WASHINGTON: The Muslim World League (MWL) aims to foster cooperation between Muslims and followers of other faiths and to clarify concepts of Islam to non-Muslims through dialogue, said MWL Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa.
He expressed these views during events hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the National Council on US-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) during a visit to Washington, DC.
The meetings were attended by the heads of both organizations, as well as a number of religious, political and intellectual figures in the US, and covered a range of topics ranging from history to current affairs.
Al-Issa also said the MWL wants to enable relief and development work in impoverished or devastated parts of the world.
He sought to allay confusion in the West about certain concepts at both meetings, including distinctions between doctrinal strictness and intellectual extremism, the concept of “jihad,” the “Ummah” (Muslim nation), the “Khilafah” (Caliphate), the meaning of “kufr” (disbelief) in Islam, the relationship between Muslims and other faiths, and whether Muslims hate Western culture. He also answered questions on the differences between Al-Qaeda and Daesh, both of which, he insisted, “remained dangerous” despite the former’s “dormancy” and the latter’s territorial losses.
Al-Issa also addressed historical discrepancies going back to the medieval period, pointing out that many Muslims in history referred to the Crusades as the “Frankish Wars,” explaining that “the term emerged at the time because Muslims were certain that true Christianity would not act as such. These campaigns had also devastated Orthodox Christian villages.”
On the historical and spiritual relationship between the East and the West, Al-Issa said: “The religious and cultural gap has not been addressed in many cases in the right way, producing a lack of understanding between the East and the West.”
He also went some way toward addressing various interpretations in Islam, including of jihad (which he said did not imply the imposition of Islam through force, but instead championed fighting injustice, aggression and persecution against fellow Muslims) and the application of the “jizyah” on non-Muslims.
He was also asked to comment on the ascent of Muslim members of the US Congress, particularly the first female members, Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar during the recent midterm elections. When asked if he had any advice for the pair, Al-Issa said: “Like all other members of Congress, they must perform their national duty and remain worthy of the trust of the American people.”