Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle) to President Roosevelt 1

Your memorandum of March 15th2 regarding someone in the Mohammedan church with whom you could establish contact in the cause of peace.

There is no perfect choice. The best bet appears to be His Majesty Ibn Saud, King of Saudi Arabia.

The reasons for his choice are these:

He is keeper of the holy places (Mecca, Medina) and is in contact with the Mohammedan world through the constant stream of pilgrimages. He is a Sunnite; this sect comprises the overwhelming majority of the Moslem world. He is outside any belligerent territory, and therefore would not be controlled by some foreign power. He has, however, been on friendly terms with Great Britain.

The only danger lies in possible political repercussions in Turkey: I should like authority to discuss the question confidentially with the Turkish Ambassador, who is a devout Moslem. It might be well to [Page 130]accredit your representative to Ibn Saud but with authority to make contact with certain other figures in the Moslem world; for instance, Sheikh El-Maraghy, Rector of the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the principal Mohammedan theological leader. The Sheikh would not do as the representative, however. He would be too completely controlled by the Egyptians.

Adolf Berle
  1. Photostatic copy obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N. Y.
  2. Not found in Department files.