by Rula Samain | Jun 03, 2013 | JORDAN TIMES
AMMAN — Muslim preachers, both male and female, from all governorates met over three days last week to discuss how best to promote the values enshrined in the Amman Message, which Jordan adopted in 2004 to introduce the true teachings of Islam to the world.
Organised by the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies (RIIFS), the series of workshops were meant to provide preachers with a platform to discuss and determine the best approach to promote the message, which came as an answer to stereotypes and Islamophobia amid a rise of extremism and violence in the name of religion all over the world.
The suggestions endorsed by participants in the capacity-building workshops have been documented and will be compiled into a manual the preachers will be using as they work to promote true Islamic values among their congregations and students, since Islamic education teachers were also involved, according to organisers.
RIIFS Director General Kamel Abu Jaber told The Jordan Times that the discussions were part of a two-year RIIFS programme coordinated with the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs and the EU to promote the Amman Message in Jordan, the Arab world, the Muslim world and Europe.
“The Amman Message addresses more than one party, starting with ourselves, Arabs and Muslims. We need to remind ourselves of the true nature of Islam,” he said.
“In Jordan, we concentrate on Muslim teachers and preachers and receive feedback from them on what they think we should do to best promote the Amman Message,” Abu Jaber said.
According to Amman Message General Manager Yara Matarweh, over the course of three days, preachers and imams from all governorates met, starting with the Kingdom’s central region, then the northern and southern areas.
RIIFS’ deputy director, Amer Hafi, said that training imams and preachers to develop their efficiency represents the first step in eliminating radical thinking.
“The training courses will develop preachers’ communication skills and enable them to present their message clearly. It will also allow them to further blend in the modern society they live in.”
Hafi, also a professor of religious studies at Al al Bayt University, said that besides having past cultural knowledge, imams should acquire a new way of thinking and further knowledge of the world of today.
Abdul Rahman Abdah, a senior official at the Awqaf Ministry in charge of imams and preachers, told participants at the meetings that the Amman Message was born after the September 11 attacks in the US, when Muslim culture, land and people were targeted.
“You [the Muslims] are not violent. You are strong, but it is only the weak who make use of wars.”
Muhanna Abed, an imam and a preacher from Mafraq Governorate, said that there should be regular courses to educate all imams. They also should be trained on using modern methods of communications.
“We should be more involved in technology and learn English,” Abed told The Jordan Times, adding that he missed an opportunity last year to preach in Canada during Ramadan only because he was not fluent in English.
Head of the Women’s Affairs Association in Irbid Governorate Bayan Wahsheh said that some women preachers treat others with prejudice as a result of their lack of cultural involvement.
“We should work more on raising women preachers’ awareness at all levels, enhance their skills in public speaking, and provide them with courses in using computers and the Internet to stay connected with technology and the others.”
Representing the Ministry of Education, Samar Wreikat said that teaching and educating children in schools on the importance of respecting others’ opinions, religions and thoughts will reflect positively on efforts to eliminate the phenomenon of campus and societal violence which has recently reached alarming rates.
The Amman Message seeks to affirm what Islam is and what it is not, and what actions represent it and those which do not, according to the Promotion of the Amman Message booklet.