Last week around 250 Muslim and Christian evangelical leaders travelled to Marakesh, Morocco to participate in a summit. The Marakesh Declaration was released in the summit.
Led by 80-year-old United Arab Emirates sheik Abdallah Bin Bayyah, who leads the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, and sponsored by the government of Morocco, the summit looked to Muhammad’s Charter of Medina when drafting the declaration. From the seventh century, the document gives instructions for governing a religious pluralistic state, and was issued shortly after Muhammad arrived in Medina.
In particular, the declaration references the charter’s “principles of constitutional contractual citizenship” and “freedom of movement, property ownership, mutual solidarity and defense, as well as principles of justice and equality before the law,” in regards to Muslims and non-Muslims.
“The objectives of the Charter of Medina provide a suitable framework for national constitutions in countries with Muslim majorities, and the United Nations Charter and related documents, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are in harmony with the Charter of Medina, including consideration for public order,” states the Marrakesh Declaration.
The declaration challenges a broad network of Muslim stakeholders—including educational institutions, politicians, and artists—to fight extremism.
“[We] call upon the various religious groups bound by the same national fabric to address their mutual state of selective amnesia that blocks memories of centuries of joint and shared living on the same land,” it states. “We call upon them to rebuild the past by reviving this tradition of conviviality, and restoring our shared trust that has been eroded by extremists using acts of terror and aggression.”
For years, Texas megachurch pastor, Bob Roberts has been building strategic relationships with Muslims. In October, he and imam Muhammad Magid hosted the Spreading the Peace Convocation, which was attended by nearly 200 imams and evangelical pastors. As a result of his efforts, the declarations vowing to protect Christians in Muslim countries has been released.
“I’m blown away,” Roberts said. “This is a Muslim conference put together by the top sheiks, ministers of religion, the grand muftis of the top Muslim majority nations, and they came up with a declaration, literally using the language of religious freedom to declare that violence cannot be done in the name of Islam.”
Open Doors, an organisation that looks at Christian persecution around the world stated that violent Islamic extremism will be the “lead generator of persecution for 35 out of 50 nations” on the 2016 World Watch List, and that Christian persecution in Muslim nations “has risen to a level akin to ethnic cleansing.”
Though the declaration provides considerable freedom to Christian minorities living in Muslim countries yet it does not grant liberty against blasphemy laws and their consequent punishments.