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Prince Charles's speech on Islam

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    Prince Charles's speech on Islam

    Not sure whether this would be of interest, but thought I might as well post it. The speech is a bit old now; excerpts were printed in the UK's Times newspaper.

    Wilton Park, UK
    13 December 1996
    Speech by HRH the Prince of Wales

    I start from the belief that Islamic civilisation at its best, like many of the religions of the East - Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism - has an important message for the West in the way it has retained an integrated and integral view of the sanctity of the world around us. I feel that we in the West could be helped to rediscover the roots of our own understanding by an appreciation of the Islamic tradition's deep respect for the timeless traditions of the natural order.
    I believe that process could help in the task of bringing our two faiths closer together. It could also help us in the West to rethink, and for the better, our practical stewardship of man and his environment - in fields such as health-care, the natural environment and agriculture, as well as in architecture and urban planning.

    Modern materialism is unbalanced and increasingly damaging in its long-term consequences. Yet nearly all the great religions of the world have held an integral view of the sanctity of the world. The Christian message with, for example, its deeply mystical and symbolic doctrine of the Incarnation, has been traditionally a message of the unity of the worlds of spirit and matter, and of God's manifestation in this world and in mankind.

    But during the past three centuries, in the Western world at least, a dangerous division has occurred in the way we perceive the world around us. Science has tried to assume a monopoly - even a tyranny - over our understanding. Religion and science have become separated, so that now, as Wordsworth said, "Little we see in nature that is ours". Science has attempted to take over the natural world from God; it has fragmented the cosmos and relegated the sacred to a separate and secondary compartment of our understanding, divorced from practical, day to day existence.

    We are only now beginning to gauge the disastrous results. We in the Western world seem to have lost a sense of the wholeness of our environment, and of our immense and inalienable responsibility to the whole of creation. This has led to an increasing failure to appreciate or understand tradition and the wisdom of our forebears, accumulated over the centuries. Indeed tradition is positively discriminated against - as if it were some socially unacceptable disease.

    In my view, a more holistic approach is needed now. Science has done the inestimable service of showing us a world much more complex than we ever imagined. But in its modern, materialist, one-dimensional form, it cannot explain everything. God is not merely the ultimate Newtonian mathematician or the mechanistic clockmaker. As science and technology have become increasingly separated from ethical, moral, and sacred considerations, so the implications of such a separation have become more sombre and horrifying - as we see in genetic manipulation or in the consequences of the kind of scientific arrogance so blatant in the scandal of BSE.

    I have always felt that tradition is not a man-made element in our lives, but a God-given intuition of natural rhythms, of the fundamental harmony that emerges from the union of the paradoxical opposites that exist in every aspect of nature. Tradition reflects the timeless order of the cosmos, and anchors us into an awareness of the great mysteries of the universe, so that, as Blake put it, we can see the whole universe in an atom and eternity in a moment. That is why I believe Man is so much more than just a biological phenomenon resting on what we now seem to define as "the bottom line" of the great balance sheet of life, according to which art and culture are seen increasingly as optional extras in life.

    This view is quite contrary, for example, to the outlook of the Muslim craftsman or artist, who is never concerned with display for its own sake, nor with progressing ever forward in his own ingenuity, but is content to submit a man's craft to God. That outlook reflects, I believe, the memorable passage in the Koran, "whithersoever you turn there is the face of God and God is all-embracing, all knowing". While appreciating that this essential innocence has been destroyed, and destroyed everywhere, I nevertheless believe that the survival of civilised values, as we have inherited them from our ancestors, depends on the corresponding survival in our hearts of that profound sense of the sacred and the spiritual.

    Traditional religions, with their integral view of the universe, can help us to rediscover the importance of the integration of the secular and the sacred. The danger of ignoring this essential aspect of our existence is not just spiritual or intellectual. It also lies at the heart of the great divide between the Islamic and Western worlds over the place of materialism in our lives. In those instances where Islam chooses to reject Western materialism, this is not, my view, a political affectation or the result of envy or a sense of inferiority. Quite the opposite. And the danger that the gulf between the worlds of Islam and the other Eastern religions on the one hand and the West on the other will grow ever wider and more unbridgeable is real, unless we can explore together practical ways of integrating the sacred and the secular in both our cultures in order to provide a true inspiration for the next century.

    Islamic culture in its traditional form has striven to preserve this integrated, spiritual view of the world in a way we have not seen fit to do in recent generations in the West. There is much we can learn from that Islamic world view in this respect.

    There are many ways in which mutual understanding and appreciation can be built. Perhaps, for instance, we could begin by having more Muslim teachers in British schools, or by encouraging exchanges of teachers. Everywhere in the world people want to learn English. But in the West, in turn, we need to be taught by Islamic teachers how to learn with our hearts, as well as our heads. The approaching millennium may be the ideal catalyst for helping to explore and stimulate these links, and I hope we shall not ignore the opportunity this gives us to rediscover the spiritual underpinning of our entire existence.

    Mashaallaah, nice speech by Prince charles, considering his dad is a freemason! Lets hope he meant what he said and may Allah guide him to the religion of truth, inshaallaah.


      NIce indeed. But ironic how someone who has never worked a day in his life and lives in obscene wealth that is based on colonialism and entitlement is lecturing on the virtues of materialism.


        Infoman - Very interesting comments, I never appreciated the irony in that way.

        You might argue the same thing about not just the Prince of Wales, but for many of today's Muslim leaders. Pick any Arab country - Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, UAE: what do they all have in common? Unbelievably rich, Muslim rulers who have amassed billions of dollars, who go jet-setting in France or Italy when it suits their fancy. It wouldn't hurt them to live by Islamic principles and do something for their (Muslim) brothers and sisters around the world - this would be much more in alignment with Islam than, say, driving around in Mercedes all day long and amassing more and more wealth.

        A friend of my father worked as an engineer for one sheikh; he showed us pictures of this sheikh's washrooms. The outer shell of the pipes were gold-plated. Does anyone truly need gold-plated pipes in their washroom? I think not. Would people in Iraq, Chechnya, Palestine, Afghanistan, (the list goes on) benefit from that money? The answer is obvious.


          I guess we all have to take these comments from 'royalty" with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, it does more for their souls than those of the deprived.


            Originally posted by sheba:
            Mashaallaah, nice speech by Prince charles, considering his dad is a freemason! .
            So what. freemasons are from all religions who are montheistic. Islam, christianity and judaism.

            The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.