THE King of Jordan, Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, has been awarded the 2018 Templeton Prize for his work promoting religious harmony within Islam and with other faiths, it was announced on Wednesday.
The Templeton Prize, worth £1.1 million, was established in 1972 by the late philanthropist Sir John Templeton, to reward an “exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension”.
Since his accession to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1999, King Abdullah II has sought to promote peace within Islam, the prizegivers say — a quest that began in earnest in the wake of the Iraq war, in 2004, when the fragile unity of Sunni and Shia Muslims in the region was at risk.
On the eve of Ramadan that year he released the Amman Message, a detailed statement that sought to declare the central elements of true Islam, and which affirmed that terrorism and violence had no place in the religion. He went on to issue the “Three Points of the Amman Message” in partnership with 200 scholars from 50 countries representing all schools of jurisprudence in Islam.
The first point recognised all eight legal schools of Islam; the second forbade declarations of apostasy between Muslims; and the third established conditions for issuing fatwas, Islamic legal rulings. More than 450 Islamic scholars and institutes in more than 50 countries have since endorsed it.
In 2006, King Abdullah II supported the initiative “A Common Word Between Us and You”, which called for peace between Muslims and Christians. It was based on the two commandments followed by both faiths: to love God and to love your neighbour. It has since been signed by more than 400 Muslim and Christian leaders.
He also proposed the annual UN World Interfaith Harmony Week in 2010 with a General Assembly resolution that expanded the commandments to include “love of the good” — thus including all people of faiths and none.
“Through these ground-breaking initiatives and many others, King Abdullah II has led a reclamation of Islam’s moderate theological narrative from the distortions of radicalism,” the prizegivers said.
“But these efforts have come with great personal cost including condemnation and death threats from radical terrorist groups. As a result of Jordan’s key geographical location, his efforts have required extraordinary courage to advance cooperation within Islam and between Islam and other religions.”
King Abdullah II, who is 56, was born in the Jordanian capital, Amma, to King Hussein and his second wife, British-born Princess Muna. He was educated in the UK and the United States, before serving in the British Army and Royal Jordanian Army.
He said in a video statement on Wednesday that the Templeton Prize was an “overwhelming experience”.
“I am especially moved by this prize-giving, because I feel it as a true hand of friendship to all those who share in the work for tolerance and mutual respect — my fellow Jordanians, Muslim and Christian, and Muslim men and women around the world, 1.8 billion people, who play a vital role in humanity’s progress and future.”
Watch King Abdullah II of Jordan accept the Templeton Prize, here.