Islamic Scholars Seek ‘Common Ground’ With Christian Leaders

Ecumenical News International, Switzerland

Geneva (ENI). More than 130 Muslim scholars have said in a letter to Christian leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI and the head of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, that world peace depends on cooperation between Christianity and Islam. 

“Our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake,” the 138 signatories state in the letter made public on 11 October.

The letter is also addressed to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I and other Orthodox church leaders, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the leaders of world groupings of Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed Christians.

In a response to the letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury said, “The call to respect, peace and goodwill should now be taken up by Christians and Muslims at all levels and in all countries.”

The Muslim letter compares passages in the Quran and the Bible, and identifies the principles of accepting only one god and living in peace with one’s neighbours as common ground between the two religions.

“If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace,” the Islamic scholars write. “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,” they explain.

“Finding common ground between Muslims and Christians is not simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders,” the Muslim scholars add.

The publication of the letter coincides with Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim feast that ends Ramadan, the period of fasting during the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. The letter’s publication also marks the first anniversary of another open letter from Muslim scholars to Pope Benedict. That missive was issued after the pontiff made a speech in Germany in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor who linked Islam and violence.

The latest letter states, “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.”