Thursday, October 11, 2007

138 Top Muslim Scholars Call For Peace

By Cernig

Here's yet another call by moderate Muslims - 138 of the top Muslim scholars on the planet - for an end to religious bloodshed which will, as Ali Eteraz noted yesterday, be entirely ignored or slapped down by the xenophobic bigots of the Right's-far-Right.
The "survival of the world" is at risk if Muslims and Christians cannot make peace, leaders from every sect of Islam have warned.

The prediction came in an open letter signed by 138 prominent Muslim scholars in a bid to defuse inter-religious tensions.

The letter, which was sent to Pope Benedict, The Archbishop of Canterbury and other Christian leaders around the world, calls on Christians "to come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions" and spells out the similarities between passages of the Bible and the Koran.

It goes on: "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 missive, organised by the Royal aAL al-Bayed Institute for Islamic Thought, notes that Christians and Muslims make up over a third and a fifth of humanity respectively, "making the relationship between these two religious communities the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world".

..."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."

"And to those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say that our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony."

The message closes with a quote from the Koran: "So let our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us vie with each other only in righteousness and good works."

Signatories include Shaykh Sevki Omarbasic, Grand Mufti of Croatia, Dr Abdul Hamid Othman, adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Dr Ali Ozak, head of the endowment for Islamic scientific studies in Istanbul, Turkey.

A spokesman for the Institute, a non-governmental organisation based in Amman, Jordan, said the letter was "an open invitation to Christians to unite with Muslims over the most essential aspects of their respective faiths - the principles of love of one God and love of the neighbour".

"It is hoped that the recognition of this common ground will provide the followers of both faiths with a shared understanding that will serve to defuse tensions around the world."

The letter was welcomed by the Bishop of London, who called for a meaningful response from the Pope in easing inter-religious tension.

Bishop Richard Charters said the letter could lead to a deepening of ecumenical relationships between the two religions and the Vatican's response would be "pivotal".
The ball, as they say, is in His Holiness' court.

Update 12th October Here's an encouraging sign of a positive response from the Vatican:
The top Vatican official in charge of relations with Islam on Friday welcomed an unprecedented call from 138 Muslim scholars for peace and understanding between their religions.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran told Vatican Radio he found the letter, released on Thursday, "very interesting," in part because it was signed by both Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims and made numerous references to the Old and New Testaments.

The letter, addressed to Pope Benedict and other prominent Christian leaders, said finding common ground between the world's major faiths had to go beyond polite dialogue because "the very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake".

Tauran, a Frenchman who heads the Vatican's department for inter-religious dialogue, said he welcomed the fact that the letter was "not polemical" and called for a spiritual approach to inter-religious dialogue.

Such a joint letter was unprecedented in Islam, which has no central authority that speaks on behalf of all worshippers.
If both Christians and Muslims can begin to work together to head off the bigots and xenophobes from both sides, this here pagan thinks the world will be a better place for it.

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