The international Islamic conference, which will begin in Makkah on Wednesday, will set guidelines for dialogue between Muslims and followers of other religions and cultures. “The conference would discuss the basis for dialogue with other faiths in the light of the Quran and Sunnah. It will also review past experiences in the field to make use of them,” said Dr Abdullah Al Turki, secretary-general of the Makkah-based Muslim World League…”The conference will be a serious attempt to counter effectively the smear campaign being unleashed against Islam, Prophet Mohammad [Peace Be Upon Him] and the Quran worldwide. It will highlight the true image of Islam, which is a religion of peace and tolerance.” The conference will focus on four pivotal topics, such as the basis of dialogue in Islam, the methodology and principles of dialogue, parties involved, and areas of dialogue….Dr Al Turki said the conference underscores the significance of the recent initiative of King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz for holding a reinforced dialogue between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
However, an Arabic language announcement about the conference says:
The forum will affirm that dialogue between Muslims and [the other]nations is one of the issues Muslims need in order to resist the misrepresentation that Islam and its symbols face and the frattles circulated against it through media campaigns being fedded by the enemies of the Nation, especially World Zionism.
This is not the first time that the MWL has blamed “international Zionism, for being behind alleged attacks on Islam. As a previous posted noted last October, the Secretary-General of the World League issued a statement on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks which blames “Zionist instiutions” for helping to distort the image of Islam:
The perpetrators of terrorist acts in the world have committed a great sin which is considered by Islam to be a major crime. That Islam has been put in the dock as a result is a great injustice and ignores the its firm position against terrorism, killing people, and the destruction of property. There is no law anywhere comparable to the severity of Islamic law against terrorists, murderers and trouble makers. Zionist institutions are in the forefront of those who distort the image of Islam and terrorism by linking those crimes….Our organizations call on international organizations to cooperate through the implementation of join programs in spreading the culture of peace and combating evil, in particular the scourge of terrorism.
The Muslim World League was established in 1962 as a means for the propagation of Saudi “Wahabbi” Islam. Muslim Brothers played an important role in its founding and, to date, the League has been strongly associated with the Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood condemnations of terrorism almost always focus strongly on complaints about the association of Islam and violence and “Zionism” is frequently blamed for assorted ills. These statements suggest that the MWL may not be serious about interfaith dialog, at least not with the Jewish community.
Further insight in to the Saudi view of interfaith dialog is provided by a translation of an interview last week with the Saudi Information Minister. As part of a discussion about why calls for dialogue were only made after 911, Abduh Al-Yamani said:
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: The Islamic world has accepted the blame, and apologized by saying: “We are sorry for what Islam did.” Islam did not do this! Why don’t you say that it was carried out by a group that made a mistake, like the men and women among you who make mistakes every day? Why do you pin this on Islam, as if the religion of Islam calls for terrorism, which is absolutely untrue. We were dragged into this, and then they began attacking us, people with vested interests started maligning Islam, and we’ve begun to give in. So we had no choice but to declare a “Jihad” that includes dialogue with the other side, and to explain the facts accurately, so they would know what Islam is all about, what the Koran is, and who the Prophet is.
The [Judeo-Christian] religion is monotheistic. They did not create it. This religion was sent down to Jesus and Moses…
Interviewer: But Islam got rid of it, in order to remain all on its own.
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: It was not Islam that got rid of it. It was caused by the contamination that occurred in this religion. They changed, altered, and distorted their holy books, and Islam came to rectify this. Islam has not changed a thing in the teachings of Moses.I
Interviewer: So one of the basic principles of this dialogue is to accept that the [Jews and Christians] have a religion.
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: Yes, and we respect this religion, but we say to them: “You’ve changed it, and you know that the books you have are not the divine gospel and the divine Torah. You have changed them. You yourselves admit that your books were written by priests and others who altered them. We want to bring you back to the original religion.”