Praise be to Allah and may the peace and blessings be upon His messenger Muhammad, his kinship, companions and followers.
At Abha, Saudi Arabia, a group of male and female Saudi scholars, intellectuals and people of literature and culture met in the period of Dhul-Qa’dah 11-13 1426 H, corresponding to December 13-15, 2005. They have looked at the results of the 13 meetings held in all regions of the Kingdom by King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue (KACND) starting from 15/3/1426 H. (24/4/2005) until 14/10/1426 H. (16/11/2005) under the title of “We and the Other: A National Vision for Dealing with World Cultures.” Over 700 people from various groups within the Saudi society were represented in these meetings. They discussed a group of legal (based on Shari’ah), social, economic and political issues related to the internal matter.
The conveners affirmed that Saudis, with all their rainbow colors, are part of the international human society in sharing other civilized societies in actualizing the noble human values and cooperating with other societies in caring and spreading prosperity on earth. Saudis have based their culture on the noble Islamic values and the true Arab customs which both stand on the respect of the other and his beliefs and the disciplined and balanced openness towards his culture and intellect. They also believe that internal diversity in jurisprudence, intellect, culture and society is a universal law. It represents a point of start in dealing with the other and shell not be used to penetrate the national unity.
The participants recommended suggesting a project for a national vision for dealing with world cultures in the hope of publishing it and making the Saudi society aware of its content. This would take place through work programs by governmental and private institutions such as the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Culture and Information, the universities as well as various civil society institutions such as chambers of commerce, scholarly organizations, research centers and press establishments.
The conveners emphasized the importance of issuing this “National Vision,” which might turn into a national document. The conveners tended to mean by “We” the Saudi citizens who are united by one religion (i.e. Islam) and one country, which is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have diversified opinions and orientations. “The Other” is all other human societies with all their religions, civilizations and countries.
Based on this, a proposed national vision for dealing with world cultures is seen as follows:
First: The General Principles
1. Human Principles:
These are principles that humanity meets at and Islam has brought. They are:
A. The unity of the human race where all humans are united in this fraternity by going back to their father Adam. Allah says: “O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created of like nature His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women.”
B. The human dignity reserved for the Children of Adam whether it be a male or a female. Allah says: “We have honored the sons of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favors, above a great part of our creation.” With this dignity, the blood, honor, wealth, lineage and freedom of consciousness of the human being is protected.
C. Moral values represented in justice, kindness, fidelity, mercy, tolerance and rejection of betrayal, injustice and transgression.
D. Bringing interests and pushing away evils provided that this will not be at the expense of others
E. Knowing, communicating and cooperating with the other for the sake of truth and helping humanity. Allah says: “O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another…” and He says: “And help ye one another in righteousness and piety.”
2. Shari’ah ( Islamic law) Principles:
These are based on the Glorious Qur’an and the Purified Prophetic Sunnah and depend on the following:
A. The faith principles and rejecting whatever contradicts them. This is in compliance with the command of Allah who says: “It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision.”
B. The correct meanings of the Islamic teachings related to the dealing with the other such as:
• Al-Wala: which is a bond of love and support we exchange with Muslims throughout the world regardless of their jurisprudent orientations according to the Shari’ah’s firm principles in the Glorious Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah.
• Al-Bara: This means to stay away from what contradicts to Islam. This also means not to cooperate with nonbelievers in this regard. But in no way this would allow for being unjust to them, to transgress against their interests or not to cooperate with them in just matters and issues.
• Al-Jihad: This is to exert all effort in the attainment of good and pushing away evil. The relation between Muslims with non Muslims is based on peace. War is an exceptional case Islam has made legal only to push away evil and to uplift injustice and transgression.
• Al-Da’wah: which is to introduce Islam so that Muslims would increase their awareness of their religion and to make known Islam’s great faith-based and human values for non Muslims?
• Arguing with what is best: which is to dialogue with soft talk and civilized style and to deal with the other side in dialogue with a better treatment than his.
• Helping one another in righteousness and piety: supporting one another to achieve human interests through organizations and agreements among states and nations.
3. National Principles:
A. Saudis, with all their rainbow colors, are part of the international human community.
B. They share with other civilized societies in actualizing the noble human values and cooperating with them in caring and spreading prosperity on earth.
C. Saudis have based their culture on the noble Islamic values and the true Arab customs which both stand on the respect of the other and his beliefs and the disciplined and balanced openness towards his culture and intellect.
D. They also believe that internal diversity in jurisprudence, intellect, culture and society is a universal law. It represents a point of start in dealing with the other and shell not be used to penetrate the national unity.
Second: Cultural Interaction
Since culture includes matters of faith, language, values, laws, customs, literature and arts which form the personality of any society, our cultural interaction with the other is exemplified in the following:
1. Carrying the cultural responsibility dictated by the position of the Kingdom, its hosting of the Two Holy Mosques and its commitment to Islam towards the Muslim and non Muslim worlds.
2. Benefiting from the leading cultural experiences in various human societies without affecting the national identity.
3. Adopting and participating in dialogue whether it be religious, cultural or civilizational.
4. Positive interaction with international cultural organizations according to the Islamic religion and the national interest.
