ONE of the enviornment’s most profitable prizes for non secular endeavour, bequeathed by an American-British billionaire who was a sharp Christian, has been awarded this year to one of the most luminaries of the Muslim world, King Abdullah of Jordan.
The Jordanian monarch, whose dynasty claims descent from the prophet Muhammad, is most efficient the 2nd Muslim to safe the Templeton Prize, fee £1.1m, since it was instituted in 1973. Its acknowledged goal is to honour, every year, an particular particular individual that has made an distinctive contribution to “affirming existence’s non secular dimension”.
The prize, and the Templeton Basis which administers it, hold been established by Sir John Templeton, an American-born investor who was an exact Presbyterian Christian nonetheless also noticed cost in learning about other religions. Previous recipients hold included South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Lord Jonathan Sacks (musty chief rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth), and Charles Colson, a member of Richard Nixon’s White Dwelling who went to penal complex for obstructing justice and then grew to develop into a penal complex evangelist.
By honouring the Jordanian sovereign, the prize-givers are sending rather a subtle message relating to the associated price of affected person diplomacy rooted in solid scholarly work. King Abdullah and his Hashemite dynasty hold been accountable for some impressive initiatives aimed at curbing extremism within Islam and at easing tensions between the leading monotheistic faiths.
In a single of these initiatives, identified because the Amman declaration, infamous figures from eight a amount of correct colleges, representing virtually the full lines of Islam, came together. They affirmed that despite sectarian differences they’d recognise one one other as kindly Muslims and maintain again from branding every other with proclamations of takfir, in other words allegations of apostasy. That can even merely sound trivial then as soon as more it isn’t: one of the most hallmarks of murderously low jihadists is that they’re swiftly to represent Muslims less fanatical than themselves as apostates or deviants from the faith. That is most efficient a miniature step from calling them advantageous of death.
But another trademark of contemporary jihadis is that they claim the particular variety to proclaim fatwas or judgments on non secular issues, despite whether they’ve any coaching in theology. So signatories of the so-known as Amman declaration (whose numbers hold gradually elevated, all the diagram in which thru not less than 50 nations) specified that nearly all effective succesful authorities can even explain fatwas.
But another worthy initiative by the Jordanian royal condo was the Approved Observe in which eminent Muslims issued a top-notch explain to bigwigs of the Christian world, sharp them to dialogue and co-operation on the premise of two axioms which, within the signatories’ glance, hold been trace in each and each religions: esteem of God and esteem of neighbour.
In present times, non secular diplomacy by worthy wealthier rulers of Saudi Arabia has loved extra publicity than the psychological work sponsored by the Jordanian royals. In segment this displays a shift within the Arab world’s centre of gravity, away from the afraid Levant and in direction of the correctly to effect Gulf. But the newly announced prize is a reminder that in a faith which values continuity and custom, there might be not any change for diligent scholarly work. In the words of H.A. Hellyer, an analyst of Islam with RUSI, a London speak-tank, and the Atlantic Council based in Washington, DC:
This data [about the award] is terribly major because of the what the prize was awarded for: inter-faith work between Christians and Muslims, initiated by Muslims, and intra-faith work among Muslims, initiated by Sunni Muslims. For the full present media frenzy over Saudi Arabia’s claimed shift to the mainstream of Sunni Islam, it is complex to have faith any such prize being awarded to Riyadh’s rulers for this roughly work.