A Truly Historic Event

By Prof. John Esposito

Founding Director, Al-Waleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University

In an historic event, 138 prominent Muslim leaders and scholars from around the world have reached out to Christian leaders in an open letter to the heads of all Christian churches and to all Christians around the world, emphasizing “the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.”

While the use of the term “historic event,” is sometimes overused in the history of Islam and the Muslim world, this is really the first time in history that we have an initiative where Muslims have collectively come together and agreed on the fundamental principles that bind them to Christians, love of the one God and of neighbor. It comes while relations between the Muslim world and the West are strained. As the signatories of the letter acknowledge more than half of the world’s population consists of Muslims and Christians and thus these two faiths are critical to meaningful world peace and justice.

A common question in recent years is ‘where are the moderate Muslim voices?’ ” This historic document is a crystal-clear message of peace and tolerance from 138 Muslim leaders from across the Islamic world. Recognition of this common ground provides followers of both Islam and Christianity with a shared understanding that can help to foster a greater sense of religious pluralism and a tolerance based upon mutual understanding and respect that can contribute to the diffusion of tensions between these two great monotheistic faiths. One can only hope that Christian leaders and scholars will join with Muslim leaders and scholars and take this initiative to the next step in a dialogue not only of discourse but of mutually supported action.

John L. Esposito is University Professor, Professor of Religion and International Affairs, Professor of Islamic Studies and Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.

The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding’s (ACMCU) mission is to improve relations between the Muslim world and the West and enhance understanding of Muslims in the West. The Center has become internationally recognized as a leader in the field of Muslim-Christian relations.