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King Abdullah Hosts InterFaith Conference, Includes Jews

June 5, 2008

Saudi King plans first interfaith conference to include Jews

Saudi King calls for opening up to other faiths

MAKKAH, June 4: A gathering of Muslim scholars from around the globe got under way here on Wednesday, with call from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to counter the challenges of rigidity, ignorance, narrow-mindedness to make the world accommodate and pay heed to the kind message of Islam without reservations, enmity and antagonism.

Addressing the select gathering of some 500 best minds of the Muslim world, the king emphasised: “We are voice of rational and just co-existence and dialogue, voice of wisdom and admonition, and argumentation with the best way possible,”

King Abdullah who entered the hall of the Safa Palace in the vicinity of Masjidul Haram along with the former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, appeared to give a clear message to the world that despite differences the Muslim world was united on most issues confronting the Ummah.

The three-day conference is aimed at launching an inter-faith dialogue with other Abrahamic religions to eradicate misconceptions about Islam. King Abdullah had announced in March that he wanted to sponsor an interfaith dialogue between the world’s monotheistic religions – specifically with Jews.

The Saudi king stressed that the Muslim world should eradicate the menace of extremism to present the religion’s good message to the world.

“You have gathered today to tell the whole world that … we are a voice of justice and values and humanity, that we are a voice of coexistence and a just and rational dialogue.”

He said the Islamic world faced difficult challenges from extremism of some Muslims, whose aggression harmed the magnanimity, fairness and lofty aims of Islam. “That’s why the invitation for the conference was extended – to face the challenges of isolation, ignorance and narrow horizons, so that the world can absorb the good message of Islam,” he said.

Virtually all the delegates, including Hashemi Rafsanjani, praised King Abdullah for the initiative. “Before we speak with other religions, we must speak among ourselves and reach an understanding on a particular Islamic path,” Dr Rafsanjani said, calling for greater understanding between Sunnis and Shiites.

It is hoped that the meeting will reach an agreement on a global Islamic charter on dialogue with Christians and Jews.

Secretary-General of the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL) Dr Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Al Turki and other scholars have underscored the importance of contact and dialogue with followers of recognised cultures and philosophies.

Two sessions of the conference will focus on issues raised by the king and other delegates during the opening session. The third session, ‘With Whom To Talk’, will focus on dialogue with representatives of recognised philosophies around the world, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism and other man-made philosophies.

Saudi king calls for end to Islamic extremism

Moderate Iranian Shiite leader Rafsanjani joins interfaith dialogue – RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Islam must do away with the dangers of extremism and present the religion’s positive message, Saudi King Abdullah said Wednesday as he opened a conference of Muslim figures aimed at launching a dialogue with Christians and Jews.

The three-day gathering in the holy city of Mecca seeks a unified Muslim voice ahead of the interfaith dialogue. In particular, Saudi Arabia hopes to promote reconciliation between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

“You have gathered today to tell the whole world that … we are a voice of justice and values and humanity, that we are a voice of coexistence and a just and rational dialogue,” King Abdullah,

Abdullah’s message, which has been welcomed by Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders, is significant.

The Saudi monarch is the custodian of Islam’s two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina, a position that lends his words special importance and influence. Abdullah said Saudi Arabia’s top clerics have given him their approval — crucial backing in a society that expects decisions taken by its rulers to adhere to Islam’s tenets.

This is a big step in bringing humanity together. History has taught that reconciliation is the first step toward uniting people. Recognizing, then accepting that we all are different is the biggest step of all.

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