Source: Religion News Service
By Prof. Omid Safi: He is a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in contemporary Islamic thought and classical Islam.
A recent story about Prince Charles learning Arabic in order to undertake a deeper study of the Qur’an has created a lot of hubbub in the British media.
The story has raised rumors yet again about the heir to the British throne’s deep fascination with Islam.
A decade ago, Islamophobes were already filled with dread that Prince Charles might have already converted to Islam.
So what is behind this attraction to Islam? What about Islam is proving so appealing to Prince Charles himself? To answer that question, let us listen to some of what he has to say.
Charles approaches Islam not primarily through the lens of security threats and international crises, but rather as a body of spiritual teachings. He states:
The Islamic world is the custodian of one of the greatest treasures of accumulated wisdom and spiritual knowledge available to humanity.
Much of his attractions to Islam actually comes from the insights of the Qur’an that come to identify the natural cosmos as a site where God is revealed and experienced:
There is a profound truth in that seemingly simple, old saying of the nomads — that “the best of all Mosques is Nature herself.”
Prince Charles has long displayed a deep concern for the environmental crises of the planet, and like many others he sees this not merely as a matter of science, but as a religious crisis:
The inconvenient truth is that we share this planet with the rest of creation for a very good reason – and that is, we cannot exist on our own without the intricately balanced web of life around us.
‘Islam has always taught this and to ignore that lesson is to default on our contract with creation.
Prince Charles and Camilla in Qatar for second leg of Middle East trip. The Prince revealed he has had six months of private Arabic tuition. But told students he struggles to understand the language
This, however, has not stopped the Prince of Wales from long being fascinated by Islam.
Yesterday, it emerged Charles has taken this interest a step further by having lessons in Arabic for the last six months.
This would enable him to read the Koran in its original form as well as decipher Arabic script on visits to mosques and museums.
Details emerged during a reception in the Qatari capital of Doha on his nine-day tour of the Middle East with the Duchess of Cornwall.
The Prince was at the launch of the Qatar-UK Alumni Network when its chairman Dr Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada asked if he spoke any Arabic.
Charles replied: ‘I tried to learn it once but I gave up. It goes in one ear and out the other.’
A royal aide confirmed he has been having lessons for six months, adding: ‘He is enormously interested in the region.’