1997 Speech

Crown Prince Abdullah's speech at 11th OIC Summit, Tehran

HRH Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard
Address to the 11th Summit of the Organizaton of the Islamic Conference
Tehran Sha'aban 9-11, 1415
December 9-11, 1997
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Praise is due to Allah who says in His Holy Book: "The believers are but a single brotherhood." Allah’s blessings and peace be upon his Prophet who says: "No one of you will believe unless he should like for his brother what he likes for himself"; upon his family and companions and upon anyone following his footsteps till the Day of Judgment.

Your Excellency, Chairman of the Conference:
Your Majesties, Highnesses, Excellencies, Heads of Delegations:
Your Excellencies, Members of Delegations:
Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you.
It gives me pleasure on this auspicious occasion to convey to you the greetings of your brother, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Ibn Abdulaziz, and his heartfelt congratulations to you and to Muslims at large at this blessed meeting.

Likewise, I am pleased to extend to you personally my best wishes and those of the Muslim people of Saudi Arabia. My profound thanks and appreciation to His Excellency, brother President Sayed Muhammad Khatami, for the warm welcome and generous hospitality with which we have been received since our arrival in this hospitable country. I would like to praise highly the great efforts made by His Excellency and his assistants in preparing for this Conference. May Allah Almighty secure for this meeting the success we all hope for and make it rise to the expectations pinned by the Muslim Nation on the leaders who are meeting here today.

With the immortal achievements credited to the Muslim people of Iran, and their invaluable contributions throughout our glorious Islamic history, it is no wonder that Teheran, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran, is hosting this important Islamic gathering; it is quite natural for the leadership of this Muslim country to be quite aware of its duties and responsibilities towards the Islamic Nation at this critical juncture in our common history; and, motivated by this feeling, to do all that is in its power to serve Islam and the Muslims, to consecrate the spirit of solidarity and interdependence among them, and to help them avoid all that may split their ranks or weaken their common cause.

We have to underline at this point the fact that one of the more brilliant aspects of our history was the ability of Islam to fuse different races and different ethnic groups in the crucible of faith, with the full understanding that none of them was judged superior to the other except on the grounds of piety. The host of geniuses in our civilized history, notably in jurisprudence, literature, philosophy and science, used to speak more than one language, and belonged to more than one country, yet their sole loyalty remained to Islam, the religion which forged hostile tribes into one Nation and one body, to an extent that when a limb thereof complained, the whole body responded to it with wakefulness and fever.

The days of varying fortunes which Allah rotates among people witnessed, among other things, the golden ages in which Muslims represented the elite of this world in leadership and pioneering work.

There were also lean ages, when the body of the Muslim Ummah was gripped by discord and disputes, leaving the door wide open for other nations to jump at it in the manner voracious eaters hastily converge on a tray of food. And since glory is not achieved by chance, neither does sheer chance cause it to cease to exist. Days alternate, strictly governed by invariable Divine canons. One of these eternal canons decrees that Allah will never change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. When our intentions were made pure for Allah’s sake, and when we stood as one solid block determined to make the Word of Allah reign supreme, and overstepped ethnic barriers and all vestiges of tribalism, the banner of Islam managed to flutter high above the horizon carrying with it the true meaning of benevolence and the principles of justice to the East and West. The moment our faith crumbled and our will weakened, dissension crept into our ranks, our united front was shattered, and, ironically, we became a minority in spite of being numerically superior. Our numerical advantage has proved to be no more than froth floating on a torrent.

One of the most important of our duties at this historic meeting is to review our present conditions and problems with honesty and candor, as we proceed from our faltering present to a future fraught with challenges and opportunities. We have to realize that the way we deal with these changes and opportunities is bound to have a direct impact on our Nation’s destiny and the kind of future that awaits us.

If we manage to run our affairs properly, and if we hold fast to our glorious Shari’a and its spirit of tolerance, we will be able, by the help of Allah, to put our Nation along the path of a new revival that will spread all over the vast Muslim world. An objective look at our Nation’s present reality, enveloped as it is by circumstances and rocked by events, will reveal to us the extent and the depth of the Islamic awakening which is being echoed wherever the name of Allah is mentioned. This is the awakening of religious faith aimed at the revival of the values of Islam and the solid principles derived from the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and the guidance of the pure Prophet’s Sunnah. The same objective look will, however, reveal quite clearly that the Muslim world is still suffering from a state of fragmentation and disruption, and is going through the worst as a result of extensive militancy which sheds innocent Muslim blood in the name of Islam. The slogans raised by these militants are outrageous and have nothing in common with Islam and its spirit of justice and tolerance.

