Monday, April 30, 2012

Statement to Delegates at the National Islamic Youth Conference of Liberia – April 27, 2012

In the Name of Allah, the most merciful, the most beneficent


I bring you warm greetings in the name of our creator, Allah, the Almighty. As I am physically absent today, I join you in hopes of successful deliberations at this conference. This conference has come at a time that it is most needed, and events of such nature will always be needed if we are to advance the status of Islam and Muslims in Liberia.

For so many years, we have worked building institutions to support Islamic activities and to improve the living status of Muslims in Liberia. Unfortunately, it seems almost every day, that we are just beginning and that Islam is just entering Liberia. Islam has a long history and it precedes every other universally known religion in the territories today called Liberia. But the evidence of its existence is discouraging, and for some reasons we Muslims have reduced ourselves to the status of a minority group, when in fact we are not. Even with a good number of resources and capacity at our individual levels, we have not made significant impacts on the social wellbeing of our fellow Muslims and the country at large. What then are the issues and challenges? This is not a new question. It has been asked years after years, and solutions have been recommended over time at conferences and meetings. The problems have been the lack of progressive leadership in the Islamic community, selfishness, sectarianism, and the growing power of tribal cleavages at the highest level of Islamic leadership in Liberia. These are issues that have plagued the frontline leadership of the Islamic community – The National Muslim Council of Liberia – and have therefore come down to affect other local organizations including Muslim youth and student organizations.

All previous Islamic youth conferences have dealt with issues of development, education and empowerment and national issues affecting Muslims, and the contribution of Muslims to the country’s development. Interestingly, leadership deficit have retarded progress on those issues. This is manifested in most of our organizations where the personal pursuits of individuals have overshadowed the workings of institutions formed for the advancement of Muslims. A clear case is in our own National Muslim Students Association of Liberia (NAMSAL) where the insatiable greed and selfish pursuit of the first president, ruined the credibility of the institution, something which even after five years, the organization have not fully recovered from. The failures of members of organizations also to remain engaged with institutions and support activities have always undermined genuine efforts. The underlining issue first therefore, is to build strong Islamic institutions with credible and progressive leaderships supported by committed members.

This conference today, the fourth of its kind since the end of the civil war, has succeeded in doing mass mobilization in Liberia and across the diaspora. Thus, the prospects for success and mass support for post-conference activities are high. It is our hope that you will fully deliberate and follow issues emerging from the conference. Fortunately, the first resolution that came from the conference organized by NAMSAL in 2006 concerning the introduction of Islamic education in the curriculum of public schools has been accepted and implemented by the government of Liberia. This effort was supported by numerous calls from conferences organized by the Coalition of Islamic Youth Organizations in 2006 at the Monrovia City Hall, and a subsequent one organized by the Organization of Liberian Muslim Youth (OLMY) in 2008. Many other issues were touched at both the CIYO (2006) and OLMY (2008) conferences, including the need for progressive leadership, the need for the provision of social services like more schools and clinics by Muslim organizations, and the need for the Government of Liberia to recognize the Eid-ul Fitr as a national holiday. NAMSAL, OLMY and several other organizations that formed the CIYO of 2006 worked over the years to improve social cohesion and co-existence amongst Muslims and non-Muslims in the country. With the same organizations and many more coming again years after under the same banner of CIYO (even if it was a coincident), then the need to look into history and review progress is critical at this conference. This is needed to build on the progresses, outline and deliberate on the pitfalls, and set a new agenda for the future.

I see this conference as a move forward by Muslim youths at a time Liberia is going through a process of long term national planning with a call for the involvement of all people in all sectors. It is my hope that this conference will derive ways that will forge unity and coherence of purpose amongst Islamic organizations in Liberia; and also derive a framework that will demand from Islamic organizations development projects aimed at advancing the economic and educational advancement of Muslim youths and women. It is also my hope that this conference will join the perennial advocacy of NAMSAL for a transformation of the National Muslim Council into a functional institution with social service delivery as part of its mandates of propagating Islam in Liberia.

Finally, I look forward, like many of you delegates, to sound resolutions and an institutional framework charged with following up those resolutions that will emanate from your deliberations.

The National Muslim Students Association of Liberia as always will remain supportive of these efforts and will continue to participate in the post-conference activities.

May Allah Bless Us All

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

No comments: