The 55-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is the body representing the worlds 1.2 billion Muslims. It was formed in 1969 after the burning of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, with a view that Islamic governments should consult together with a view to promoting close cooperation and mutual assistance in the economic, scientific, cultural and spiritual fields, inspired by the immortal teachings of Islam. Foreign ministers of OIC member countries meet annually, while summit conferences occur every three years.
In his address to the 1994 OIC summit meeting in Casablanca, Morocco, His Majesty King Hussein called for Muslims to embrace openness, progress and dialogue in order to revitalize the Islamic nation. He stressed the need for Muslims to emphasize the civilized and tolerant message of Islam, which has been tarnished around the world by an unfortunate fear of Islam, and called for all Muslims to reject the use of religion to justify acts of terror.
An issue of special importance and some misunderstanding at the conference was the Jordanian position regarding the Islamic Holy Sites in Jerusalem. In the Jordan-Israel Treaty of Peace, special recognition is given to the role of Jordan in the Holy Sites, and Israel promises to give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines during the permanent status negotiations. This was misunderstood by some to be an attempt to undermine legitimate Palestinian rights in the Holy City. In his address to the conference, King Hussein explained that Jordan is merely holding the Holy Sites in trust until the Palestinians are able to assume their duties. In the context of the current political situation, Jordanian failure to assume temporary custodianship of the shrines would leave a vacuum of power which would inevitably lead to Israeli domination of the Islamic shrines in Jerusalem.
Address to the Seventh Organization of the Islamic Conference Summit
December 14, 1994
(Translated from the original Arabic)
Prayers and peace be upon the Faithful Arab Hashemite Messenger and on his House and Companions.
Your Majesty, King Hassan II,
Chairman of this Conference,
Your Majesties, Excellencies and Highnesses,
Peace be upon you and Allah's mercy and His blessings.
I am honored to be with you, at this conference, in the cherished land of the brotherly Kingdom of Morocco, at a time when the hopes and aspirations of our Muslim Ummah* , everywhere, depend upon the outcome of its summit conferences. It saddens me, however, that until now, even at this venerated level, we have not been successful in fulfilling these hopes and aspirations. We are privileged to belong to this Ummah, to be able to defend its right to freedom, justice and dignity, and to labor for the resurrection of a spirit of challenge, that may confront the massive tides of change in these difficult times. Therefore, I join with the Ummah in praying to Almighty God that this conference will prove successful, and will revive the solidarity so desperately needed, particularly in the face of such a long period of estrangement and antagonism, which has weakened those bonds of unity that represent the good of the Ummah and the honor and glory of its peoples, and serve to strengthen the stability of the Ummah to confront those complex circumstances which have become a burden on it, the consequences of which still envelop us. There is no alternative but to confront these circumstances and deal with them through awareness, determination and solidarity.
Let us remember, brothers, that we live in an era of blocs and developing alliances which have lifted the barriers and removed the obstacles that hindered integration, cooperation and coordination, despite existing diversities and disparities among their respective constituents. There can be no room within such blocs and alliances for factions, which are incapable of effecting any real impact on socio-economic, cultural and political proceedings where the pace of events is such that it cannot linger for the disheartened, the apprehensive and the inflexible. If the people and countries of such developing or developed blocs and allianceswho, not bound by common religion, language or culture, and despite the existence of such basic disparities and conflicts which have afflicted their historyare capable of achieving unity, can we then justify to ourselves our current predicament, when we are a nation of one religion, one culture, and a common history? Is it not our right, as a nation, to enjoy such unity by establishing strong and effective institutions, and by putting forth well-defined specific plans for the future and implementing programs to enable us to reach our clearly defined goals?
Your Excellencies and Highnesses,
As I have mentioned in the past, our religion is not just behind us that we may merely refer back to, but it has always existed, and is also ahead of usin this sense we must move towards it. Understanding this concept correctly must be the first stage before advancing into the next century. To this end, we must move beyond the remnants of regression, and endeavor to resolve these disputes which prevent us from improving the present, before we can look toward an improved futurea future which ensures our existence in the civilized world as a united and dignified Ummah, that carries to the poor, the oppressed and the bewildered of this world the message of Islam as delivered to mankind by our forefather Muhammad, may Allah bless his soul, for he and his followers endured so much in upholding the banner of the faith in the call for the freedom of man from all forms of polytheism, slavery, and fear.
