Prominent Muslim leader meets with First Presidency to build interfaith friendship

His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League and president of the International Organization for Muslim Scholars, met with the First Presidency on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Dr. Al-Issa also met with Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and toured Welfare Square.

“What I’ve seen here is a great example of the true meaning of mercy and love to humanity,” Dr. Al-Issa said after visiting Welfare Square, according to a Newsroom release. “We all around the world need to follow this humanitarian (approach) exactly. Also, the whole world needs to get exposed to and learn from these efforts and projects.

“We can convey the message to the Islamic world and tell them there are people in some parts of the world where they (dedicate) their lives especially to serve their brothers and sisters and humanity. I do want to congratulate you. I am really surprised to see that level of work you are offering here. You are inspiring to others.”

His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, tours Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Nov. 5, 2019, with Elder Kent F. Richards, director of Church Hosting and emeritus General Authority Seventy.
His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, tours Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Nov. 5, 2019, with Elder Kent F. Richards, director of Church Hosting and emeritus General Authority Seventy. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Dr. Al-Issa wrote an op-ed published in the Deseret News on Sunday, Nov. 3, in which he noted Joseph Smith’s tolerance of other faiths and said Latter-day Saints and Muslims should be leaders in the campaign toward peaceful coexistence.

“While the centers of Islam and the Church of Jesus Christ sit on opposite sides of the world, the values that bring our communities together could not be closer,” he wrote.

Dr. Al-Issa, who previously served as Saudi Arabia’s minister of justice, is traveling the world to speak about tolerance and interfaith relationships. Also during his visit to Salt Lake City, he sat down with the Deseret News/KSL editorial boards on Monday,  Nov. 4, and spoke about interfaith engagement.

Read more: Why a prominent Muslim leader is visiting with Latter-day Saints this week

The idea that “we are similar, that we are brothers and sisters, is not emphasized enough,” he told the Deseret News in Arabic, through a translator.

Abdulwahab Al-Shehri, the Muslim World League’s director of media affairs, and Raad Fanary, an interpreter, joined Dr. Al-Issa during his visit to Salt Lake City to meet with Church leaders and state politicians.

Dr. Al-Issa received a medallion and a copy of “The Niche of Lights,” from the First Presidency during his visit on Nov. 5. “The Niche of Lights” is an ancient text by 11th century Islamic thinker Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali, a book that is part of the Islamic Translation Series published by Brigham Young University Press.

Members of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meet His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, on Nov. 5, 2019.
Members of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meet His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, on Nov. 5, 2019. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

As part of President Russell M. Nelson’s ministry to the Pacific in May, he met with with Muslim leaders in New Zealand and donated $100,000 from the Church to help rebuild the mosques attacked in Christchurch on March 15.

In October, Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities and first counselor in the Relief Society presidency, and Sister Becky Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, visited the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch.