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Grand mufti calls for acceptance of other viewpoints


Walaa Hawari | Arab News —


Sunday 5 July 2009 (12 Rajab 1430)




RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh said Saturday that cooperation and acceptance of other viewpoints and not forcing a singular point of view are necessary if society is to benefit.


“The ulema and Islamic scholars are willing to answer questions, listen to advice, and discuss and debate for the benefit of people. The idea is to cooperate by accepting other viewpoints and not enforcing one point of view for the sake of the unity of society,” he said at the opening of the largest Certified Trainers Forum for Promoting Dialogue.


“Losing communication with the new generation, the children and the family is what we are facing in society now and we need to work on it,” said the grand mufti in his speech, entitled “The Islamic Principles of Dialogue.” He added that dialogue is something basic in Islam.


Al-Asheikh said dialogue could play a major role in strengthening cooperation between members of society. “A person engaging in dialogue, with all his intellectual and physical power, must work on strengthening society, not on destroying it,” he said, adding that it should be based on the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah.


The mufti said participants of dialogue forums should have sound thinking and hearts full of goodness. Dialogue should not be used to create chaos and confusion in society. He emphasized the role of the media in strengthening the unity of society and deepening the love of Islam and the leadership.


Minister of Information Abdul Aziz Al-Khojah talked about the “role of the media in promoting a culture of dialogue.” He said there are verses in the Qur’an that promote and urge dialogue. “Women are given such rights in the Qur’an,” said Al-Khojah.


The minister also mentioned the role that the new electronic media is playing in enhancing culture and the right of dialogue, regardless of the conventional media institutes’ acceptance or rejection of these new modes. “Change and development is a condition in the media-making industry,” said Al-Khojah, adding that steps are being taken toward establishing an independent channel dedicated to dialogue.


Sessions over the following days will include topics such as the importance of mosques in promoting dialogue and the role of universities and the ministries of education and information in promoting dialogue.


The three-day forum is organized by the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue (KACND) and comprises 10 sessions.


Speaking about the center, KACND Vice Secretary-General Fahd Al-Sultan said: “Over 1,200 certified trainers have been trained at KACND.” The center aims to promote a culture of dialogue, tolerance and moderation as well as gain and implement new means of communication between the center and different strata of society. In order to achieve such objectives, the center has established two programs: “The Ambassador Program for Cross-Culture Dialogue” and “The Family Dialogue Program”.


“In our opinion, the number is still limited as we are aiming to reach everyone and all strata of society,” said Amal Al-Moallami, central trainer at KACND. “As the third national dialogue meeting, which was held in Madinah in 2004, was about women, the participation of women at this meeting was noted. The number of women participants is equal to that of men unlike the previous two years,” said Al-Moallami.







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