By Jassim Abuzaid and Yousuf Mohammad
Prominent personalities from different parts of the Islamic world attended the inauguration of yearlong celebrations by Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, to mark the declaration of Madinah as the capital of Islamic culture in 2013.
Prince Salman arrived here yesterday and was received on arrival at Prince Muhammad International Airport by Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman. The crown prince was accompanied by a high-level delegation including Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, and Prince Muhammad bin Salman, head of the crown prince’s court.
In a statement on the occasion, Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal highlighted the important place of Madinah in the hearts of Muslims all over the world, being the city that hosted Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions, rendered all support to the Islamic faith and accommodated the Prophet’s Mosque, the second holiest mosque for world Muslims.
He commended Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for launching the largest expansion projects for the Haram Mosque in Makkah and Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
Prince Khaled said Madinah’s history and achievements qualify the city and its biggest sister Makkah “to become eternal capital of Islamic culture” as from this city the message of Islam spread all over the world, highlighting the values of justice, mercy and tolerance.
The celebration of Madinah, Prince Khaled said, reflects the city’s cultural, Islamic, humanitarian and global dimensions and its outstanding contributions to world civilization during the past 14 centuries.
Prince Sultan emphasized SCTA’s efforts to take care of Islamic historical sites in Madinah and other parts of the Kingdom.
According to a survey conducted by SCTA, there are 384 historical sites in Makkah and Madinah, with Madinah alone having 266 sites. “These sites are very important for Muslims as they tell stories of the history and progress of Islam.”
Prince Faisal underscored the role played by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in achieving Muslim unity and encouraging the faithful to follow the teachings of God in all walks of their lives. “This resulted in the formation of the highest human civilization based on equality and justice,” the Madinah governor said.
Prince Faisal underscored the historical, cultural, social and economic importance of Madinah. “It is the symbol of Islamic unity as Muslims from all over the world visit the city to pray at the Prophet’s Mosque and pay tribute to the Prophet,” the governor said.
Prince Faisal underscored the remarkable progress achieved by Madinah during the past years. He hoped the festivities would deepen the concept of Islamic cultural unity as well as values of tolerance and moderation.
Dr. Adnan Al-Mazroue, president Taibah University, said the Prophet’s migration to Madinah was a turning point in the city’s history. “The selection of Madinah as capital of Islamic culture is an important occasion for Muslims all over the world.” He said Taibah would hold a number of conferences and seminars to mark the occasion.
He said that Madinah has always received utmost care and attention from the rulers of this country, starting from the late King Abdul Aziz, then his sons Saud, Faisal, Khalid, Fahd, and King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
The selection of Madinah as the capital city of Islamic culture comes in a time when the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques launched this historic project to promote world dialogue, denounce extremism, turn to moderation, and to live in peaceful coexistence.
Meanwhile, the High Commission of the event has approved the final schedule of the activities and the appropriate media plan.
The organizers will use this occasion to promote the conduct and way of life of Prophet Muhammad and highlight the cultural, historical, and social status of the holy city. They will also highlight the achievements of Saudi Arabia and its efforts to develop the city and support the various cultural activities, within a framework affirming the Islamic identity.