OPENING CEREMONY OF THE KUALA LUMPUR INTERNATIONAL KALAM SYMPOSIUM
22 March, 2016 witnessed the inauguration of the Kuala Lumpur International Kalam Symposium (KLIKS 2016) at the Islamic Arts Museum of Malaysia. The symposium was organized by the Islamic and Strategic Studies Institute (ISSI) in partnership with Kalam Research and Media (KRM), and a host of other associates from the South-East Asian region namely the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM), The World Association for al-Azhar Graduates of Malaysia (WAAG-Malaysia), Malaysian Strategic Islamic Research Institute (IKSIM), Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (CENTHRA), Universitas Darussalam Gontor (UNIDA), Institute for the Studies of Islamic Thought and Civilization (INSIST) and the University of Ibn Khaldun, Bogor (UIKA).
In his welcoming speech, Dr. Amran Muhammad, the Managing Director of the Islamic and Strategic Studies Institute (ISSI) as well as the Regional Director of Kalam Research and Media (KRM) reiterated the importance of joint efforts in achieving the objectives of reviving the kalam tradition in our age. The opening speech was followed by the first keynote speech by Prof. Dr. Aref Ali Nayed, the Founder-Director of Kalam Research and Media (KRM)-cum- Ambassador of Libya to UAE. After a short break for refreshments, the second keynote speech was delivered by Shaykh Dr. Saeed Foudah, a prominent kalam scholar from Jordan. What followed was a brisk question-and-answer session that reflected the philosophical and educational sophistication of the audience in attendance.
This symposium was a pivotal moment in the revival of kalam in this region not only due to the presence of two luminaries of contemporary kalam scholarship, but also the attendance of scholars and students from various Islamic Studies departments and universities. It is hoped that the networking opportunities that arose will spur further research and groundbreaking works in contemporary kalam issues. Dr. Amran shed light on the operative terminology for kalam, such as ‘aqīdah and falsafah, ‘aqīdah and Islamic thought or aqidah and comparative religion as they are normally referred to in Malaysian universities. He explained that whether it is called usūl al-dīn, tawḥīd or kalam, what is at stake is our lack of engagement with the contemporary challenges that continue to batter our communities. Prof. Dr. Aref Nayed likened the task of reviving contemporary kalam to the wipers on a vehicle’s windshield. When it rains, a single swipe of the wipers is not sufficient to help the driver maneuver the road. Instead, the wipers must continue swiping the windshield as more raindrops fall on the vehicle. This is the role of kalam amidst the questions and challenges that arise in our age.