Address by: His Eminence Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia


“Love of God, Love of Neighbor”
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Audience of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

Address by: His Eminence Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia


Wassalatu Wassalamu ala Rasulilllahi wa ikhwanihi!

Your Holiness,

Dear Friends,

It is a great delight for me to speak with Your Holiness on behalf of the Muslim delegation with an open heart of love for God and love of neighbor as the Common Word between us and you urges,  for the sake of peace and justice in the world.

Your meeting with our delegation is not only a major step forward for the Muslim-Catholic dialogue, but also affords great hope for a better future of the whole humanity.

It has been reported that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid asked the great Muslim jurist al-Shafi’i to speak about the Book of God, but he replied to the Caliph: – About which of the Books of God you want me to speak, O Caliph of the Believers, for God has revealed many books? (عن أي كتاب من كتب الله تسألني يا أمير المؤمنين؟ فإن الله قد أنزل كتباً كثيرةً)

It is in this spirit of religious openness of the Islamic tradition that we Muslims appreciate the message of the Second Vatican Council in its declaration Nostra Aetate. This fact gives us hope for a firm foundation for the Common Word between us and you as we are facing many challenges of our time. ِ

And we are told in the Holy Qur’an:  By the ages, man is in loss except those who have faith and do righteous deeds and those who tell the truth and encourage others to tell the truth and those who are patient and encourage others to be patient in peace and justice (Qur’an: 103).

And we are reminded in the Bible:  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven ( Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 8).

Then, what is the purpose of our age? Is it the clash or alliance of civilizations? Is it violence or reconciliation?

What are the fears of our time? And what are the hopes?

The fears are many.  Ours is a time of grave sins, such as: wealth without effort; pleasure without conscience; education without morality; business without ethics; politics without principles; science without responsibility; faith without sacrifice; and religion without compassion.

But our hopes are many. Ours is a time of great opportunities in the sense that the rich nations must share their wealth with the poor nations; that men of full stomachs must understand the grief of hungry people; that poor children must share the joy of education and success in society with their peers; that refugees must return to their homes and share the blessings of safety and freedom with the rest of the world without racism, xenophobia and discrimination.

Ours could be the best of times if we knew that the true law is in the heart. The drama of war and peace, the story of hate and love, the state of fear and hope, the reason of might and right – all these phenomena are in the human heart.

We, the children of Adam, should repent for our sins like our father Adam in humility and submission to Almighty God for the sake of the birth of new seasons of human life.

 For ours should be a time of the healing of human hearts, not the killing of human minds; ours should be a time to build up a civilization that will gather  building-stones together instead of casting them away; ours should be a time to embrace each other in the love of  God who created us all, not to turn away from our neighbor; ours should be a time of love, not hate, a time of peace and justice, not war; a time not to keep silent, but to speak out fearlessly as Christians and Muslims for the Holy Land to become a place of Holy Peace.

The need for the Muslim-Catholic dialogue is obvious  not only because of our claim to the common heritage of Abraham, but also because of our heritage of a historical interaction that could not be avoided in the past and a historical responsibility that cannot be ignored in the future. It is precisely in this historical unavoidability of the encounter of Catholicism and Islam that we see the reason for the advancement of A Common Word Between Us and You in many areas of mutual concern such as war and peace; justice and injustice; hunger and poverty; and the trust and prosperity of the world.

Love is strengthened by working to overcome conflicts together.

Your Holiness, dear friends: I am a survivor of the four years of the Sarajevo siege at the end of the last century. As you know Bosnian Muslims suffered genocide. I have come here to join with you in prayer for truth, justice, peace and reconciliation of our common land of Europe. We will not forget your predecessor John Paul II when he repeatedly said: – You are not alone. We are with you in our prayers!

Having heard that I would speak with you today, some Bosnian children, who lost their fathers in Srebrenica, asked me to read to you their Bosnian prayer:

Oh God

Do not let success deceive us

Nor failure takes us to despair!

Always remind us that failure is a temptation

That precedes success!

Oh God

Teach us that tolerance

Is the highest degree of power

And the desire for revenge

The first sign of weakness!

Oh God

If you deprive us of our property,

Give us hope!

If you grant us with success,

Give us also the will to overcome defeat!

If you take from us the blessing of health,

Provide us with the blessing of faith!

Oh God

If we sin against people,

Give us the strength of apology!

And if people sin against us,

Give us the strength of forgiveness!

Oh God

If we forget Thee,

Do not forget us!