An Ummah which lives outside the modern age cannot, as such, have any vision for the future. Every age has a defining characteristic. Ours is one of dialogue. Changes and innovations can only be successfully understood and implemented in the spirit of the modern age, to ensure understanding and coexistence among the peoples of this world on the basis of mutual respect. In this spirit, new perspectives of balanced development can be achieved for all peoples of the world without fear of injustice, hunger or disease, and where their children cannot be deprived of just sleep in the absence of safety and security. Therefore, I emphasize that the Qur'an advocates dialogue as the correct path for mankind. To veer away from this path must be considered as nothing other than neglect of our duty to ourselves and to our Ummah. How could we explain this if we could not adhere to the call of the Almighty, now or in the future?
In this vein, I wish to outline to my brothers those aspects in which the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has been forthcoming in the calls for dialogue. For example, we have instructed the Royal Academy for Islamic Civilization Research (Aal-al Bait Foundation) to study, in depth, the aspects of interfaith dialogue. The Foundation organized two symposia; the first examined the Islamic-Christian dialogue and progressed in promoting greater understanding, although we feel we are still in the early stages of our quest to find the best means to achieve the desired effects. The second symposium involved a dialogue between the seven different schools of the Islamic faith, which are the four Sunni schools, the Ja'fari Shiite school, the Abadhia school and the Zayydiyya school. Participating scholars concluded that there existed between them a high degree of mutual agreement, which in turn served to overcome their earlier mutual doubts and fears. They declared that, by the Grace of Allah, they all belong to one faith, one Islam, which is indivisible, although minor differences may exist in some aspects. They further concluded that such differences do, in effect, enrich Islamic thought and enhance ijtihad**, to address modern issues in keeping with appropriate Islamic principles.
In the most recently held symposium, these scholars agreed to the establishment of an International Islamic Zakat Foundation to attend to issues which may confront the Ummah, such as natural disasters and famine. The funds collected under zakat*** would be pooled in the understanding that the Dar al-Islam is unified, where Muslims act as one in support of each other in such crises.
We believe that establishing a solid scientific base for dialogue requires a suitable atmosphere for Islamic scholars and scientists to continue the ijtihad in the path of our revered predecessors, and to improve upon our heritage of thought, which ensured the continuity of Islam as a beacon for the improvement and enlightenment of mankind, even in the darkest of times. To this end, we have recently established the Al al-Bait University, which will be Islamic in nature, teaching students from all countries and faiths. Its curriculum is based on the integration and interdependence of religious and non-religious courses, where the graduate will be knowledgeable in both modern specializations and Shari'a**** sciences.
Your Excellencies and Highnesses,
Before addressing those problems currently facing the Ummah, I wish to state the position of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with regard to two important issues which the Kingdom has addressed with enlightenment, patience and determination. The first is the peace process, launched at the Madrid Conference in 1991. The second, our role in the custodianship, restoration and preservation of the Ummah's Holy Shrines in Al-Quds Al-Sharif (Holy Jerusalem).
Regarding the peace process, my brothers are all aware of the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which, because of regional and international circumstances, continued for decades, and led to protracted human suffering, until those parties directly concerned agreed to reach a permanent and comprehensive solution, based on resolutions of international legitimacy, in particular the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The Madrid Conference began a new phase in the peace process from which we, with our brothers, hope to witness a just, comprehensive and lasting peace.
Our Palestinian brothers have already reached an agreement with the Oslo Accords, while our greater sister, Egypt, the human and ethical power of the Ummah in previous wars, had signed a treaty with the state of Israel years earlier.
We in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan have now also reached a peace treaty with the state of Israel. The treaty restores our sovereign rights on land, water and security, and forms a positive precedent, embodying international legal legitimacy. We hope the treaty will be emulated on other negotiated tracks. By doing so, we can reach a comprehensive peace, thereby strengthening our common objective, the achievement of which we have always striven. Moreover, this treaty emphasizes our commitment to all other regional and international treaties and agreements, and calls for the establishment of a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction, conventional or otherwise, in a stable and peaceful environment.
The second issue relates to the Holy Shrines. With the help of Allah, we have been able to direct the attention of the world to Jerusalem, as a cause not only of shrines, but also of people. With regard to the people, the Palestinian leadership is the sole legitimate representative, responsible for the restoration of Palestinian rights and territory, including Al-Quds Al-Sharif, in accordance with resolutions of all Arab Summits since the Rabat Resolution of 1974, of Islamic summits, and of those resolutions of international legitimacy.
