Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019, organized for the Muslim nations to gather and discuss the issues facing the Muslim ummah, came to an end on 21st Dec 2019. According to its official website, “Kuala Lumpur Summit is an international platform for Muslim leaders, intellectuals and scholars from around the world to discuss and exchange ideas about the issues revolving in the Muslim world.”
Muslims need to tackle a lot of issues which can be political, from Kashmir to China’s Uighurs or social i.e. representation of Islam on global level and so on. It was good to see initiative from a Muslim country in creating a collective platform for opening dialogues, discussion and thinking about the solutions of the problems that plague the Muslim world.
Before the summit started, Hasan Alhasan, a PhD researcher at King’s College London wrote in detail and in my opinion, very eloquently so on how the KL Summit will have to deal with a variety of political challenges in order to be successful. Challenges range from countries not wanting to upset their strategic partners and stop the flow of funding to other countries viewing it as suspicious. Hasan also points out the lack of representation of African Muslim countries.
Although initially the main representatives were going to be Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan but later, Pakistan cancelled its presence citing concerns of dividing the Muslim ummah, a move criticised by opposition parties in Pakistan amid reports of pressure from Saudi Arabia. Many have speculated Saudi seeing this new bloc as a threat to already present OIC, Organization of Islam Co-operation. To these concerns, Samsudin Osman, joint secretary general of the summit commented ‘There is nothing like that. We are not going to compete with anybody…’.
The KL Summit is a brainchild of Mahathir Muhammad, Malaysia’s prime minister who officiated the soft launch of the KL Summit 2019 in the month of November. The theme of the Summit was “The Role of Development in Achieving National Sovereignty”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani were two of the important leaders from Islamic world who were a part of this summit.
In his keynote address, Dr Mahathir said, ‘We cannot deny the fact that we are largely dependent on non-Muslims for most of our needs’ calling for the Muslim nations to focus on their development. Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey asked Muslims to come to terms with their own failures instead of blaming others. ‘Weakening governance, poverty, unemployment, corruption, increasing and eroding violence and extremism have endangered national sovereignty in some parts of the Muslim world.’ said Hasan Rouhani, the Iranian president. The summit also discussed Muslims having their own currency or using gold as standard as an alternative to US dollar. Iranian Prime Minister was of the view that Muslims should come up with their own cryptocurrency a digital representation of the vision of Islamic Dinar. Answering question about trade sanctions, Dr Mahathir called the sanctions ‘a criminal act’ as they don’t only effect one country but many, and explained how the stronger nations can apply sanctions and slammed president Donald Trump for doing that.
The initiative gives hope to a lay Muslim that Muslim nations will come together and do something about the deep political and social issues that need to be addressed but this doesn’t nullify the fact that it will take a lot of effort to reach that point. Doing something meaningful would require Muslims from all around the globe to come together after putting aside their differences.
- KL Summit. (2019). About KL Summit 2019. Retrieved from https://klsummit.my/about/
- Alhasan, H. (2019, December 16). Kuala Lumpur summit points to split in Muslim world. Retrieved from https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/12/opinion/kuala-lumpur-summit-points-to-split-in-muslim-world/
- Web Desk. (2019 Dec 20). Pakistan skipped Malaysia summit to ‘address concerns of major Muslim countries’. GEO News. Retrieved from https://www.geo.tv/latest/262992-pakistan-skipped-malaysia-summit-to-address-concerns-of-major-muslim-countries
- Al Jazeera English. (2019 Dec 18) KL Summit: Five major issues facing Muslim world. Al Jazeera English. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gwql7OH1fF8
- The Star Online. (2019 November 21). Dr Mahathir officiates soft launch of KL Summit 2019. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcEI7EIvVkA
- The Star Online. (2019 Dec 19) Muslim countries must focus on national development, says Dr M in KL Summit keynote address. The Star Online. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVqNWUX-8wE
- Astro Awani. (2019 Dec 18). Ucapan Presiden Turki di Sidang Kemuncak KL 2019. Astro Awani. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KvQDcKufqU
- Astro Awani. (2019 Dec 18). Ucapan Presiden Iran di Sidang Kemuncak KL 2019. Astro Awani. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RmYl_gdKzY
- Ahmed, A. (2019 Dec 19). Leaders call for use of alternative currency among Muslim countries against US Dollar. Business Recorder. Retrieved from: https://www.brecorder.com/2019/12/19/554723/leaders-call-for-use-of-alternative-currency-among-muslim-countries-against-us-dollar/
- The Star Online. (2019 Dec 21). Dr M urges Muslim nations to consider gold, barter trade to beat sanctions. The Star Online. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okSuZQH8KL8