At the opening of the proceedings of the International Islamic Conference

Jumada I 1426 ah / Tammuz (July) 2005 ce


Distinguished scholars,

Honoured ladies and gentlemen,

May peace, God’s mercy and blessings be upon you,

It is a real pleasure for me to welcome you at your meeting today in Amman, to discuss the different issues and challenges facing the Muslim Ummah (nation). You are most welcome, guests and scholars, whom we hold in respect and appreciation.

Dear Brethren,

Over the ages, Islam has established a basis for better human relations between individuals, nations and peoples, irrespective of differences in religion, colour or gender, on the principles of tolerance and dialogue with others; this was meant for the good of mankind, everywhere, at all times. Yet today, the Ummah is defamed, abused and falsely accused when it comes to discussions of the Ummah’s role in this age.

As a start, let us confess that we, as Muslims, have not always fulfilled our obligations towards our religion and towards ourselves. Some Muslims, or some of those who promulgate ‘Islamic’ slogans, have actually defamed Islam and Muslims, and harmed Muslims, intentionally or non-intentionally.

The divisions between the people of the Ummah; the acts of violence and terrorism practiced by some groups and organizations; the situation in Iraq, Pakistan and other Muslim countries; the accusations of apostasy, and the killing of Muslims in the name of Islam; none of these things correspond to the principles and spirit of Islam, and Islam disavows them. Such practices generate turmoil and corruption on earth, because they give justification to non-Muslims to judge Islam according to acts that Islam rejects, and subsequently to interfere in the affairs of Muslims.

We find it incumbent upon us as Muslims, whose hearts are filled with love for God and His Prophet, to be the first to challenge these unjust campaigns to which Islam is presently subjected, and to be the first to call on fellow Muslims to reject discord and to unite their words and their positions. Thus came the Amman Message which was launched by us during the holy month of Ramadan last year, from the Hashimiyin Mosque in Amman. Then we called for convening this conference in which representatives of the eight Muslim schools of thought (Mathahib) congregate from different countries to discuss the many issues and challenges to the Ummah and to specify complete and integral solutions to them.

The first, and most important of these challenges, is to unify the position of the adherents to the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Mathahib): the four Sunni Mathahib; the Ja’fari and Zaydi Shi’i Mathahib; the Ibadi Mathab, and Thahiri Mathab. We can begin by acknowledging that, in the practice of their faith, the adherents to each of these eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence are practicing true Islam, and that declaring any one of them an apostate is impermissible and unacceptable. Disagreement among scholars (‘ulama) is a blessing. So let us all follow the example of Imam Al-Shafi’s’s saying: ‘our school of thought is right, but might be wrong, and other schools of thought are wrong, but might be right’.

Great Muslim scholars and trusted Muslim authorities issued fatwas, which are familiar to you, affirming that this principle is right and acceptable, because the adherents to the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence are in agreement on the fundamental principles of Islam: they all believe in God the Almighty and Sublime, the One and Unique, that the noble Qur’an is the word of God revealed, and that our master, Muhammad, may peace be upon him, is a Prophet and Messenger unto all mankind. All agree on the five pillars of Islam: the two testaments of faith (shahadatayn), ritual prayer (salat), almsgiving (zakat), fasting the month of Ramadan (sawm), the pilgrimage (Hajj) to the Sacred House of God, and also on the foundations of belief: belief in God and His Angels, His Scriptures, His Messengers and the Day of Judgment, in Providence, in good and in evil.

Disagreement between scholars is only with respect to some of the ancillary branches of religion (furu’) which came into being after the death of our master, the Prophet, peace be upon him. These disagreements originated with matters pertaining to worldly and political affairs of the Caliphate. The fatwas of the prominent scholars of the Islamic Ummah also accepted as legitimate all forms of worship practiced by adherents to the eight Islamic Mathahib in accordance with their own Mathab, and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar’s fatwa included that moderate Sufi thought is acceptable as long as it is based upon the two testaments of faith that ‘God is the One and Unique and that Muhammad is God’s messenger’ and as long as it adheres to the five pillars of Islam and the Holy Qur’an.

Acknowledgement of the schools of jurisprudence within Islam also means adhering to a fundamental methodology in the issuance of fatwas, and in the defining of who is qualified for this undertaking. This, with God’s will, would end the practice of defaming others as apostates and close the door on ignorant people who practice killing and terrorism, of which Islam is in truth completely innocent, in the name of Islam.

Honourable scholars,

You meet today with many issues and challenges facing the Ummah on your agenda. You are, with God’s guidance, qualified to deal with these issues and challenges, and to define Islam’s position on each one of them. Primary among our obligations as Muslims is to present to the world the true essence of Islam?the religion of moderation, forgiveness, mercy and rational, objective dialogue. Islam is not a religion of violence and terrorism, or prejudice and isolation. God Almighty says:

Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way. Lo! Thy lord is best aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is best aware of those who go aright. (Al-Nahl, 16:125).

Islam provided us with rules to best protect human rights and to guard man’s freedom and his human dignity, irrespective of his religion, gender or colour. God Almighty says:

O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! The noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware. (Al-Hujurat, 49:13).

Islam emphasizes the need to respect the rights of minorities and non-Muslims who live within Muslim society. We have a clear methodology by which to honour relations, conventions and agreements between Muslims and other nations and peoples. God Almighty says:

And keep the covenant. Lo! Of the covenant it will be asked. (Al-Isra’, 17:34).

Islam does not accept prejudice and isolation, but calls upon us to seek scholarship and knowledge. God Almighty says:

Are those who know equal with those who know not? (Al-Zumar, 39:9)

It also calls us to be open to others, and to benefit from their experiences in all fields of life. God Almighty says:

Ask the people of the Remembrance if ye know not. (Al-Nahl, 16:43).

Distinguished Scholars,

I am confident that you are aware of all the challenges facing Muslims today, and of the malicious attacks on Islam, through slander and misrepresentation, due to some Muslims’ lack of understanding of the essence of their religion, and the ignorance of many non-Muslims of the nature and noble values of our religion. From this arises the importance of your role, and the responsibility you shoulder in unifying the Islamic Ummah, with all its schools of jurisprudence, and presenting the truth about our faith and its great message.

May God, the Almighty and Sublime, grant all of us success in serving our religion and our Ummah, and in unifying the Islamic nation.

May peace, God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.