Washington Institute and National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations hosts Dr. Issa
Washington Institute and National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in Washington hosted the Secretary General of the Muslim World League Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa in the presence of the leaders of the Institute, the Council and a raft of American political, religious and intellectual figures.
Executive Director of the Institute, Mr. Robert Satloff, welcomed the Secretary General and expressed the happiness of all officials of the Institute with this open meeting, and in addition, the head of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Mr. John Duke, welcomed the visiting guest.
Dr. Al-Issa delivered a speech explaining fundamentals of the moderate religious discourse and concepts of moderation and clear that the Muslim World League’s initiatives and programs inside and outside the Islamic world were highly praised. These initiatives and programs based on three goals.
First: the clarification of the essence of Islam. This includes spreading and raising the awareness of the correct concepts of Islam in the Islamic world, especially religious texts, historical facts and Islamic terminology as terrorists sought to distort these matters and principle in a way that serves their extremist agenda. It clarifies the correct concepts of Islam to non-Muslims through dialogues, scientific and intellectual discussions, confirming that unilateral information caused diversion for those who have not had a correct approach in the sources of information and that Islamophobia as an example was the victim of that wrong methodology.
Dr. Al-Issa added that certain groups of followers of religions committed some mistakes and these groups shoulder the direct responsibility for these mistakes. For instance, Christianity cannot be responsible for some mistakes committed by some Christian elements specifically those who launched the crusades, which rejected by a number of Muslim jurists and historians who invented another term to these crusades. They called these military wars Franks. Muslim scholars and jurists rejected the term crusades and replaced them with Franks because Christianity is a divine religion that cannot be responsible for errors committed by some of its followers. There are many examples in Islam. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that all his wars were aimed at defending Islam and confronting injustice and oppression. The Prophet did not launch a war for the aim of forcing other to embrace Islam.
Second: building bridges and promoting dialogue between cultures and religions. We have said that only 10% of them are sufficient to bring about peace and harmony in today's world. The Muslim World League is currently developing an important project to in the countries of religious and ethnic minorities for promoting positive national integration and contributing to bridging the gaps. In addition, the Muslim World League is currently exerting arduous efforts to spread and raise awareness of all people to understand the law of Allah concerning diversity, differences and multiplicity for the aim of achieving peace, security, justice, development, equality, freedom and tolerance.
Third: is relief, welfare and development in places of need. This is available to all without any discrimination for religious or ethnic reasons, but governments, not individuals and institutions, no matter how confident they are, carry out these relief programs.
The Secretary General of the Muslim World League answered questions of the attendees regarding a raft of important issues and topics. The attendees praised the transparency and clarity, as Dr. Al-Issa indicated many ambiguous issues including the differentiation between radical jurisprudence and intellectual extremism, concept of Jihad in Islam and the definition of nation, caliphate and the term of Kufr (blasphemy) in Islam.
Dr. Al-Issa fully answered all questions posed by attendees and these discussions considered as an important intellectual document recommended to be published to be available for all people. He also made clear that Islam based on monotheism that respects faiths of other and cares for the rights and dignity of followers of religions together with effectively promoting values of humanity. Islamic religion supports principles of humanity among all people because all people are brother in humanity.
Dr. Al-Issa added that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, at all, be associated with terrorism, which is alien to its values. Islam also calls for co-existence with others and this is the law of Allah in diversity and difference. In addition, a beneficial Islamic doctrine is the Koranic injunction that "there shall be no compulsion in matters of religion."
Dr. Al-Issa wondered: does extremism in all its forms ignore these Islamic texts? In case of knowing these Islamic texts, why does not extremism apply these text i.e. what is its position of these Islamic texts? He elaborated in his answer to make matters and facts clear. Furthermore, Dr. Al-Issa answered a question about the difference between al-Qaeda and Daesh. He answered saying that both stem from one ideological source. Regarding reasons of this phenomenon, he answered that we previously said there is no extremist or terrorist religion and all religions have extremist and terrorist followers. This took place throughout history. As you know, enlightenment hindered in Europe for several centuries because of religious extremism and charges of heresy against innocent scholars were a harsh chapter in human history.
Dr. Al-Issa added that open-minded Islamic scholars and jurists name crusades as Franks. It is a new term because all Muslim scholars and jurists know well that Christianity is a divine religion and some of its followers committed historical mistakes not the religion itself. These military campaigns destroyed Christian Orthodox villages and therefore not everyone raised the banner of the Lord was right. In addition, Pope John Paul II issued a courageous apology for historical errors of the Catholic Church. Once, current pope Francis was asked on the back of a terrorist attack by those who were said to be Muslims, he answered saying that Islam is not a terrorist religion and if some of its followers have committed acts of terrorism, some Catholics committed acts of terrorism. Consequently, it is wrong to hold any religion responsible for the acts of terrorism. He also said that there are some reasons for the terrorist phenomenon including the global presence of deviation in general, religious enthusiasm accompanied with weak scientific, intellectual and political awareness and the weakness of crucial confrontation of this phenomenon, especially not to enter into details of the ideology of extremism and then respond to them. The most important thing to fight terrorism is the immunization by the family, the school and the influence platforms in general, and everyone should teach young people how to think.
