Second International Seminar on Islam Without Sectarianism
July 22, 2016


Date: Saturday, 10 September 2016
Venue: Concorde V, Concorde Hotel KL
Time: 10AM – 5PM


Inaugural Speech by:
Al-Fadhil Ustaz Abdul Ghani Shamsuddin
Al-Ittihaad al-‘Aalami li’ Ulama’i al-Muslimin‎.

Dr Chandra Muzaffar, JUST
Prof Azyumardi Azra, UIN
Dr Karim Douglas Crow, RVP
Dr Syed Farid Alatas, NUS

Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa


And hold fast, all together, unto the bond with God, and do not draw apart from one another. And remember the blessings, which God has bestowed upon you: how, when you were enemies, He brought your hearts together, so that through His blessing you became brethren; and [how, when] you were on the brink of a fiery abyss. He saved you from it. In this way God makes clear His messages unto you, so that you might find guidance. [Āl Imran, 3: 103]

Echoing the spirit of the quoted verse of the Quran, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) has took the initiative to organize the “International Seminar on Islam Without Sectarianism” in 2013 to address the issue of the Muslim world’s longest-standing division between the Sunni and Shi’i communities that has often been manipulated to feed the political interest of the few. We believed that as a nation, one has to rise above the sectarian politics and enter into a new paradigm that is inclusive and pluralistic.

Based on the recent instances we have seen in Malaysia, and around the Muslim world, the hostility between Sunnis and Shiites has become a dominant feature of intra-Muslim relations today. Indeed, the first decades of the 21st century will be known as a period of protracted conflict between these two major denominations of Islam.

Looking over the last few years alone the examples to these conflicts can never be more obvious: Shiites have been subjected to violence in Bahrain, Pakistan, Indonesia and Egypt, while the Sunnis in Iraq have been the target of Shiites militia during the presidency of Nouri al-Maliki. Of course one can trace similar trend within the long history of Muslim civilizations.

Yet, these shameful historical episodes should never be a justification to say that these two groups are fatefully irreconcilable. Yes, they are many theological and ideological differences between Sunni and Shi’ism, but for most of Islamic history Sunnis and Shiites lived under conditions of mutual tolerance and harmony rather than animosity and hostility.

Thus, it would be a grave error to suggest that the sectarian conflicts that we are witnessing today across the globe have sprung from these doctrinal differences. Instead, what we are seeing today has less to do with religion, and more to do with manipulation of religious sentiments by certain groups to mobilize the masses for their own dubious and wicked political interest.

The Second International Seminar on Islam Without Sectarianism will attempt to address these issues, and will reiterate the message unity and tolerance as prescribed by The Amman Message in 2004. We hope that this event will spark more discussion and mobilization among Muslim leaders and communities to reject the illusory sectarian divide between the Sunni and Shi’i and adopt a more pluralistic and inclusive mindset to create a more tolerant and harmonious environment in the society.

Organized by
Islamic Renaissance Front


0930-1000: Registration

1000-1005: Opening Speech by the Chairperson, Dr Elma Berisha

1005-1020: Inaugural Speech by Al-Fadhil Ustaz Abdul Ghani Shamsuddin

Al-Ittihaad al-‘Aalami li’ Ulama’i al-Muslimin‎.

1020-1030: Speech by Moderator Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa

1030-1115: Paper by Dr Chandra Muzaffar, International Movement for A Just World


1115-1200: Paper by Prof Azyumardi Azra, Faculty of Adab and Humanities, Syarif

Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN), Jakarta

1200-1300: Discussion

1300-1430: Lunch and Solat

1430-1515: Paper by Dr Karim Douglas Krow, Council for Research in Values and  Philosophy (RVP)

1515-1600: Paper by Dr Syed Farid Alatas, National University of Singapore

1600-1700: Discussion

1700: End


Biographical details of the Invited Speakers

Al-Fadhil Ustaz Abdul Ghani Shamsuddin is a well-known and highly respected Islamic scholar.   He was an active member of the Persatuan Ulama’ Malaysia (PUM – Muslim Scholars Association of Malaysia) and was elected as its President from 1999 -2003. He also leads another Islamic movement named Sekretariat Himpunan Ulama’ Rantau Asia (SHURA – Islamic Scholars Secretariat of the Asian Region). Currently he is a Deputy Advisor to Parti Amanah Negara (National Trust Party), a new political party advocating Political Islam. He is also a member of the world-renowned prestigious Islamic Council, Al-Ittihaad al-‘Aalami li’ Ulama’i al-Muslimin – World Union of Islamic Scholars, which was founded in 2004 and led by Syeikh Dr Yusuf Al-Qaradawy.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is both a social activist and an academic. He is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), an international NGO based in Malaysia, which seeks to critique global injustice and to develop an alternative vision of a just and compassionate civilization guided by universal spiritual and moral values. He has published extensively on civilizational dialogue, international politics, religion, human rights and Malaysian society.

Prof Azyumardi Azra is a senior Professor of Islamic History and Culture at the Faculty of Adab and Humanities, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN) of Jakarta. He is an outstanding historian, a progressive educator and an Islamic intellectual who has earned high esteem for his advocacy of a centrist, moderate understanding of Islam. In 2010, he was awarded as the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), an honorable title from the British Empire. Accordingly, he became the first non-British person who may use the title ‘Sir’ before his name. He is also the author of an important book on The Origins of Islamic Reformism in Southeast Asia published in 2004.

Dr Karim Douglas Crow is currently Research Coordinator for theCouncil for Research in Values and Philosophy (RVP), as an authority on Islamic rationality and the Shi‘ah-Sunni schism. He was Principal Fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur for six years; prior to that he taught at ISTAC. Crow’s research focuses on ethical issues joining Muslim with Euro-American modernities. He is a longstanding affiliate of Nonviolence International (based in WDC), where he traveled Asia organizing seminars on Islamic peace studies with scholars, officials and activists. He remains active in a number of international and regional non-governmental peace building organizations from Palestine to Indonesia and Japan.

Dr Syed Farid Alatas, is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He also headed the Department of Malay Studies at NUS from 2007 to 2013. He lectured at the University of Malaya in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies prior to joining NUS. His areas of interest are historical sociology, the sociology of social science, the sociology of religion and inter-religious dialogue. Among his recent books are Alternative Discourse in Asian Social Science: Responses to Eurocentrism (Sage, 2006), Ibn Khaldun and few others.

Contact Us
Islamic Renaissance Front
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Phone: +603-2615-7919
Fax: +603-2615-2699
Updated version: 2.39-20231022