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‘A Common Word’ in the News

Christians and Muslims condemn violence

ISLAMIC and Christian leaders and scholars condemned religious
viol­ence in a communiqué issued on Wednesday at Lambeth Palace, at the
end of a three-day conference to mark the first anniversary of the
Muslim letter “A Common Word”. In a two-page text, 17 religious leaders and scholars from
Europe and the Middle East say they are “deeply troubled” by the
threats to the Christian community in Mosul, northern Iraq.
“We find no justification in Islam or Christianity for those
promoting the insecurity or perpetuating the violence evident in parts
of Iraq.”
The conference, entitled “A Com­mon Word and Future
Muslim-Christian Engagement”, built on the letter sent by Muslim
scholars to Western and Eastern church leaders last year. It proposed
that the two faiths draw together on the basis of all that they had in
In the communiqué, they also announce that in the coming year
they will translate “significant texts” from each tradition to be used
by the other; promote educational material that provided “a fair
reflection of our faiths”; and link academic institu­tions together to
work on shared values.
During a press conference on Wednesday, the Grand Mufti of
Egypt, Dr Ali Gomaa, rejected press reports that he had praised
suicide- bombers in Palestine. The reports were wrong and had “muddied
the picture. . . We are against any per­secution of any minorities,” he
If the two faiths worked together they could do more to help the
poor. “We are not doing a good enough job,” he said through his
interpreter. He hoped the “good character” of the two religions would
prevent the crisis from proliferating.
Dr Williams said that there were many examples of small-scale
ac­tiv­ities by both faiths, based on “ a very clear religious ethic”.

Full text of the communiqué

We, the Christian and Muslim leaders and scholars gathered for the
Conference on A Common Word and Future Muslim-Christian Engagement from
12 to 15 October 2008AD/1429AH, give thanks to Almighty God for the
opportunity to meet together and grow in mutual understanding, trust
and friendship. 

We wish to express our particular gratitude
to the His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for
convening the conference in partnership with the Cambridge Inter-Faith
Programme and the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Foundation, and for hosting us at
Lambeth Palace.  We are grateful too for the extraordinarily generous
hospitality offered by the Colleges and University of Cambridge.  We
are especially appreciative of  Emmanuel College’s hosting our opening
lectures and dinner, Jesus College for offering facilities for our
plenary and group discussions and providing meals, Clare College for
dinner and fine music, as well as the great number of students and
staff of the Colleges who never tired of offering cheerful assistance.

are conscious that our meeting represented the most significant
gathering of international Muslim leaders ever to take place in the
United Kingdom, matched by a similarly wide diversity of traditions and
geographical backgrounds amongst the Christian participants.  We were
greatly stimulated by the opening addresses to the conference by the
Archbishop and His Excellency Dr Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt,
and the responses to their addresses by His Eminence Dr Mustafa Ceriã,
the Grand Mufti of Bosnia Herzegovina and His Beatitude Gregorios III,
Melkite Greek-Catholic Patriarch of Antioch & All the East, of
Alexandria and of Jerusalem.  

We live in an increasingly global world that brings with it
increased interdependence.  The closer we are drawn together by this
globalisation and interdependence, the more urgent is the need to
understand and respect one another in order to find a way out of our
troubles.  Meeting at a time of great turbulence in the world financial
system our hearts go out to the many people throughout the world whose
lives and livelihood are affected by the current crisis.  When a crisis
of this magnitude occurs, we are all tempted to think solely of
ourselves and our families and ignore the treatment of minorities and
the less fortunate.  In this conference we are celebrating the shared
values of love of God and love of neighbour, the basis of A Common
Word, whilst reflecting self-critically on how often we fall short of
these standards.  We believe that the divine commandment to love our
neighbour should prompt all people to act with compassion towards
others, to fulfil their duty of helping to alleviate misery and
hardship.  It is out of an understanding of shared values that we urge
world leaders and our faithful everywhere to act together to ensure
that the burden of this financial crisis, and also the global
environmental crisis, does not fall unevenly on the weak and the poor. 
We must seize the opportunity for implementing a more equitable global
economic system that also respects our role as stewards of the earth’s

Our gathering was timed to coincide with the first
anniversary of A Common Word Between Us and You.  We unanimously
welcomed this letter from Muslim leaders and scholars and the
Archbishop’s letter A Common Word for the Common Good, noting both
their historic, ground-breaking nature and the collegial processes from
which they issued.  The generous spirit that characterises both letters
allowed us, carefully and honestly, to begin exploring areas of
potential agreement as well as some of the difficult issues which have
sometimes become the focus for misunderstanding and hostility.  We
discussed our understanding of scripture, shared moral values, respect
for foundational figures, religious freedom and religiously motivated

As we were meeting together, we were deeply troubled to learn of the
situation in Mosul (Iraq) where threats to the Christian community have
further added to the tragic Iraqi refugee situation. These threats
undermine the centuries-old tradition of local Muslims protecting and
nourishing the Christian community, and must stop.  We are profoundly
conscious of the terrible suffering endured by Iraqi people of every
creed in recent years and wish to express our solidarity with them.  We
find no justification in Islam or Christianity for those promoting the
insecurity or perpetrating the violence evident in parts of Iraq.  We
call upon the religious, political and community leaders to do all in
their power to promote the return of all persons and communities,
including the ancient Christian communities, and ensure a stable
environment in which all citizens can flourish.    We unequivocally
declare that, in Iraq as anywhere else in the world, no person or
community should be persecuted or threatened on account of their
religious faith.  We must all have a particular concern for religious
minorities in our midst. We pray that Iraq may find peace and that our
two religions may work together to overcome divisions in society,
demonstrating faithfulness to the dual commandment to love God and love

One of the most moving elements of our encounter has been the
opportunity to study together passages from our scriptures.  We have
felt ourselves to have been together before God and this has given us
each a greater appreciation for the richness of the other’s heritage as
well as an awareness of the potential value in being joined by Jewish
believers in a journey of mutual discovery and attentiveness to the
texts we hold sacred.  We wish to repeat the experience of a shared
study of scriptural texts as one of the ways in which we can come,
concretely, to develop our understanding of how the other understands
and lives their own faith.  We commend this experience to others.

