ROME (UCAN): Muslim scholars have followed up their groundbreaking letter to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders with Christmas greetings to Christians around the globe.
“Peace be upon you,” begins the message, in which the scholars present a passage in the Qur’an that cites Jesus and attributes a quotation to him.
Earlier, in October, 154 Muslim scholars — 138 original signers and another eight who signed later — sent their letter “A Common Word Between Us and You” to the pope and other major Christian leaders.
These scholars represent a broad cross-section of the Islamic community, including Sunni and Shi’i (Shia) Muslims from more than 40 countries, experts in Islamic jurisprudence and other religious sciences, business and political leaders, university presidents and professors, and practitioners of Sufi spirituality.
Now they have sent the first joint message from leading Muslims to Christians on the occasion of Christmas. The Vatican-based Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has sent a greeting and message to Muslims on the occasion of Id al-Fitr, one of the two major annual Muslim feast, which ends the fasting month of Ramadan, for more than 30 years.
The Muslims’ Christmas message refers second major feast, Id al-Adha, which comes at the end of the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. This feast commemorates Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son at God’s command and celebrates God’s substitution of a ram, thus keeping Abraham from sacrificing his son. The Muslim scholars draw a message of peace from this feast, complementing Jesus’ message of peace that they cite.
The full English text of their message follows:
A Muslim Message of Thanks and of Christmas and New Year Greetings, December 2007
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
May God bless Muhammad and his kin and bless Abraham and his kin
Al-Salaamu Aleikum; Peace be upon you; Pax Vobiscum
Peace be upon Jesus Christ who says: Peace is upon me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I am resurrected (Chapter of Mary; the Holy Qur’an; 19:34).
During these joyful holidays we write to you, our Christian neighbors all over the world, to express our thanks for the beautiful and gracious responses that we Muslims have been receiving from the very first day we issued our invitation to come together to ‘A Common Word’ based on ‘Love of God and Love of Neighbor’ .
We thank you and wish you all a joyous and peaceful Christmas Holiday Season commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, may peace be upon him.
We Muslims bear witness that: There is no god but God, without associate, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger, and that Jesus is His Servant, His Messenger, His Word cast to Mary, and a Spirit from Him …. (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab Ahadith al-Anbiya’).
We pray, during these blessed days, which have coincided with the Muslim feast of the Hajj or Pilgrimage, which commemorates the faith of the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), that the New Year may bring healing and peace to our suffering world. God’s refusal to let Abraham (peace be upon him) sacrifice his son-granting him instead a ram-is to this day a Divine warrant and a most powerful social lesson for all the followers of the Abrahamic faiths, to ever do their utmost to save, uphold and treasure every single human life and especially the life of every single child. Indeed, it is worthy of note that this year Muslim scholars issued a historic declaration affirming the sanctity of human life-of every human life-as an essential and foundational teaching in Islam upon which all Muslim scholars are in unanimous agreement (see details at www.duaatalislam.com).
May the coming year be one in which the sanctity and dignity of human life is upheld by all. May it be a year of humble repentance before God, and mutual forgiveness within and between communities.