Liwanag Forum: Islam is a way of life

MANILA -- Islam is not just a religion but a way of life, a Muslim group stressed on Sunday.

"For the longest time, religious scholars have focused on Islam's spiritual aspect, medyo napabayaan ang social aspect, kaya maraming Muslim sa Pilipinas na relihiyoso pero nagkaroon ng problema sa pakikitungo sa ibang tao (since the social aspect has been neglected, many Muslims in the Philippines are religious but are having problems when dealing with other people), Kim Edres, executive director of Liwanag Forum, told Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

Liwanag Forum is a series of talks about Islam and how it must be observed as a way of life. It aims to help Muslims nationwide to have a right understanding of Islam under the guidance of legitimate Muslim scholars.

Edres explained that Islam teaches its believers to lead peaceful lives in a community together with Christians and other non-Muslims.

"Ang ordinaryong Muslim walang exposure sa ibang community, ang paniniwala nila kapag hindi nila kauri, hindi dapat pakisamahan. Hindi masama ang makisama sa mga Kristiyano dahil ginawa iyan ng Propetang Mohammad noong panahon niya (Ordinary Muslims are not exposed to other communities, they believe it is wrong to deal with people who are not of the same faith. It is not wrong to live harmoniously with Christians because Prophet Mohammad did so during his time)," he said.

Citing that most Filipino Muslims only push for their rights, Edres said every Muslim has a responsibility to the community and to observe the laws of the land as well.

"Kasi ang iba, ang pagkakaintindi nila, hindi mo pwede sundin ang gobyerno dahil hindi naman iyan (Some think that you don’t have to obey the government because it is not a) Muslim government, when in fact Islam teaches us to obey Allah, obey the prophets and obey those people who have authority over you. Islam didn't say that you obey only those Muslims who have authority over you, it is a generic term, so this means we should follow the city ordinances of Quezon City because the law doesn't teach us bad things," he added.

Edres also condemned violent extremism and uncleanliness which are practiced by other Muslims.

"Ang itinituro ng mg bayolenteng grupo kagaya ng ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq), it's Muslims against the world, if you don't belong to the same race, they're you're enemies, this group projects an image that they have a wide Islam knowledge so our real Muslim religious leaders now say that there's no truth to this teaching," he said.

With a plan to have a monthly forum on the topic, Edres said their group is prioritizing big Muslim communities like the Salam Compound in Culiat, Quezon City.

"Salam Compound was supposed to be a business area that is income-generating, where the income must be used in helping other Muslim groups, but it didn't happen that way. There various kinds of Muslims, the Maranaoans, those from Lanao, Maguindanao, Cotabato, Tausug, and the Balik Islam, so we want all of them to have a right understanding of Islam," he said.

"Also, this place is not an ideal Muslim community, because an ideal Muslim community must be the cleanest community, because we Muslims believe that cleanliness is a big portion of faith. How can you be a real example of the faith if your environment is not clean and orderly?," he added.

Edres said Christians and members of other religious denominations are free to attend the forum if they want to know how they could live harmoniously with their Muslim neighbors. (PNA)

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