There is undoubtedly a positive message being sent when a US president chooses Saudi Arabia, the land of the Two Holy Mosques, as his first foreign destination. This positivity, shown by Donald Trump, deserves our sincere gratitude for choosing to endorse the moderate Islamic world.
Moderates in the Kingdom and worldwide have always wanted a serious partner to help reclaim the narrative from extremists, and a clear distinction between those who believe Islam is against terror and those who use it to justify terror. Some people with twisted minds have used our religion to create confusion and obscure its real message, which is peace for humanity.
Sadly, not many are aware that Muslims, more than any others, have been the victims of terror. We have paid the most in blood for this monstrous perversion of our religion. Yet we are the ones who bear the profanities and inanities that appear so often in Western discourse.
History is replete with examples of how the Muslim world has been a natural ally of the US. Like all good friends we have had differences in our long relationship, but we have never lost sight of the power the US can exert by standing shoulder to shoulder with us as we fight and neutralize the barbarous terrorism that has taken many shapes and forms.
We do not have to look far back into the past. In the 1980s, this natural American-Muslim alliance led us to fight successfully against atheism and communism. We stood together against the invaders of Kuwait. After that time of cooperation we seem to have drifted apart, leaving a terrible vacuum in Syria and Iraq. But with President Trump’s arrival in Saudi Arabia, we are filled with hope of starting a new journey together.
This positive message from the US is an indication of the weight and prominence that Saudi Arabia is privileged to enjoy in the Islamic world. This is why I, as head of the Muslim World League and a proud Saudi citizen, salute Trump for this courageous and meaningful stance.
We do not have to look far back into the past. In the 1980s, this natural American-Muslim alliance led us to fight successfully against atheism and communism.
Sheikh Mohammad Abdulkarim Al-Issa
This visit will have a positive impact in that it is a slap in the face of those who want to sow the seeds of division and extremism. It is very important for the US to stand on the right side of history as we deal with the scourge of terrorism. It is infinitesimally more important for, and incumbent upon, the US to stand with moderate states.
Trump’s visit comes at a time of need to support efforts and emphasize common values between the US and the Islamic world. Our enemies, whose lifelong aim has been to create fitna (mischief), want nothing more than to drive a wedge between us. We must not allow them to.
I would like to reassure President Trump and the American people that there is absolutely no confusion in our ranks as Muslims that it is our bounden responsibility to stand up to terrorism, especially when we see it using our name. Also, we should all not lose sight of the fact that this terrible war has to be waged first with ideology rather than with military weapons.
I also take this opportunity to reassure everyone reading this that it is our duty as Muslims to respect the laws and constitutions of non-Muslim countries where we live. At the same time, we would like to praise the outstanding achievements of American Muslims who have proven to be ideal citizens and successful professionals in various fields, while also being devout and proud Muslims.
With such a positive attitude, and so long as he is eager to serve justice, we welcome President Trump’s initiatives with open arms and pray that our cooperation makes the relationship between Muslims and America great again.
• Sheikh Mohammad Abdulkarim Al-Issa is secretary-general of the Makkah-based Muslim World League. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Islamic jurisprudence, and a masters and Ph.D. in comparative judicial studies from Al-Imam bin Mohammed bin Saud University.