‘Mission Impossible’ becomes ‘Mission Achieved’ with first-ever multi-faith forum in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Muslim journalist writes of his involvement planning the forum – and his amazement as he witnessed such a historic moment
Since the death of Prophet Mohammed more than 1,000 years ago, not one multi-faith gathering had been held in the Arabian Peninsula.
That is why it was such a shock for me to witness the moment that the Muslim World League successfully broke the taboo and made it happen. The Forum on Common Values among Religious Followers, held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was an event I thought would never occur in my lifetime.
But it was proof that our human values are the most important foundation in an effort to bring people together. In a time of disarray where wisdom is lacking, nothing is more important than strengthening our commonality.
Mission Impossible Becomes Possible
I was tasked two months ago with selecting a group of multi-faith leaders from the United States and United Kingdom. These leaders would then participate in the “Forum of Promoting Common Values among the Followers of Religion” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
When I received this task, I thought to myself the person who relayed the message was either crazy or drunk. How could I put together a list of leaders in a short period of time, and who would I choose? It would be much easier for me to do this in Washington D.C., New York or even London. I’m reasonably sure I didn’t read the message correctly right then.
But, at noon on May 11, the event took place, alleviating all my concerns. My exhaustion dissipated and all of my concerns melted away. History was made as 90 leaders of five prominent religions came together at one table in the center of two holy Muslim mosques. In attendance were 47 Muslim scholars, 24 Christian leaders, 12 Jewish Rabbis and 7 Buddhist and Hindu leaders – men and women – representing the various sects of their religions.
In the first minute of the event, it was MISSION ACHIEVED! It was a magical moment that ensured the power of goodwill would forever change the future for the better!
World faith leaders convene in Saudi Arabia for first time in a conference to build bridges with Muslim leaders, Riyadh, May 12, 2022 (Photo: PRNewswire/The Muslim World League)
I learned that we have an obligation to our people to show them an abundance of goodwill. If we are to change the world, we have to help people change how they see things.
We must do it for our children, grandchildren and generations to come. Churches and mosques do not hold divinity; the human heart does. If we are to see real change, we have to remain persistent in educating humanity on our similarities, not our differences.
The event’s announcement listed areas of agreement for religion, such as the fundamental role of religion in society and the spiritual basis for fundamental human rights.
The Forum also proposed plans for an “Encyclopedia of Common Human Values” – a religious document for worldwide cooperation that outlines basic rights and expectations for interfaith governance. It’s a declaration of a “language of the heart” – the most influential language that doesn’t need translating and is usable by everyone regardless of religion, race, color or gender. It is dedicated to helping people see the world through commonalities, so people change with each other.
This is how humanity can evolve into something better and how the world changes.
The Muslim World League, under the guidance of its secretary-general Sheikh Dr. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim al-Issa, has a heavy obligation to build upon the success and show and prove to the entire world that it is religious leaders who can elicit change, not politicians.