18-19 October 2016; اَلحَمْـدُ لِلّـهِ رَبّ العَـالَمِـين، وَالصّـلاة وَالسّلام علـى محـمَّدٍ وَعلـى آلـه وَصَحْبِـهِ أجمـعـين
Mr Chairman, Mr Secretary General, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,
Assalam Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakaathuh,
It gives me great pleasure to be here in this beautiful historic City. My delegation and I thank the Government of Uzbekistan and its friendly people, for the gracious hospitality extended to us since our arrival. At the outset, I wish to congratulate His Excellency Mr. Abdulaziz Kamilov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, for being elected to preside over this important Council. I would also like to congratulate the outgoing Chairman, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah for the able manner in which he has steered this Council. May I also take this opportunity to extend to you all the warm greetings of my President His Excellency Mr. Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, the Government, and the people of the Maldives.
The Council is being held at a time of utmost importance to the Muslim Ummah. Militant radicalism is tearing apart the Islamic world. Ignorance is breeding intolerance, and intolerance is cultivating a culture of hatred; hatred against anyone who holds a different opinion. I therefore applaud you, Mr Chair, and the OIC Secretary General, for selecting this year’s theme, “Education and Enlightenment - Path to Peace and Creativity”, for it captures the very essence of our beliefs. Prophet Mohammed (S.A.A.W) said, the best form of worship is the pursuit of knowledge. Indeed it is the power of creativity that propelled the Islamic civilisation to every corner of the globe. Today, as we speak, the war rages on in the fight to regain the true voice of Islam. The ultimate victory in the struggle will be one that completely eliminates the menace of militant radicalism. And the most effective weapons in that fight, as history shows, are education and enlightenment.
For several centuries, Islam was the standard bearer of tolerance and peace, which promotes scientific learning and innovation. Our contributions to the world civilization in medicine, the sciences and Arts cannot be denied. Indeed, Imam Bukhari, the great Islamic theologist, who emerged from the very lands of today’s Uzbekistan, teaches of the emphasis that the Qur'an and the Hadhis place on learning, education, observation, and the use of reason.
There is a responsibility on all of us to to promote education and enlightenment in a way that shows the path to peace. In the Maldives, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s Government has adopted a “no child left behind” policy where by education is compulsory for every child in the Maldives up to grade 10. Free education is guaranteed for all students until the age of 18, making Maldives one of the first countries in the region to provide 14 years of free education. The Maldives is also working towards improving the standard and quality of education to ensure that all teachers have a degree level qualification, by providing compulsory education enhancement options, to existing teachers.
One key area which the Maldives strongly believes is in gender equality in education. Our efforts in gender equality start with our young people and the Government’s policy guarantees that all girls have equal access to education. The Government has recently enacted a ground-breaking Gender Equality Act. This law guarantees equality between women and men in all spheres of society.
To enjoy the glory of the true values of Islam, Muslims should stand united. There is no power without unity. It is imperative that we, Muslims, join hands together to rebuild the fallen bridges of tolerance. The situation in Palestine remains the same. Attempts at peace, initiatives to resolve the decades long conflict, have gone to waste. Meanwhile the humanitarian situation on the ground is getting worse. The Maldives condemns the continuing ill treatment of the Palestinian people by the Occupying Power, Israel. The Maldives will always be steadfast in support of the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian cause.
If we look back in history, we can see that the Islamic empire remained the most advanced civilization in the world for more than 1000 years. This is due to the fact that Islam stressed the importance of respect to learning, forbade destruction and cultivated respect, discipline and tolerance towards other religions. We, as the leaders of the Muslim world, need to promote these same values today, to ensure that we return to the age of enlightenment.
The Maldives believes that with the right policies and right investments in education, Islam can once again become the source of reason and rationalism; the source of scientific advancement and the cutting edge of innovation and creativity. The OIC can play the pivotal role in leading the Muslim world to that path. The Maldives is ready to play its part.
Thank you. May Allah Subuhaanahu Watha’aalaa guide us all.
Wassalam Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakaathuh