Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Issa

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Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa
Al-Issa - Headshot.jpg
Secretary General of the Muslim World League
Assumed office
12 August 2016
Preceded byAbdallah Ben Abdel Mohsen At-Turki
Minister of Justice
In office
14 February 2009 – 29 January 2015
Prime MinisterKing Abdullah
King Salman
Preceded byAbdullah bin Muhammad Al Sheikh
Succeeded byWaleed Al-Samani
Personal details
Born (1965-06-10) 10 June 1965 (age 55)
NationalitySaudi Arabian
Alma materImam Muhammad bin Saud University

Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Issa (Arabic: محمد بن عبد الكريم العيسى‎; born 9 June 1965) is a Saudi Arabian politician, Secretary General of the Muslim World League,[1] President of the International Islamic Halal Organization, and former Minister of Justice.

Al-Issa is considered a leading global voice on moderate Islam as well as a key figure in the fight to combat extremist ideology.[2][3] Religious leaders and government officials alike have commended Al-Issa for his efforts to promote moderation, and cooperation and coexistence among all people.[4][5][6]

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York and an influential member of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, referred to Al-Issa as the "most eloquent spokesperson in the Islamic world for reconciliation and friendship among the religions of the world."[7] In a historic meeting with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell Nelson stated to Al-Issa, “You are a peacemaker. You are a bridge builder. And we need more leaders like you.”[8] The American Jewish Committee has called Al-Issa “the most powerful voice in the Muslim world promoting moderate Islam.”[9] Elan Carr, current U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, said Al-Issa "has chosen a future of tolerance and affection, where Jews and Christians can be embraced by their Muslim brethren.”[10]

Early life and education[edit]

Al-Issa was born in Riyadh on 10 June 1965.[11][12] He obtained a bachelor of arts degree in Comparative Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) at Imam Muhammad bin Saud University.[13] He holds a master of arts degree and PhD in Comparative Judicial Studies as well as in Studies in General Law and Constitutional Law from Imam Muhammad bin Saud University.[11]


After graduation, Al-Issa began to work at Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University as a faculty member.[13] He became vice president to the board of grievances (a legal body for arbitration) in 2007, and he served there until 2009.[13][14] He was appointed Minister of Justice to the Saudi cabinet on 14 February 2009 in a major cabinet reshuffle, replacing Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Sheikh.[15][16] Al Sheikh had been in office since 1992.[17] The appointment of Al-Issa as Minister of Justice was part of King Abdullah's reform initiatives.[18][19]

Since Al-issa left the Board of Grievance; the executions have increased in the kingdom, from 69 in 2010 to 158 in 2015 [20] - Saudi courts are affiliated with the Board of Grievances (An independent body affiliated with the King) and do not belong to the Ministry of Justice [111].

Al-Issa was appointed Secretary General of the Muslim World League on 4 August 2016.[21]

Notices and Facts: after Al-issa had left the board of grievances the number of human rights violations had increased; in 2011 was the beheading of Amina Nasser, a Saudi Arabian woman accused and convicted of "witchcraft and sorcery",[22] and the imprisonment of Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian activist sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in 2014 for starting an online forum for social and political debate.[23]


Issa argued in a lecture at Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh in 2012 that Salafism is only an approach and that it should not be viewed as Islam. He further emphasized that Salafi approach is moderate and that it means following and obeying the ancestors’ belief and values in regard to the understanding of Islam.[24]

Issa acknowledges the horror of the Holocaust and denounced the efforts of Holocaust denial. He advocates for Muslim immigrants to Western countries to integrate socially, in contrast to Wahhabi ideology.[25] In January 2020, Issa led a delegation of Islamic scholars to visit Srebrenica in Bosnia, and the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, during the 75th anniversary of its liberation.[26] In a speech on how Muslims and Jews can work together, Al-Issa stated that the Muslim World League is proud to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the Jewish community to build better understanding, respect and harmony.[27]

Issa is opposed to Political Islam, saying that it does not reflect the true values of Islam and prevents assimilation of Muslims living in non-Muslim countries.[28]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Since taking over the Muslim World League in 2016, Dr. Al-Issa has received a number of awards and recognitions from a wide range of prominent international institutions and government officials.

  • October 2020: The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre named Al-Issa one of the most influential Muslims globally in its 2020 edition of “The Muslim 500: The World’s Most Influential Muslims.”[29]
  • June 2020: Dr. Al-Issa received the inaugural Combat Anti-Semitism Award from the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement and the American Sephardi Federation for his contributions to the fight against anti-Semitism and racism.[30][31][32]
  • August 2019: Dr. Al-Issa was awarded the “Children of Abraham” Award alongside the head of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Rabbi Marc Schneier by the Florence School of Advanced Studies for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue at the 40th annual Rimini Meeting.[33]
  • July 2019: Senegal's President Macky Sall awarded Dr. Al-Issa the Grand Order of the State in recognition of his efforts to promote religious understanding and harmony, and humanitarian programs around the world.[34]
  • February 2019: Dr. Al-Issa received the World’s Religions Peace Award from the National Council on US-Arab Relations for his international efforts to promote interfaith peace and harmony.[35]
  • November 2018: Dr. Al-Issa received the 2018 Moderation Prize from Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal for his efforts to combat extremist and terrorist ideology and promote moderation and peace.[36]
  • July 2018: Dr. Al-Issa received the 2018 Galileo International Award from the Galileo Foundation in Florence, Italy for his international achievements and leadership in promoting religious and cultural unity.[37]


  1. ^ "Dr. Al-Issa takes over as secretary general of MWL". The International Islamic News Agency (IINA). Retrieved 14 August 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "MWL chief receives World's Religions Peace Award". Arab News. 20 February 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  3. ^ Ahmari, Sohrab (22 October 2019). "A voice for Muslim-world moderation". New York Post. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Senegal president honors Muslim World League chief for efforts to spread moderation". Arab News. 7 July 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Muslim World League cited in US for its anti-extremism campaign". Arab News. 9 February 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  6. ^ Woods, John. "Cardinal Dolan Hosts Leader of Muslim World League". Catholic New York. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  7. ^ "@CardinalDolan welcomed HE Dr. Mohammad Al Issa". Twitter. 30 April 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  8. ^ "Muslim World League and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints resolve to enhance cooperation and promote respect and coexistence". AP NEWS. 6 November 2019. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa". Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  10. ^ "MWL's chief honored for fighting anti-Semitism, calls for unity against hatred". Saudigazette. 10 June 2020. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Minister of Justice". Saudi Embassy Washington. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Mohamad bin Abdul Karim Issa". GLP. Retrieved 8 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ a b c "Profiles". Saudi Gazette. 15 February 2009. Archived from the original on 24 September 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Christopher Boucek (June 2009), "Saudi Arabia's king changes the guard" (PDF), Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst, Carnegie Endowment, archived from the original (PDF) on 11 April 2010, retrieved 5 May 2012 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Council of Senior Ulema reconstituted". Saudi Gazette. Riyadh. 15 February 2009. Archived from the original on 15 September 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "King Abdullah Conducts Major Cabinet Reshuffle". Asharq Alawsat. 15 February 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "The Council of Ministers". Saudia Online. Retrieved 8 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "King Abdullah Reshuffles Cabinet, Embarks on New Reform Initiative". US-Saudi Arabian Business Council. Archived from the original on 18 May 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ "Saudi King appoints first woman to council". CNN. 14 February 2009. Retrieved 1 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ "Number of executions carried out by Saudi-Arabia from 2007 to June 2017". Statista. June 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  21. ^ "Dr. Al-Issa took office as Secretary General of the Muslim World League". Muslim World League. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  22. ^ "Saudi Arabia: Beheading for 'sorcery' shocking". Amnesty International. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  23. ^ "Doudi writes to his dad in prison in Saudi Arabia". Amnesty International. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  24. ^ "Salafism is only an approach, says justice minister". The Muslim Times. Retrieved 28 August 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. ^ Hannah, John. "It's Time for Saudi Arabia to Stop Exporting Extremism". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 6 May 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  26. ^ "Muslim World League chief heads delegation to genocide sites in Bosnia and Poland". Arab News. 22 January 2020.
  27. ^ "Muslim World League head becomes first recipient of award uniting faiths". 9 June 2020. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  28. ^ "Saudi Islamic Scholar Muhammad Bin Abdul Karim Issa: There Is No Place for Political Islam in France or Anywhere Else; People Must Respect the Laws and Values of Their Country or Leave". France 24 Arabic TV (in Arabic). MEMRI. 14 March 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  29. ^ "The Muslim 500: The World's Most Influential Muslims" (PDF). Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. 1 October 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  30. ^ "Saudi cleric says combatting anti-Semitism a duty". Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  31. ^ "Muslim World League will stand 'shoulder to shoulder' with Jews against anti-Semitism". Al Arabiya English. 10 June 2020. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  32. ^ "Top Saudi cleric: Jews, Muslims need to join forces to fight antisemitism". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  33. ^ "NY Rabbi, head of Muslim World League receive 'Children of Abraham' award". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  34. ^ "President of Senegal decorates MWL Secretary General with State Greater Medal وكالة الأنباء السعودية". Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  35. ^ "MWL chief receives World's Religions Peace Award". Arab News. 20 February 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  36. ^ "Muslim World League chief praised for global efforts to combat extremism". Arab News. 8 November 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  37. ^ "MWL Chief Receives Galileo International Award". Asharq AL-awsat. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Abdallah Ben Abdel Mohsen At-Turki
Secretary General of Muslim World League
2016 –
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Abdullah Aal Al Sheikh
Minister of Justice
2009 – 2015
Succeeded by
Waleed Al-Samani[1]
  1. ^ "Saudi King orders major cabinet shake-up". Asharq Al-Awsat daily newspaper. Retrieved 30 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)