MOSCOW: The Muslim World League (MWL) and the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia signed on Wednesday an agreement to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue, as well as a culture of peace and constructive coexistence.
The agreement, which also rejects all forms of extremism and hatred, was co-signed in Moscow by the MWL’s undersecretary of relations and communication, and the head of the Department for External Church Relations.
It was signed in the presence of MWL Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa and Patriarch Kirill I.
The agreement reflects the two sides’ belief in the importance of interreligious dialogue and the role of religious institutions in resolving international conflicts, as well as the desire of Muslims and Christians to promote peaceful and constructive coexistence.
Al-Issa and Kirill I held a historic summit on Wednesday at the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.
It is considered the largest independent Eastern Orthodox Church, with more than 250 million followers.
The summit, attended by senior religious leaders, included fruitful discussions on issues of mutual interest.
Kirill I said he was “very happy” with Al-Issa’s visit to Russia, noting the significant and enlightened role of the MWL.
“You’re helping many needy people in Asia and Africa, and this is the subject of our deep concern and appreciation,” the patriarch added.
The agreement covers cooperation between cultures and civilizations; promoting peace and human rights; improving societies’ ethics, academic communication and information exchange; religious minority issues in crisis situations; and media-related matters.
“Owing to your personal contribution to the MWL’s activities, the league has become well-known in the Christian world, which appreciates these remarkable activities,” he said.
“The Orthodox Church has a great network of relations with Islamic societies and communities, and there’s communication with Muslims in our country. The history of Russia has never seen wars or conflicts with Muslims,” Kirill I added.
“Since Orthodox Christians and Muslims belong to the Eastern civilization, we share many commonalities. My job … has made this fact very clear to me.”
Kirill I underscored the Russian people’s unity regardless of religion, sect or ethnicity. “Russia can serve as an example for countries and representatives of faiths and sects,” he said.
Al-Issa said: “I’m happy to visit the Russian Orthodox Church and to meet with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill I, who is known for his outstanding efforts in promoting religious harmony and coexistence as well as love and tolerance.”
Al-Issa added. “We in the MWL, and on behalf of all Muslim people, appreciate the humanitarian and moral efforts of the Orthodox Church, and value its fair feelings toward Islam.”
He said: “We appreciate your describing terrorism as having no religion and stating that Islam … has nothing to do with terrorism.”
He added: “I’ve met with a number of Muslims, especially Muslim scholars in Russia, and they hold great esteem for the Orthodox Church for its efforts to preserve religious harmony, which are appreciated historic efforts.”
Al-Issa said: “The commonalities we share are many, especially the convergence of Eastern culture with its human and moral values.”
He said: “There won’t be a cultural shock between us because we belong to one Eastern culture and have several humanitarian goals.”
Al-Issa said: “With your wisdom, we can promote religious and ethnic cooperation. We, in the Muslim world, believe in your great role and are sure of its importance and impact.”