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First multifaith gathering held on Arabian Peninsula in 1,000 years

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The forum included 90 faith leaders in all, with Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus

In contrast to a rhetoric of conflict, the forum proposes a unifying vision

The Muslim World League held the Forum on Common Values Among Religious Followers this week in Saudi capital Riyadh.

A multifaith event with leaders from around the world, the forum included 90 faith leaders in all, with Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus. 

Delegates included Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni of Rome, His Holiness Bartholomew I, His Eminence Sheik Dr. Shawki Allam and US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain. 

It is said to be the first multifaith gathering held on the Arabian Peninsula in more than a millennium. 

The Forum issued a Declaration on the Common Human Values covering diverse areas of agreement among those in attendance, which also stated the purposes of the Forum: 

“To reach a universal consensus within the context of a common civilisational vision that would enhance cooperation and trust between global spiritual leaders, leverage their commonalities by placing them at the forefront of common principles of human values, promote the values of moderation and harmony, effectively support efforts to advance tolerance and peace, and set rational intellectual frameworks to immunise against the dangers of extremist ideology and behaviour —regardless of its source.” 

In contrast to a rhetoric of conflict being natural to Man and that we are violent by nature, the Forum instead put forth a unifying vision of Man:

“The thesis of an inevitable civilisational clash, and attempts to achieve religious, cultural, political and economic advantage over others without respecting rights or ethics, are forms of extremism and arrogance, and an embodiment of racism driven by a superiority complex. 

“It demonstrates an ignorance about the power that the Creator possesses over us – which is evident from human history. The true advantage (irrespective of which discipline it is achieved in) comes organically through ‘ethical’ power that is made possible through tangible, sincere and noble intentions.” 

The Declaration included a series of findings and recommendations, covering extremism, the responsibilities of the United Nations and national institutions in protecting freedom, and the moral responsibility entrusted in those groups which influence public opinion – particularly the media. 

Additionally, it announced new initiatives including a project to create The Encyclopedia of Common Human Values and the global “Religious Diplomacy Forum for Building Bridges,” tasked with bridging beyond dialogue relationships among diverse religions and cultures of the world.

Muslim World League is an international non-governmental Islamic organisation. In addition to its work in presenting Islam and Islamic principles, it works to provide humanitarian aid and hold conferences, seminars and meetings around the world with opinion leaders and intellectuals from diverse faiths to address topics of interest to Muslims and others. 

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