Prominent Muslim figures: religious, cultural diversity don’t justify ‘conflict’

Time: May 30, 2019

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The Makkah Declaration said it was everyone’s duty to fight terrorism, injustice, oppression and the violation of human rights. (SPA)
  • 1,200 prominent Muslim figures sign anti-extremism declaration

MAKKAH: A historic anti-extremism document has been signed by 1,200 figures from the Muslim world following a landmark gathering in the holy city of Makkah.

The four-day conference, organized by the Muslim World League (MWL), was attended by dignitaries, scholars, senior officials and leading thinkers who between them represented 139 countries. The delegates also represented 27 components of different Islamic sects.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was the first leader to sign the declaration and later received the scholars in the holy city. The king was given the final Makkah Declaration document.

Signatories confirmed they sought to interact with all walks of life to achieve the interests of human beings, promote noble values, build bridges, and to confront injustice and hatred.

The Makkah Declaration said that religious and cultural diversity did not justify conflict and that civilized dialogue was the path to overcoming historical differences.

It called for legislation to deter people who promoted hate and instigated violence, saying such laws would weaken the causes of religious and ethnic conflict. It condemned attacks on places of worship, calling them criminal acts that required a strong legislative and security response. It said the extremist ideas that motivated these types of attacks needed to be challenged.

The Makkah Declaration said it was everyone’s duty to fight terrorism, injustice, oppression and the violation of human rights. It also urged greater environmental protection, saying that wasting natural resources and causing pollution breached the rights of future generations.

King Salman received the dignateries in Makkah. (SPA)

It warned that Islamophobia stemmed from ignorance about the reality of Islam and that people clung to the misdeeds committed by those claiming to be Muslims and falsely attributing their acts to Islamic laws.

The declaration called for non-interference in the affairs of other states as it was an unacceptable violation, singling out the marketing of sectarian ideas or attempts to impose fatwas.

It recognized the principles of women’s empowerment, the rejection of their marginalization, the degradation of their dignity, the minimization of their role, or the obstruction of their opportunities in the religious, scientific, political or social arena. It called for the protection of young Muslims’ identity with special attention to five key points — religion, homeland, culture, history and language.

Identity should be protected from attempts at deliberate or unintentional exclusion or assimilation. Young people also needed to be protected from intellectual extremism and the idea that there was a clash of civilizations.

Young people should be equipped with the values of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and harmony in order to accept the existence of others, preserve their dignity and rights and respect the laws and regulations of the countries they lived in, the declaration added.

Earlier this week the conference heard that Saudi Arabia had fought extremism with “determination and decisiveness.”

“Saudi Arabia has strongly condemned and fought all forms of extremism, violence and terrorism, with ideology, determination and decisiveness, and has opposed any identification with them,” King Salman said in a speech delivered on his behalf by Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal.

Saudi Arabia was committed to “spreading peace and coexistence and has established international intellectual platforms and centers to promote these principles,” the king said.

“We reiterate our invitation to stop the racist and xenophobic speech from whatever source and under any pretext whatsoever,” he added.

The MWL conference discussed topics including “Moderation in Islamic History and Jurisprudence Heritage” and “Practical Programs to Promote Moderation Among Youth.”

The conference marked the start of several major regional summits in the Kingdom this week. Arab League members and Gulf Cooperation Council leaders will discuss Iran’s recent aggression toward Saudi Arabia and the wider region.

In addition, dozens of member states from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have been invited to attend the body’s 14th Islamic summit.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Scholars gathering in Makkah stress importance of moderate Islamic discourse

Time: May 29, 2019   

Speakers called for reuniting the ranks of the Muslim nation so that no one can undermine it. (AN photo by Tareq Al-Thaqafi)
  • Scholars praise Kingdom’s role in reuniting Muslims
  • The former mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mustafa Ibrahim: “We have come to support Saudi Arabia in its attempts to unite Muslims, strengthen relations and promote moderation”

