Saturday, November 9, 2013
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN | Rasidah HAB
THE director of the Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies (SOASCIS) said contemporary society must be taken into account when teaching about Islam.
Professor Datuk Dr Osman Bakar, Director of Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies (SOASCIS) speaks at the closing ceremony yesterday. BT/Rasidah Bakar
“The world now speaks very highly of science and technology, so many ideas are related to science and we should address that, Professor Datuk Dr Osman Bakar said in an interview with The Brunei Times as the Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies 3rd International Conference came to a close at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) yesterday.
The three-day international conference, which carried the theme “Towards a Healthy Youth Culture: the Role of Islamic Family and Educational Values”, attracted more than 30 speakers.
“Modern science and technology pose problems for the young if they do not understand it properly. In the West, science has been used to reject religion. They say we do not need religion because everything can be explained by science and every problem can be solved by applying technology,” he said.
“We as Muslims cannot accept that sort of position. Because in our case, religion and science are not in conflict with each other. They do not contradict,” Professor Datuk Dr Osman added.
The conference, which was co-organised with the Brunei Youth Council (MBB) and UBD’s Students Affairs Division, was aimed at tackling issues important to today’s youth, such as the challenges of globalisation to their cultural identity, the Islamic perspective on a healthy and sustainable youth culture, and family and educational values for youth development.
“Our speakers and participants unanimously agreed that one of the emerging challenges is the dissemination of false ideas available to youth, particularly in the new electronic media, which resulted in confusion of the minds of the young as to what is true and false.”
This confusion coupled with a lack of religious knowledge and understanding have led to what many have dubbed “social ills”.
“They are not able to digest all the information that they come across because they do not have the necessary knowledge to judge which one is true and which one is false,” he said.
Professor Datuk Dr Osman added that illiteracy was a major problem in the Muslim world.
“In the conference, we listened to facts and figures where millions of youths throughout the Muslim world basically do not know how to read and write. Many of the young have led an aimless life. They do not have vision and clear objectives of what they are supposed to do. Many of them finish school well before they should and as a result, do not have sufficient education,” he said.
“We hope Muslim global organisations such as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference will address this,” he said, adding that the conference allowed participants to compare positive and negative experiences.
“The academics should continue to work together with youth leaders, community leaders, youth organisations so we can mutually benefit from it,” he said.
“Youth organisations deal with the actual problems and challenges on the ground. Listening to these challenges and problems (from the organisations) will give academicians some ideas on how to solve it. That is why we really would like to present later on our findings to the stakeholders, especially ministries concerned with youth, such as the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.”
The conference is designed to help policymakers formulate more effective policies to prevent or overcome social ills among Muslim youth in general and Bruneian youth in particular.
Professor Datuk Dr Osman said young people are generally keen to change what they consider unjust in society.
This he said was seen during recent political uprisings, such as those in Egypt.
“They (young people) have hopes, ambitions and they would like to see good flourish in society. When what they think they deserve is not given to them, of course they react. We cannot just dismiss the reactions of these youth. We should try to understand them.
“In general, this does not only happen in the Middle East. How should we help the young? The elders need to guide them,” he said, adding that this is where Islam plays an important role.
“Islamic teachings can guide the youth to lead a meaningful and productive life. Muslims can engage in activities such as entertainment as long as it is within the moral bounds of Islamic teachings. Islam can provide youth with the necessary knowledge to become the future leaders of the ummah (community).”