RIYADH (UNA-OIC) – The activities of the Forum themed: “Common Values among Followers of Religions”, which brought together senior Muslim scholars and leaders from the countries of the Islamic world and Muslim minority countries, wrapped up in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Under the umbrella of the Muslim World League, participants held the most important international religious event, during which they hosted the main representatives of all followers of religions, in the presence of various religious and intellectual leaders.
Based on common religious principles and international conventions calling for the embodiment of human values in a serious and honest spirit, the forum issued the Declaration of “Common Human Values”, in which the participants agreed to affirm the centrality of religion in every civilization due to its influence in “shaping the ideas of human societies”. They stressed the need not to link between the religion and malpractices of some of its followers, and not to employ religion for worldly purposes.
The participants, in the declaration, stressed the world’s growing need to activate international mechanisms for conflict resolution through: “a serious will, strong determination and wise measures.”. They also see their fraternal meeting as an opportunity to express their common visions, and to effectively contribute to correcting the contemporary human path. They also agreed that the religious specifics of every religion or sect should be understood and dealt with as they represent human diversity covered by the Creator’s wisdom in difference.
Participants denounced theses of the civilizational clash, and attempts to impose religious, cultural, political, and economic hegemony “without merit or morals.” participants condemned the hatred and racism” as the greatest instigators of violence, terrorism and division. They also recommended, through the declaration, to establish an international coalition through an honest, just and effective will to serve humanity with all its rights together with underscoring the common values that bind everyone together as a main starting point for this important human construction.
Participants called for the responsible national and international institutions to work hard on everything that would guarantee freedoms within the framework of respecting relevant international and national laws, maintaining family cohesion that represents the nucleus of society and the taking care of the quality of education. They called upon various platforms of influence; especially the media ones, to sense the moral honesty entrusted to them as the most influential element in directing public opinion along with appealing to national states and the international community to make all possible efforts to provide adequate protection for places of worship, to ensure free access to them, to preserve their spiritual role, and to distance them from intellectual and political conflicts and sectarian strife.
Participants also called upon the religious institutions around the world to encourage moderate discourse and reject extremist one that incites hatred along with condemning all extremist, violent and terrorist practices against followers of religions, calling for the criminalization of the impairment of their symbols and sanctities, and supporting serious initiatives against them. The participants announced the launch of a global forum themed: “Religious Diplomacy Forum for Building Bridges”; based on the centrality of the influence of religions on human societies, and the issuing of an international encyclopedia themed: “The Encyclopedia of Common Human Values”. They called upon the United Nations General Assembly to establish a world day for human denominators, as a meeting point for the unifying values that achieve the fruit of human fraternity.
His Excellency the Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Chairman of the Association of Muslim Scholars, Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, announced the forum’s launch with an opening speech in which he expressed his pleasure to meet with a group of prominent religious leaders “around the world” and a selection of active partners to contribute to strengthening the peace in our world and the harmony of its national societies. He noted that the most important thing that everyone can meet around it to achieve this global goal is that everyone belongs to one origin from which our human family was formed.
His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa said, “The one origin of humanity, with the presence of human feelings and requirements that distinguished man from others, formed common values among all,” noting that at the forefront of these feelings and requirements come religious values that have a spiritual impact on many societies around the world, a matter which raises the importance of highlighting its denominators. He explained that (most problems of co-existence among members of diversity return back to negative concepts of religiosity, as they stopped at religious differences that represent the special identity of individuals and societies and also ignored the common commonalities between them.
Dr. Al-Issa touched upon a problem in our world today, which is the absence or insufficiency of the educational role of the family, education, and platforms of religious and social influence, considering that it is the most prominent cause of cases of hatred and racism, and hence the escalation of the theory of the inevitability of clash and civilization conflict. He called, in this context, for the importance of education around the world having an interest in human commonalities; as one of the most important motivators of conviction in the one human bond.
His Excellency Dr. Al-Issa affirmed that everyone has the right to search for his/ her own interests, but with the values that the religious and humanitarian commons call for. With regard to religious moderation, the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League affirmed that no one can ignore today the level of influence of religious moderation on societal coexistence and global peace. He pointed out that human history testifies that the most important events behind them were motivators or slogans with religious goals, but they went out of the area of moderation.
Dr. Al-Issa considered that all attempts to undermine the spiritual side in modern human history have failed, noting that these failed attempts have been going on for thousands of years, despite that, spiritual conviction remained influential and effective in souls and societies.
In his speech, Dr. Al-Issa pointed to “religious diplomacy”, stressing that within the framework of its spiritual awareness, this diplomacy makes the difference in hard times, noting that the power of “enlightened” religious diplomacy is the soft power that speaks to both minds and hearts sincerely.
His Excellency expressed his hope that the attendees of this forum, who are active and influential “religious and intellectual” figures, would agree to issue a “global encyclopedia of common human values”, to become like the comprehensive human constitution with a common spiritual concept.
The Secretary General of the Muslim World League concluded his speech by saying: “This forum expresses a religious will with an abstract spiritual goal, away from any connotation that does not correspond to this spiritual purpose.” He added in this context, “We will not look at those ignoring or denying the necessity of understanding and co-existence among followers of religions, the necessity of mutual respect among them, and their right to exist with dignity. He confirmed that “the forum is distinguished by the fact that none of the participants presents himself in this hall as a representative of any ideology, or any policy, whatever, and all of them came from brotherly and friendly countries, with whom we have close ties in the Islamic world.”
