“Asia Society Conversations: On Islam” Opens a Necessary Dialogue on Religion

Shahada | Faith

There might be more that unites us than tears us apart. So why are we so at odds? The traditional Arabic greeting As-Salaam-Alaikum (peace be unto you) set the stage for the second in the new monthly series Asia Society Conversations, created by Asia Society Philippines, in partnership with Acceler8. On Wednesday night, Congresswoman Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman, Olympic equestrienne Toni Leviste, and GeiserMaclang founder Amor Maclang delved into the true essence of Islam.


Salat | Prayer

Leviste, who converted to Islam from Christianity in 2004, makes herself clean before she prays. The cleanliness, she says, signifies the purity of your intentions. Thus, she can’t fathom how--when Islam teaches that one should pause five times a day to think about that which is pure and good--they can then resort to violence. Congresswoman Turabin-Hataman, representative of Anak Mindanao Partylist, has an idea. She says the Islam of today is not the Islam that was practiced in Mindanao 600 years ago. She says that an understanding of what Islam truly is, what it represents, and the true intentions of Islam has been lost, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, in recent years. 


Zakat | Charity

Along the way, space to be a good Muslim – practicing the same pure, peaceful intentions Islam preaches – was lost too. Of Marawi, Turabin-Hataman said, “this is not us. This is so not us . . . . Want to help us? Help us go back to the Islam of 200 years ago.” 


Sawm | Fasting

When foreign, violent ideology entered Mindanao, it filled the gaps left by 200 years of straying from the essence of Islam for the Muslim youth. To the Muslim community, Turabin-Hataman stressed the need to strengthen the faith, improve teachings, and return to the peaceful essence of Islam so that the Muslim youth is less tempted by extremist measures. From the non-Muslim communities, our speakers didn’t ask to be victimized and certainly weren’t asking for lipstick, they were asking to be understood.


Hajj | Pilgrimage

“There is no Radical Islam. There is no Extremist Islam. Islam is Islam” Turabin-Hataman strongly asserted. Islam has one intention: that which Leviste and her fellow hajis found strength in as they circled Mecca, what most Muslims pray for five times a day, and most of the world – regardless of religion or creed – desires. Peace.


Asia Society Conversations is a new, monthly social networking series, happening each 3rd Wednesday of the month at Acceler8. This series is possible thanks to the support of San Miguel Brewery.



Text by Zoe Schott

Photos by Bea Hidalgo