In a nice gesture indicating the tolerant nature of Islam, Muslim scholars addressed Christmas greetings to Christians around the world.
In a nice gesture indicating the tolerant nature of Islam, top Muslim scholars addressed warm Christmas greetings to Christians around the world.
The greetings, which called for peace on earth, were sent by a group of 138 Sunni, Shia, Sufi and other Muslim scholars who proposed a dialogue with Christian leaders in October.
It’s worth mentioning that the scholars are linked to an Islamic research institute headed by Jordanian Prince Ghazi bin Mohammed bin Talal.
According to Reuters, the message was unprecedented like the dialogue call because there hasn’t been until now such a large group of Muslim scholars that could send a common letter.
Unlike Christianity, Islam doesn’t have a single individual to speak on behalf of its followers. Although individual Muslim clerics have exchanged holiday greetings with Christians in the past, nothing on this scale has been possible before.
“Al-Salaamu Aleikum, Peace be upon you, Pax Vobiscum,” the greetings letter began in Arabic, English and Latin. The text is available on the group’s Web site www.acommonword.com.
The letter noted that Christmas came just after the annual Hajj pilgrimage to the holy Saudi city of Makkah, and the Feast of Sacrifice (Eid al Adha), recalling how Prophet Abraham almost sacrificed his son.
“God’s refusal to let Abraham sacrifice his son is to this day a divine warrant and a most powerful social lesson for all followers of the Abrahamic faiths, to ever do their utmost to save, uphold and treasure every human life and especially the lives of every single child,” it said.
“May the coming year be one in which the sanctity and dignity of human life is upheld by all,” it added. “May it be a year of humble repentance before God and mutual forgiveness within and between communities.”
* Dialogue call
The tone of the Christmas greeting echoed that of the October proposal, which said Muslim and Christians should hold a serious dialogue to help bridge a gap in understanding between the two faiths.
In a letter to the Vatican, Prince Ghazi proposed sending Muslim scholars to Rome in February or March for initial talks with the world’s largest Christian church. The scholars also plan to meet Christian leaders at several conferences coming up next year to launch the long-term dialogue.
Most Christian churches have responded positively to the Muslim scholars‘ invitation. However, some Catholic officials have criticised the idea, claiming that differences between the two religions were too great for any real dialogue. But Prince Ghazi urged the critics to seek agreement where they could for the sake of the common good.
“We, like you, also consider complete theological agreement between Christians and Muslims inherently not possible by definition, but still wish to seek and promote a common stance and cooperation based on what we do agree on,” he wrote in the letter made available to Reuters.