[These are my notes from the Muslim World League’s 2nd conference on cultural rapprochement between the United States and the Muslim world held in New York City October 3-4, 2018. These notes summarize my impression of selected highlights of the presentations and are not an attempted transcription.]
Dr. Abdullah bin Mahfudh Ibn Bayyah. Chairman of emirates fatwa council and president of the forum for promoting peace in Muslim societies.
The holy Quran calls on those who differ to seek a starting point for agreement. Islamâ€™s way of looking at things is to weigh benefits and harm. Any ruling that goes from benefit to harm from justice to injustice has nothing to do with religion whatsoever. We want for all religions and all their adherents to move from mere acknowledgement of the other to knowing the other. We have inaugurated the alliance of virtues or of shared values inspired by the alliance of ethical businessmen from the time of the prophet. Our message to humanity is love, peace, and friendship. We believe that this is possible as long as we do not despair of Godâ€™s grace or of one another. Since its founding the United States has promoted many values in community with Islam. Defining a concept such as freedom can lead to confusion. As Muslims we value freedom but not in a way that leads to chaos. With the approach of Columbus Day it is appropriate to note that the first member of Columbusâ€™s crew to spot land on the voyage was a sailor who died as a Muslim in Morocco.
Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Alissa. Muslim World League (MWL) Secretary-General.
In this meeting we are free to discuss new issues. All religions are exposed to extremism because all have elements who think they have a monopoly on the religion and the have pretexts that change the holy scripture and attack the values of the religion. To confront Islamophobia it behooves us to make known the true Islam that promotes forgiveness and tolerance. The motives behind the distortion of religion is political ambition. Religion cannot be imposed, and true religiosity understands the wisdom of God is in all religions. The MWL has always understood the importance of not isolating children from the world. We must totally reject all forms of racism and bigotry. â€œThey have what they have and you have what you have and donâ€™t ask about what they are doing.â€ We want a peaceful and just solution for the Palestinian problem from the table of negotiation and nothing else.
Important Communication Issues Between the U.S. and the Muslim World (Immigration, Minorities, Religious Identity and Integration, as well as Islamophobia.)
Dr. Bawa Jain (Secretary General for the World Council of Religious Leaders)
There was a young Saudi in America who in either venue tells people what they want to hear.
Mr. Mohammad Al-Sammak (Secretariat General, The Islamic / Christian Spiritual Summit)
Freud has a theory of the narcissism of differences, that no matter how small they are, we make them a major matter if they are our differences. 11% of all Americans now believe all Muslims are anti-American.
Bridging the Religious and Cultural Gap
Dr. Bob Roberts (Founder Glocal.net) The Israeli-Palestinian Peace:
Every religion is everywhere. How do we build bridges? I used to be afraid of Muslims. I overcame it by becoming friends with Muslims. I love Shaikh ibn Bayyah. He would make a great Baptist pastor. I built relationships with Muslims in my area. My tribe, the Baptists, are the strongest driving force behind Islamophobia. We are building Baptist Muslim retreats around the world. After retreats we must visit one anotherâ€™s homes. We must switch from interfaith to multi-faith. You donâ€™t have to compromise your belief; just be respectful. That we get alongÂ because we agree on everything is baby faith. To respect the right to disagree must be the objective. Until I say the same thing in public that I say in private I am not transparent. As a child of God I should be just as concerned about Lebanon or Syria as I am about my own country. We deal with imams and pastors because we want to reach their congregations. Our primary concern as Christians is love and the primary concern of Islam is peace. Those concepts go together.
Mr. Marwan Faouri (Secretary-General of the Global Forum for Moderation) Cultural and Historical Polemics: â€œUnderstanding Diversity and Pluralismâ€
The Palestinian issue is the central issue and the test of rapprochement.
John Duke Anthony. President and CEO National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.
More than 70 times the U.S. has cast a veto in the UN. More than 40 times it has cast a veto in defense of Israel. If the terrorists have done more to harm the image of Islam than anything else, Americaâ€™s support of Israel has done more to harm the image of America than anything else.
Historical Role Models of Cultural Exchange Between East and West
Dr. Uchenna Ekwo. Center for Media and Peace Initiatives.
In any newsroom there are people proud to be war journalists but there are no peace journalists.
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute