The Ulama is the body of Muslim scholars trained in Islam and Islamic law who are the interpreters of Islam’s sciences, doctrines and laws. Described as the learned men of Islam, they are looked up to by Muslim communities in terms of spiritual guidance and moral directions. In the Philippines, there are thousands of Ulama who are members of local and regional organizations. A national Ulama organization can become a potent force not just in guiding the Muslim faithful but also in terms of peace and development in Mindanao as well as providing a learned and strong articulation of the Moro voice in the national discourse.
The summit, which is expected to gather 217 Ulama from 116 local organizations and 24 provinces, opens with a dinner ceremony on Monday night featuring a keynote address by Dr. Endang Turmudi, Secretary General of Nadhlatul Ulama (NU). NU is one of the largest independent Islamic organizations in the world with estimations of their membership ranging as high as 35 million. Dr. Turmudi is expected to deliver a speech on “Islam and the Challenges of the Modern World”.
The following days of the summit will see the Ulama vote on the bylaws and elect their first set of officers who will take their oath on January 29 before former President Fidel Ramos. The Ulama are also set to discuss various issues that affect their communities like the peace process, human rights and electoral reforms. COMELEC Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Atty. Leila de Lima and Asec/ Camilo Montesa of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process are expected to attend as keynote speakers. (PCID)