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Muslim World League

Muslim World League
Abbreviation MWL
Formation Template:If empty
Type NGO
Legal status foundation
Headquarters Makkah, Saudi Arabia
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Leader Dr. Abdullah bin Abdul Mohsin Al-Turki

–The United Nations Organization: Observer in consultative status with the ECOSOC.
– Organization of the Islamic Conference: Observe status in attendance at all meetings and conferences.
ISESCO: Member

UNICEF: Member
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Formerly called
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The Muslim World League (MWL, or Rabita from Arabic: رابطة العالم الإسلامي‎) ( Rabita al-Alam al-Islami) is one of the world's largest Islamic non-governmental organizations, with 36 satellite offices on five continents (including offices in New York, the District of Columbia, and London, as well as ten "external centers" in Europe, and ten "external offices" in Africa and the Middle East).[1]

The League is primarily funded by Saudi Arabia which seeks to sponsor and unify networks developed by the Islamic Revivalist or Salafi movements, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami.[2] Notable activities are sending out religious missionaries, distributing the works of its main ideologists (particularly Ibn Taymiyya and Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab) and "above all by raising funds for building mosques and subsidizing Islamic associations".[3] Among the League's goals in its charter are spreading the message of Islam, uniting "the ranks of the Muslims", and calling “on individuals, communities and state entities to abide by the rules of the Sharia.”[1]

The League has Observer in consultative status with the ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council) in the United Nations, Observer status in attendance at all Islamic summit meetings and conferences of the Islamic Foreign Ministers with the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and is a member of UNESCO and UNICEF.[4]


Muslim religious figures from 22 states founded the League in Makkah in 1962 at the First Meeting of the General Islamic Conference.[4] It was established as a counter-initiative to the more secular Arab nationalism of the then Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdul Nasser.[5][6] Then Saudi Crown Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz is seen as its founding figure.[5] The League is widely regarded as promoting the strict Salafi brand of Islam but broadens its reach by teaming up with other Islamic movements, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood[6][7] and Jamaat-e-Islami. Among the original nine members of the League's "Constituent Council" were "important representatives of the Salafi tendency": Said Ramadan, (son-in-law of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna), Abul A'la Maududi, and Maulanda Abu 'l-Hasan Nadvi (d. 2000) of India.[8]

The Second Meeting of the General Islamic Conference in 1965.[4]

In 1974 the League had a budget of $50 million.[9] As of 2003, according to political scientist Gilles Kepel, the league was "managed by members of the Saudi religious establishment", who work "with other Arabs who either belonged to the Muslim Brothers or were close to them". (The Brotherhood and Saudi have since fallen out.) Clerics from Indian subcontinent "connected to the Deoband School or to the party founded" by Abul A'la Maududi, were considered "close".[3]

The MWL was instrumental in helping build and funnel support for Afghan jihad fighters during the Jihad against the Soviet Union and Marxist Afghan regime. A MWL member, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam help found the Bureau of Services to the Mujahedeen (Maktab al-Khadamat) in Peshwar in 1984 to receive, supervise, and organize all the foreign Muslim fighters who came to fight in Afghanistan, and the Council of Islamic Coordination in 1985 which included a score of Arab `humanitarian Islamic organizations` in support of the Afghan resistance.[10] One of his lieutenants that went on to greater fame was Osama bin Laden.[11][12] According to at least one source, by the mid-1980s, the MWL was "one of the main conduits for Saudi funding" of the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.[13][14]

In 1987 the third General Islamic Conference was attended by 600 representatives from 134 countries. The conference denounced (the Shiite Islamic Republic) of Iran (which at the time was engaged in a war with Arab Sunni governed Iraq.) The Fourth General Islamic Conference was held in 2002.


According to various sources, the MWL is funded primarily by the Saudi-Arabian government.[3][15]

The current Secretary General is Dr. Abdallah Ben Abdel Mohsen At-Turki, a Saudi cleric. According to its website, the Secretariat General is the executive wing of the League. It supervises the Leagues day-to-day activities, and implements the policies and resolutions adopted by the Constituent Council. According to Hamid Algar, the statutes of the League require that the head of the Secretariat General be a Saudi citizen.[8]

The League website lists three councils affiliated with the League:

  • The General Islamic Conference – the body that originally founded the League. There have been four meetings of the conference, in 1962, 1965, 1987, 2002.[16]
  • The Constituent Council – the council has "about 60 members who are "prominent Muslim scholars representing Muslim peoples and minorities".[16] The presidency of the council is vested in the chief mufti of Saudi Arabia.[8]
  • World Supreme Council for Mosques – "has an independent legal personality". It was founded was in 1975 at the "Message of the Mosque" conference, held "under the auspices of the Muslim World League."[16]

In addition to the councils, the League has seven other "bodies" with various functions;[1][17]


According to scholar Olivier Roy, while "not openly Wahhabi", the WML "encourages" a type of Islam that is "very clearly conservative fundamentalist, based on a return to the Quran and the Sunna," and attempts "through publishing, grants and the organization of colloquia and seminars", to "influence" Islamist activity in a "conservative direction," away from "the issue of political power".[19]

The website of the WML states its functions and objectives as:

  • advocating the application of the rules of the Shariah either by individuals, groups, or states;
  • coordinating the efforts of Islamic preachers the world over;
  • developing methods for the propagation of Islam, peacefully in accord with the Qur'an and the Sunnah;
  • education and culture; holding symposia, rehabilitation, and refresher courses;
  • bringing intellectuals and opinion leaders together during the pilgrimage season with the aim of fostering closer relations among them and urging them to develop practical methods of raising the standard of Muslims in the world;
  • overseeing the activities of the Fiqh Council and lending it the support it needs to find Islamic solutions to contemporary problems;
  • promoting activities that aim at spreading the Arabic language and raising the standard of teaching to both Arabs and non-Arabs;
  • setting up branch offices as well as Islamic centers to serve the purpose of Islam;
  • extending urgent relief to Muslims affected by war and natural disasters; and making the activities and construction of mosques more effective.[7]

