King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan received the 2018 Templeton Prize at Washington National Cathedral on Nov. 13.
“Today, I am truly humbled to be recognized by all of you,” the king said. “But let me say, everything you honor me for simply carries onward what Jordanians have always done, and how Jordanians have always lived — in mutual kindness, harmony, and brotherhood. And so I accept this extraordinary prize, not on my own behalf, but on behalf of all Jordanians.”
“His Majesty King Abdullah the Second is a person shaped by temporal and political responsibilities, yet one who holds the conviction that religious belief and the free exercise of religion are among humankind’s most important callings,” said Heather Templeton Dill, president of the John Templeton Foundation.
The king’s quest to promote peace-affirming Islam gained momentum in 2004 in the wake of the Iraq War when he launched the “Amman Message,” which articulated a clear understanding of the central elements of Islam.
In 2005, 200 Islamic scholars representing all schools of jurisprudence in Islam, under his guidance, issued a declaration now known as the “Three Points of the Amman Message,” which recognized the validity of all eight legal schools of Islam, forbade declarations of apostasy between Muslims, and established conditions for issuing fatwas, Islamic legal rulings.
The next year, King Abdullah II supported and funded “A Common Word Between Us and You,” which led to a 2007 open letter from Islamic religious leaders to Christian religious leaders calling for peace and harmony based on the twin commandments shared by both faiths, “love of God” and “love of the neighbor.”
“Your majesty, with the Common Word you have proclaimed powerfully the truth which none of us should ever forget: peace among religions is inseparable from dialogue about love of God and love of neighbor,” said professor Miroslav Volf of Yale Divinity School. “Truth-seeking conversations about what matters the most are not an expendable luxury; they are a cultural necessity. Without them, we, diverse denizens of the blue planet and creatures of the one God, won’t be able to walk into our common human future.”
The Templeton Prize, valued at £1.1 million, is one of the world’s largest annual individual awards and honors a person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.
King Abdullah II said a portion of the Templeton Prize “will help renovate and restore religious sites in Jerusalem, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The entire remaining sum is also being donated to humanitarian, interfaith, and intra-faith initiatives, in Jordan and around the world.”