5. Benefiting from all constructive cultural interaction channels such as:
A. Seasons of Hajj and Omrah in exchanging intellectual and cultural benefits with the guests of Allah.
B. Exchanged visits and meetings between governmental and private institutions and their counterparts in the world.
C. Objective scholars and intellectuals and seekers of truth.
D. The Saudi attaché missions at the Kingdom’s embassies.
E. International institutions hosted by the Kingdom such as the Muslim World League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, King Faisal International Prize and institutions that the Kingdom is part of.
F. Cultural exhibitions and festivals as well as intellectual meetings and international conventions and world prizes.
G. Exchanging and translating innovative, artistic and intellectual productions in beneficial intellectual fields.
H. Scientific centers and institutions as well as Fiqhi councils for studying the other and interacting with him, especially specialized centers for Islamic and Middle Eastern studies.
I. Exchanging educational scholarships and visits of students, professors and researchers and facilitating the procedures of their entrance into the Kingdom.
J. Mass media, communications and information technology especially the internet.
K. Opening up and cooperating with world media in ways that serve positive interaction with the other.
Third: Social Interaction
Since the Saudi society has its religious and social firm principles, which does not mean self enclosure or isolation from the world, then the social interaction with the other stands on the following:
1. Introducing the Islamic social system in its totality and justice for humanity.
2. Cooperating with callers to noble human values in ways that preserve the rights of humans, their dignities and freedoms.
3. Participating in the world charitable work, cooperating with the international human institutions and benefiting from the others’ experiences outside the homeland.
4. Analyzing negative social phenomena which some societies suffer from in order to protect our society from these phenomena through activating the social and educational centers and institutions.
5. The international positive interaction with social issues such as human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, the rights of those with special needs, the issues of poverty, unemployment and caring for environmental issues through governmental and private institutions.
6. Cooperating with world commissions and organizations concerned with women’s affairs in what realizes her dignity, preserves her rights which Allah legislates for her, removing obstacles which limit this cooperation and encouraging her representation in those commissions and organizations.
7. Expanding the establishment of civil society institutions in a way that actualizes public interest and enhances interaction with the other.
Fourth: Political Interaction
We abide in international relations by the Islamic methodology, which is based on justice as an absolute value, tolerance and fulfilling international covenants and agreements. Based on this, the political interaction stands on the following:
1. Taking the Basic Law of Ruling in the Kingdom as a starting point in dealing with the other.
2. Interacting and cooperating with others in ways that do not affect the national unity.
3. The centrality of the Palestinian issue and freeing Jerusalem.
4. Positive interaction with expatriates and the actualization of national laws which protect their rights.
5. Supporting the will of the Arab and Islamic states in preserving their national unity, avoiding the dangers of their disintegration, protecting human rights in them and working on their integration.
6. Supporting states to abide by the human rights and international human law towards their citizens and residents in their lands and treating them in a human way which preserves their humanity and rights and seeks to throw away any works or discriminatory statements against Islam and Muslims, and calling upon the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to create a legal department for the protection of the rights of the Muslim minorities in the world.
7. Spreading the culture of dialogue and tolerance among societies and nations.
8. Activating the role of the Kingdom’s embassies and their representative bodies in enhancing positive interaction with the other.
9. Empowering the civil and private society institutions to actualize interaction with other societies.
10. Benefiting from the strategic relations with big powers to serve the national interests and holding strategic partnership with rising powers in the world as well as making citizens aware of the importance of these relations.
Fifth: Economic Interaction
Due to the Kingdom’s enjoyment of heavy economic weight on the world scene, our economic interaction with the other shall be employed to enhance interaction and dialogue through:
1. Emphasizing the Kingdom’s oil policy in ways that serve the national interest and contribute to the stability of the world economy.
2. Emphasizing the role of the Saudi development funds which offer financial assistances to other states and nations and enhance interaction with the other.
3. Actualizing the role of various economic institutions such as chambers of commerce and industry and joint economic committees in enhancing interaction with the other.
4. Realizing the national tourism strategy and activating the inter-Arab and international tourism as an important component in economic development and human interaction.
5. Working to attract foreign investments to the Kingdom and facilitating a proper local investment environment which encourages investments to accommodate the national workforce.
6. Working to expedite the economic integration among Arab and Islamic states.
7. Enhancing trade exchange in export and import in a way that realizes the common benefits for all sides of exchange.
8. Benefiting from the Kingdom’s joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as its membership in other international economic organization in a way that enhances interaction with the other.
9. Participating in owning technology and sciences with the Kingdom’s trade and industrial partners.
At the end, the male and female participants in this dialogue as well as the chairmanship committee at King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue take this opportunity to raise the highest thanks and gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and to his faithful Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud for their support and care.
They also would like to thank his Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the governor of the Asir Region, for his support, and appreciate his support in holding this meeting, as well as to his Excellency the Minister of Culture and Information Iyad bin Amin Madani for all his media efforts which contributed to covering the functions of this meeting. Everyone turns to Allah the Almighty to protect this land and guide its steps under its wise leadership for He is all Hearing and all Answering.
May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our master Muhammad, his kinship and companions all. Allah is the provider of guidance.
Abha, 11-13-1426 H, corresponding to 12-15-2005