By Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran
16 October 2018
The Islamic world is groaning under the weight of extremist rhetoric.
This community with its population in the billions has not dedicated someone who supports the revival of religious discourse in a modern and balanced manner, which preserves the foundations and pillars of Muslim beliefs and removes the chains that have been placed on them.
For a long time I have believed that the state which is most capable of leading this project is Saudi Arabia, as it represents the Islamic as well as the civilized state together.
It safeguards the two Holy Mosques and other sacred locations. Its prosperity makes it more capable of focusing than any other Islamic state. Furthermore, it has been affected by violence and radicalism the most. The refined rhetoric of the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa, has often attracted my attention.
The most recent thing he’s called for is: “the establishment of a peace campaign by the three faiths in the city of Jerusalem, which can promote the road to peace by finding a common ground between religions,” during the conference on the United States and the Islamic world.
This invitation must be turned into a program of action to save humanity from extremist discourse and hatred and which exists among madmen of various faiths in the world and is not limited to Muslims.
Working on establishing peace between religions requires everyone to put aside aggressive discourse and deal with others who are different from them in a civilized and humane manner. This is the most desirable outcome humans could achieve after waging fierce religious and ethnic wars that claimed the lives of millions of people.
The most recent of these wars was the Second World War and the civil wars, which continue among small communities within the Islamic world as in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere in the region. Human history, however, is also full of models of coexistence, particularly among monotheistic religions.
In 2006, Professor Mohammed Arkoun led an interesting project titled The History of Islam and Muslims in France from the Middle Ages to the Present Day (Michel Alban Publications), which sought to “highlight the bright areas of the Mediterranean Basin region on both its northern and southern sides or from its western and eastern sides”.
“It is well known that writing history from a sectarian or national point of view is what led to the consolidation of this ideological view that elevates one side over the other and degrades others, if not despise and reject them. Writing history following the footsteps of previous ideological myths aims to support the old favoritism view of each class, collective memory or religious sect that sanctified itself and demeaned the other within the framework of the closed dogmatic view of their own glorification”.
Arkoun took the example of Ramon Llull during the 13th century and wrote: “The cities of Mallorca and Béjaïain in Spain and Algeria situated in the Christian and Islamic spheres belonged to two groups that were free from the domination of the great authoritarian capitals on the continent. They were centers of knowledge and economic life in the western region of the basin”.
“Ramon Llull was the son of a Catalan settler. He was born in Palma Mallorca after it was annexed in 1230 by Muslims, and he thus became the greatest model of knowledge and multi-cultural discussion of cultures, religions and languages. He has become an intersection point between Christianity and Islam, Latin and Arabic languages, the European culture and the Arab-Islamic culture, his importance and fruitfulness of his multifaceted experience”.
When looking at the history of Muslims at al-Tabari and Ibn Kathir and the "History of Baghdad" of Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, and the process of transformations and developments of the Islamic state we can also find bright patterns of coexistence of Muslims with other religions, depending on the political circumstances, the policy of each caliph and the path of each stage.
As such, history has interesting models of comprehension between the East and the West, but it was not solidly established, instead it was disjoint and vast without a philosophical and intellectual cornerstone that helps understanding have a solid foundation to launch projects of dialogue and discussions between the symbols of religions and their followers.
The role played by the league represented by the Secretary General is characterized by the quality of the proposed discourse. This discourse which is outside all partisan noise, historical agitation or conceptual fossilization derives from Sharia with an interest in civic character and the ability to understand the different recipients around the world.
We now rely on wise men in this world which is full of the obsession to kill, addiction of terrorism and the desire to master hatred and violence. May God be with us.
Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.