|CAIRO — A galaxy of 138 top Muslim scholars issue on Thursday, October 11, an open letter to the world’s Christian clergy, including Pope Benedict XVI, highlighting common essentials between the two Abrahamic faiths.
“The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbor is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity,” reads the letter cited by Britain’s Times newspaper.
Themed “A Common Word Between Us and You”, the 29-page letter offers interpretation from the Noble Qur’an and the Bible on similarities between the two religions.
It indicates that the Muslim holy book dictates Muslims to treat Christians and Jews with particular friendship.
“As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them.”
Copies of the open letter would be addressed to Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Orthodox Church’s Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew 1, all the other Orthodox Patriarchs as well as leaders of all Protestant churches worldwide.
The letter, which is supported by the Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, will be rolled out around the world in a series of press conferences beginning in Jordan.
Signatories include Mohamed Salim Awa, the secretary general of International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa and Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The list also features prominent preachers including Egyptian Amr Khaled and American Sheikh Hamza Yusuf.
Secretary General of the pan-Muslim Organization of the Islamic Conference Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu is also a signatory.
The letter warned that strained ties between Muslims and Christians leave the future of the world at stake.
“If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace.
“Together they make up more than 55 percent of the population, making the relationship between these two religious communities the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world.”
Ties between the Muslim world and the West have strained since Pope Benedict quoted a Byzantine emperor who associated Islam with violence.
“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,” said the letter.
“Thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake,” cautions the signatories.
“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,” they added.
“So let our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us vie with each other only in righteousness and good works.”