Muslim World League’s Historic Multifaith Forum in Saudi Arabia

The Muslim World League held the Forum on Common Values Among Religious Followers, a multifaith event with leaders from around the world in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The forum included 90 faith leaders in all, with Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus. Delegates included Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni of Rome, His Holiness Bartholomew I, His Eminence Sheik Dr. Shawki Allam and U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain. It is said to be the first multifaith gathering held on the Arabian Peninsula in more than a millennium.

The Forum issued a Declaration on the Common Human Values covering diverse areas of agreement among those in attendance, which also stated the purposes of the Forum: “To reach a universal consensus within the context of a common civilizational vision that would enhance cooperation and trust between global spiritual leaders, leverage their commonalities by placing them at the forefront of common principles of human values, promote the values of moderation and harmony, effectively support efforts to advance tolerance and peace, and set rational intellectual frameworks to immunize against the dangers of extremist ideology and behavior—regardless of its source.”

In contrast to a rhetoric of conflict being natural to Man and that we are violent by nature, the Forum instead put forth a unifying vision of Man: “The thesis of an inevitable civilizational clash, and attempts to achieve religious, cultural, political and economic advantage over others without respecting rights or ethics, are forms of extremism and arrogance, and an embodiment of racism driven by a superiority complex. It demonstrates an ignorance about the power that the Creator possesses over us—which is evident from human history. The true advantage (irrespective of which discipline it is achieved in) comes organically through ‘ethical’ power that is made possible through tangible, sincere and noble intentions.”

The Declaration included a series of findings and recommendations, covering extremism, the responsibilities of the United Nations and national institutions in protecting freedom, and the moral responsibility entrusted in those groups which influence public opinion—particularly the media. Additionally it announced new initiatives including a project to create The Encyclopedia of Common Human Values and the global “Religious Diplomacy Forum for Building Bridges,” tasked with bridging beyond dialogue relationships among diverse religions and cultures of the world.

Muslim World League is an international nongovernmental Islamic organization based in the Holy City of Makkah. In addition to its work in presenting Islam and Islamic principles, it works to provide humanitarian aid and hold conferences, seminars and meetings around the world with opinion leaders and intellectuals from diverse faiths to address topics of interest to Muslims and others. It is headed by Secretariat General His Excellency Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, a native of Saudi Arabia and leading voice of moderate Islam.