Saudi Arabia Initiates Inter-Faith Dialog
Bismillah, it is a good beginning.
One of the most conservative societies, Saudi Arabia is opening up to people of other faiths. The process began in 2005 when Saudi Emissaries started branching out all over the world to explore interfaith. In Dallas per the request of a Saudi minister, I had arranged for a 20 member meeting from Jewish, Islamic and Christian groups as an initial step towards including all faiths in the near future. Since then the Saudi Kingdom has taken series of steps in this direction culminating in interfaith dialogue series. First it was the same three groups; Judaism, Christianity and Islam and now, I am pleased it has included Hinduism and Buddhism.
I am further pleased to read the following statements "Abdullah Al-Turki, secretary-general of the MWL, said, "The aim of the conference is for us to get to know each other and look for ways to cooperate." And their focus is on "humanitarian issues and challenges facing the world". He further adds "that the conference would look at social and ethnic conflicts, environmental issues, the breakdown of the family and militant violence around the world." He added the conferences would initially not focus on theological issues.
Years ago, I had a daily radio show called "Wisdom of Religion, all the beautiful religions" which ran for full two years. Our focus was on the message of each one of the religions and how the common man on the street could relate with the essence of each faith.
God willing, the World Muslim Congress, the Memnosyne Foundation and the Foundation for pluralism from Dallas will work towards creating a better world of co-existence.
MADRID: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah will open here today an international interfaith conference that aims to allow representatives of the world's great religions to get to know each other.
The Muslim World League (MWL) has organized the World Conference on Dialogue on the directives of King Abdullah. The king "has been calling for this type of dialogue between religions for the past three years," Saleh Al-Namlah, undersecretary at the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information, told reporters.
Around 200 people are expected to attend the event. They include representatives of the world's major religions: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. Secretary-General of the World Jewish Congress Michael Schneider and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who is in charge of dialogue between the Vatican and Muslims, are prominent among them.
The interfaith idea, which comes after the Saudi king held talks with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in November last year, has sparked interest from Jewish and Christian groups around the world.
Abdullah Al-Turki, secretary-general of the MWL, said, "The aim of the conference is for us to get to know each other and look for ways to cooperate."
He added that Saudi Arabia "affirms to the whole world its openness and cooperation with the world community."
The MWL chief said the conference would avoid theological issues and instead focus on "humanitarian issues" and challenges facing the world. "Islam requires Muslims to inform people about Islam as the final divine message that came after the previous prophets, and that they must also challenge the link between Islam and extremist violence," he said.
He added that the conference would look at social and ethnic conflicts, environmental issues, the breakdown of the family and militant violence around the world.
Al-Turki said many international organizations concerned with dialogue, human rights and global cooperation have welcomed the interfaith conference.
He hoped the conference would change the minds of the protagonists of a clash of civilizations. "Some researchers in the West still deal with Islamic civilization thinking that it would definitely clash with the Western civilization," he pointed out.
The MWL secretary-general said the dialogue would help remove misunderstandings about Islam. "The conference will help save humanity from wars, injustice and corruption," he added.
He reiterated Islam's rejection of terrorism. "Terrorism is an international phenomenon and cannot be linked to a particular religion, country, people or culture."
Al-Turki spoke about MWL's long-standing tradition of holding dialogues with leaders of other faiths in the past 50 years. He urged the media to work for promoting a culture of dialogue among followers of different religions and cultures.
After the inaugural session attended by King Abdullah and King Juan Carlos of Spain, four sessions will be held before a final communiqué is read out on Friday.
Spain was chosen as the site for the conference as it is "a natural place for this type of dialogue" since for centuries it has been home to members of three of the world's great religions, said Saudi Ambassador Prince Saud ibn Naif.
Furthermore, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, aimed at promoting dialogue between different cultures, was the idea of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Jazak Allah Khair
Interfaith forum begins today
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