King Of Jordan Awarded Templeton Prize For Cultivating Peace Among Muslim Sects, Joins Ranks Of Mother Theresa And Billy Graham

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

King Abdullah II of Jordan won the 2018 Templeton Prize Wednesday for facilitating peace between differing Muslim sects, becoming the second Muslim to win it.

Abdullah II joined the ranks of Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, Billy Graham, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and other distinguished historical figures as laureates of the prize. He is also the second Muslim to ever win the award, the first being Inamullah Khan, founder of the Modern World Muslim Congress, who won it in 1988. The John Templeton Foundation said the king had led a “reclamation” of Islam from extremist ideologies and fostered peaceful cooperation between Sunnis and Shiites. (RELATED: Trump Thanks Jordanian King For Calling Him Humble)

“King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, who has done more to seek religious harmony within Islam and between Islam and other religions than any other living political leader, was announced today as the 2018 Templeton Prize Laureate,” the foundation said in a statement.

The JTF praised Abdullah II for undertaking great personal risk to combat what he sees as distortions of Islam, to cultivate peace and to establish cooperative dialogue between Muslims, Christians and followers of other religions. Foremost among the king’s efforts to combat extremism was his launching of The Amman Message in 2004, which “sought to declare what Islam is and what it is not, and what actions represent it and what actions do not.”

The message clarified answers to three questions concerning Islam from the compiled counsel of 24 of the most senior religious scholars representing different sects of Islam. Based on those clarifications, Islamic religious leaders unanimously issued a ruling:

  1. They specifically recognized the validity of all 8 Mathhabs (legal schools) of Sunni, Shi’a andIbadhi Islam; of traditional Islamic Theology (Ash’arism); of Islamic Mysticism (Sufism), and of true Salafi thought, and came to a precise definition of who is a Muslim.
  2. Based upon this definition they forbade takfir (declarations of apostasy) between Muslims.
  3. Based upon the Mathahib they set forth the subjective and objective preconditions for the issuing of fatwas, thereby exposing ignorant and illegitimate edicts in the name of Islam.

It was the first such unanimous, legally binding ruling for Muslims across all branches of Islam in over 1,000 years.

The king launched the A Common Word Between Us And You initiative in 2006 to foster common ground and cooperation between Muslims and Christians. He also proposed the U.N. World Interfaith Harmony Week in 2010, which led the U.N. to adopt the first-ever resolution in which it explicitly cited a belief in God.

“King Abdullah II has led a reclamation of Islam’s moderate theological narrative from the distortions of radicalism. But these efforts have come with great personal cost including condemnation and death threats from radical terrorist groups,” the JTF statement added. “As a result of Jordan’s key geographical location, his efforts have required extraordinary courage to advance cooperation within Islam and between Islam and other religions.”

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