Global Imams Council builds bridges with all religions

The Arab world is witnessing a social evolution that is resulting in bridges of peace being built between adherents of all religions.

Global Imams Council (photo credit: GLOBAL IMAMS COUNCIL)
Global Imams Council
(photo credit: GLOBAL IMAMS COUNCIL)
The Global Imams Council, the world’s first and largest transnational nongovernmental body of imams, has formed a new “Interfaith Network” which includes prominent royals and religious leaders representing a wide range of beliefs. Fascinating, however, is the inclusion of a rabbi to represent Judaism within the council.
The Interfaith Network includes Sattar Jabbar Hilo, Iraq-based patriarch and worldwide head of the Sabian Mandeans, the equivalent of the Dalai Lama for the Sabian religion; Prince Gharios El Chemor of the Arab dynasty of the Ghassanids, the only secular Christian leader from the Middle East recognized by multiple stakeholders, like governments (such as the Lebanese), Christian leaders (the Pope), the UN; and Rabbi Elie Abadie, founder of a prominent Sephardic congregation on New York City’s Upper East Side and also a friend of the Muslim World League.
This decision by such a significant body within Islam at a time when antisemitism is rampant, provides hope for the future of Jewish-Muslim relations and lights another candle of hope for our current and coming generations.
The story of the Global Imams Council dates back to 2014 when ISIS invaded Iraq and the government invited Shia and Sunni Imams to advocate for peace and to motivate the government forces liberating areas from ISIS control. After the collapse of ISIS – instead of dissolving – the imams merged with other councils of imams around the world, forming the Global Imams Council in 2018.
Today, the council has a membership exceeding 1,300 imams from both Sunni and Shia denominations and advises governments frequently. A recent addition to the council is Dr. Haider Alwan, adviser to the prime minister of Iraq on religion and national reconciliation.
Current developments in the Middle East are providing both hope and opportunity for prominent organizations to take a more public stand without their members fearing for their safety as they otherwise would.
Recent weeks have also shown Islamic leaders and imams in the Gulf backing the decisions of their governments to normalize relations with Israel. The idea of Muslim clergymen and politicians recognizing Israel’s sovereignty and right to exist at the same time is indeed historic.
Although many would argue that the Global Imams Council’s responsibility is much greater after the current and future peace agreements with Israel. Now, the door is open for such a significant Imams council to build on the efforts that have already been achieved, such as exploring the possibility of adopting the correct definition of antisemitism, and perhaps appointing a deputy imam in Israel to deal with the affairs of Israeli Muslims.
The Arab world is witnessing a social evolution that is resulting in bridges of peace being built between adherents of all religions. While this is primarily led by politicians, it is important to note that a religious society can only develop with the contributions of its clerics. Therefore, the next stage of this positive progress is for notable clerics and Imams Councils to take the lead in representing Islam and reclaim the narrative from the extremists that have prevented peace for decades, if not centuries.
The writer is an Iranian researcher on Islam and the Middle East. He holds a degree in strategic leadership and management, and is interested in Islamic reform, social developments in the Middle East as well as interfaith dialogue between Jewish and Muslim people.