Bismillah, it is a good beginning.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most religiously conservative societies, and 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.
Jazak Allah Khair
Interfaith forum begins today
Badea Abu Al-Naja Arab News
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.
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Saudi king calls for 'new page' in inter-faith dialogue
Wednesday 16th July, 2008
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah called for a 'new page for humanity' in inter-religious understanding Wednesday, saying it could help the world recover lost values and emerge from confusion.
Islam was a religion of moderation and tolerance, the monarch said in inaugurating the World Conference on Dialogue, a major inter-faith event sponsored by Saudi Arabia in the Spanish capital.
Earlier initiatives had failed because they sought to merge religions, an attempt doomed to failure, because all religions were convinced of their own beliefs despite God being the same for all, King Abdullah said.
Human tragedies were not caused by religions, but by extremism, the monarch explained.
Spain's King Juan Carlos said inter-faith dialogue could help solve problems including terrorism, hunger, disease and poverty.
Muslim World League Secretary-General Abdullah al-Turki called on delegates attending the three-day conference in Madrid to produce concrete projects with follow-up plans.
Around 200 Muslim, Christian and Jewish clergy and other experts on inter-religious dialogue were expected at the meeting instigated by Saudi Arabia in what was seen as a ground-breaking move for the conservative Muslim kingdom.
Experts and intellectuals, including Lebanese Culture Minister Tariq Mitri and Vatican inter-faith specialist Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, were to analyze issues such as the civilization foundations of inter-faith dialogue, ways to promote it, and common human values.
The conference, which also includes representatives of Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism, is taking place against the backdrop of the Middle East conflict and controversy over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, but it was expected to shun political questions.
The sessions are closed to the media, with a final communique expected Friday.
Organised by the World Muslim League, the conference was partly inspired by King Abdullah's unprecedented meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican in November 2007, and by the International Islamic Conference for Dialogue in Mecca last June.
Detractors slammed the Madrid conference as a public relations operation by Saudi Arabia after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States, which were carried by mainly by Saudis inspired by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden.
It was ironic for a meeting on religious tolerance to be sponsored by Saudi Arabia, where people other than Sunni Muslims had few rights, critics said. There were few Shia Muslim participants, and none of the Jewish participants were listed as Israelis, they added.
Others praised the initiative, with the World Jewish Congress describing it as a 'significant and timely development'.
The organisers were believed to have chosen Spain as the host country, because domestic opposition would have made it difficult to stage the conference in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Turki said Spain had been chosen because of the religious tolerance that characterized it when it was partly under Moorish rule for eight centuries until 1492.
Muslims, Christians and Jews lived in a relative harmony in Moorish Spain, known as al-Andalus. 'The image of al-Andalus made us hold this conference in Spain,' al-Turki told the daily El Mundo.
SUCCESSFUL NAATIA MUSHAERA ON 2.21.14
45 PICTURES AT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/sets/72157641382648224/
August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas
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Mirza A Beg
PLANNED MUSLIMS RESPONSE TO QUR'AN BURNING BY PASTOR JONES ON 9/11/13 IN MULBERRY, FLORIDA
We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.
Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”
God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.
We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration (www.UnitydayUSA.com) held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.
Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.
As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.
We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.
We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.
We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.
Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.
Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.
We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.
The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.