Today, 138 leading Muslim scholars from around the world will present an unprecedented open letter to the Pope and many other Christian leaders.
The letter calls for peace between Christians and Muslims, and notes that:
Together they [Christians and Muslims] make up more than 55 per cent of the population, making the relationship between these two religious communities the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world. If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace.The scholars state:
As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes.The scholars then continue:
With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world's inhabitants. Thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.Well, they've got that right -- a religious war between Muslims and Christians would turn the whole world into a Northern Ireland.
Yet, what makes this letter remarkable is, not just the call for peace between Christians and Muslims, but -- and this may be of more lasting importance -- the Muslim scholars assert that Christianity and Islam share a profound common ground: "The Unity of God, the necessity of love for [God], and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity." According to the BBC radio this morning, the 29 page letter even asserts that Christians and Muslims worship the same god, and that all the prophets, including Jesus and Mohamed, were revealed the same truths. The 138 scholars are from every school in Islam.
The way I figure it, this is a necessary and long overdue -- but rather small step -- towards peace.
For it to be of any lasting significance, it must lead to much greater things than a few conferences. The notion that Islam and Christianity are not inherently at odds with each other must become commonplace wisdom everywhere in the world. For something like that to happen will certainly take a lot of time and effort -- if it happens at all. Still, a journey of 10,000 miles begins with one step. This could be that step.
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