Prince Charles Awarded Outstanding Leadership in Interfaith Cooperation
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I'm delighted to join you, even if only in this symbolic forum, as you launch the 1st West-Islamic dialogue annual report. I amonly so sorry not to be with you, but I do hope you would forgive my absence.But I'm particularly pleased to have this opportunity to say how flattered and honouredI was to receive crystal award for outstanding leadership in Interfaithcooperation.
Now I hear they say that and I do know how important the annual meeting of the world economic forum is, as an occasion to bring together so manyeminent people, to discuss the pressing, political and business issues of our time. And therefore I greatly admire Professor Chiraff, Lord Caries and Princesses Laura's initiative to ensure that the vital issue of regular and constructive dialogue between the West and the Islamic world is high onthe agenda. I suspect that few of the subjects that you discussed could be more important, apart, perhaps, from the ever more urging challenge of dealingwith the threat of climate change.
Muslims and Christians make up over a half of the world's population and without understanding of harmony between them,there cannot be lasting peace in the world. I said as long ago as 1993, on a visit to the Oxford's Centre of Islamic studies, in which I am a patron, that Ibelieve whole-heartedly the links between these two worlds matter more today than ever before, because the degree of misunderstanding between Islamic and the Western world remains dangerously high and because the need to deliver the two working together in our increasingly interdependent world has never been greater. Now my viewhas not changed during the past 15 years or so.
However,I remain convinced that the challenges can be overcome and I reject anysuggestion that there is some inevitable and unavoidable clash of civilizations. I was, for example most encouraged by the recent open letter andcall for the Muslim religious leaders. It made the point with great clarity, Ithink, that the bases for mutual peace and harmony already exists in thefounding principles of shared by the great Abrahamic faith or JudaismChristianity or Islam. This comes not only from the unity of the love of one God, but also from the common injunction to love your neighbor. The Bible says “you shouldlove your neighbor as yourself” and the Quran “None of you has faith until youlove for your neighbor what you love for yourself”. As the great poet, Rumisaid, whose 800th anniversary we celebrate this year, “the lamps are different,but the light is the same”. And it is not of course just the great Abrahamicfaith that gives us a shared sense of stewardship and justice.
Whatever our particular faith or world view, we all share so many common values.Compassion and tolerance, commitment to truth and the sanity of human life,respect for family and community, and belief in justice and the desirability ofpeace. And I believe deeply that there is far far more to unite than divide allpeople's good wills. I also believe deeply that what should unite above all isthe crucial battle to preserve a fully functioning planet, to pass onto oursuccessors, rather than battling against each other. Surely our shared valuesof stewardship of God's life threaten creation should be enough to heal thedamaging rift between us. Yet, the challenge to overcome misunderstanding and intoleranceis real and pressing, embracing as it does, every level of our societies andreaching across generations. It would need hard practical work on a scalecommensurate to the challenge to resolve this issue. All those attending theworld economic forum, politicians, faith leaders, and business men and women, have the capacity to shape the world. I very much hope based on the insights and encouragements which the discussion of the West and Islamic dialogue first annual report will provide, that youwould be inspired and determined to take the practical steps which are neededto promote greater harmony and understanding.
It is important of course to remember that we are not all the same, but we sharewithin our traditions, a sense of universal truth, and divine revelation, atimeless wisdom which can enable us to contemplate our place within creation,and also to draw us together, in order to bridge the chasms of extremism in allits forms. Such bridges need to be built on a rediscovery of the symbolicheart, which lies at the centre of our traditions so that we can transcend thedire bollix influences that so fracture our sense of healing. As I saidearlier, ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted and honoured to be given thecrystal award for outstanding leadership in Interfaith cooperation. And I wishyou all every possible success in developing and enhancing regular andconstructive dialogue between the West and the Islamic world.