World faith leaders convene in Saudi Arabia for first time in ground-breaking conference to build bridges with Muslim leaders

Muslim World League

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The Muslim World League (MWL) – the world’s largest Islamic NGO – has today completed the Forum on Common Values among Religious Followers event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia between 10-11 Shawal 1443 H, corresponding to 11-12 May 2022.

The Forum, for the first time in history, convened within Saudi Arabia Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist religious leaders alongside Islamic leaders to explore shared values and a common global vision for interfaith cooperation. Approximately 100 religious leaders attended the first of its kind conference, including over 15 Rabbis.

Attendees and speakers at the conference included:

  • HE Muhammad Al-Issa: Secretary General of the Muslim World League
  • Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni (of Rome)
  • Cardinal Pietro Parolin: Vatican Secretary of State
  • His Holiness Bartholomew I: Ecumenical patriarch and spiritual leader to 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide
  • His Eminence Ivan Zoria: Archbishop of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine
  • Father Daniil Matrusov: Representative of the Patriarch of Russia
  • Banagala Upatissa Thero: President of the (Buddhist) Mahabodhi society of Sri Lanka
  • Pastor, Rev. Walter Kim: President, National Association of Evangelicals (United States)
  • Ven Swami Awdheshanand Giri: Chairman, Hindu Dharam Acharya Sabha (India)
  • Rabbi Moise Lewin: Special Adviser to the Chief Rabbi of France
  • His Eminence Sheikh Dr. Shawki Allam: Grand Mufti of Egypt
  • Rabbi David Rosen: Director, International Interreligious Affairs, AJC (American Jewish Committee)
  • Ambassador Rashad Hussain: United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
  • Ahmed Hasan Taha: Chairman, Iraqi Jurisprudence Council
  • Archbishop Prof. Thomas Paul Schirrmacher: Secretary-General, World Evangelical Alliance (Germany)

Areas of agreement between conference participants:

  • The need to respect religious diversity and the unique characteristics of every religion/sect.
  • Human rights are universal irrespective of religion, gender or race – and enforced through international law.
  • The need for continued dialogue between religious leaders, institutions and communities to help pre-empt and defuse civilizational clashes.
  • The need for religious leaders to engage in inter and muti faith work to counter extremist ideologies.

Recommendations from the Conference:

  • Relevant national institutions and United Nations organs must do more to confront all forms of discrimination and exclusion against religious, cultural, and ethnic minorities; And work to create strong and effective legislation in doing so.
  • Various platforms of influence; especially the media and social media platforms must remain mindful of the moral responsibility entrusted upon them.
  • We appeal to all countries and the international community to do all they can to provide adequate protection for places of worship, to ensure free access to them, to preserve their spiritual role, and to distance them from intellectual and political conflicts and sectarian strife.
  • Launching of a global forum called: “Religious Diplomacy Forum for Building Bridges” based on the influential role of religions in human societies, and the important role of religious followers in bridging the relationship between religions and cultures for the purpose of peacebuilding.
  • To work on issuing an international compilation under the name: “The Encyclopaedia of Common Human Values”.
  • Inviting the United Nations General Assembly to adopt an international day for “Common Human Values” that celebrates the commonalities between religions and cultures around the world

Amongst the Conference’s key goals are the following:

  • Establish a set of values common to all major world religions, and a vision for enhancing understanding, cooperation, and solidarity amongst world religions.

HE Muhammad Al-Issa, Secretary General of the host organization, the Muslim World League, said:

“The aims of this conference aligns to the values of Muslim World League, which strives to build humanitarian partnerships for a more cooperative and peaceful world and more harmonious communities. This conference tackles some of the major issues of our day. As the world’s largest Islamic NGO, headquartered in the birthplace of Islam in Saudi Arabia, we have a special responsibility to do this work. Whether it is to tackle climate change, to support refugees and vulnerable communities around the world, or simply to spread messages of peace and co-existence, the kind of interfaith trust and cooperation this event is fostering is desperately needed to support those real-world goals.”

The forum supports the Muslim World League’s mission to strengthen its global role as an independent international non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting Islamic values that call for peace, as stated in its statute and bylaws. 


About the Muslim World League
The Muslim World League is an international non-governmental Islamic organization based in the Holy City of Makkah. It aims to present the true Islam and its tolerant principles, provide humanitarian aid, extend bridges of dialogue and cooperation with all, engage in positive openness to all cultures and civilizations, follow the path of centrism and moderation to realize the message of Islam and ward off movements calling for extremism, violence and exclusion for a world full of peace, justice and coexistence.

About H.E. Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa
H.E. Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa is the head of the world’s largest Islamic NGO – The Muslim World League (spanning 1200 Islamic scholar across 139 countries). He is also one of the world’s foremost Islamic scholars and theologians and convened over 6000 global Islamic religious leaders in Mecca in 2019 to endorse the Makkah Charter, one of the most important documents in recent Islamic theological history, outlining a universal set of human rights and values drawn from Islamic scripture. Dr Issa was also the most senior Islamic cleric ever to have visited Auschwitz in Poland out of respect for the victims of the Holocaust.

For interview requests or further information on the conference, please contact:
Elina Kuusio, [email protected]. You can find more photographs from the event here.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.

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