The Tenth General Conference :Islam and The 21st Century
Recommendations Of The Tenth General Conference Of The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs
Held on 8-11 Rabie Al-Awal 1419 H.
Corresponding to 2-5 July, 1998
Islam and the 21st Century
In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate
On the eve of the 2lst century, the world is witnessing a fundamental
change in its existence as typified by globalization as a result of the high
technique in communication and information that turned the whole
world into a small village where the various civilizations are competing,
and at times cooperating.
Most of the peoples of the world have been amazed by these new
techniques which led to cultural achievements by the advanced nations,
had been influenced by them and have started to copy them. The question
is whether Islamic peoples are able to contribute to such amazing human
progress and carry with the rest of the people the torch of civilization, as
they have done in the past; whether the systems, governing their activities
are able to co-exist with the other cultural systems, while keeping their
own identities, heritage and particularities. Islamic civilization has not yet
lost its essence. It still contains the elements enabling it to grow and
progress despite some failures, due to circumstances at times beyond its
control; also because of the failings of some of its own sons and discord
that reigns among them. This arrest in growth is a normal phenomenon
that saps genuine and venerable civilizations in some of their parts at
certain times. Nevertheless, such civilizations recover their vitality and
pursue their march towards progress and development.
There is no shame or any belittling in the fact that the Islamic
civilization should now exchange with others experiments and expertise
in the technical fields. Civilizations are but links in one chain that
strengthen each other.
The Islamic civilization still kept a part of its particularities at
moral, spiritual, ethical and cultural levels, wherein it is superior to the
other civilizations and mankind should profit from it in future.
Thus could Muslims embark on the twenty first century with steady
and confident steps, fortified by knowledge and faith, blessed with an
The Ministry of Al-Awkaf convened in these circumstances in the
Arab Republic of Egypt the Tenth General Conference of the Supreme
Council for Islamic Affairs on Islam and the 21st Century from 8-11
Rabie Al-Awal 1419 H. corresponding to 2 - 5 July, 1998 under the
auspices of President Muhamed Hosni Mubarak, with His Eminence The
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr. Mohamed Sayed Tantawi as Honorary
His Excellency the Minister of Awkaf and Chairman of the Supreme
Council for Islamic Affairs, Dr. Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk chaired the
meeting. The Representatives of the following States and international
organizations and bodies attended the meeting:
5. United Arab Emirates
6. United States of America
15. Burkina Faso
16. Bosnia and Herzegovina
23. Sri Lanka
24. Kingdom of
N.B. (According to the Arabic Alphabet)
52. League of Arab States
54. Organization of Islamic
55. World Islamic Council for
Da'wa and Relief
56. Muslim World League
57. League of Islamic Universities
The Conference was inaugurated with the speech of President
Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt,
which was delivered on his behalf by Dr. Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk,
Minister of Al-Awkaf and Head of the Supreme Council for Islamic
At the opening session, His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar,
Dr. Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, His Holiness Pope Chenouda III, Pope of
Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Marc Episcopacy and the Minister of
Awkaf and Head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Dr.
Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk took the floor and delivered their speeches.
On behalf of the delegations attending Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdul
Mohsen Al Turki, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Awkaf, Da'wa and
Guidance of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also took the floor and
addressed the meeting.
The delegations attending the Conference requested that the address
of President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak of Egypt should be considered as
a document of this year's Conference and be guided by its directives.
The Conference held its sessions where the studies presented,
numbering sixty, were studied and discussed in Arabic, English and
French on the four following axes:
1. Islam and the Cultural Evolution.
2. Position of Islam in respect of Globalization at Political Level.
3. Position of Islam in respect of Globalization at Economic Level.
4. Position of Islam in respect of Globalization with regard to
The Conference formed a Drafting Committee to draw up its
recommendations which was chaired by Dr. Soufi Abou Taleb with the
membership of the delegations attending to draw up the draft
recommendations inspired by President Mubarak's address and papers
that were presented, together with the conclusions of the proceedings.
The Committee drew up the following draft recommendations:
The Position of Islam
in respect of Globalization at Political Level
The Conference recommends that the Shura be applied in all walks
of life in Islamic countries with particular emphasis on the following:
1. The Islamic system of Shura is perfectly adapted to real modern
democracy whether republican or monarchist, in addition to suiting
simple and complex State systems.
2. Islamic cultural thinking lays emphasis on the fact that religious
and worldly duties are applied to the Umma within the context of the
provisions of the Holy Book and the lofty Sunnah.
3. The exercise of authority should be in keeping with the conditions
governing each Islamic State whether in the process of choosing the
rulers or setting their rights and duties.
4. The rules and regulations governing those in power as deputies of
the Umma as regards their capacity, number, the mode of election and
the limits of their authority, due account being taken of the state of
development of Islamic communities.
5. Islamic thinking is characterized by freedom of opinion, Ijtihad,
taking due account of the fact that the circumstances prevailing in
contemporary times call for organizing divergence of opinion according
to the provisions of the Holy Book and the Lofty Sunnah and in line with
the main particularities of each State.
The Conference recommends taking all necessary steps to ensure
that the provisions of Islam for organizing the life of the Muslim Umma
are duly applied:
1. Respect for human political, civil, social and economic rights
without any discrimination.
2. Spurring individual and collective Ijtihad in conjunction with the
various organizations and bodies of the Islamic world, foremost among
which is the Islamic Research Academy of Al-Azhar, and the Islamic Fiqh
Academy of the OIC that include representatives of the Ulemas of
3. Solving the problems of contemporary life by drawing on the
provisions stemming from the Islamic Fiqh and its origins.
