Our aim should be to instill religious values and spirituality in our children in order to send the right message of Islam to the world, said Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Tolerance at the second day of the World Government Summit.
Addressing the audience in a discussion with Omar Saif Ghobash, UAE Ambassador to Russia, Shaikha Lubna highlighted the importance of institutionalizing tolerance in the UAE.
“Don’t approach religion through text only, but rather [based] on the spiritual values and the moral education that those words stem from, and present it beautifully to the new generations,” she said.
Shaikha Lubna discussed the introduction of the message of tolerance into school curriculum and communities, pointing out that often values of tolerance are taken for granted and considered “inherent” from culture and family.
“Islam has been hijacked. I think we should move from being defensive towards Islam by being out there and giving the right message,” said Shaikha Lubna.
She referred to values of tolerance seen in the UAE today, highlighting the coexistence of over 200 nationalities living in the country.
“The UAE started as a small country with wealth, a nation with oil. Its first priority was educating the nation, and its second was establishing an economy,” she said.
Shaikha Lubna referred to the need for diversification when building an economy, and “inviting the best minds from abroad.”
“Going into diversification, you celebrate the last barrel of oil rather than be dependent on it,” she said.
Shaikha Lubna explained that in order to attract foreign talents, the UAE has provided expats and their families with a high standard of schooling, places of worship and a modern lifestyle that is consistent with their own. She further emphasized the need for a tolerant society to welcome the “best brains into the UAE.”
“The UAE is a Muslim society with huge diversity. We can use it as an example of success,” added Shaikha Lubna.
She concluded by emphasizing that the UAE “walks the talk and leads by example.”
Also commenting on the UAE’s diversity and tolerance, Omar Saif Ghobash, UAE Ambassador to Russia said the UAE has “an amazing model of Islam.”
He called for a focus on allowing individuals to flourish on their own without strict guidelines in order to see more creativity, writers and artists.
“If we concentrated on providing a space for creativity on new principles instead of following strict guidelines, we will be more successful,” added Ghobash.
He also referred to the change in the message delivered to Muslims during Friday sermons, pointing out it’s less aggressive and more consistent with values of tolerance.
Ghobash also mentioned his book ‘Letters to a young Muslim,’ which embraces diversity and addresses radical Islam. He pointed out that in the last few years, he did not witness much progress in bridging the gap between the modern world and past centuries. “I wrote this book for my two sons who are 12 and 16. I looked back to when I was 15-year-old and the experiences I had inside the mosque and outside, and I put myself in the place of a 15-year-old living in the 21st century and looked at questions that were not answered,” he said.
On another note, Ghobash also referred to the US travel ban. “I think there is too much focus on the Muslim ban to travel to the US,” he said, adding that several countries in the region have similar bans on other countries.