With regard to the Holy Shrines, we must avoid conflicts and differences of opinion in explaining the positions of the concerned parties, for as Almighty God deemed, these Shrines have the affection of the faithful from all three monotheistic religions, and thus the import of spiritual coexistence. The faithful are grateful to the Almighty for the blessings of peace which they have been denied for so long, as a result of a failure to recognize the mutual significance of these Shrines. For the Almighty willed the faithful to meet, respect one another and compete for His piety.
I hereby declare, in clear terms, that we, as Hashemites and Jordanians, hold these Shrines in trust. We saved them with the blood of our sons in the 1948 War, and undertook three phases of their restoration in the name of the Ummah. It is a trust we still preserve, take care of and protect and we will execute our duties in the name of the Ummah until the status of the Shrines is addressed, in an appropriate and acceptable manner. As such, we acknowledge no sovereignty over these Shrines, save that of Almighty God. We do not belittle the right of our Palestinian Arab brothers toward these Shrines. We support their right and the right of the whole of Islamic Ummah to the custody of our Holy Shrines.
Yours Excellencies and Highnesses,
We, at this conference, are here in the interest of the Ummah to deliberate on the challenges confronting it. We must shoulder this responsibility in a courageous and clear manner before our people, and before the whole world. I would now like to refer to some of these challenges:
Firstly, many of those countries comprising the Ummah currently suffer backwardness, famine, siege, a failure in their development programs, and an inability to move forward. Moreover, they also suffer from erosion of their human and material resources. Therefore, I would propose that this august conference put forth a comprehensive plan for the remaining years of this century, to address the outstanding issues and problems confronting the Ummah, particularly with regard to its freedom, dignity and unity. A solution to these problems will firmly place our people on the correct path to resurrect their potential, and implement their development plans. Hopefully, this could be the first step toward a greater solidarity between the countries of this Ummah, enabling it to reassume its rightful place in civilization. I have no doubts about the future of this Ummah, its ability to revive the spirit of tolerance and freedom, to excel, and to renounce its past afflictions.
The second of these challenges concerns the promotion of the civilized message of Islam which had been held by our forebears as one of tolerance to the whole world. This must be promoted on a scientific basis reflecting the Qur'an, the Sunna***** and the innovative aspect of the Muslim mind. Regrettably, this challenge has recently assumed another darker dimension, that of a fear of Islamthus tarnishing its image and attributing to the faith matters which could not possibly be part of it. This can only be confronted effectively if we build our Muslim house on a foundation of awareness and fraternity, and unify our stand against the onslaughts which fail to differentiate between one Muslim and another.
It is incumbent upon our academic and cultural institutions to emphasize the concepts and teachings of the honorable human aspects of Islam, to enlighten the followers of other faiths. They should ensure that the Ummah seeks only to achieve the noble human goals which is the real essence of its message, and should demonstrate that the Ummah's culture is capable of participating in the human endeavor. They must further demonstrate that the Ummah can be an effective part of civilized dialogue in both the regional and international frameworks, whose impetus is derived from: "We sent thee not, but as a mercy for all creatures." Furthermore, they must demonstrate that this is an Ummah which clearly understands its heritage and is free, tolerant and open to the world, remembering Imam Ali when he said that there are two types of men: one is a brother in faith, the other is his peer in creation.
We are advocates of understanding and peace, and thus will not accept any form of hate or malice directed at Islam. Yet perhaps the most vivid example of this malice is currently occurring in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A failure to reach a just solution there has resulted in a growing crisis of confidence in, and also rendered meaningless, those ideals and declarations which are currently advanced in the world, such as equality, human rights, religious freedom and ethnic and religious plurality.
Similarly, events taking place in other countries, while not as heinous, nevertheless reveal the extent of double standards, and highlight the contradiction between declared positions and actual practices. We must heighten our awareness of such events and strive to put an end to them, utilizing all available resources and avenues of communication.
The third of these challenges is indeed a very serious one, and must be addressed with resolve and courage in the defense of our tolerant faith, for failure to do so would be inexcusable if we are not to stand alongside godless bigots and charlatans before Almighty God on the Day of Judgement. We cannot apportion blame to any of our brethren in this world caught in the trap of those who insult our faith, as long as we continue to ignore such injustices and insults made by those amongst us under the very mantle of the faith itself. We witness daily the loss of innocent Muslim lives in cruel conflicts all over the globe. Doubtless, we are partly responsible to those peoples to the same extent that we are also partly responsible for tarnishing the image of our Muslim Nation.