Plotting against Islam has been going on since ancient times without interruption, and is not likely to cease either at present or in the future. But it is time now to blame ourselves before pointing the fingers of accusation at others. A sound healthy body is too strong to succumb to alien pests no matter how ferocious their attack may be, whereas the body that is torn apart, or worn out from the inside, will be easy prey to the attacks of foes and the intrigues of the vindictive. Therefore, we have to rearrange our Islamic house from the inside.

This is a top priority in the course of our endeavors to help our Nation to stand on its feet and to launch it with full vigor along the path of progress and prosperity. To help our Islamic house to recover its health, we have first to grasp the major and clear-cut distinction between discord and difference of opinion.

Discord is one of Allah’s means of dealing on earth. Yet discord among Muslims over discretionary matters, or over political affairs, must not go beyond its limited scope as a natural problem which can be dealt with wisely, quietly, and patiently. It must not be allowed to acquire bloody dimensions that would destroy everything. It is not in the nature of things for all Muslims to arrive at a single interpretation of how the Islamic state should look, or a common approach to our Islamic jurisprudence, or a single concept of international politics. Nevertheless, we are duty-bound not to transfer such legitimate diversions of opinion into a pretext for hegemony by which each of us may try to dictate to his Muslim brother how to think and how to work. If there is one single lesson which I consider to be the most important in the entire history of mankind, it is the indisputable fact that any attempt at hegemony has always ended in a bitter struggle in which there was neither a victor nor a vanquished, but there were victims on both sides who paid the price with their lives. It is perhaps our region that has suffered from this distorted logic more than any other area in the world. The effects of this suffering are evident everywhere; so sharply focused and bitter.


Our historic duty before peoples of the Islamic Nation is not to repeat the same mistakes and to avoid further tragedies. This same historic duty makes it incumbent on us to turn over a new leaf in dealing with ourselves and in coexisting with others. The relationship between a Muslim and another Muslim has to be founded on amity, cooperation and giving counsel on a reciprocal basis, out of key points of agreement, rather than minor points of disagreements, to serve as our starting-point. On the other hand, the relationship between Muslims and others should be based on peaceful coexistence with those who wish to live with us in peace. We shall force nobody to do any particular thing, and we reject any move on the part of others to force us to do any particular thing: to them be their way and to us, ours.

The call to Allah must continue as long as life continues.

However, we in this age do need, more than ever before, to keep in mind the immortal Divine directive which requires that the Da’wa (the call) be undertaken with wisdom and kind preaching, and that arguing with others be done in the best manner.

As we invite others to the Way of Allah we should never lose sight of the fact that deeds speak louder than words. A Muslim’s conduct is a mirror which reflects his religion. He makes his religion more appealing to others by committing himself to amity, piety, and tolerance.

We shall not be able to convince the world that in our Islamic laws human rights are guaranteed unless the advocates of man-made laws see with their own eyes how these Islamic laws are successfully put into practice in daily life. In some Muslim countries many Muslims are bereft of even the basic human rights. It is difficult for non-Muslims to believe that Islam is really the religion of knowledge and science, the religion which urges its votaries to travel far and wide in quest of knowledge and science, as long as they see how the Muslims themselves stand so far from science, so suspicious of it, and how they are, at best, only willing to import its products for their own consumption oblivious to the potential danger posed by circumstances and new conditions.

Thus it is obvious that words will be of no avail unless they are accompanied by good deeds, and unless each Islamic society is transformed into a mirror which reflects the majesty, perfection, and sublimity of Islam.

The most important challenge now facing our Islamic Nation is its inability to keep pace with the industrially and technologically advanced nations in the East and West. This inability is the result of the state of division and fragmentation suffered by our Nation, which is pulled back and forth by 100 banners, torn apart by 100 slogans, and pulled in different directions by 100 conflicting political stands.

