Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Proceedings of the Historic International Conference for Dialogue at Makkah

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Makkah al-Mukarramah: King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, called on Muslims to counter challenges of rigidity, ignorance, narrow-mindedness so as to make the world accommodate the concepts and prospects of the message of Islam. “We are the voice of justice and moral values, we are the voice of rational and just co-existence and dialogue, the voice of wisdom and admonition, and dialogue with the best way possible as Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, ‘Invite all to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and discuss with them in ways that are best’,” the King said, while inaugurating a three-day conference on inter-faith dialogue, organized by the Muslim World League (MWL), held in Al-Safa Palace, in Makkah al-Mukarramah, on Wednesday, 4th of June, 2008.

King Abdullah, the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques
“The way to the others will be through the common values: the values that the Almighty has sent for man’s goodness, the values which discard unfaithfulness and that protect from crimes and fight terrorism, values that belittle lies and establish moral principles, truth, honesty and justice and enforce family ties,” the King said.

“Our hearts are full of tolerance and love that the Creator has ordered us to maintain,” the King said.

The King also said, “We will argue peacefully. In case we disagree, we refer to what Allah has said: “You have your own religion and I have mine.”

This Conference brought together more than 500 scholars, thinkers, officials of Muslim organizations and dialogue centres and academics from all Muslim countries and Muslim minorities living in various countries. More than 300 media representatives from all over the Muslim and Muslim minority countries, armoured with their professional tools, were seen cruising the conference halls of the International Conference looking for interviews and stories.

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal Al-Sheikh, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia
Addressing the gathering, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal Al-Sheikh of Saudi Arabia said privilege of influential communication should be used in positive ways.
”It is not true that Islam is the religion of terrorism and violence neither is it correct that Islam violates human rights,” he said.

”In fact, Islam is the religion of mercy and it respects human rights,” the Grand Mufti added. He said Muslims have pinned their hopes on King Abdullah who has been always working for the unity of the Islamic Ummah, as he knows very well the difficulties that face Muslims.

Former President of Iran, Ali Akbar Hashimi Rafsanjani
Ali Akbar Hashimi Rafsanjani, former President of Iran, in his speech, said in the augural session: “A few meters away from Al-Safa hill, Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) used to address the disbelievers of Quraish. Saudi Arabia is now doing the same.” “We are suffering from many problems and it is the duty of our scholars to suggest solutions. Countries of the Muslim world represent nearly a quarter of the world, so we should create an alliance and take unanimous decisions as 20% of the whole world’s resources are under the control of the Islamic states,” he said.

Secretary General of the MWL, Dr. Abdullah Mohsin al-Turki
The Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Dr. Abdullah ibn Abdul Mohsin al-Turki, said, “The rapidly violent current of globalization has unfortunately inundated mankind with serious crises and problems for which it earnestly looks forward for Allah’s mercy to save it from the various ailments and guide its technological and cultural creativity to what helps man achieve due reform and happiness.”

Dr. Turki said, “In Islam, there are solutions for man’s contemporary crises. Furthermore, the Muslim Ummah, which has a civilized pioneering experiment, is capable of both fostering coexistence with the modern civilization, and guarding its development with the Islamic ethics and principles. The Qur’an said, “There hath come to you from Allah (new) light and a perspicuous Book.” “Wherewith Allah guided all who seek His pleasure to ways of peace and safety, and leadeth them out of darkness, by His Will, unto the light, - guideth them to a path that is straight.” (5:15-16).”

Dr. Turki also said, “The followers of other religions have views on contemporary problems that cannot be ignored. Like Muslims, they have their share in presenting solutions for man’s crises and the challenges confronting him. Moreover, the principles of these religions either come close or remain far from the Islamic tenets depending on what remains from the truth that Allah endowed to previous Prophets (May Allah’s blessing be upon them ) and revealed in their books. Likewise, philosophies have humanitarian aspects common with religions, as their founders had encouraged each other to promote morals and avoid vices and bad conduct.”

Emphasizing on the importance of Dialogue, the MWL chief said, “With meaningful dialogue, Muslims can point out many humanitarian aspects which are common with others and promote these aspects for drafting a programme of action indispensable for mankind and helpful for encouraging mankind to come nearer to the heavenly guidance that Islam presents as solutions to these problems. For, Islam is characterized with comprehensiveness, and encouraging Muslims to keep away from selfishness, passion and hegemonic tendencies displayed in ethnic and regional expressions. However, dialogue with followers of other religions and philosophies in this connection does not mean that Muslims relinquish the rules of Islamic Shari’ah.”

