RIYADH: The Forum on Common Values among Religious Followers, hosted by the Muslim World League, kicked off Wednesday in Riyadh, with many religious leaders and scholars in attendance, including guests representing other religions.
Abdulwahab Al-Shehri, the league’s undersecretary-general of corporate communications, said that the forum is in line with the goals of the MWL to consolidate its global role as an independent, international nongovernmental organization that works to raise awareness of the values of Islam, which include cooperation to enhance common values and build a better and more peaceful world and harmonious societies. This all starts with Saudi Arabia, the land of Islamic and human communication, he added.
The founding of the forum is based on Islamic teachings that call for dialogue and working together, he said, based on the common values that help to ensure peaceful coexistence in a diverse world. It was in such a context, Al-Shehri added, that the modern international system was established under the auspices of the UN, comprising international organizations, groups and programs around which all peoples can converge. They include the UN Alliance of Civilizations, in which Islamic countries, through their scholars and thinkers, play an active role, he said.
“Among the main themes of this forum is the clarification of the facts of Islam that came as a mercy to the worlds, and our noble Prophet conveyed its values to all people,” Al-Shehri said.
On the other hand, “extremism and counter-extremism (around the world) tried to distort those Islamic values but with their positive openness they have reached the world, eliminated the attempts of distortion and quenched them in their infancy.”
He added: “Today, we are witnessing those attempts resuming, from one place to another, which unfortunately resulted in concepts, theories and slogans of Islamophobia.”
Al-Shehri also highlighted the solid foundation upon which the forum has been founded.
“The forum is also based on the guidance of the Constitution of Madinah, which our Prophet established in Madinah with religious diversity, highlighting the noble meanings of the wisdom of Islamic legislation in dealing with everyone,” he said.
“Islam was positively open to followers of religions to clarify its message calling for the good of humanity and to address any wrong concept, method or practice that does not serve understanding and coexistence of all in peace.”
The participants in the forum include “religious leaders who are completely independent of any orientations outside the religious framework,” Al-Shehri said, stressing that the MWL does not have any ideological or political goals and that gatherings such as the forum should be free of any goals “other than their lofty declared goal.”
Referring to invited guests of the forum, including senior representatives of other religions, he said: “The guests of this meeting are distinguished leaders who have been known to respect Muslims and stand with them on a number of issues with positions worthy of appreciation.”
By encouraging people of all faiths to communicate with each other, the forum is building bridges to help all participants achieve common goals, he added.