INTERFAITH OUTREACH OF THE MUSLIM WORLD LEAGUE: TRENDS, CAUSES, AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS
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AbstractThe Muslim World League is a nominally non-governmental Islamic organisation based in Saudi Arabia. From its founding in 1962 until relatively recently, it mainly focused on promulgating the archetypal Islamic fundamentals and practices across the Muslim world in line with the vision of the Saudi state. An early indicator that this mission was giving way to a more dynamic and, relatively, liberal position was an interfaith initiative by the league in 2008 that resulted in the Makkah Appeal; a landmark document that advocated, and set appropriate terms for, Islamic initiatives in interfaith dialogue. The league’s new interfaith programme was then introduced to the world ten days later when it convened the Madrid Conference, bringing together prominent figures from all major faith traditions. But it was not until 2016 / 2017 with the coming to office of its present secretary-general, Dr. Al-Issa, and the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, that the league radically expanded and diversified its interfaith dialogue initiatives. This article examines a mixed sample of these initiatives to give a sense of how the league’s interfaith programme has evolved in recent years. It then gives an analysis of the factors likely to be driving these changes, the aims they seem oriented to achieve, and what directions they might take in future. Special attention is paid to the league’s function and significance within the larger discourse of Saudi international relations and diplomatic interests on the world stage.
Journal titlePolitics and Religion