11 July 2018

Ethiopia: Scholars Laud PM's Role in Islamic Leadership Reconciliation

ADDIS ABABA- Muslim scholars said Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed's initiation to reconcile Ethiopia's Islamic leadership is a symbolic act in enhancing the Muslim community's active participation in peace and development.

Following the discussion with Prime Minister Abiy, a nine-member committee made up of representatives from the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, Ethiopian Muslims Arbitration Committee and Muslim scholars was established in order to solve the differences in Islamic leadership.

Speaking to The Ethiopian Herald, Ustaz Hassan Taju, a Researcher of Islamic history, said that the initiative is a 'unique act' that comes from a good leader that understands the importance of unison in the Muslim community for Ethiopia's long-cherished peaceful coexistence.

Ustaz Hassan indicated that the government has shown an exemplary gesture to preserve the unity of the Muslim, and the move showcased Premier Abiy's desire to mobilize the participation of the Muslim community for the democratization anddevelopment of the country.

Besides its role in solving differences in a civilized manner, the initiative will have an invaluable importance in helping the Muslim community focus its attention on development, and play a meaningful role in the ongoing reconciliation, the Scholar added.

Expressing the previous administrations' failure in taking the initiative to address the age-old problems in Islamic leadership in participatory manner, Hassan commended the attention the new government attached to the Muslim case.

Sharing the above sentiment, Historian and Chief Curator of Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Dr. Ahmed Zekaria said that addressing the problem in Islamic leadership will have a paramount significance in fostering the Muslim community's participation in building a peaceful and prosperous country.

Dr. Ahmed said that the establishment of the new committee shows the priority PM Abiy has given to filling societal and religious gaps, and his plan to mobilizing equal participation of peoples with different religious backgrounds to build the new Ethiopia.

"For the first time in Ethiopia's long history, a leader has taken the initiative to solve the gaps in the Islamic leadership in the view to scale up the faithful's engagement in peace and development".

The scholar called on all parties to play a constructive role in the ongoing reconciliation to enhance the Muslim unity and ensure the laity's meaningful participation for democracy and development.

Meanwhile, Ustaz Hassan expressed his belief that the Supreme Council would come with fresh ideas that will significantly address its structural shortcomings and pave the way for competent scholars to take part in the leadership.

"It is my expectation the Council would transform to an efficient institution that leads the Muslim community to peace, development and spiritual enlightenment whilst nurturing the youth as peace loving citizens."

According to the Scholar, the Council has also the prime responsibility to keep Muslim's unity, and fight the destructive activities of some interest groups whose agendas are not religious.

The Council needs to support the Committee's efforts to execute successful task and ensures the active participation and benefit of the Muslim community in Ethiopia's development projects, Hassan added.

For his part, Dr. Ahmed pointed out that Muslim scholars have the major responsibility to teach the faithful about peace, tolerance and co-existence, and shun narrow nationalism.

The Committee is also expected to conduct extensive studies, and partner with the pertinent stakeholders to come up with strategic road-maps in a bid to satisfy the interest of all concerned bodies, the Assistant Professor added.

"The faithful should support the Committee's works financially, technically and morally, and make a meaningful engagement in exposing the wrong doings of some interest groups."

The scholars highlight that the government should maintain its attention to solve the problems in religions leadership, and called on the active participation of all actors in the process to make the reconciliation sustainable and fruitful.

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