Looking towards the future, mindful of the crucial importance of
education and inspired by our presence in a great seat of learning, we
have also been keen to identify specific ways in which our encounter
might be broadened and deepened.  We have, therefore, committed
ourselves to the following over the coming year:

·         To identify and promote the use of educational materials,
for all age-groups and in the widest possible range of languages, that
we accept as providing a fair reflection of our faiths

·         To build a network of academic institutions, linking
scholars, students and academic resources, with various committees and
teams which can work on shared values

·         To identify funds to facilitate exchanges between those
training for roles of leadership within our religious communities

·         To translate significant texts from our two traditions for the use of the other.

As we prepare to return, each to our own countries and contexts, we
resolve to act on the oft-repeated desire to find the means of ensuring
that the two letters we have discussed and the wonderful fruits of our
time together are spread amongst our co-religionists; that the spirit
of collaboration, mutual respect and desire for greater understanding
may be the mark of our relationship for the benefit of all humankind.

To God be the glory for that which has been achieved in these days
together, and may God guide us in the right path as we carry forward
the work begun.

 Participants List – Muslims

H.E. Shaykh Prof. Dr Ali Gomaa Mohamed Abdel Wahab
Grand Mufti, Republic of Egypt   

Prof. Dr. Allamah Shaykh ‘Mohammad Said’ Ramadan Malla Al-ButiDean, Department of Religion, University of Damascus     

H.E. Prof. Dr Allamah Shaykh Abdallahi Ould Cheikh El Mahfoudh Ould Boye
Professor, King Abdul Aziz University, Saudi Arabia
Vice President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars Founder and President, Global Center for Renewal and Guidance  

Shaykh Al-Habib Omar bin Mohammed bin Salem Ban Hafedh     
Dean, Dar Al-Mustafa, Tarim      

H.E. Shaykh Prof. Dr Mustafa Ceriã  Grand Mufti
Head of Ulema of Bosnia and Herzegovina           

Prof. Dr H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal     
Personal Envoy and Special Advisor of H.M. King Abdullah II
Chairman of the Board, Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought       

Prof. Dr Ingrid Mattson  Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations
Director, Islamic Chaplaincy Program, Hartford Seminary
President, Islamic Society of North America

Shaykh Al-Habib Ali Zain Al-Abidin Al-Jifri           
Founder and Director, Taba Institute, United Arab Emirates          

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad Winter        
Shaykh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge
Director of the Muslim Academic Trust, UK

Prof. Dr. Aref Ali Nayed 
Former Professor, Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, Rome
Former Professor, International Institute for Islamic Thought and Civilization, Malaysia
Senior Advisor, Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme

Shaykh Amr Mohamed Helmy Khaled     
Islamic Missionary, Preacher and Broadcaster
Founder and Chairman, Right Start Foundation International         

Ayatollah Prof. Dr Seyyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Ahmad Abadi Damad
Dean of Department of Islamic Studies, The Academy of Science of Iran
Professor of Law and Islamic Philosophy, Tehran University
Fellow, The Iranian Academy of Sciences

Prof. Dr Abderrahmane Taha      
President, Wisdom Circle for Thinkers and Researchers
Director, Al-Umma Al-Wasat Magazine
International Union of Muslim Scholars

Dr Muhammad Suheyl Umar
Director, Iqbal Academy, Lahore H.E. Dr.
Abdulaziz Otham Al-Twaijri        Director-General, Islamic
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 

Mr Sohail Nakhooda
Editor-in-Chief, Islamica Magazine          

Mr Fuad Nahdi
Radical Middle way
Christian-Muslim Forum, UK

Participants List – Christians

His Grace Dr Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury

His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III Laham         
Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch & All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem 

The Rt Revd Michael Nazir-Ali    
Bishop of Rochester
Co-President of the Anglican Communion’s Network for Inter Faith Concerns          


The Rt Revd David Hamid
Bishop in Europe          


The Rt Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon
Bishop of Kaduna, Nigeria
Co-President of  the Anglican Communion’s Network for Inter Faith Concerns         

Professor Frances Young
Professor Emeritus, Formerly Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Birmingham

Professor Miroslav Volf
Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology, Yale Divinity School   
Director, Yale Center for Faith and Culture           

Revd Dr Mindawati Perangin-angin
Head of the Ecumenical Bureau of the Karo Batah Protestant Church of Indonesia  

Prof Oddbj¸rn Leirvik
Professor of Interreligious Studies, University of Oslo       

Revd Prof. Christian W. Troll SJ
Honorary Professor, Kolleg St Georgen   

The Revd Dr Daniel Madigan SJ
Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University     

Professor Iain Torrance
President, Princeton Theological Seminary          

Dr Nicholas Adams
Academic Director, Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme

Professor David Ford
Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge        

Director, Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme
Revd Canon Anthony Ball          

Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for International and Inter-Religious Relations

Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim Syria

Metropolitan of Aleppo, Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo    


Abbot Timothy Wright OSB        


Advisor on Inter Religious Affairs to the Abbot Primate of the Order of St Benedict


Pfrin. Susanna Faust      Germany

Representative for Interreligious Dialogue, Ecumenical Center,

Evangelical Church of Germany  


Prof. Fr Emmanuel Clapsis

Professor Ordinarius, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology