MUSLIM scholars from Africa gathering in Dar es Salaam have been advised to promote secular education to prepare their communities to the global challenges including peace and harmony among religions.
Vice-President Dr Mohammed Gharib Bilal, who was officially opening the three-day Second Conference of African Ulama at the Mwalimu Nyerere Fair Grounds in Dar es Salaam yesterday, said this will correct the misconception that Islam brings divisions within societies.
"Dear scholars, try to promote secular education alongside Qur'an and teaching of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for the well-being of the society in general.
"If we stress on the importance of putting secular education on equal footing with spiritual teachings, the misconception among many will not be there and this will be resolved if Muslim scholars take it up," he explained.
Dr Bilal noted that the African continent has a lot of Muslims, Christians and those from other religions, noting that it is important to build understanding between all religions; otherwise the African continent will be plunged into religion conflicts, as it is the case with Nigeria and recently in the country.
"I believe your conference will deliberate on religion conflicts that emerged recently in the country, for the purpose of coming up with suitable result on how the two major religions can live together in peace and harmony and focusing on the development of the nation," he stressed.
The Nigerian terror group, Boko Haram, that has been linked to al Qaeda has carried out 19 suicide attacks so tar this year, targeting churches and mosques according to reports, while the Uamsho group in Tanzania has been associated with violent clashes, threatening Christians and burning churches in Zanzibar this year.
Dr Bilal observed that faith did mean conflict but rather it should build up the faithful who adhere to ethics and values to enable them to live in harmony with people from other denominations. He said education has in the holy books been given prominence, noting that 'Allah was the first to teach Adam the names of all that was on earth as stated in Aya number 31 Surat Al Baqraha.
Dr Bilal said the first law issued by God to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was IQRA, which means 'read'. "It is clear then that we must ensure we get educated on both religion and secular education, which will enable as address problems that the public is facing such as eroding of values, HIV/Aids infections, lack of employment and gender violence, because, I believe Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), was good to women," he noted.
Dr Bilal also challenged the Muslim scholars and other religious leaders to figure out ways to ensure science and technology benefited the faithful without negatively affecting their faith and norms. A representative from the Saudi Arabia Embassy in the country, Mr Mohammed Al Twalah, said Islam promoted the protection of people and their personal properties regardless of background differences.
"The religion also teaches that we should live together in harmony promoting peace," Mr Al Twalah said, commending those who organized the conference. He said such a conference is important to the African continent and the world in general to understand Islamic, adding that they are ready to support recommendations that will be reached at the end of the three day conference.
Among those who attended the Second Conference of African Ulema (Muslim religious scholars), that was partly organized by the Organization of Muslim Scholars in Tanzania; include the President of Ihyaauturathi Islamia Africa Continent, Sheikh Jasem Mohamad.