PROMOTING INCLUSIVE CITIZENSHIP
At the heart of the Forum’s work is the promotion of inclusive citizenship: granting all communities and individuals the freedom to express their beliefs without persecution. The model of inclusive citizenship is inspired by the Charter of Medina created in the seventh century on behalf of the Prophet (ﷺ), which formed the basis for an inclusive multi-ethnic state where citizens were, as the Shaykh has described, ‘defined in a just constitution, confirming that they were one nation’.
Inclusive citizenship is not only a means toward cultivating the virtue of difference in the pursuit of seeking universal truth; it is a necessity in a globalised and pluralistic world:
‘It is our duty, today, to take the initiative and foster a culture of coexistence. We must establish citizenship charters at both a domestic and foreign level. A domestic charter is basically the constitution of a particular land which, in effect, is a contractual agreement between all the citizens of that land…such a constitution should have a human dimension which isn’t att odds with the religion and marries with the intellect and universal values’ – By Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah
The vision of inclusive citizenship is also inspired by the Islamic concept of benevolence – in the Qur’an, birr – and its implications for the contemporary context. Encapsulated within this concept are the twelve values listed by the Shaykh, namely cooperation and solidarity; maintaining good relations with one and other; brotherhood and mutual understanding; wisdom, righteousness, justice, mercy, patience, tolerance, love, dialogue, and moderation.
Through inclusive citizenship and hospitality more broadly, Muslim societies can actualise these universal values which possess the power to bind communities together with a shared aim toward the common good. Far from a modernising project, this approach promotes a return to the original message of the Qur’an as one which promotes citizenship, benevolence and hospitality:
“The revival of the premodern and sacred language of hospitality is not a challenge to the more secular language of contemporary human rights or the rule of international law, but rather posits a parallel framework for rethinking certain obligations and duties incumbent on us all” – By Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah