As many as 128 prominent religious leaders and officials from around the world, including the US, the UK, China, Italy, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Japan and the Philippines, will take part in a major interfaith conference that opens in Geneva on Sept. 30 at the initiative of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
"The Impact of King Abdullah's Inter-Religious Dialogue Initiative in Disseminating Human Values," is the title of the main theme of the two-day conference, said the conference's website set up by the Muslim World League (MWL), the organizer of the event. Other topics for discussion at the conference are: King Abdullah's Initiative and the Scope of Coexistence Among the Various Civilizations; the Role of Religion and Culture in Promoting Dialogue; the Impact of Religious Values in Reforming Societies; and the Role of Media in Strengthening Dialogue and Human Values.
This is the fourth international conference organized in connection with promoting interfaith dialogue at King Abdullah's initiative. The first was held in Makkah, the second in Madrid and the third at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The Makkah conference, which was held on June 4, 2008, brought together about 500 Muslim leaders from around the world in order to set an agenda for the building of better relations between Muslims and followers of other faiths.
In his opening address, King Abdullah stressed the need for better communication and understanding between Islam, Judaism and Christianity. A month later, on July 16, 2008, the MWL invited nearly 300 religious, political and cultural leaders from 50 different countries to Madrid to carry forward the king's message.
"If we want this historic encounter to succeed, we must look to the things that unite us: Our profound faith in God, the noble principles and elevated ethics that represent the foundation of religions," said the king at the Madrid conference.
The participants of the Geneva summit include William Baker, president of Christians and Muslims for Peace in the US; David Rosen, director of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee; John Esposito, head of Muslim-Christian Understanding; Terje Roed-Larsen, director of the Institute of Peace; and Larry Shaw, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Other prominent participants include: Mohammad Hamid Ansari, vice president of India; Koïchiro Matsuura, director general of UNESCO; Thomas Lemmen, secretary-general of the Christian-Islamic Society in Germany; Pramjeet Singh Sarna, president of Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib; Kuniaki Kuni, president of the Association of Shinto Temples in Japan; Xue Cheng, vice-chairman of the Buddhist Association of China.
Saudi Arabia will send 19 delegates to the event, including Faisal Muammar, deputy minister of education; Abdul Rahman Al-Shubaily, a Shoura member; Ahmed Alkhulaifi of Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University; and Adel Alshiddy of King Saud University.