It also includes "Elucidating the true Islamic tenets, refuting the false allegations against Islam, combating the defamation of its image and the misguidance that is directed against call of the truth.".[4]


In addition to using its own funds for activities, the League connects recipients with donors. It will "identified worthy beneficiaries" of funds to build a mosque or subsidize an Islamic association, "invited them to Saudi Arabia, and give them the recommendation (tazkiya) that would later provide them with largesse from a generous private donor, a member of the royal family, a prince, or an ordinary businessman."[3]

In a rare decision on orthodox Muslim faith the Muslim World League declared in April 1974 (by fatwa) that followers of the Ahmadiyyah movement are to be considered "non-Muslims“.[20]

Federal agents raided the U.S. offices of the Muslim World League after the attacks of 9/11. Abdurahman Alamoudi, who worked for the League, was convicted for sending funds to terrorist groups.[21]

The League also actively engages in inter-faith dialogue with Jewish, Christian and Sikh personalities.[22]

While the MWL activities are primarily limited to those of a religious nature it has sometimes ventured into political activities. As the Soviet Union was seen to be losing in the Soviet–Afghan War, but before its dissolution, Sayyid Hassan Mutuhar writing in Muslim World League's weekly newspaper, (Muslim World News, March 20, 1990), reportedly described "popular revolts" in former Soviet Republics as "sufficient grounds to invoke the principle of Jus Quasitum (the right to recover), so expressly dealt with in the Holy Quran".[23] During the Second Chechen War, the secretary-general of the MWL, Abdullah bin Salah al-Obaid, reportedly declared (on November 16, 1999) that the Russian "federal subject" Dagestan, like Chechnya, had the right to secede from Russia and be an independent state. Bin Salah al-Obaid condemned Russian incursions into "Islamic territories" of the former Soviet Union.[24][25]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Muslim World League
  2. Roy, Olivier (1994). The Failure of Political Islam. Translated by Carol Volk. Harvard University Press. p. 110. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Kepel, Gilles (2003). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B.Tauris. p. 52. In 1962, the Muslim World League, a non-governmental organization funded by the Saudis, had been founded in Mecca; this was the first coherent and systematic institution whose avowed intent was to `Salafize` Islam worldwide and thereby negate the influence of Nasser's Egypt. It operated by sending out religious missionaries, distributing the works of its main ideologists (Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Wahhab notably) and above all by raising funds for building mosques and subsidizing Islamic associations. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "MUSLIM WORL LEAGUE (sic)" (PDF). Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Henderson, Simon (10 September 2003). "Institutionalized Islam: Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Policies and The Threat They Pose" (TESTIMONY). London: Islam Daily. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Martin Kramer, "Muslim Congresses", The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth". Pew Research. Sep 15, 2010. Retrieved Aug 2, 2013. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Algar, Hamid (2002). Wahhabism: A Critical Essay. Oneonta, NY: Islamic Publications International. pp. 49, 50. 
  9. Landau, Jacob M. (1994). The Politics of Pan-Islam. Clarendon Press. p. 284. 
  10. Kepel, Gilles (2002). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B.Tauris. p. 145. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  11. Kepel, Gilles (2002). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B.Tauris. p. 148. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  12. Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden's brother-in-law, worked at one time for the World Muslim League and then ran an International Islamic Relief Organization branch in Manila in the early 1990s that Philippine military authorities have identified as a `conduit of Arab financiers for money to the Abu Sayyaf' (source: Scheuer, Michael (2002). Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of ... Potomac Books, Inc.. p. 42. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  13. Gold, Dore (2003). Hatred's Kingdom. Regnery Publishing. p. 121. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  14. Bergen, Peter L. (2001). Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama Bin Laden. Simon and Schuster. p. 55. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  15. Dore Gold quotes a local representative of the Muslim World League as saying: "Let me tell you one thing. The Muslim World League, which is the mother of IIRO, is a fully government-funded organization. In other words, I work for the government of Saudi Arabia." Dore Gold (April 6, 2003). "Reining in Riyadh". Retrieved August 11, 2014. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "Muslim World League. Profile". Muslim World League. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  17. Muslim World League Islamic Focus
  18. Holy Qur’an Memorization International sees more than 40,000 Qur’an students| Arab News| 1 December 2012
  19. Roy, Olivier (1994). The Failure of Political Islam. Translated by Carol Volk. Harvard University Press. p. 116. 
  20. Yohanan Friedmann. Prophecy Continuous. Aspects of Ahmadi Religious Thought and Its Medieval Background. Oxford University Press, New Delhi. p. 44. 
  21. Paul Sperry. Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives have Penetrated Washington. Thomas Nelson. p. 80,106,212. 
  22. "World Conference on Dialogue". Muslim World League. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  23. Gold, Hatred's Kingdom, 2003: p.136
  24. (dead link)
  25. Gold, Hatred's Kingdom, 2003: p.139

Further reading

  • Johannes Grundmann: Islamische Internationalisten – Strukturen und Aktivitäten der Muslimbruderschaft und der Islamischen Weltliga. Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2005, ISBN 3-89500-447-2 (Review by I. Küpeli)
  • Dore Gold: Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism, pages 74–78, ISBN 978-0895260611, Regnery Publishing, 2004

External links

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