Imams Online attended the summit of global religious leaders in Morocco on the theme of the rights of religious minorities under Islam. The summit, held between 25-27 January, has brought together 300 faiths leaders and influential thinkers.
It is the first major summit of its kind regarding the Charter of Medina, written in 622 C.E. The summit was hosted by Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco.
In recent times, we have seen attacks on religious minorities in the Muslim world. ISIS have caused many Christians to flee their homes. They have killed and captured Yazidis. The Jewish community has also expressed concern about their safety, given some targeted attacks against them in Europe.
Explaining the background to the summit, Shaykh Bin Bayyah told the summit that extremists were committing violence against Christians, Jews and other faith minorities under the banner of “Jihad”. “There is a sickness right now in the world, but we have treatments within Islam“, said Shaykh bin Bayyah.
In his inaugural address to the summit, the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, said that co-existence and cultural diversity is celebrated in Islam. Moroccan history is full of rich examples of celebrating multi-ethnicity. It is therefore befitting that such summit of its kind is hosted by the kingdom of Morocco. “The many facets of Islam’s peaceful coexistence with believers in other religions have had beneficial effects in all spheres, including business, trade industry and the exchange of ideas“, said the King Mohammed VI
Islam has therefore enshrined the rights of religious minorities, and promoted religious tolerance and diversity. The formation of an “ummah” (one community) in the Medina Charter, shows one of the ways in which the Prophet combated violence and terror in his time.
Peace, amongst the faith groups more than 1400 years ago was achieved in Medina, not through the might of arms but through “tolerance, love, and belief in co-existence”, said the Minister of Religious Affairs of Pakistan. Peace in our time can only be achieved through recognising the multi-ethnic, multi-belief and multi-cultural society that is celebrated by Islam.
The extremist groups such as ISIS, Daesh, Boko Haram are effectively presenting a violent ideology based on their twisted reading of religious texts, cut off from their temporal and objective contexts. The leaders from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and many other countries reaffirmed that protection of religious minorities is a human rights issue, and must be a priority for the Muslim world.
This radical movements have shifted to political activism using violence to impose their ideas on people. Muslim scholars were clear on their commitment that religious minorities living in Muslim countries must enjoy safety and security unconditionally. Conflicts, tensions and divisions amongst faiths feeding animosity must be resolved through mediation, diplomacy, and dialogue. The Charter of Medina provides an exemplary foundation for peaceful co-existence between diverse communities.
The aims is to end the summit with a new declaration, rooted in Islamic law, which may reaffirm, in modern words, the rights of religious minorities living in Muslim lands.
I am brimming with hope and full of faith that the work of the summit will be relied upon by Muslim countries.
By Qari Muhammad Asim
Senior Editor – Imams Online
Head Imam – Makkah Masjid, Leeds