In this respect, we cannot ignore the protracted tragedy unfolding in Muslim Afghanistan following the end of foreign occupation. We are witnessing ongoing destruction and loss of life, where atrocities against the population continue to deprive them of stability, security and peace. It is neither acceptable nor a true reflection of the teachings of our faith, that we ignore our holy duties toward ourselves and our people. Those of our young men who, under the banner of Islam, went to Afghanistan to resist the occupation are now returning, under the very same banner, to destroy and ruin their own countries. This cannot be justified or tolerated.
Moreover, the murder of tourists in brotherly Egypt, and the conspiracy to commit murder in Turkey and elsewhere, in the name of Islam, is but an attempt to defile the image of Islam. It is, further, an attempt to undermine the economy of Egypt, thereby leading to poverty, despair and ruin. This can only be perceived as a provocation to us all and, thus, must induce us to defend our true and tolerant faith. Equally, we condemn the slaughter of the innocent, the arbitrary targeting of scholars and intellectuals, and the outrageous murder of nuns in Algeria, this country whose children were celebrating their independence day after their fathers and grandfathers fought one of the greatest battles of jihad that our Nation has witnessed in the modern age. We view this as a further attempt to tarnish the image of Islam and the faith. The cultivation and trafficking of narcotics in some of our Muslim countries and the rest of the world, resulting in the destruction of the spiritual and social fabric of all societies, is sinful and abhorrent. Trading in unlawful or unsanctioned funds, and associating with those who live and operate outside of the legal framework of society, by some of our brethren within the Ummah, is another matter which cannot be ignored, and must be opposed and resisted vehemently.
Our fundamental responsibility to the Ummah makes meeting these challenges of primary importance. It is our dutya responsibility from which we must not shirkto make a stand against those who claim the monopoly of truth and justice, or those amongst us who encourage terror and violence, whether state, organization or individual. Ignoring any or all of this would constitute ingratitude to the Ummah, its faith and religion, and would illustrate men's fear of one another in the earthly world rather than a rightful fear of God in Heaven. As such, we cannot categorize as martyrs in jihad******, those amongst the anguished and despairing, particularly the young, who die, misguided by the aforementioned advocates of terror and violence; for we will all be accountable for the young before Almighty God on our Day of Judgement.
We must resist, with renewed vigor, all forces of darkness alien to Islam, through the spread of education, increased awareness of the faith, and alleviation of hunger, poverty and unemployment among the poor. This cannot be possible other than through peace, security and stability, and enhanced cooperation and solidarity, from within our Muslim nation.
Your Excellencies and Highnesses,
Now, more than ever we must defend and exemplify our religion as one of tolerance. In the march of humanity, Islam is the ultimate embodiment of morality, justice, freedom and the dignity of man. Muhammad, may Almighty God bless his soul, called upon mankind to fulfill his mission through noble-mindedness, through which means, combined with thought and dialogue, we may rejoin the march of civilization toward a new era of Muslim enlightenment, thereby achieving justice, liberty and equality among all citizens.
Your Excellencies and Highnesses,
May I take this opportunity to express my gratitude and deep appreciation to my Brother, His Majesty King Hassan II, for hosting this Islamic Conference, for extending his gracious invitation to all the leaders of the Muslim Ummah, and for his tireless efforts toward the successful conclusion of the conference. I salute and thank the people and government, of the brotherly Kingdom of Morocco for their warm welcome and hospitality, and all those who took part in the preparation of this conference, at all levels.
Peace be upon you, and Allah's mercy and His blessings.
Address to the Seventh Organization of the Islamic Conference Summit
December 14, 1994
* The Ummah is the nation, or worldwide community, of Muslims.
** Ijtihad is the extrapolation of the principles of the Quran and the Sunna to situations which are new or unique.
*** Zakat is the giving up of a portion of the wealth one may possess, in order to purify or legitimize what one retains. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and is in effect a tax on ones possessions. Zakat may be paid directly to the poor as alms, to travelers in need, to those serving the cause of Islam, or to the state to be used in benevolent works.
**** Sharia is the canonical law of Islam. It is derived from the Quran, the Sunna of Prophet Muhammad, qiyas (analogy), and ijma (popular consensus of the community).
***** The Sunna is the spoken and acted example of Prophet Muhammad.
****** Jihad is the concept of struggle to protect and defend the Islamic Ummah.