Is King Charles III Muslim? – By: Ibrahim Dooba

SSince the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the elevation of the Prince of Wales to the rank of King Charles III, many scholars have mentioned the king’s relationship with Islam. The queen’s engagements with Islam were few and far between. One of them is the Festival of Islam which Her Majesty opened in 1976.

For the king though, there are so many such interactions.

However, The King is not a hidden Muslim as some would like to believe, but he does not hide his weakness and his understanding of religion. There were many instances where he showed this understanding. One such occasion was the speech he gave titled “Islam and the West” at the Center for Islamic Studies, Oxford on October 27, 1993. Below are excerpts from the speech.

Ladies and gentlemen, it was suggested to me, when I began to reflect on the subject of this conference, that I should take comfort from the Arab proverb: “In every head there is wisdom”. I confess that I have few scholarly qualities to justify my presence here, in this theater, where so many people have learned much more than I, preached and generally advanced the sum of human knowledge.

But perhaps, in the end, it is worth remembering another Arabic proverb: “What comes out of the lips reaches the ears.” What comes from the heart reaches the heart.

Our own Islamic community has grown and flourished for decades. There are nearly 500 mosques in Brittany. Popular interest in Islamic culture in Britain is growing rapidly. Many of you will remember – and I think some of you participated in – the wonderful Festival of Islam which Her Majesty The Queen opened in 1976. Islam is all around us. And yet distrust, even fear, persists.

It is strange, in many ways, that misunderstandings between Islam and the West persist. Because what binds our two worlds is so much more powerful than what divides us. Muslims, Christians – and Jews – are all “people of the Book”. Islam and Christianity share a common monotheistic vision: a belief in one divine God, in the transience of our earthly life, in our responsibility for our actions and in the assurance of the life to come. We share many key values ​​in common: respect for knowledge, justice, compassion for the poor and deprived, the importance of family life, respect for parents. “Honor your father and your mother” is also a Koranic precept. Our history is closely linked.

Remember, if you will, that Islamic countries like Turkey, Egypt and Syria gave women the right to vote as soon as Europe gave women the right to vote – and much earlier than ‘in Swiss ! In these countries, women have long enjoyed equal pay and the opportunity to play a full and active role in their society. The rights of Muslim women to property and inheritance, to some protection in divorce and to conduct business, were rights prescribed by the Quran 1,400 years ago, even though they were not not everywhere translated into practice. In Britain at least, some of these rights were new even to my grandmother’s generation! Benazir Bhutto and Begum Khaleda Zia became prime ministers in their own traditional societies when Britain elected a female prime minister for the first time in its history. This, I think, does not necessarily smack of a medieval society.

Mr Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen, if there is a lot of misunderstanding in the West about the nature of Islam, there is also a lot of ignorance about the debt that our own culture and civilization owes to the Islamic world. It is a failure which, I think, is due to the shackles of the history we have inherited. The medieval Islamic world, from Central Asia to the shores of the Atlantic, was a world where scholars and scholars flourished. But because we have tended to view Islam as the enemy of the West, as an alien culture, society and belief system, we have tended to ignore or erase its great relevance to our own history. .

For example, we have underestimated the importance of 800 years of Islamic society and culture in Spain between the 8th and 15th centuries. The contribution of Muslim Spain to the preservation of classical knowledge in the Middle Ages and the first flowerings of the Renaissance has long been recognized. But Islamic Spain was much more than just a pantry where Hellenistic knowledge was kept for later consumption by the emerging modern Western world. Not only did Muslim Spain collect and preserve the intellectual content of ancient Greek and Roman civilization, but it also interpreted and developed this civilization, and made its own vital contribution in many fields of human activity – in science , astronomy, mathematics, algebra (itself an Arabic word), law, history, medicine, pharmacology, optics, agriculture, architecture, theology, music. Averroes and Avenzoor, like their counterparts Avicenna and Rhazes in the East, contributed to the study and practice of medicine in a way that Europe had benefited from for centuries.

Islam has nurtured and preserved the quest for knowledge. According to tradition, “the scholar’s ink is more sacred than the martyr’s blood”. Cordoba in the 10th century was by far the most civilized city in Europe. We know of lending libraries in Spain at the time when King Alfred was making terrible blunders with the culinary arts of that country. It is said that the 400,000 volumes of the library of its sovereign represented more books than all the libraries of the rest of Europe put together. This was made possible because the Muslim world acquired the know-how of papermaking from China more than 400 years before the rest of non-Muslim Europe. Many of the features of which modern Europe is proud came to it from Muslim Spain. Diplomacy, free trade, open borders, academic research techniques, anthropology, etiquette, fashion, various medicines, hospitals, everything came from this great city of cities.

Medieval Islam was a religion of remarkable tolerance for its time, granting Jews and Christians the right to practice their inherited beliefs, and setting an example that was unfortunately not copied for many centuries in the West. The surprise, ladies and gentlemen, is how much Islam has been present for so long in Europe, first in Spain and then in the Balkans, and how much it has contributed so much to the civilization that we have too often mistakenly thought of as entirely Western. Islam is part of our past and our present, in all areas of human activity. He helped create modern Europe. It’s part of our own heritage, not a separate thing.

Even more, Islam can teach us today a way of understanding and living the world that Christianity itself is the poorest to have lost. At the heart of Islam is the preservation of an integral view of the Universe. Islam – like Buddhism and Hinduism – refuses to separate man and nature, religion and science, spirit and matter, and has retained a metaphysical and unified view of ourselves and the world. that surrounds us.

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