Article

Organization of the Islamic Conference

Saad S. Khan

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online May 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0120
Organization of the Islamic Conference

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No serious study of the contemporary Muslim world can be completely divorced from an understanding of the phenomenon of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Although not very effective—particularly in solving the political problems, conflicts, and issues of the intra-Muslim world—the OIC owes its relevance to its unique status as the only forum among Muslim countries for articulating the sentiments and aspirations of their peoples and attempting to reflect a collective political voice. This largest intergovernmental body of the Muslim countries, commonly known by the abbreviation OIC or sometimes by the shortened form “the Islamic Conference,” is now more of a phenomenon than a coherent or homogenous political platform. Established on 25 September 1969 in response to the arson of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem—the third holiest shrine in the world of Islam—it has grown in membership from the twenty-two countries that attended the founding conference in Rabat, Morocco, to fifty-seven countries by the early 21st century, spanning Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. In addition, another three countries and two Muslim-dominated territories (the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in the Southern Philippines) enjoy observer status. Although what qualifies a country to be treated as a “Muslim state”—and thereby what entitles a country to apply for OIC membership—is under dispute, the fact remains that just under one-third of the United Nations membership is also part of the OIC in member or observer status. The OIC is the largest intra-Islamic body and the biggest—if not the only—intergovernmental forum based principally on a religion. Although the general secretariat of the OIC is located in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jidda (temporarily, its charter insists, “pending the liberation of the holy city of Jerusalem”), to view the OIC as a single organization would be wrong. In fact it is an umbrella for a number of intra-Islamic institutions, federations, and even universities.

Article.  6851 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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