The Islamic and Christian worlds must establish a peace to safeguard the future of the world, Muslim leaders have told Pope Benedict XVI.
Some 138 scholars from every sect of Islam have addressed a letter to the pontiff and other Christian leaders emphasising the similarities between the two faiths and urging Christian heads to “come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions”.
The letter, entitled A Common Word Between Us and You, is the second open letter to the Pope, with a first sent following his Regensburg address last year in which he angered the Islamic world by quoting a Byzantine emperor’s reference to the Prophet Muhammad’s “command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”.
Pope Benedict is known to view dialogue with Muslims as essential, with a stress on the use of religion in Islamic nations to justify violence.
The open letter, however, issued by Jordan’s Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, suggests the need for a common ground, likely to appeal to new papal thinking.
“If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace,” it reads.
“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.
“Our common future is at stake,” the letter continues. “The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, one of the recipients, told the Guardian the letter was a welcome display of both religions’ commitment to peace.
“The theological basis of the letter and its call to respect each other, be fair, just and kind to another are indicative of the kind of relationship for which we yearn in all parts of the world, especially where Christians and Muslims live together,” he said.
“It is particularly important in underlining the need for respect towards minorities in contexts where either Islam or Christianity is the majority presence.”