Zamboanga City—In a recent meeting of the Zamboanga Peace and Security Forum (ZPSF), in the city, a Muslim religious leader clarified that a follower of the Islamic faith who engages in interreligious affair (interfaith dialogue) is a real Muslim. This is to counter what the extremist groups claim that such activity is  “forbidden”. 

 

 

Sheikh Maser S. Albi, a member of the Ulama Council for Zamboanga Peninsula (UCZP) shed light on the issues of “hate messages” being circulated in the social media by the extremist group following the Jolo and Zamboanga bombing last January 2019. ZPSF is composed of several Muslim religious leaders, members of the academe, and peace advocates.

 

“The prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) interacts with other religions,” Sheikh Albi emphatically told the audience. He supported this with several passages from the Qur’an which narrates the good interaction between the Prophet and the non-Muslims. He added that, “The Prophet acknowledged the rights of the Jews and Christians”.

 

The members of the ZPSF have been trying to find ways how to counter the proliferation in the social media of the Muslim and Christian divisive issues. The ZPSF came up with “doables” to counter the extremist narratives. First of these was the Church and Muslim Leaders Dialogue that was held last month in the Masjid and in the Church of Lustre community in Barangay Sta. Catalina, Zamboanga City.

 

Pastor Rogelio F. Alfaro, Jr of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines (CAMACOP) had a dialogue with the Masjid administrator during the Christian and Muslim Leaders Dialogue. He proposes to bring this activity to the grassroots level so that more ordinary people would know that Muslims and Christians can interact in friendly manner with one another.

 

The whole afternoon activity was capped with a session on the continuous planning for the “doables” to counter the in-roads of the extremist groups and their ideology.

 

The Zamboanga Peace and Security Forum is a platform for security updating, reflections and analysis with funding support through the EnPolD Bangsamoro project of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, in partnership with the Bangsamoro Women Services Center (BWSC), Institute for Bangsamoro Studies (IBS), Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), Organization of Teduray and Lambangian Conference and Zamboanga Basilan Integrated Alliance, Inc. (ZABIDA), and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia. (Albert F. Arcilla, ZABIDA)