MAKKAH: Scientists and intellectuals on the second day of sessions of the Makkah conference on the Islamic values of moderation, stressed the importance of moderate Islamic discourse and preserve the rights of minorities in non-Muslim countries.
They also hailed the active role of the Kingdom in reuniting Muslims, rejecting extremism, instilling moderate discourse and preserving the rights of Muslims and keeping them away from terrorism.
Dr. Ahmed Al-Dubyan, director general of the Islamic Cultural Center in London, noted that the conference organized by the Muslim World League convenes in difficult conditions witnessed throughout the Muslim world, which have been caused by an intellectual deviation that resulted in scourges, calamities, deviation in thoughts and attacking others.
Mohamed Salah Dinov, president of the Islamic Council of Russia, called for inculcating common denominators linking Muslims at the economic, cultural and social levels.
Scholars called for reuniting the ranks of the Islamic nation so that no one can destabilize and undermine it. This can be achieved by rejecting turmoil, encouraging moderation and equality, communicating with each other, strengthening the bonds of love between Muslims and fighting the wrong perceptions about Islam.
They also called on all Muslims to study their religion properly as sent down by Allah, a religion of love, moderation and authentic values that have contributed to the spread of Islam around the world.
Earlier on the first day of the event, the mufti of Tripoli and northern Lebanon, Sheikh Malik Al-Shaar, said the conference responds to all the conspiracies being plotted against Islam and Muslims.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Preservation of minorities’ rights stressed.

• Scholars want Muslims to forge unity among their ranks.

• Muslims urged to study their religion objectively.

Al-Shaar said that the words spoken at the conference were fit to be a curriculum contemplated by intellectuals and scholars.
He stressed that the Qur’an addressed the other, acknowledged their existence and established a common goal for coexistence.
The former mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mustafa Ibrahim, highlighted the importance of Muslim unity and said: “We have come to support Saudi Arabia in its attempts to unite Muslims, strengthen relations and promote moderation.”
Alfredo Milesi, the Italian minister for Middle Eastern affairs at the International Parliament for Safety and Peace and president of the European Muslim League, said that bringing together institutions, organizations and scholars in this holy month is a global phenomenon for which Saudi Arabia should be thanked.
He added that this conference sends a direct message to the whole world about the tolerance of Islam and the important role of Muslims in building civilized societies in Europe and the world.
Adviser to the Portuguese Minister of Defense Imran Mohammed said the conference shows the whole world that Muslims are united, which wins them the respect of the world.
He added that the importance of the timing and location of the conference, as well as its role in discarding disagreements and producing a united stance, should be taken into account.

This article was first published in Arab News

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King Salman tells moderate Islam conference that Saudi Arabia has fought ‘extremism, violence and terrorism’

Time: May 28, 2019  

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The king said the world today is in serious need of a role model, and Muslims could answer that call. (SPA)
  • At a Muslim World League conference in Makkah, king calls for an end to racist and xenophobic speech
  • Saudi Arabia is committed to ‘spreading peace and co-existence’

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia has fought against extremism with “determination and decisiveness,” King Salman told a Muslim World League (MWL) conference on Monday.

In an address to the MWL’s conference in Makkah on moderate Islam, the king called for an end to racist and xenophobic speech.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has strongly condemned and fought all forms of extremism, violence and terrorism, with ideology, determination and decisiveness, and has opposed any identification with them,” the king said in a speech delivered on his behalf by Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal.

Saudi Arabia is committed to “spreading peace and coexistence and has established international intellectual platforms and centers to promote these principles,” the king said.

“We reiterate our invitation to stop the racist and xenophobic speech from whatever source and under any pretext whatsoever,” he added.

FASTFACT

● King calls for an end to racist and xenophobic speech.

● The conference marks the start of several major regional summits in the Kingdom this week.

● Participants will discuss religious pluralism and cultural communication, and the common values in contemporary international relations.

The king said the world today is in serious need of a role model and that Muslims can help spread the good values in the world.

The MWL, an international nongovernmental Islamic organization, based in Makkah, is holding the “Moderation and Indications” conference for four days.  The event is being attended by dignitaries, scholars, senior officials and leading thinkers from the Muslim world.

The conference marks the start of several major regional summits in the Kingdom this week. They include emergency meetings of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League convened by Saudi Arabia to discuss the heightened tensions in the region with Iran.

Participants at the start Monday of the Muslim World League Conference in Makkah. (SPA photo)

The event will discuss topics including “Moderation in Islamic History and Jurisprudence Heritage” and “Neutral Speeches and the Contemporary Age” under the theme of “Moderation Between Authenticity and Modernity.

Other topics will include “Differences and the Culture of Moderation” and “Practical Programs to Promote Moderation Among Youth.”

The fifth session of the conference will focus on “Moderation and the Message of Civilized Communication.” Participants will discuss religious pluralism and cultural communication, and the common values in contemporary international relations.