For his part, His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah, Chairman of the Emirates Council for Sharia Fatwas, Chairman of the Forum for Promoting Peace for Muslim Societies, stated that this forum represents a new step in the path of common religious action whereas the various religions gather to embody their agreement in the universal values, the values of peace, solidarity and justice, and they search for ways to deepen this through practical initiatives.
Egypt’s Grand Mufti of, Sheikh Dr. Shawki Allam, praised the sincere efforts of the Muslim World League in preparing and arranging for this great forum, “let us come together on a common word and a one agenda for the goodness of the countries and the peoples.” He made clear that earth construction and benefiting from its bounties could not be achieved if the relationship among followers of religions was one of disharmony and hatred. Allah the Almighty orders us to construct earth and love and understand each other for the peace of humanity.
For his part, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox, affirmed that “the best way to reach peace is sincere religious dialogue,” stressing his total rejection of the theory of the “inevitable conflict” among civilizations. He pointed out that cooperation is essential for a sustainable world, and that openness to the other “does not threaten our identity, but rather strengthens it more and more,” explaining that religious heritage “is a source of inspiration for humanity and contains a great reserve for peacemaking.”
Mr. Walter Kim, President of the National Evangelical Federation in the United States of America, explained that we are on a historic occasion that calls for optimism for the future, which holds an opportunity for peace and building bridges. He stressed the need for religious communities to do everything in their power to end poverty after the crisis we experienced during the Coronavirus pandemic.
For his part, His Excellency Sheikh Idris bin Ahmed, Minister of Islamic Affairs of Malaysia, touched upon the importance of activating the jurisprudence of co-existence and tolerance, stressing that all religious leaders are obligated to educate each other.
His Excellency President of the Supreme Council and former Minister of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in Algeria, professor. Bouabdallah Mohamed Gholamallah, expressed his hope that religious leaders would confront fanaticism and denounce all manifestations of hatred. He affirmed that tolerance is a great moral, and forgiveness is one of the attributes of Allah the Almighty and every human being is a brother to the other in religion, race, homeland or humanity. He also pointed out that the speech delivered by His Excellency the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League and Chairman of the Association of Muslim Scholars represents a pivotal working paper on the topic of the forum and that it should be adopted as a road map towards the goal for which we met.
In turn, Chief Rabbi of Italy – the Congregation of European Rabbis, Mr. Riccardo Designe, said that the role of religion should be positive to spread peace, praising the effort made by His Excellency Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa in spreading peace and tolerance among followers of religions. He also said, “We will see in years how these seeds grow on planet Earth.”
In his speech at the forum, Lama Hamandeleshwar Swami Vadisan, Head of the Hindu Religious Department said: “Dialogue can succeed in what wars have failed. Therefore, I am proud to be one of the participants in this important forum organized by the Muslim World League, led by peacenik His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa.
Panajala Obatisa Therou, a Buddhist official in Sri Lanka and Japan, emphasized that hatred is not killed by hatred, but by love. Therefore, every religion calls for the avoidance of violence in all its verbal and physical forms.
His Excellency Secretary-General of the Council of Senior Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, member of the Supreme Council of the Muslim World League and member of the Islamic Fiqh Academy, Sheikh Dr. Fahd bin Saad Al-Majed said, “This meeting that we are attending today is an intellectual acquaintance, which is no less important than the political meetings held by political institutions in order to build bridges for peace and to serve humanity.
Grand Mufti of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Head of the Administration of Muslims of the Caucasus, Dr. Allah Shukur Pashazade, conveyed the greetings of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, to those present at the conference. He indicated that calls of hatred that lead to aggression and violence have become a threat to humanity today, stressing that the danger lies in the politicization of religion and hatred speech.
Prime Minister and Secretary of the Vatican State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, described the conference of “Common Values among Religions” as a “historic and positive”. He stressed that the real dialogue among religions is the one that focuses on the denominators without neglecting the differences, noting the need to protect young people from the influence of hatred speech that leads to extremism.
Head of the Spiritual Department of the Muslims of Kazakhstan, Grand Mufti of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nurizbay Taganuli Utbenov said: “We all here represent religions, and we have come together with one word, which is peace among religions. We are all from Adam, and Adam is created from dust.” He praised the sincere efforts of His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa in spreading peace and moderation among religions.
His Excellency Minister of Islamic Affairs and Religious Affairs of Pakistan, Sheikh Mufti Abdul Shakoor said: “We live in a turbulent world full of enormous challenges so we should work for truth and justice, and reject injustice and the oppressors, so that we can support the truth”.
Then the main session was resumed after a short break, which focused on completing the speeches of a number of leaders of fatwa houses, heads and ministers of Islamic agencies, councils, jurisprudence and fatwa bodies, in which a number of non-Islamic religious leaders shared their speeches.
The forum sessions continued, which included working papers and interventions by a number of participants, including many of the proposed initiatives and programs. The forum concluded by announcing the items of the Common Human Values Project in light of the speeches, interventions, initiatives, dialogues and suggested programs that took place in the forum. The Islamic presence constituted the majority of the attendance of this forum, as it was attended by a distinguished group of senior Muslim scholars in all Islamic countries and minority countries, who highly praised the idea of this forum. They considered the forum an important addition to Islamic awareness in a changing world that requires such awareness, especially in the face of successive campaigns led by ignorance and extremism against Islam.