Take back Islam from extremists, King urges clerics.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

WASHINGTON - (Petra) - (JT) - His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday called for a unified stand against those who promote the idea of “clash of civilisations.”

“For all our sakes, for our common future, we must turn the world's footsteps away from such a path. We need dialogue; a dialogue of deeds, as well as words,” King Abdullah told Catholic University of America in an address, attended by Her Majesty Queen Rania.

The King said governments in both the West and the Muslim world have insisted repeatedly that the West and Islam are not at war, while religious leaders have denounced hatred and violence.


“In the Middle East, in Europe, and here in the United States, senior Muslim clerics have spoken out, authoritatively, against terror,” the King said.

However, he added that “there are those who think otherwise — who believe that there is, or will be, a `clash of civilisations'.”

To help end the extremists' abuse of Islam, the King told his audience, Jordan hosted in July a major international conference that brought together scholars representing all eight traditional schools of Islamic thought.

He noted that the scholars affirmed Islam's core values, expressed in the Amman Message, which “carefully articulates Islam's essential social values:

Compassion, respect for others, tolerance and acceptance, and freedom of religion. And it rejects Muslim isolation from the global movement of human society.”

“The Amman Message is an all-Islamic initiative. It currently involves opinion makers from across the Islamic world.

God willing, it will expand to engage the popular preachers and grassroots activists — what is called the `Muslim street',” the Monarch said.

“We intend to revisit education and media roles as well.

The ultimate goal is to take back our religion from the vocal, violent and ignorant extremists who have tried to hijack Islam over the last hundred years.”

King Abdullah said those who believe in the future of the Middle East are strongly committed to dialogue and peace, which, he said, have deep roots in Arab-Islamic civilisation.

“Today, traditional, moderate, orthodox Muslims are reclaiming our Islam — Islam, as it has been taught and practised for over a thousand years: A religion of tolerance, wisdom and charity,” he added.

These people are “driving a regional renaissance, that can give the Middle East the hope it needs.”

“I am proud that Jordan has taken the lead in that effort, as well as engaging in our own serious process of reform and development.”

The King, meanwhile, spoke about his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday.

“He [the Pope] spoke of his respect for the Muslim people, and he reaffirmed the church's commitment to dialogue and peace,” the King said, adding that the current world developments are critical moments in the human history.

“Fifteen years ago, when the cold war ended, some people said that history had ended; that all the important issues had been resolved. Today, we know better. And we stand at a new turning point,” he said.

“In one direction, is an open world, one that can deliver a better life and freedom to billions of people. Against this vision is global division — a world of barriers and stagnation — especially, a world of religious tension and hostility.”

“Four years ago this month, 9/11. This past July, the attacks in London and in Egypt. Last month in Jordan.

Continuing conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq. And during all this time, simmering conflict in Palestine.”

The King also spoke about Muslim-Christian coexistence in Jordan, saying that the Kingdom is an Islamic country and home to a historic Christian community.

“All Jordanians participate in creating our nation and our future. I believe that we have found, by the grace of God, a larger community of shared respect.

It is based on the deepest teachings of our religions, teachings found in the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam alike: Belief in and devotion to the one God... and love for our fellow human beings,” the King told the gathering.

King Abdullah reminded his audience of the fact that the late Pope John Paul II began his Jubilee Pilgrimage in Amman.

“He spoke to me and millions of listening Arabs, about his great esteem for the Muslim people, as believers in the one God.

One year later, he became the first Pope to enter a mosque. He helped lead a historic Muslim-Christian prayer gathering — and urged a continuing `partnership for the good of the human family'.”


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