The World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought
The World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought (Arabic: المجمع العالمي للتقريب بين المذاهب الإسلامية) is a nongovernmental organization, organized by a group of religious scholars in the Islamic world with the goal of proximity of Islamic denominations. The organization was founded in 1990 at the command of Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Forum for Proximity consists of three main parts: the general assembly, the supreme council, and secretary general. The members of the supreme council are selected by the members of the general assembly. In turn, the supreme council suggests a secretary general, who is then appointed by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The organization is centered in Iran, and at present its secretary general is Hamid Shahriari.
A main program of the Forum is its annual organization of International Islamic Unity Conference in Islamic Unity Week, in which intellectuals and scholars of different Islamic denominations take part.
In 1990, when the fourth Islamic Unity Conference was held in Tehran by Islamic Development Organization, in which a number of intellectuals in the Islamic world, the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought was founded at the command of Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
According to the website of the World Forum for Proximity, here are the goals of the organization:
- Revival and propagation of Islamic culture and teachings and defense of the sanctuary of the noble Quran and the tradition of the Prophet (s).
- Further interaction and mutual understanding among scholars, intellectuals, and leaders of the Islamic world in doctrinal, jurisprudential, social, and political matters.
- The spread of the idea of proximity among intellectuals and scholars of the Islamic world and its transmission to masses of Muslims, making them aware of the divisive plots of the enemies.
- The solidification and propagation of the principle of ijtihad and deduction of jurisprudential rulings in Islamic denominations.
- Establishment of a harmonious, unified front against the propagations and cultural invasions of the enemies of Islam in terms of well-founded Islamic principles.
- Removal of pessimisms and confusions among the followers of Islamic denominations.
Here are the main constitutive parts of the Forum for Proximity:
The members of the general assembly of the Forum select its Supreme Council from among scholars and intellectuals of various Islamic denominations around the world, if they agree with proximity of Islamic schools of thought, for a period of six years. The general assembly consists of four committees: Muslim minorities, propagations, challenges before the Islamic umma or nation, and women and their roles in proximity of Islamic denominations.
The Supreme Council
Members of the supreme council of the World Forum for proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought are appointed by the Supreme Leader of Iran from among scholars, intellectuals, and figures of Islamic denominations for six years.
The present members of the supreme council of the Forum for Proximity are:
The Secretary General
The general secretary is the highest administrative official of the Forum for Proximity, suggested by the supreme council and appointed by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran for four years. Muhammad Wa'izzada Khorasani (1990-2001), Muhammad Ali Taskhiri (2001-2012), Muhsin Araki (2012-2019) were secretary generals of the World Forum for Proximity. Since December 15, 2019, Hamid Shariari has been the secretary general of the Forum.
Activities and Associated Centers
The Forum for Proximity is active in fields of education, research, and propagation concerning issues of the proximity of Islamic denominations. Here are some of the activities and associated centers of the Forum:
- Holding international conferences and seminars concerning the proximity of Islamic denominations in different countries around the world, including International Islamic Unity Conference, which is held from 12-17 Rabi al-Awwal each year (in the Islamic Unity Week). In this conference, Shiite and Sunni scholars and intellectuals from around the world participate.
- University of Islamic Denominations: the university was founded for purposes of teaching all jurisprudential, legal denominations of Islam. Its central building is located in Tehran, with branches in Zahedan, Sanandaj, and Bandar Abbas.
- Research Institute of Proximity Studies: the research center has three research houses: jurisprudence and law, history and rijal (study of the credentials of hadith transmitters), and Qur'an and hadith. The building of the institute is located in Qom.
- Publications: The Forum publishes journals such as Risalat al-Taqrib (The Message of Proximity), Risalat al-Islam (The Message of Islam), Thiqafat al-Taqrib (The Culture of Proximity), Payk Taqrib (The Messenger of Proximity), and Andisha Taqrib (The Idea of Proximity). In the software of the works of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thoughts, 126 titles of its works in both Arabic and Persian are presented.
- Taqrib News Agency: This news agency publishes news about issues concerning proximity in the Islamic world in languages such as English, Arabic, Urdu, Persian, and French.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from مجمع جهانی تقریب مذاهب اسلامی in Farsi WikiShia.