Charter of Makkah is Dr. Al-Issa’s contribution to making moderate Islam a popular idea

Story by  Aasha Khosa | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 11-07-2023
Dr Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa with Indonesian leaders
Dr Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa with Indonesian leaders


Aasha Khosa/New Delhi

Under Dr Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa’s leadership, the Charter of Makkah – a 30-point treatise for the Muslim world for creating a society that will reject terrorism, and extremism and connect Islam with other religions – has become the template for the promotion of moderate Islam whose followers can live with people of other faiths peacefully.

The Charter of Makkah was endorsed unanimously by an unprecedented group of the world’s leading Muslim scholars in the Holy City of Islam on May 28, 2019. Though some Muslim thinkers are opposed to it on the basis that “it’s based on a Western template” the Charter has already been celebrated on various international platforms for offering a Muslim perspective that accepts religious and cultural diversity to the world.

The Charter was signed by 1,200 muftis and scholars and more than 4,500 Islamic thinkers. It was adopted by the Islamic countries at the meeting of their foreign ministers in Niamey, Niger. The document has already become a reference in training imams in several countries.

Dr Al-Issa who was the Justice Minister of Saudi Arabia and close to the House of Sauds, so his influence in changing the image of the Kingdom, which is also custodian of the holy sites of Islam, is immense. The charter of Makkah is one of the major documents to deal with the growing perception in the world about Islam’s association with jihad, terrorism, and the hate of others. 

 Dr Al-Issa became the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League in 2016 and soon this organization was recognized as Saudi Arabia’s leading entity to fight extremist ideology. Its mission includes building relations with leaders from other faiths and building a consensus across the various denominations of Islam rejecting extremism, fundamentalism, and violence.

Al-Issa, who is also president of the Organization of Muslim Scholars, said the charter was welcomed and highly valued by non-Muslim religious figures as well, who described it as a representation of the enlightened Muslim vision in dealing with contemporary religious and intellectual issues.

The charter of Makkah begins with the principle of equality of humans as against the perceived notion among many Muslims of the superiority of their religion. It says, “All people, regardless of their different ethnicities, races, and nationalities, are equal under God and we reject religious and ethnic claims of preference.”

Celebrating the diversity of faiths, it says, “Differences among people in their beliefs, cultures, and natures are part of God’s will and wisdom.”

On the conflicts in the name of religion, the Charter says, “Religious and cultural diversity never justifies conflict. Humanity needs positive, civilized partnerships and effective interaction. Diversity must be a bridge to dialogue, understanding, and cooperation for the benefit of all humanity.”

The charter accepts the principle that God revealed Himself to all mankind and is the origin of all religious belief and “ its various messages and methods when practiced in their true form. We shall not define any religion by the false political practices of those claiming to be adherents.”

It calls all Muslims to work together to prevent destruction and benefit humanity. “We should establish a noble and effective alliance that goes beyond theory and empty slogans, and tackles the root causes of terrorism.” It calls for advancing laws to deter the promotion of hatred, the instigation of violence and terrorism, or a clash of civilizations, which foster religious and ethnic disputes.

On Islamophobia, the Charter says, “It results from an inability to truly understand Islam. The true understanding of Islam requires an objective view that is devoid of stereotypical and prejudicial notions, which are often projected by those falsely claiming to be true Muslims.”

Making a point on international diplomacy, the charter says, “Intervention in the internal affairs of countries is a flagrant violation of sovereignty. This includes the practice of political dominance through economic or non-economic means, the promotion of sectarian beliefs, and attempts to impose religious edicts (Fatwas) without respect for local circumstances, conditions, and social conventions. Regardless of the pretext, intervention can never be justified.”

On education, the charter says, “Educational institutions in Islamic communities have the responsibility of promoting centrism and moderation, especially among youth.”

Addressing the confusion of Muslims about their nationality and religion, the Charter says, “While citizens must faithfully pledge allegiance to their state, the state has requirements, too. It must ensure security and social peace, protect sanctuaries from desecration, and shield religious symbols from ridicule. These reflect the principle of mutual requirement, with rights for all elements of society, including religious and ethnic minorities.”

On Women’s rights – a problematic issue in Muslim societies – the charter says, “The empowerment of women should not be undermined by marginalizing their role, disrespecting their dignity, reducing their status, or impeding their opportunities, whether in religious, academic, political or social affairs. Their rights include equality of wages and opportunity.”

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On youth, it says: We must enhance the identity of Muslim youth, with its five pillars – religion, country, culture, history, and language – and protect it against exclusion. We must protect youth from the ideas of a clash of civilizations, and block efforts to mobilize against those with whom we intellectually disagree. We must combat intellectual extremism along with militancy, violence, or terrorism, by helping raise awareness among youth and guiding them according to the Islamic values of tolerance, peace, and harmonious coexistence. These values teach comprehension of the other, preservation of the other’s dignity and rights, and observation of the national laws in which one resides.