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Senior Saudi cleric slams ‘paranoia’ over segregation between men and women

Time: May 28, 2019  

Above, a video grab of Sheikh Adil Al-Kalbani, who has called for men and women not to be separated using a partition during prayers. (AN)
  • Modern separation not in line with practices during Prophet Muhammad’s time, Adil Al-Kalbani says

JEDDAH: The former Imam of the Holy Mosque in Makkah, Sheikh Adil Al-Kalbani, has called for men and women not to be separated using a partition during prayers.

In a televised interview with Saudi Broadcasting Corp. (SBC), he said that this type of segregation did not happen during the era of Prophet Muhammad. He stressed the current segregation practices have no roots in Islamic tradition and are a result of unjustified “paranoia” of women, even during prayer.

“Sadly today, we are paranoid — in a mosque — a place of worship. They are completely separated from men, they cannot see them and can only hear them through microphones or speakers. And if the voice has been cut off, they wouldn’t know what is going on (during prayer),” he elaborated.

“In the Prophet’s era, and they are the most protective and God-fearing people. With all these traits, the men used to pray in the front and women prayed in the back of the mosque without a partition, not even a curtain. And today, it is a separated room, some even far from the original Prophet’s Mosque area, I believe this is some type of phobia toward women.”

He also touched on the issue some conservative men have in calling a woman by her name, pointing out that this should not be the case as there are also no roots of this fear in Islamic tradition. “Our daughters or sisters are no better than Aisha bint Abu Bakr (wife of the Prophet) — or the rest. All the Muslim women’s names are known and their fathers’ names are known. And they have given so much to society and the Ummah. It never harmed them that people knew their names.”

Commenting on recent reforms the Kingdom is witnessing, Al-Kalbani praised the improved socio-economic situation of women in the present era.

“We began to constantly hear that a woman became a deputy minister, ambassador and other high ranking positions.”

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Muslim World League launches global forum for moderate Islam

27/05/19

  • The fifth session of the conference will focus on “Moderation and the Message of Civilized Communication”

MAKKAH: The Muslim World League (MWL) on Monday will organize an international conference for moderate Islam under the patronage of King Salman.
Mohammed bin Abdul-Karim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the MWL, said that he appreciated the “generous patronage which comes within the framework of the great support for the joint Islamic action, deepening the harmony and cooperation among the scholars of the Islamic Ummah to achieve the goals and aspirations represented by Saudi Arabia.”
The four-day international conference, titled “Moderation and Indications,” will be attended by dignitaries, scholars, senior officials and leading thinkers from the Muslim world.
Al-Issa said the second theme of the conference will be “the Prophetic Approach of Moderation,” in addition to the topics of “Moral and Human Values Under the Guidance of the Prophet” and “Dealing with Violations in the Light of the Prophet’s biography.”
The conference will discuss topics including “Moderation in Islamic History and Jurisprudence Heritage” and “Neutral Speeches and the Contemporary Age” under the theme of “Moderation Between Authenticity and Modernity.
Other topics will include “Differences and the Culture of Moderation” and “Practical Programs to Promote Moderation Among Youth.”
The fifth session of the conference will focus on “Moderation and the Message of Civilized Communication.” Participants will discuss religious pluralism and cultural communication, and the common values in contemporary international relations.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Makkah’s Grand Mosque library contains 30,000 books

Time: May 22, 2019

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The library contains rare books dating back to the second Hijri century. (SPA)
  • The library was re-inaugurated in 1434 Hijri to boost the religious mission of the Two Holy Mosques, and to guide visitors and pilgrims

MAKKAH: The library of Makkah’s Grand Mosque is considered a beacon of knowledge, covering an area of 1,000 square meters and containing 30,000 books and 5,600 titles.

The library, which has 15 sections, offers digital, audio and internet services. It contains rare books dating back to the Hijri second century, including “Al-Mustatab,” “Majmaa Al-Anhur Fi Sharh Multaqa Al-Abhur” and “Al-Ashbah Wal Nazaer.”

The library was re-inaugurated in 1434 Hijri to boost the religious mission of the Two Holy Mosques, and to guide visitors and pilgrims.

It aims to highlight Islamic culture, develop the skills of researchers and its employees, and procure religious books.

It also aims to establish a scientific center and a world-class cultural and knowledge center, based around a central library of 20 million titles.

