Thursday, October 11, 2007

The World Cannot be at Peace Unless Christians and Muslims are at Peace

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.

References:

Pope Told 'Survival of World' at Stake if Muslims and Christians do not Make Peace

Muslim Statement on Peace Among the Religions 'Historic', Says Academic

7 comments:

Nita said...

This letter is indeed a very remarkable one and one that fundamentalists will not like at all! I think its great that these people have made this gesture of peace.
Actually I think they are right, there are some similarities between Christianity and Islam. And they both originated in the middle east!
But ofcourse I do believe that even if religious heads ever come to some sort of peace, the violence in this world will not end.
It is my view however that politicians and those who want political power are the ones who create the violence. And they find religion a convinient tool.They will find many reasons for the violence, many justifications.

Paul said...

"It is my view however that politicians and those who want political power are the ones who create the violence. And they find religion a convenient tool.They will find many reasons for the violence, many justifications."

This is very true, Nita! We cannot expect peace to come about simply because religious leaders agree their religions share a profound common grounds. But perhaps if they can agree on that -- and if they can get their message out -- it will be much harder for the politicians to divide us along religious lines. That, at least, is worth hoping for.

stevo said...

This letter interests me in the declaration it makes. Peace between these two foes would be remarkable, but that would be on a symbolic scale, wouldn't it. Religion is fragmented. Christianity and Islam are both of full of factions within factions. Until these belief systems clean their own houses can we expect anything more than window dressing and impotent words? How long did it take to settle the difference in Northern Ireland?

That's the realist in me talking. Optimistically, I'd love to see a global brotherhood where beliefs and faith are unimportant. It's something to work towards.

Mystic Wing said...

This is a hopeful sign, but unfortunately these scholars represent a relatively small, liberal side of Islam that is largely ignored by the center, which is considerably more fundamentalist and hostile to Judaic/Christian traditions.

I also heard one commmentator note that there is an inherent agenda here that Judaism is significantly excluded from the discussion. The unspoken suggestion is that Christians and Muslims unite against the Jewish problem, which is hardly a formula for peace.

Let's hope that it does open up discussion, though.

Webs said...

The only problem with this, is as this letter is revealed, people are blowing people up in Iraq under the name of a Muslim God. I understand these are fundamentalists, but many do not seem to understand this.

In other words, I think this is going to fall on deaf ears because all people will see is a letter and no action. If these scholars cannot help create a system where fighting in Iraq stops, then peace will not be found.

I'm not trying to be pessimistic, but I just think many Americans have some deep rooted hostility since 9/11 and they want to see real action of peace from Muslims, not a letter.

Hopefully I'm wrong on this one, because that would be pretty cool to see these two religions united.

Enreal said...

I hate to be the pessimist here...but a letter is just a letter, I wait to see what results in the meeting. It is one thing for the religious sects in the world to want to unite. I am all for world peace, but are our desires in this world going to fit in with the political leaders.

Sometimes behind all the hate that is masked by religious intolerance, there is a man behind a desk doing a favor, trying to win an election, or trying to make a profit.

There are plenty of zealous radicals who fight in the name of God, but ultimately they fight for the sake of their people, and the spiral of hate that is passed down from generation to generation.

Ultimately there will still be war, violence, hate and intolerance, regardless of what letters are written. There needs to be an ultimate desire for peace, from a majority of the world. The 138 scholars, thats not enough, and I am sure they did not ask their followers for input.

decrepitoldfool said...

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind"

"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."

This letter has an escape clause you could drive a jihad through.

I read right-wing blogs and they are counterparts to the jihadists. Enough factions on both sides want to keep the fighting going, and within those are people who want nothing less than genocide. Guess I'm not very optimistic.