address the problems facing the Islamic world and Muslim community, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday (Dec 19).
“We are attempting to start small and if these ideas, proposals and solution are acceptable and proved to be workable, then we hope to take it up to the larger platform for consideration,” he added.
Dr Mahathir, who is chairman of the summit, was speaking at the opening of the conference at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Thursday. The event ends on Saturday.
Almost all Muslim nations have been invited to participate in the summit, albeit at different levels, he said.
Among those present were Malaysian King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had on Tuesday voiced criticism of the summit, saying such gatherings would weaken Islam.
READ: Islamic body criticises Malaysia's Muslim summit
Its Secretary-General Yousef al-Othaimeen said it is “not in the interest of an Islamic nation to hold summits and meetings outside the framework of the (OIC), especially at this time when the world is witnessing multiple conflicts”.
However, he did not directly name Malaysia on his statement.
Dr Mahathir has explained that the summit is convened not to discuss religion, but the state of affairs in the Muslim world.
“Islam, the Muslims and their countries are in a state of crisis, helpless and unworthy of this great religion which is meant to be good for mankind," he said.
He added that this is the reason why the summit was organised, and that at the very least participants may find what went wrong through discussions.
“We may even find solutions, if not to end these catastrophes at least to awaken the Islamic world, the ummah of the need to recognise the problems and their causes.
“Understanding the problems and their causes may enlighten us on the way to overcome or mitigate the disasters that have befallen the ummah,” Dr Mahathir said.
Earlier, he spoke of the problems faced by the Muslim world – with Muslim countries being destroyed everywhere and citizens being forced to flee and seek refuge in non-Muslim countries.
On the other hand, he said, Muslims perpetrate violent acts, killing innocent victims.
"They have done this because their own countries are unable to provide security for them or do anything to retake the land that has been seized by others. Frustrated and angry, they react violently without in any way achieving their objectives.”
According to Dr Mahathir, they seek revenge but all they succeed in doing is to bring Islam into disrepute and create fear.
"And now this Islamophobia, this unjustified fear of Islam, has denigrated our religion in the eyes of the world. But we need to know how this fear is generated, whether it is true or mere propaganda of our detractors or a combination of both," he said.
He added that the Muslim world also has to contend with fratricidal wars, civil wars, failed governments and many other catastrophes that have plagued the Muslim ummah and Islam without any serious effort being made to end or reduce them or to rehabilitate the religion.
“We have seen other countries devastated by World War II not only recovering quickly but growing strongly to become developed. But a few Muslim countries seem unable even to be governed well, much less to be developed and prosper.
"Is it our religion that is in the way? Is it that Islam is against worldly success and becoming a developed country? Or is it the Muslim themselves who prevent their countries from being governed well, from being developed?" he said.
Dr Mahathir said these issues will be discussed at the highest levels but involving only a few countries for a start.
"It is not possible to handle the whole of the Muslim countries worldwide as it will be unwieldy and decisions made and solutions proposed may not be implementable.”