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MENAFN - Arab News - 27/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Justice is very important to keep world peace and bridge the gap between various cultures.

Gudrun Kramer, professor of Islamic studies and director of the Berlin Graduate School of Muslim Cultures and Societies at the Free University Berlin, explained it is important for every individual to spread the concept of justice to have peace in the world.

She talked about the concept of justice as defined in Europe and Islamic thoughts on the second day at the Bridging Cultures Forum at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) headquarters in Jeddah.

The two-day forum with workshops was organized by the German Consulate with the collaboration of the OIC and Al-Makkiyah Al-Madaniyah Institute.

Speakers on the second day of the conference were Gudrun Kramer; Abubakr Bagader, professor of sociology at King Abdulaziz University; and Rizwan Sheikh, director of cultural affairs department at the OIC. Kramer said we should not be aggressive and give equal rights to everybody as well as implement justice, as there is no other way to keep peace and bridge the gap between communities. Everyone should work in a culture of mutual respect, tolerance and dialogue.

Kramer explained that aspirations for justice provide common grounds among cultures and civilizations to understand the concepts and values of justice, which are embedded in specific contexts.

"We need to emphasize on plurality within different intellectual and religious traditions. Specific understandings of justice have evolved in different contexts that are not rooted in one tradition only; they are the result of encounters of strands of traditions that have created certain conceptions of justice. It is important to be aware of this," she said. She further said the concept of justice is not explained in the holy books, but rather its principles and examples. Christian and Islamic concepts of justice have been largely elaborated by religious and legal scholars. Justice continues to be deeply felt, but as a rule vaguely defined. Both Islam and Christian
Europe draw on the Hellenistic and Indo-Persian legacy.

Kramer also talked about personal justice as moral integrity, probity and equity as well as social justice in order to keep balance and stability in society.

"Equity is not equality, and justice cannot be blind. Justice is premised on equivalence and equality. It is the essence of what is good and right and includes equity, equivalence, equality in culture and religion, giving equal opportunities, and balancing individual and communal rights," she explained.
Abubakr Bagader threw light on the principles of human rights and the contextual approach to understanding Shariah.

He focused on the Muslim culture, universal culture and instrumental concepts and thoughts of society. He explained the historical background of Islam. "We should prepare roads for understanding. When we say Shariah, it means Islam, the Sunnah, the way of living; but when we say 'Maqasid', it means according to the book of Sunnah and Qur'an, and the principles and objectives of Muslim traditions," he said.

He defined "Maqasid Al-Shariah" with common objectives of law. He said that there is need to change the concept of Shariah as presented to the world, so it is understood.

"Shariah doesn't mean dictatorship. We have to accept justice and freedom of speech, but with the traditions," he said.

Sheikh said the OIC is trying to engage the communities in the exercise of bridging gaps through negotiations.

He shed light on freedom of speech and expression. "The issue of freedom of expression lacks absolute freedom. The concern is that each side has to be addressed. The OIC is a political organization, which is using political means to achieve the objectives that are important for us," said Sheikh.

Under the framework of international law, the OIC is trying to address the problems. "We need to recognize the difference between cultures, particularly from our cultural perspective. It's a question of identity. Muslim identity with the religion is stronger than in the West. If anybody degrades the Prophet (peace be upon him), it affects Muslims.


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