(Jerusalem, Israel) — In an historic moment in what I call “faith diplomacy,” the top Muslim religious leader in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in southern Poland for the first time on Thursday.
He will also participate a delegation of Muslim and Jewish leaders commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz 75 years ago this week.
The cleric’s name is Sheikh Mohammad Al-Issa, head of the Muslim World League in Riyadh.
I have met the Sheikh several times during my past two visits to the Kingdom and have spent many hours in dialogue with him. My Evangelical Delegation colleagues and I consider him a true friend who is genuinely interested in respectful inter-faith relations and advancing moderate Islam.
The Times of Israel has just published an excellent article previewing the Sheikh’s visit and quoting several experts on why it is significant.
“Joel Rosenberg, an Evangelical Christian and an American-Israeli author who has met with Issa twice in Saudi Arabia, said that he believed the Saudi religious leader has the backing of the Riyadh’s leadership to make the trip to Auschwitz,” the Times reported.
“He definitely would not be making this visit if the crown prince did not want him to do so,” Rosenberg said in a phone call, referring to Issa as in the “close orbit” of Prince Mohammed.
I commend the full story to your attention.
Let’s pray this trip helps 1.6 billion Muslims around the world learn more about the Holocaust, Jewish history and the importance of a sovereign and strong State of Israel. Let’s pray, too, that the Sheikh and his colleagues will one day be able to accept my invitation to come visit the Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy places here in Jerusalem and throughout the Land of Israel.