The library has enough reading spaces for both men and women, children’s desk services, translation and research centers, high-tech storage, delivery and receipt of folders, special collections and multimedia tools, as well as specialized services of the library with the latest scientific means, a manuscripts and digital library, a department for rehabilitation and restoration of ancient manuscripts and adequate administrative space.

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Symposium discusses Islam’s message of moderation

Time: May 19, 2019  

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Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, attends the symposium titled ‘Religious efforts exerted at the Prophet’s Mosque during the Saudi era’ at the King Salman International Conference Center in Madinah. (SPA)
  • Al-Sudais added that the symposium was noble in its objectives, blessed in its message, outstanding in its research and great in its recommendations

MADINAH: The moderate nature of Islam was highlighted during a two-day symposium held at the King Salman International Conference Center under the patronage of King Salman.
Researchers from Arab and Islamic countries presented 29 studies and working papers during the event, which was titled “Religious efforts exerted at the Prophet’s Mosque during the Saudi era.”
“The speakers highlighted Islam’s moderation in the different axes of their studies. They stressed the important role of the Prophet’s Mosque in caring for Qur’an-related sciences and the Arabic language,” said Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, the president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, which organized the event in partnership with the Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud International Prize for the Prophetic Sunnah and Contemporary Islamic Studies.
“This comes as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to develop and serve the Two Holy Mosques and their visitors. The care provided by the Kingdom is not limited to sensory care but it also includes moral care that seeks to promote beneficial sciences and true knowledge.”
Al-Sudais added that the symposium was noble in its objectives, blessed in its message, outstanding in its research and great in its recommendations. He also thanked the king and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their support.

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Religious efforts at Prophet’s Mosque during the Saudi era highlighted

Time: May 17, 2019  

Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman attends the symposium titled ‘Religious efforts exerted at the Prophet’s Mosque during the Saudi era’ at the King Salman International Conference Center in Madinah. (SPA)

The Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud International Prize for the Prophetic Sunnah and Contemporary Islamic Studies organized a symposium on Thursday, called “Religious efforts exerted at the Prophet’s Mosque during the Saudi era.”

Run in partnership with the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, under the patronage of King Salman, the two-day symposium is being held at the King Salman International Conference Center, in the presence of Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif, who is also chairman of the supreme commission of the prize, and Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman.

The head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, Mohamed Hussein Al-Mahrsawy, delivered the keynote speech, in which he said: “The symposium comes in the context of the Kingdom’s interest in the Two Holy Mosques, and its role in spreading moderation in Islam, correcting misconceptions, fostering competitive spirit among researchers and enriching the Islamic library.”

The secretary-general of the prize, Dr. Saed Al-Harthi, also delivered a speech, in which he said:  “Saudi Arabia and its leaders were honored with the gift of serving the Two Holy Mosques, their visitors and pilgrims. The Kingdom’s interest is not limited to the care of the mosques, but extends to education through lectures, courses and seminars organized by the Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques. This symposium was organized to highlight the Kingdom’s mission toward Islam and Muslims.”

He extended thanks and appreciation to the king for patronizing the symposium, and to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prince Saud for their support.

Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, said: “This blessed symposium embodies our leaders’ interest in the Two Holy Mosques, and reflects their concern to take care of them, serve Islam and Muslims, and achieve worldwide security and peace.”

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Indonesia welcomes Saudi promotion of moderate Islam: Consul general

13/05/19

  • Green card residency program a step in right direction, says Mohamad Saripudin

JEDDAH: Indonesian Consul General Dr. Mohamad Hery Saripudin said his country welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s call for the promotion of moderate Islam.
Speaking as a guest of honor at the Arab News annual iftar at Assila Hotel in Jeddah on Sunday, Saripudin said the crown prince’s vision of moderate Islam aligns well with Indonesia’s concept of Islam Wasatiyyah.
“We believe in Islam Wasatiyyah — the middle way of Islam — in implementing moderation in the practice of the Islamic faith, and as a response to check the spread of extremism,” Saripudin said, adding that Indonesians have a special attachment to Saudi Arabia.
“Indonesia sends the largest number of Muslims on Hajj. This year 231,000 Indonesians will perform Hajj, and in terms of Umrah pilgrims, last year we were second only to Pakistan, with Indonesia sending approximately 1.2 million Umrah pilgrims,” he said.
“That translates to roughly 100,000 Indonesians visiting Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah every month, and this is over and above the 221,000 pilgrims who performed Hajj last year,” he added. “Hajj and Umrah certainly have played important roles in building relations between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.”
The important element of a good relationship are these people-to-people ties, Saripudin said. “The Indonesian pilgrims play an important role in strengthening ties. Our pilgrims spend almost 70 days on average interacting with the local Saudi population, and this helps bring our two peoples together,” he added.

