The Establishment of RISEAP…at a Glance.

Tunku Abdul Rahman has long aspired to see the establishment of an Islamic Da’wah Body for Southeast Asia and Pacific region. The establishment of such a regional Islamic Da’wah body was to be through conference representing the various Islamic organization and institutions found in the countries of this region. The idea of having an Islamic da’wah conference for Southeast Asian and the Pacific region was several times voiced by Tunku in his speeches on various occasions.

At the closing of the Islamic Da’wah Convention (held by PERKIM / BINA / USIA) in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah on 26th February 1977, Tunku Abdul Rahman congratulated these three biggest da’wah organisations in Malaysia – PERKIM, BINA and USIA in having their first da’wah convention in Sabah.

Tunku expressed the hope that this would lead to a wider step in having a bigger Islamic conference in Kuala Lumpur by inviting Islamic organisations in all counties of Southeast Asia and Pacific region to participate in it.

The aim of this conference, said Tunku, was to establish an Islamic da’wah body of international status for this region because the time had come to establish such a body so that Islamic da’wah movement could be conducted in a proper way following the plans and facilities in line with the present progress of science and technology.

Efforts to coordinate the works of the carious da’wah organisations in a country were lacking. Each organization was left to carry on its work without good planning and unsupported by scientific studies and research and because there was yet no cooperation between Islamic countries in a region in the field of da’wah work, these individual efforts were incomparable to the missionary works of other religions such as Christianity.

For these reasons, the answer to this problem was to establish a regional da’wah organisations where such a body had not been established before.

In order to fulfil the special needs and interests of countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, regional efforts were necessary as a follow-up of the conference held in Karachi. Such an organization when established would supplement and complement whatever that had been achieved in Karachi. Guided by this objective, Tunku Abdul Rahman wanted to hold a conference for countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region and had tried to get the cooperation and the support of Rabitah Al-Alami Al-Islami to convene such a conference.

Encouraged by the spirit of Islamic unity, Rabitah gave its support and agreed that such a conference should be held in Kuala Lumpur under the auspices of PERKIM and Rabitah.

The objectives of the conference were as follows:

  1. To bring together leaders of da’wah movements in the Southeast Asia and the Pacific region for the exchange of views on how best to lay the foundation for future da’wah activities based on the teachings of Islam and the exemplary successful works of missionary movements in the glorious Islamic era in the past.
  2. To outline the role of Islamic movement in the informal educational system for contribution towards the molding of strong Islamic character.
  3. To study the progress of da’wah movements
  4. To strengthen Islamic da’wah movements through cooperation.

Positive steps towards having an Islamic da’wah conference for southeast Asia and the Pacific region were taken soon after Tunku, in January 1978 wrote of his idea to the Honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia and the Prime Minister gave his blessing to the idea of having such a conference.

A committee for the conference with the Tunku himself as its chairman was formed and the first meeting of the committee was held at 5.00 pm on 13th January, 1978 at his residence, No. 1 Jalan Tunku, Kuala Lumpur chaired by the Tunku himself as the President of PERKIM.

After that two meetings were held on 24th February and 2nd March 1978 respectively and henceforth meetings were held throughout 1978 and 1979 chaired by the Vice President of PERKIM, Datuk Amar Haji Taib Mahmud.

A working paper was prepared in three languages, i.e. Malaysian, Arabic and English. The working paper explained the concept, aims and the fields of the conference and was sent together with the invitations to various Islamic organisations and institutions in countries of Southeast Asian and the Pacific region asking them to send their respective representatives to the conference.

The delegations attended the conference were from the following countries.

  1. Indonesia
  2. Singapore
  3. Thailand
  4. Philippines
  5. Hong Kong
  6. Taiwan
  7. Japan
  8. Republic of Korea
  9. Fiji
  10. Australia
  11. New Zealand
  12. Sri Lanka
  13. Burma
  14. Maldives Island
  15. Brunei
  16. New Caledonia
  17. Malaysia

Beside the countries mentioned above, the conference was also attended by Arab counties either as representatives of the Rabitah, observers, lecturers of officials. This, with the blessing of All, as Tunku said, had raised the status of the conference to a world conference and not just confined to the Southeast Asia and the Pacific region.

The Da’wah conference was held for four days with its tight programmes starting from 8.30 in the morning to late at night. Apart from working papers which were debated in its four commissions, talks given by experts in various fields of Islam in every plenary session in the morning as well as questions and answers on these talks formed and important part of the conference’s programmes. At the same time, three symposia were held at three universities, i.e. University of Malaya, University Kebangsaan Malaysia and University Teknologi Malaysia.

The official opening of the new PERKIM building and visiting programmes for participants completed their views with a clear sight of the efforts to propagate Islam and bring progress to the Muslims in Malaysia.