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Korea Hosts Int’l Symposium on Islam
Sheikh Dr. Ikramah Sabri, the Grand Mufti of Palestine, addresses the symposium at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel in Seoul.

International Symposium on Islam and other Religions in Asia: Coexistence and Cooperation was held at Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel in Seoul on Nov. 25-26, 2005.

Hosted by the Korea Muslim Federation under the auspices of the Korea Association of Islam Studies and the Korea Institute of Islamic Culture, the two-day symposium was part of projects to commemorate the golden anniversary of Islam in Korea.

Delegations from 30 other countries discussed topics such as "Multi-Culturalism among Religions in Asia" and "New Methodology for Dakwah in the 21st Century in Muslim Minority Communities in Asia" during the two-day session.

Those who attended the seminar included Dr. Bouamrane Cheikh, president of High Islamic Council of Algeria, Dr. Saleh Suliamn al-Wohaibi, secretary general of WAMY, Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz Abdullah al-Ammar, deputy minister of religious affairs of Saudi Arabia, Pehin Dato Badaruddin Othman, deputy minister of religious affairs of Brunei Darussalam, and Sheikh Dr. Ikramah Sabri of Brand Mufti, Palestine.

Among other eminent foreign participants were Dr. Muhammet Sevki Aydin, deputy president of Turkish religious affairs, Sheikh Salah al-Deen Kuftaro of Syria, Dato Mohamad Taha Ariffin, RISEAP, Malaysia, Zubeyir Koc, the First Turkish Imam in Korea, Shafiqul Islam Farooqi, journalist from Pakistan and Dr. Osman Bakar, International Islamic University of Malaysia.

More than 200 Muslims from 30 countries attend the International Symposium on Islam and other Religions in Asia: Coexistence and Cooperation.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Lee Hee-soo, chairman of the organizing committee for the symposium, said that the Seoul symposium could initiate building a religious reconciliation dialogue as a concrete step toward addressing the root causes of misunderstandings and conflicts.

Through 1,400 years of Islamic history, the culture of tolerance is the hallmark of Islam, particularly in Asia, he said, pointing out that this peaceful and gradual Islamization gave valuable opportunity to the Asians' cosmopolitan, open-minded tolerance and amenability to cultural diversity. "Islamic civilization usually respects the rights of others and freedom and has a positive attitude toward others," he stressed.

In Korea, too, full freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution. It can be said that Korean people are not very negative toward Muslims and their contribution to national interest. "We believe that the principles and basic thought of Islam are in many parts parallel with the Korean value system," he maintained.

First Counsellor & Deputy Head of Mission of Moroccan Embassy Abdelkader Jaouhar is seen at left with M.S.R.Shah (right), managing director of Ashoka Korea Co.,Ltd. and Min Byung-il(center), editorial director of The Seoul Times.

Korea was full of poverty, sorrow, and pain resulting from the Korean War, which broke out on June 25, 1950. In such ruins of war, Islam began planting its seeds via brother Zubercoch and Abdul Rahman, who participated in the Korean War as military service members of the Turkish Army of the United Nations stationed in Korea. During his service he built a Quonset hut used as a Masjid, where he preached Islamic doctrine to the Korean People.

The Turkish Army taught the Korean people at the Masjid Tent, which was built at the refugees' villages, the teaching of Islamic monotheism during the Korean War, while the Korean people devoted themselves to religious lives in the dark and ruined surroundings, wishing for a bright future trusting Allah.

The Korean Muslims' long dream, the construction of Central Masjid, was materialized in 1976. The opening of Central Masjid and Islam Center were the most important turning points for the history of Korean Muslims. At the opening ceremony, 55 representatives of around 20 countries glorified the dream of Korean Muslims, and the magnificent opening ceremony served as an outburst of sudden increase in the number of Korean Muslims.

The opening of the first Masjid of Korea contributed to the rapid development of Islam in Korea. Foreign Dignitaries (V.I.P.) who participated in the ceremony visited the then Prime Minister Choi Gyu Ha to perform the role of raising interest in Islam.

In the meantime, in 1979, the Korean Muslims' mission made a pilgrimage to Mecca to inspire people with the Islamic belief and to perform faithful duties, and the Korean Muslims spurred the propagation of activities in Korea, taking the opportunity of the so-called "Boom of the Middle East" (1974-1980) by raising interest in the Middle East and Islam.






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