“The Indonesians ensure that they take souvenirs from Saudi Arabia, which they then distribute to their families, relatives and acquaintances back home. This binds them all with Saudi Arabia. Both the spiritual and the tangible connections strengthen relations.”
He said ties between the two countries are rooted in history. “Long before the historic visit of King Salman to Jakarta in March 2017, Saudi Arabia was among the first countries of the world to recognize the independence of Indonesia,” Saripudin added.
“We welcome the clearance by the Shoura Council of the green card (residency) system. We’ve had many, many queries from our businesspeople and Indonesian expatriates about the new incentives being offered by Saudi Arabia, which will improve the business climate. The new green card system is a very significant step in the right direction,” he said.
The huge numbers of Indonesian citizens and people of Indonesian descent in the Kingdom have adapted well to Saudi culture, and have thus become a powerful bridge in strengthening bilateral relations, he added.
“We invite Arab News to help us trace the footprints of the Saudi-Indonesian diaspora in both countries,” Saripudin said, praising the newspaper’s role in bringing different communities and countries together.
“I make it a point to read Arab News every morning before starting my day. If I don’t read it, it’s like having soup without salt. Arab News helps my sanity,” he added.
“It’s an honor to be here at the Arab News iftar as a guest of honor. The media is an essential part in promoting good ties between our two countries, and it has the ability to highlight the good and the bad in both.”
Arab News has been “very supportive of us (Indonesians), and has played a positive role in promoting good Saudi-Indonesian ties,” Saripudin said.
He thanked the newspaper’s Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas, and promised greater cooperation with Arab News.
He highlighted the familiarization trips that the Indonesian government sponsors in order to familiarize Saudi journalists with Indonesia.
Speaking at the event, Abbas said: “Our iftar comes at a very important time for the Kingdom, when his royal highness the crown prince has announced that we want to go back to moderate Islam. This is important not just for Saudi Arabia but for the entire Muslim world.”
There is no better example of tolerant Islam than Indonesia, the editor in chief added. Introducing Saripudin, Abbas said: “Indonesia was selected as the guest of honor at the 2019 Janadriyah cultural festival, so it’s with great pleasure that I introduce to you our guest speaker for tonight’s iftar.”
Abbas said Arab News was founded 44 years ago. “We’ve recently gone through a transformation to make it more digital and more global,” he added.
“We’re also proud of our initiative to hire more Saudis and more women, and we’re proud that women now form 35 percent of our global workforce.”
Despite all these changes, “we were, and always will be, an international Arab newspaper based in Saudi Arabia,” Abbas said.
This means “we’re equally privileged to have some of the best Saudi, Arab and international talent working with us,” he added.
Abbas and Arab News Western Region head Mohammed Al-Sulami presented to Saripudin a plaque that has the newspaper’s first edition — dated April 20, 1975 — embossed in metal.
Earlier, Deputy Editor in Chief Tarek Mishkhas delivered welcoming remarks, followed by a video presentation of the newspaper’s latest achievements.
Arab News staffer Aisha Fareed was honored by Abbas, who announced her promotion to be head of the Jeddah local desk.
A number of diplomats, dignitaries and journalists attended the iftar.

This article was first published in  Arab News

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70 imams preach against terror in 35 countries

Time: May 12, 2019 

Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, who oversaw the event. (SPA)
  • Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, who oversaw the event, said the program helped to enlighten Muslims about their religion

RIYADH: Seventy Saudi imams delivered Friday sermons in 35 countries around the world as part of a Kingdom-led initiative condemning extremism and violence.
The international project, aimed at promoting Islam’s values of moderation and tolerance, was run under the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance’s overseas imamate program.
The Kingdom’s Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, who oversaw the event, said the program helped to enlighten Muslims about their religion.
During their sermons, the imams emphasized the importance of fasting, praying and reading the Qur’an during the holy month of Ramadan and they called on Muslims around the world to unite against those who wished to cause division among faiths.
Communities lauded the Friday sermons, many of which were broadcast on state television channels, for helping to bring Muslims together under the banner of moderation while refuting all forms of extremism and terrorism.

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