Scholars urge to reach out to people of other faiths


Makkah : Wrapping up of their three-day deliberations in the holy city of Makkah yesterday evening, leading Islamic scholars and thinkers from around the world adopted a number of proposals and recommendations aimed at promoting peaceful coexistence among followers of various religions and cultures. Their proposals included creation of a centre that would promote relations among different religions and an award to encourage proponents of interfaith dialogue. The three-day conference, which brought together more than prominent around 600 Islamic scholars, thinkers intellectuals and academics from across the world, also urged Muslims to learn about non-Muslims and their cultures. The International Islamic Dialogue Conference was organized by the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL) at Al Safa Palace in the vicinity of the Haram Mosque.

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In the final communiqué of the conference, which was read by Abdul Rahman Al-Zaid, assistant secretary-general of MWL, at the end of the conference, the scholars urged the creation of the King Abdullah International Center for Cultural Relations” with the aim to disseminate the culture of dialogue as well as the establishment of the King Abdullah International Prize for Cultural Dialogue to be granted to “figures and international organizations that contribute to advancing the dialogue in order to reach its objectives.” The participants also called upon MWL to set up an international Islamic committee to put together a common strategy for the inter-faith dialogue.

The scholars made a plea aimed to encourage Muslims to reach out to people from other monotheistic faiths in order to diffuse conflict and restore tolerance. They called on King Abdullah to bring together specialists from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions and other beliefs “to agree on a format for a fruitful world dialogue that would contribute to solving problems faced today by mankind.” In March, King Abdullah proposed talks among the three largest monotheistic religions in a first for the Kingdom, which is home to two of the three holiest shrines in Islam.

“The difference between nations in beliefs and cultures are God’s will, so they should use their common values as a base for cooperation that would be for their benefit,” the statement said. But the scholars insisted that dialogue should not mean abandoning their principles and their religion’s fundamentals. “Coexistence and cooperation do not mean concessions regarding the fundamental principles nor harmonizing among religions,” the 18-page communique said. The Conference stressed that Islam has viable solutions to those crises, and that the Muslim nation, with the rich civilization it draws on, ought to contribute with others to facing these challenges . The other divine religions and philosophies share with Islam the basics of human ethics and values which they should together protect against injustice, aggression and disintegration of families.

The statement said that the comprehensive dialogue on the investment in shared and mutual humanitarian interests is necessary for cooperation in joint action programs that besiege contemporary problems, and shield humanity against their malevolent effects. It also pointed out that dialogue is a genuine approach in Quran and the traditions of prophets when communicating with their peoples. It signaled Madinah society as an ideal example of the society of coexistence of different cultures under the leadership of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The scholars emphasized that dialogue is one of the most important outlets through which Muslims can perceive the world, and achieve a set of goals, the most important of which is to introduce Islam, its legislations and humanitarian principles, in addition to its rich civilization. “Dialogue also enables Islam to contribute to the march of human civilization and to respond to and correct the erroneous slanders raised against Islam, and to address the challenges facing the world owing to distancing themselves from religion and its values,” they said.

The Conference called on Muslim countries, where there are non-Muslim majorities or minorities, to forge social dialogue with them. The conference urged Muslims in non-Islamic countries to conduct continued dialogue with the people of those countries, respect the host countries’ rules, never neglect their Islamic religious duties, and show cooperation with the governments of Islamic countries and Islamic organizations. The conference also called on the United Nations and international human rights organizations to bring a law making blasphemy of prophets a punishable offence. The statement said the common grounds for a serious dialogue will be based on a belief in the unity of the origin of mankind; that humans are equal in dignity and humanity and in rejection of racism and denunciation of odious claims of superiority.

The conference reviewed the topics of dialogue and called on Islamic and global dialogue institutions to give priority to issues of protection of values and ethics against the calls for demoralization on grounds of defending individual freedom and fighting terrorism, violence, extremism and blasphemy. The conference called for studying the causes and means of eradicating them, and for global cooperation to wipe them out through various means. The conference also refuted the suspicion that Islam and Muslims are responsible for terrorism, extremism and hatred. Also the conference rejected the oppression and exploitation of poor people under the excuse of liberating them or guarding their human rights. The conference called for the provision of the basic elements of families and for helping them financially and morally to bring up responsible generations who care for the world welfare according to the guidance of God.