At the recently concluded 11th International conference of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Caribbean region, represented by delegates from Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Barbados, a call was made by Zainool Ali of the Islamic Relief Centre of Trinidad to the Secretary General of WAMY, Sheikh Saleh bin Sulaiman Al-Wohaibi, to consider increasing WAMY’s activities in the English speaking islands. This call was made against the backdrop that WAMY in the eighties and early nineties conducted several youth leadership camps in the Caribbean but in recent years no activities have been carried out. The call came as WAMY’s General Assembly re-elected Ali Abdune of Brazil to represent the entire Latin American and Caribbean region on WAMY’s Council of Representatives.
Mr. Ali made the point that due to language differences and distances it was difficult for the office in Brazil to effectively oversee the Caribbean region. Suleiman Bulbulia of Barbados and Imran Ally of Guyana also attended the meeting in the largest Muslim populated country in the world.
The World Assembly of Muslim Youth is an international non-governmental organization devoted to the cause of youth and their development as well as integration in their social environment. Since its inception 38 years ago, WAMY according to its stated aims, has been striving to guide the youth to be a moderate and balanced force through a series of social, cultural and educational programs. WAMY has enrolled about 500 youth organizations among its active members in all corners of the world. WAMY over the years have engaged in varying types of programmes and activities from youth camps to provision of health care, educational courses, dawah and provision of scholarships to needy students.
WAMY is headquartered in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. It works on the basis of consultation (shura). The organizational structure consists of the General Secretariat, the President, Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General as well as the Board of Trustees. The current President is the Minister of Islamic Affairs and Endowments of Saudi Arabia, Saleh Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Shaikh.
The international conferences of WAMY are held every four years and bring together representatives of active member organizations of WAMY from across the globe. The past conferences were held in various cities including Riyadh, Amman, Cairo and Nairobi. This year 11th International Conference at the Sultan Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia was held under the theme “Youth and Social Responsibility” and had in attendance over 300 delegates of around 50 nationalities.
Following a beautiful recitation of the holy Quran by an Indonesian qari and speeches by the Secretary General of WAMY and the Minister of Islamic Affairs of Saudi Arabia the Conference was opened on October 2nd by the Minister of Religious Affairs of Indonesia, Suryadharma Ali who in an Indonesian symbolic gesture banged the gong to declare the conference started.
During the two and half days of the conference delegates were afforded the opportunity to listen to lectures and presentations by lmany presenters including Dr. Issam Bin Ahmad Al-Bashir, former Minister of Islamic Affairs of Sudan and Dr. Abdullah bin Sulaiman Al Maneh, member of the Higher Council of Ulema of Saudi Arabia. The main theme throughout the speeches was the need for young Muslims, male and female, to take up their social responsibility and the ever increasing need of leaders to direct the energies of the youth into positive activities away from extremism and irresponsible behavior.
One of the outstanding presentations was by the Indonesian Minister of Social Affairs, Dr. Salim Segaf Al Jufri. He gave a brief overview of Indonesia, reminding the delegates that Indonesia had the largest Muslim population in the world with around 237 million inhabitants. Indonesia consists of 17508 islands with the majority of them uninhabited. He noted that around 32 million persons were considered to be in poverty with some 230,000 actually not living in houses but in trees and caves. He said it was his Ministry’s priority to bring all those in poverty out of their circumstances by providing opportunities for them in varying types of trades, skills and businesses. One initiative of the Ministry was seen at the Conference itself were dozens of small traders and makers of products got the opportunity to display and offer for sale their products to the delegates. These small businesses came from all over Indonesia and spent the two days there at the conference. The products were all of superb quality and the crafts of Indonesia especially from wood are exquisite.
The Caribbean delegates got the opportunity to visit Jakarta after the conference. We were shown some of the important landmarks in Jakarta with the highlight being prayers in the largest masjid in south-east Asia, Masjid Istiqlal. Inaugurated in 1978 the independence mosque as it is referred to can accommodate around 200,000 worshippers. Jakarta, a city of some 13 million is crowded and congested and well above its limits. Mosques, traditional buildings, modern office blocks and even churches all make up its landscape. Food outlets and restaurants all find their place in this overcrowded city and the Caribbean brothers were treated to some very tasty Indonesian cuisine compliments thanks to our very kind and hospitable guide Nashran.
The warm, friendly and embracing people of Indonesia welcomed the foreign delegates to Jakarta and surely made them feel at home. Salamat and terima kasih Indonesia.