The Objectives of the Conference
Through this large gathering of intellectuals and elites of the Muslim Ummah, the Muslim World League sought to achieve the following objectives: “to confirm that the concept of dialogue with others is supported by the Qur’an and Sunnah highlight its ethics and rules, take inspirations and rulings from genuine Islamic sources; to study problems associated with dialogue issues, and present Islamic answers that help achieve the objectives of Islamic Shari’ah and interest of Muslim Ummah; to consider the dialogue experiments in the last five decades and evaluate their negative and positive aspects, as well as develop a new plan for promoting its future by benefiting from previous experiments; to coordinate among Islamic organisations concerned with dialogue and develop a mechanism through which the Islamic ranks are united; to agree upon a comprehensive Islamic charter with which different Islamic circles practicing dialogue abide; to study the means of using dialogue in introducing Islam, rectifying its distorted image, presenting it as a model that is capable of providing solutions for various challenges that the world remains perplexed in their confrontation; to address an appeal to others that elucidates the views of Muslim Ummah towards contemporary crises.”

Proceedings of the Conference
The Conference focussed on four pivotal topics, such as the basis of dialogue in Islam, the methodology and principles of dialogue, parties involved in dialogue, and areas of dialogue. The first session on Wednesday, 4th of June on the concept of dialogue and its objectives in the Qur’an and Sunnah and experiences of cultural dialogue throughout history, was presided over by Dr. Saleh Bin-Humaid, the President of the Shoura Council of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Dr. Saad ibn Ali Al-Shahrani, Executive Director of the World Forum for Muslim Scholars and Intellectuals, spoke on “Islamic Authentication for Dialogue” and Dr. Jawad Muhammad Mahdi Al-Khalisi, President of Al-Khalisiah University, Iraq talked on “Experiments of Civilization Dialogue Throughout History”.

The second session discussed the topic “Dialogue Parameters and Its Legal Terms”. Chaired by Dr. Nour Muhammad Hidayat Waheed, Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Indonesia. Dr. Isam Ahmad Al-Basheer, Secretary General of the International Centre for Moderation in Kuwait and Dr. Salman Bin Fahd Al-Oudah, General Supervisor of the Institution of Islam Today, were the main speakers of this session.

The third session on Thursday, the 5th of June on the mechanism of dialogue was chaired by Sheikh Muhammad Ali Taskhery, Secretary General of the Center for Reconciliation of Islamic Schools of Thought, Iran and attended by Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal-Al-Sheikh and Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Turki, Secretary General of the Muslim World League (MWL). Three participants presented their papers in which they highlighted the framework of dialogue in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Hulail, Chief Justice of the Hashemite Court and Imam of the Royal Court, Jordan spoke on Dialogue Mechanisms; Dr. Majid Muhammad Al-Majid, Professor of the College of Arts, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, spokje on Ethics and Controlling Factors of Dialogue and Dr. Mungiz Mahmoud Al-Saggar, Researcher at the Department of Studies & Research, Muslim World League, Makkah, Saudi Arabia spoke on Dialogue – Complexities & Areas of Prohibition.

The fourth session on Thursday, the 5th of June under the chairmanship of Dr. Izzeddeen Ibrahim, Consultant to President of UAE for Cultural Affairs, focussed on the importance of coordination among Islamic organizations in holding dialogue with other faiths. Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, Secretary General of the International Islamic Council for Dawa and Relief, Egypt, spoke on “Coordination among Islamic Organizations concerned with dialogue”; Sheikh Badr Al-Hassan Al-Qasmi, Vice Chairman of the Indian Islamic Fiqh Council, India, spoke on “Dialogue with Followers of Various Philosophies” and Dr. Jamal Badawi, Professor of Halifax University, Halifax, Canada also talked on the session.

The fifth session on Friday, 6th of June, on the Areas of Dialogue, was chaired by Retired Field Marshal Abdul Rahman M. Sowar Al-Zahb, Chairman of Monazamat Al-Da’wah Al-Islamiah. Dr. Abdur Rahman bin Omar Mahi presented a paper on “Foundations of Dialogue & Common Human Principles”; Dr. Mahmod Ahmed Ghazi, Professor of the College of Islamic Studies, Qatar University, Qatar, presented his paper on “Clash of Civilization and World Peace”; Dr. Mustafa Al-Zabbakh, Director, General Secretariat for Association of Muslim World Universities, presented paper on “Value Reference for Protection against Environment Dangers” and Dr. Ali bin Sakr Ozek, President of the Foundation for Research in Islamic Sciences, Turkey, presented a paper on the “Common Ground of Family and Morality.”

There were Questions & Answers sessions after every session.

The Makkah Al-Mukarramah Appeal
At the conclusion of the Conference, the participants issued The Makkah Al-Mukarramah Appeal recommending to form an international Dialogue Commission, Establish King Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz’s International Centre for Civilization Interaction, create King Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz’s Award for Civilization Dialogue and conduct conferences and symposiums and meetings of research groups on dialogue among followers of Revealed Messages, Civilizations and cultures as well as considerable philosophies to which academic and media personnel as well as religious leaders representing various international cultures are invited to participate in.

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