This state of disunity runs counter to the most distinctive characteristics of the present age, namely the inability of smaller entities to wield an influence in our international contemporary society wherein the trend is for such smaller entities to unite or merge together to form more powerful and efficient units. When achieved, Islamic unity would be capable of forging Muslim peoples and countries in one powerful block which would enjoy so much influence in the international arena by virtue of its abundant resources and potentialities. That would be the day for the torch of Islamic culture to be lit anew for Muslim contributions to human society to continue in accordance with the highest criteria of right and justice. It takes more than dreams and best wishes for such a historic achievement to be accomplished. There will be a need for the adoption of a scientific approach assigning to each stage a set of realistic and practical targets. Work on implementing these targets will gradually gain momentum as things begin to improve and with the growth of confidence and the elimination of doubts and vain thoughts. We cannot expect the distinctions of politics, geography, and history to vanish overnight. Therefore, what we ought to do is to start acting seriously and conscientiously to cut distinctions to size, and consequently to get them marginalized, so that we may be able - Allah willing - to have them eliminated altogether.

The vistas of cooperation among Muslims in such areas as politics, defense, economy, and information, know no bounds. However, we have to eliminate the obstacles which block the way and be aware of the pitfalls which we may come across as we make our way towards a better future. To identify these obstacles briefly we say that they are those narrow-minded outlooks which Islam detests and repudiates, one and all, whether they stem form ethnic, regional, or ideological consideration.

Your Majesties, Highnesses, and Excellencies:

If we agree that disunity stands at the root of the major predicament facing the Muslim Nation, and I assume we do agree on that, it will be all right for us to say that any act that may perpetuate disunity is at variance with the interests of the Muslim Nation, irrespective of its actual aims and of the names and slogans under which it may be projected; and that any act designed to mend fences and close ranks is, no matter how simple and modest it may be, on a par with Jihad for the Cause of Allah.

Islamic unity is not an impossible objective, nor is it wishful thinking. It is a legitimate demand which we, Allah willing, will be able to transform into a tangible reality provided that we put the interest of the whole before that of the part, and strive jointly to make the Word of Allah, not that of any one of us, at the forefront. This should prove to be not too difficult a task for the devoted believers to achieve.

Allah, Most High, says: "Verily, this Ummah of yours is a single Ummah, and I am your Lord and Cherisher; therefore serve me (and no other)."

Again, Allah says: "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other. Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you."

Honorable Brothers:

This exalted Divine Declaration brings to mind the fact that the Message of Islam is one that encourages people to become acquainted with one another; one that promotes dialogue, one that directs people to be gentle and polite when engaged in an argument; one that depends on persuasion for its propagation and one that adopts both punishment and reward.

As a result of this Divine Declaration, a Muslim shoulders heavy responsibilities in this life and after-life.

Man cannot afford to be isolationist, particularly in this age of fast communications. This is a fact which we do not ignore in a world of change and new conditions. There is no longer a place in the world that is isolated and is basking in the warmth of its isolation. Peoples from far-off parts of the world have become close neighbors, by Allah’s Grace, and then, by virtue of science. Man is a neighbor to man, and both are well aware of their own shortcomings and assets. In light of this fact, the humanitarian virtues of Islam should be displayed to benefit the entire modern world.

In his behavior, a Muslim should be the paragon of a civilized human who abhors barbarity, savagery, chaos, and militancy.

Many questions arise in Muslim countries, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, about the heinous crimes being committed in the name of Islam and under the pretext of creating an Islamic form of government. Are these killers who slit the throats of their victims, cut their limbs and mutilate their dead bodies - are they to be trusted? Are they qualified to create an Islamic state?

Why do Arab and Muslim worlds keep silent with regard to what is going on? Islam, the religion of mercy, justice, tolerance, and honoring of promises and pledges, is innocent of any action that is mean and inhumane.


We bring to your attention these questions which have been bothering the Muslim more than anybody else, and have bewildered him a great deal. If my honorable brothers appreciate the idea of providing answers to these questions, we may then proceed to tell the world that the role of Islam is to establish justice among human beings. You may perhaps consider the issuance of a message of consolation by this Conference addressed to the families of victims, accompanied by a declaration solemnly made before Allah - Most High - and before the entire world, disowning and repudiating any action that is savage, barbaric, immoral, and loathsome to the ideals of Islam, its sense of justice and its orientation.

May Allah - Glorious be He - help us all do the things which Allah loves and which meet His pleasure. May He guide us in the right way. He is All-Hearing, ready to answer prayers.

Peace and the Mercy and Blessings of Allah be upon you.