MAKKAH — Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh called for intensified efforts to address the misuse of religion for political designs. He underscored that this is significant in light of the spread of heresies, growing cases of hate speech and attempts to distort Islam, especially when some Islamic groups resort to the political exploitation of religion as a means to achieve their goals even at the expense of religion.

The minister said this while inaugurating the International Islamic Conference on “Communication and Integration with the Departments of Religious Affairs, Ifta and Sheikhdoms in the World,” which kicked off here on Sunday. The ministry is organizing the two-day conference under the patronage of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.

Around 150 eminent Islamic scholars, muftis, religious leaders, thinkers, heads of Islamic centers and association and academics from universities from 85 countries around the world are participating in the conference.

Delivering the Kingdom’s speech, Al-Sheikh noted that the conference embodies the significant meaning of consultation and is held in Saudi Arabia, which has embraced this great principle since its inception by King Abdul Aziz, saying that Saudi Arabia adopts the true message of Islam and spreads the principles of justice, mercy and moderation in an authentic approach that has become a model to follow.

The minister referred to the importance of the conference that focus on consultation and cooperation so as to serve the moderate centrist Islam approach in light of the increasing intensity of hate speech and extremism and adopting some corrupt approaches that affected Islam and its principles of justice.

Addressing the conference, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Hissein Brahim Taha highlighted that the conference tackles an issue that lies at the core of the pan Islamic body’s primary mission, which is to strengthen Islamic unity, advocate Islamic values, and achieve integration in all areas to serve the interests of the people.

“The communication and integration conference comes in light of the many challenges facing the Islamic Ummah, including political developments, intellectual challenges, and aggressive tendencies to distort the image of Islam,” he said while underscoring the need to stand up to combat these hostile tendencies and ideologies. He also stressed the need to foster the concept of Islamic unity, which adopts a civilized, cultural and human unity based on cooperation, cohesion, interaction and the enrichment of human civilization in all fields of education, culture, thought, and economy.

Taha emphasized that Saudi Arabia’s hosting of this important conference confirms its position as a real actor in supporting the positive directions of the Islamic Ummah and working for its renaissance. He appreciated King Salman and the Crown Prince for the tremendous support they provide to OIC in various fields, saying that this contributed to the success of its mission to serve Islam and Muslims.

In his speech, Supreme Mufti of Kazakhstan Nauryzbai Kazhy Taganuly called up on the Muslim nations to adopt a joint statement to condemn the despicable events in terms of the recent incidents of burning and desecration of the Holy Qur’an in several European countries.

Addressing the delegates, Dr. Mohammed Matar Al-Kaabi, chairman of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in the UAE, said that participation in this conference came for communication and integration between scholars, muftis, religious leaders and officials involved in religious discourse in the world. “This gathering comes amid serious challenges that afflict the human values called for by the divine messages, and endorsed by sound educational curricula, namely the faith values,” he said.

On his part, the Grand Mufti of Mauritania and Imam of the Great Mosque Sheikh Ahmed Al-Murabit Al-Shanqeeti praised the Kingdom's efforts under the leadership of King Salman and the Crown Prince in supporting major issues pertaining to Muslims across the world. “This conference touches on an urgent need for the entire Islamic nation to face emerging developments and changes in complex modern issues of which the solution requires insight into the origins of Islamic law, its rules and purposes, and knowledge of its aspects and significance,” he added.

After the inaugural session, Minister Al-Sheikh attended the first working session, chaired by Dr. Saleh bin Saad Al-Suhaimi, faculty member at the Islamic University. There are eight sessions that discuss seven major topics of the conference, which will conclude on Monday.

The conference is discussing topics such as moderation, extremism, decadence, extremism, terrorism, tolerance and coexistence among peoples in its sessions. The conference aims to strengthen the links of communication and integration between the departments of religious affairs, ifta and sheikhdoms in the world to achieve the principles of moderation and to foster the values of tolerance and coexistence among peoples.

It is also to highlight the role of these principles in emphasizing the need to adhere to the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, in addition to serving Islam and Muslims, promoting Islamic unity among Muslims, fighting ideas of extremism, and protecting societies from atheism and disintegration.

The organization of the conference comes as part of the ministry’s efforts to perpetuate the approach of moderation through constructive cooperation with international religious leaders, in order to contribute to reducing acts of violence and feelings of hatred among the peoples of the world.

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