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Saudi King Calls For Interfaith Dialogue

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has announced plans to organize an "interfaith conference" among Jews, Muslims, and Christians. He invites "representatives of all the monotheistic religions to meet with their brothers in faith" in Saudi Arabia, in order to foster "respect among the religions."

King Abdullah's initiative is excellent and extremely positive. A conference of open and sincere dialogue between representatives of the three Abrahamic traditions can only be a step forward. My only concern is that the diversity of Islamic opinion be fully represented, but indications from the Saudi kingdom are that King Abdullah recognizes the negative impact of Wahhabism, Deobandism, and other fundamentalist sects on the future of Islam. I hope that Jewish and Christian representatives will participate in such a conference with confidence in their own revelations, and will not give way to "politically correct" accommodations with Wahhabism.

Jewish and Christian representatives should understand that mainstream Islamic tradition respects the People of the Book and expects their teachers and other advocates to present their viewpoint in a learned and insightful manner, and not to engage in nonsensical rhetoric intended to improve relations with the Muslims by offering empty compliments. Jews and Christians who meet with and enter into dialogue with Muslims should do so from a position of self-respect, not of self-abasement. I hope and expect that Muslims at such an event will conduct themselves similarly.

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