The Charter of Makkah: the return of Islam to the arena of civilization?

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On May 29, 2019, more than 1,200 Muslim scholars, imams and Islamic jurists signed the Charter of Makkah. This document has either been hailed as a major novelty in Islamic religious discourse or a mere political maneuver on the Saudi side. In this article I argue that the Charter is indeed a significant document for the renewal of Islamic religious discourse, although many critical issues remain. In Section 1, I discuss the political and socio-religious context that paved the way for the Charter, showing how this document can be seen as a consequence of real transformations in Arab-Islamic societies and in particular the decline of Islamist currents. Section 2 will be devoted to the analysis of the practical and epistemological strategy that has allowed the Charter to overcome the dualism of tradition and modernity – which lies at the heart of the crisis of Arab-Islamic reason – whereas Sections 3 and 4 address the novelties in the language of the Charter compared to previous documents. I argue that the Charter’s language was significantly developed, having abandoned the tendency to compromise between different hostile parties. Section 5 focuses on the contents of the Charter, which show an unprecedented openness to diversity, although the reluctance to conform to international standards of fundamental human rights and freedoms is still evident. In the Conclusions I provide my final remarks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-110
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Interreligious dialogue
  • Islam
  • Linguistic analysis


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