His Excellency added, "another reason is the desire of some of the lost young people to search for an exciting entity by finding a major issue that they run into its dangers for the sake of the religion concerning what they claim and fancy. They find their religious entities in these thoughts and actions to fill the other with them through that illusion, and when there is a vacant immunization and considered confrontation, the gap is deeper. This exists in some countries of religious minorities, which sometimes there is a feeling of deprivation, exclusion and racist practices against them, and some of them suffer from weak enlightening immunization. We said that Islamophobia served the terrorist extremism, which evidenced by the fact that is one of the most promoters of this phenomenon's social and political aspects. Yes, the terrorist extremism promoted that phenomenon which served it a lot." Dr. Al-Issa then continued, explaining ways to correcting this in detail.
On the historical, spiritual and cultural relationship between the East and the West, and which is still raised as tainted with caution, uncertainty and mistrust, despite the material cooperation and cognitive exchange, Dr. Al-Issa said: "The religious and cultural gap has not been oftentimes addressed and in the right way. The result is that the East has not properly understood the West and vice versa. In one of the lectures, I said that there are five pillars in this subject.
First, we believe in God's way of difference and diversity, which does not mean clash, conflict and hatred, but on the contrary, this belief produces awareness and not just an abstract perception. Second, understanding does not necessarily mean conviction, and the Qur'an speaks of that in the verse: "To you your religion, and to me my religion". Third, cooperation is important in the area of religious and humanitarian commonalities, which we have already explained that 10% of them are enough to establish harmony and peace in our world. Fourth, humanity has tried throughout its long history the religious, civilizational and ethnic conflict, and has not benefited from that but just suffered for long and everyone has lost, and even the first victor is ultimately a loser. Fifth, historical errors are borne by its committers only and not others. In Islam, no is perfect but Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He never aggressed against anyone but he only defended his message against attack, injustice and oppression. He also never forced anyone to embrace Islam and his biography is an open book for everyone to read and make sure of that. The Prophet (peace be upon him) only sought the satisfaction of God Almighty, while material and expansionist goals were common among humans, except for a few of them, and often-religious banners raised for those goals throughout the conflicts of human history, and God is disassociated from our material and expansionist goals. States and cities have been violated through forged religious banners."
There was an intervention that Islam reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "I have ordered to fight people to force them to embrace Islam", and this is a forcible imposition of Islam. His Excellency replied: "This rather means the confrontation of injustice, aggression and persecution which faced Muslims and questioning every criminal in that and he did not exempt him from punishment unless that criminal declared joining the group that he persecuted or paid compensations, and this is practiced in old and recent international norms.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to mention that there are some erroneous interpretations and applications of the so-called "jizyah" in Islam and translated as tribute, while many others believe that it should be translated as tax. Zakat "alms" taken from the Muslim's money and it not taken from the non-Muslim. This evidenced an explicit verse saying: "There is no compulsion in the religion" and other verses ordered fighting the aggressors and warned Muslims not to fight others unless they start the fight.
This is because Islam met by severe oppression of the pagans while it coexisted with the People of the Scripture in Madinah and did not raise the sword on them to force them to embrace Islam. Some of them and not all of them led a political action that had nothing to do with the aspect of religion, a matter which prompted the Muslims to take political actions that did not differ from what was agreed upon in that time by Muslims or non-Muslims. Islam is not the only that took such measures, which is now known as the international norm."
Dr. Al-Issa added, "I would like to point out that texts explain each other and that the deeds of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, interpret the texts as well. We should understand the text through other texts and the deeds of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as the Islamic law taken in total and not in parts, and this is in all laws, that we find this in the interpretation of constitutional and legal texts. With the danger of leniency with Daesh, al-Qaeda remains the most dangerous and is currently in the situation of a virus waiting for the vulnerability of immunity to reactivate again. Complete defeat of violent terrorist extremism done only by dismantling their ideas on which it based its fragile entity, which is dangerous to young people but weak, as is the case with the whole ideology it built on. These thoughts are dangerous because they target young people who lack awareness. As for non-violent extremism, while it seems peaceful, but represents the raw materials of the industry of violent extremism and terrorism."
Asked about the advice for Muslim women who won seats at the US Congress, Dr. Al-Issa said, "Like all members, they should do their national duty and live up to the expectations of the American people and trust in them."
On the conference organized by the Muslim World League in Makkah, on the perils of labeling and exclusion, SG of MWL, explained the conference's most important and prominent recommendations, which confirmed the pride of attendees of more than 1200 muftis and scholars representing 28 Islamic sects and groups who stressed their appreciation for the great role played by Saudi Arabia from its holy lands in leading the Islamic world spiritually and scientifically as the center of its weight, reference and symbolic representation.