4. Rooting in the true Islamic concepts that upgrade human dignity
irrespective of race, colour or creed, thus causing coordination to prevail
among human beings, such as enjoined by the Almighty: "Verily have
We raised man's dignity " and "O ye people, verily have We created you
into male and female and turned you into peoples and tribes that ye may
know one another. The best among ye for Allah are the most pious."
(Al Hujurat: 13)
5. The Conference recommends that efforts be intensified in the field
of information by Islamic countries so that Islam would have a loud voice
clearly heard in all the international information media. The Conference
urges as well that Islamic States pay increased attention to the training of
first rate information cadres, in addition to laying the proper
programmes for them.
6. The Conference further recommends that the resolution adopted
by the OIC to the effect that an Islamic Court of Justice be established
should be put into effect.
The Conference recommends that the defense of the entity of the
Islamic Ummah at international level be undertaken through the
1. Strengthening of cooperation between the States and their peoples
in removing the reasons that lead to the spreading of terrorism and
violence within and without these States, whether for political, economic,
social, ideological or religious reasons.
2. Encouraging international efforts aimed at establishing a
Criminal Court of Justice to try and penalize perpetrators of acts of
terrorism, genocide, aggression, ethnic cleansing and the denying of the
right of peoples to self- determination.
3. The Conference calls on all the Islamic States to stand at the side
of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and
the establishment of an independent State on its soil and condemns as
well the Israeli practices perpetrated against them and the violation of
sacred sites. The Conference also condemns the Israeli government for
refusing to implement international resolutions and the Madrid and Oslo
Agreements. Furthermore, the Conference stresses the determination of
the Islamic peoples and States to have Al-Quds as the capital of the State
4. The Conference condemns the overt Serbian aggression on
Muslims in Kossova and calls on the international community to intensify
efforts in order to check that aggression and enable the people of Kossova
to exercise their right to self-determination.
5. The Conference calls on the international community to exert all
efforts to settle the problem of Kashmir in line with international and
6. The Conference welcomes the international efforts that have been
exerted for the sake of co-existence between the followers of the various
religions and stresses the importance of rooting in true ethical values in
the twenty first century to protect mankind from the evils of materialism
and the arrogance of excessive power.
7. The Conference appeals to the Islamic States to take all necessary
measures when organizing assistance to the Islamic peoples and States
when subjected to aggression, within the limits set by the provisions of
Article 51 of the UN Charter.
8. The Conference urges the international community to take all
necessary measures to liquidate mass-destruction weapons in nil parts of
the world without any exception.
The Position of Islam
in respect of Globalization at Economic Level
The Conference recommends that the economic principles and
concepts of Islam be rooted in and publicized by all possible modern
means and that efforts be intensified in order to have them applied.
Foremost among those principles:
1. The dependence on the principles of a liberal economy and
market mechanisms in accordance with what the Almighty exalted be His
Name, has ordained. "O ye who believe! Squander not your wealth
among yourselves in vanity, except it be a trade by mutual consent", in
addition to the Hadith in this regard.
Such concept requires that the economy of the contemporary
Islamic States be liberated from its shackles.
2. Ensuring that Islamic States avoid any harm arising from free
market competition and its mechanisms by adhering to the principles of
social solidarity between the rich and the poor in Islamic communities.
3. Avoidance of any transaction through usury which is prohibited
by Islamic law while urging the Muslim ulemas to pursue Ijtihad to
discover new formulas for investment.
4. Developing the forms and aspects of Islamic cooperation among
Islamic States and between them and the rest of the countries of the
5. The Conference urges Islamic States to speed up the
implementation of several agreements that have been concluded between
them for the purpose of achieving economic integration, and stresses the
importance of the following:
a- Implementing the OIC resolutions adopted in 1989 concerning
the establishment of an Islamic common market, in addition to
implementing the league of Arab States resolutions concerning the
establishment of an Arab common market and also the resolutions
adopted by the Arab Summit for the establishment of a common free
b- Encouraging common economic projects among Islamic States.
c- Setting the necessary mechanisms for achieving the greatest
extent of commercial commodities exchange, tourism and services among
Islamic States; moreover, encouraging bilateral and collective agreements
to control such exchange while introducing the clause of the most
favoured nation's treatment therein.
6. Organizing the exploitation of natural and human resources of
Islamic countries and achieving the greatest possible extent of
coordination and integration among them.
7. The Conference draws the attention of the Muslim people and
Islamic States to the inherent economic and political risks involved in
complete reliance on foreign investments.
The Position of Islam
in respect of Globalization
in the Field of Scientific Progress
Muslim scientists were in the past far ahead of others in many
intellectual and scientific fields after benefitting from preceding
civilizations. Their scientific research and writings constituted the
foundation of the contemporary European scientific revival. It was time
to reinstate the civilizational role of Islam in order to keep pace with
contemporary scientific and technical progress towards that end, the
1 Coordinating efforts between the various research and study
centres in all parts of the Islamic world while paying increased attention
to applied research that would serve the goals of economic development
in the fields of agriculture, industry and advanced techniques. The
Conference commends the efforts exerted in research activities carried
out by universities and research centres, in addition to the Islamic
Universities League in studying the challenges that would face the Umma
in the 21st century.
2. Exchanging information between research centres, universities
and various scientific institutions throughout the Islamic world in such
manner as would constitute a scientific database that would serve the
common scientific goal and help in drawing up a strategy for common
scientific research planning.
3. Increasing the financial allocations to scientific research, either
through State budgets or the contributions of national institutions or
4. Adopting an open door policy as regards the advanced nations
and exerting the greatest efforts to secure the transfer of advanced
5. Enhancing the scientific dialogue between the scientists of the
various Islamic States and those of the advanced nations, as well as
benefitting from Muslims expatriate scientists.