2006 News Story

Saudi Arabia urges the Vatican to clarify its stance on Islam

Saudi Arabia has called on the Vatican to issue a statement outlining its position on Islam and its teachings, as well as a clarification of Pope Benedict XVI's remarks about Islam in a lecture at Germany's Regensburg University on September 12.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal issued the Kingdom's request in a written message to his counterpart at the Vatican.

Benedict quoted 14th-century Christian emperor Manuel Paleologos II who said that the Prophet had brought the world "evil and inhuman" things. "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,'" Benedict said.

Prince Saud expressed consternation over the Pope's remarks and the allegation that Islam was spread by the sword. He noted that the Pope's comments came at a time when the Muslim world is doing its best to open real and effective dialogue with other religions and civilizations, especially Christianity.

The foreign minister reminded the Vatican of the extraordinary OIC summit in December 2005 at which Muslim leaders confirmed that dialogue among civilizations based on mutual understanding, respect and equality is an essential component of creating a world in which tolerance, cooperation and peace prevail.

In addition, the summit condemned extremism in all its forms because it contradicts Islamic values and called on nations to confront extremism through development programs, dialogue among religions and the resolution of longstanding disputes, Prince Saud said.

"We hope that this stand will not lead to a new trend in the Vatican's policies vis-à-vis Islam after decades of dialogue between the Vatican and Muslim scholars," Prince Saud wrote. "The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is looking forward to a statement from the Vatican reflecting its real stance on Islam and its teachings." 

The Kingdom’s Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-AsShaikh, who also chairs the Senior Commission of ulema (religious scholars), also expressed sorrow over the Pope’s remarks. In a statement, the Grand Mufti decried allegations that Islam was spread by the sword, and encouraged the Pope to read about Islam, the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet (Sunnah).