We refer to an FMT report under the apparently ill-intentioned title, "Anwar gathers 'celeb Muslim scholars' at counter to Dr M's KL Summit", to drive a wedge between Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim.
The International Unity in Diversity Conference (UIDC), co-organised by International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) and the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim), aims at exploring and highlighting the common grounds amid the glaring differences we have to create a more caring and understanding society based on the principle of ta'awun 'ala al-birr (helping one another in righteousness).
It is one out of many events organised by IIIT together with various institutions and NGOs to promote a culture of critical dialogue on a plethora of contemporary issues.
Previously, IIIT organised a discourse on digital futures and integration of knowledge. Last month, a dialogue on Islam and Confucianism was held in Penang.
UIDC is purely knowledge-based and independently organised.
In this regard, we would like to affirm that this conference since its inception was never geared to rival the KL Summit, or any other summits for that matter, as falsely claimed.
Unlike KL Summit, the half-day conference is not a gathering of leaders from other countries and is not meant to issue any political initiatives. Rather it aims at providing a conducive environment for an exchange of thoughts.
The initial plan to organise this conference has also been mooted and placed on the almanac before KL Summit was announced.
When Anwar went to Mecca for haj in August 2019 and met with Omar Suleiman, he mulled over the possibility of having Omar in Malaysia, thus the prototypal idea of the conference. This was five months before the summit.
It is also pertinent to note that the Muslim scholars – Yasir Qadhi and Nuruddeen Lemu, besides Omar, who will be leading this semi-academic conference, are invited due to their moderate, fresh and objective way of approaching various contemporary issues.
They are also known to be fairly engaged with the Muslims on the ground. They have no vested political interests.
Similarly, this cultural-intellectual event as a whole also has no political link whatsoever to Saudi Arabia as unwarrantedly purported.
We reiterate that the malicious invocation of Wahhabism and Ikhwanul Muslimin to create the impression that this initiative is theologically oriented and monolithic of a certain brand is a baseless and an illogical claim, as it would ultimately go against the very principle the conference would like to celebrate: unity in diversity.
Nonetheless, all are welcome to attend the conference to hear what Anwar, Nurul Izzah and the rest of the scholars have to say.
It is best to be there and discuss with them in person rather than succumbing to the volatile speculation circulating in the news.