Fourteen leaders of the main Christian Churches in West Yorkshire have welcomed an Islamic report for its peacemaking efforts, and urged Christians to use it to build bridges with their Muslim neighbours.
The joint statement from the church leaders followed the publication of ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’ a report which brought together 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals, published in October.
The signatories of the report came from every major strand of thought in Islam, with every major Islamic country or region in the world represented in their message, which was addressed to the leaders of all the world’s churches, and other Christians.
The report emphasised that the two themes of ‘Love of God’ and ‘Love of Neighbour’ were central to both Islam and Christianity. It was suggested also that these principles might be a foundation for building a better relationship between Christians and Muslims.
In the report, the scholars also made extensive use of Christian scriptures, seen by many as a very significant act giving rise to hope for a more peaceful and less confrontational relationship between followers of the two faiths.
The West Yorkshire Church Leaders’ said in a statement that they welcomed the ‘peacemaking tone’ of the report, and acknowledged the ‘bridge-building gesture’ that the scholars had made by quoting Jesus from the Christian scriptures and not, as is usually the case, from the Koran.
The church leaders also said that they found ‘encouragement for local Churches’ who might engage in dialogue with Muslim neighbours. They suggested that the report could assist dialogue, or in some cases provide a basis for dialogue and improved community relations across West Yorkshire and beyond.
The statement by the church leaders, issued by the West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council, is believed to be the first statement on A Common Word made by regional church leaders anywhere in the UK.
“This milestone document should help to reassure any Muslims who might be sceptical that building relations of trust with Christians is an Islamic imperative. Christians will be encouraged by the eirenic tone of the letter and the fact that an Islamic document draws extensively on the Hebrew and Christian scriptures”, the church leaders said.
“It will be especially welcomed by Christian minorities in Muslim majority societies and Muslim minorities where there is a Christian majority.
“‘A Common Word between Us and You’ could become a benchmark in the relations of two world religions.”