In mid-July, King Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia convened an unprecedented multifaith gathering in Madrid, Spain. He had previously met with 500 Muslim scholars in Mecca in June, resulting in an invitation to dialogue titled “The Makkah Appeal for Interfaith Dialogue.” Subsequently, the meeting in Madrid included some 250 representatives, not only Jews, Christians, and Muslims— the “People of the Book,” but for the first time including leaders of Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and other religious traditions. Together, they issued “The Madrid Declaration,” calling on all to reject “the clash of civilizations,” to enhance common human values, share a culture of tolerance and dialogue, seek international guidelines for dialogue, and to respect diverse religions and their symbols.
Despite some cogent criticism of the specifics of the gathering (see especially notes by Dr. Shanta Premawardhana of the Council of Churches and Rabbi Michael Lerner below), participants agreed that it had been a significant step in establishing ties of respect and honesty among religious leaders. They have committed themselves to continued meetings and dialogue.
- The Makkah Appeal for Interfaith Dialogue (Saudi Embassy)
- The World Conference on Dialogue: Its Promise and Challenges
(Rev. Dr Shanta Premawardhana, World Council of Churches)
- Not just another interfaith parley
(Rabbi David Rosen, Jerusalem Post)
- My Talk with the Saudis, and What I Learned from Them
(Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun)
- The Madrid Declaration (Saudi Embassy)