“We must think differently, look at things in a different way. Peace requires a world of new concepts, new definitions.”

26Oct07

-Yitzak Rabin

There is no path to peace. The path is peace.

I had hoped that by the time I got to blog about the document sent to B16, he would have at least acknowledged receiving it. Personally acknowledged, not through a secretary.

I have a profound respect for B16 because he is my pope. He is the first pope elected in my lifetime, and thankfully he continues to celebrate World Youth Day. He is also, first and foremost a scholar. And I respect that. Because I want to be a scholar. But I’m not happy that he hasn’t even said “Yes, we need to work together to foster peace and understanding. And mutual respect.

And believe me, I know that there is plenty of doctrine and historical baggage attached to any dialogue between the leaders of Islam and Christianity, because for much of our shared history we’ve been really mean to each other. I don’t want to either over or under emphasize the role that history plays in inter-religious dialogue. But I rather want to put it to bed.

I have a profound respect for all people of faith; in large part, I’m sure because of my own struggle with faith. I have a profound respect for the Muslims I’ve encountered because of their deep and obvious faith.

The upside to all of this is that the Midwest Dialogue of Catholics and Muslims, a joint USCCB/ISNA initiative finished earlier this week in Dearborn at the Islamic Center of America. They came up with a 114 word statement that will be used to guide interfaith dialogue in the US.

“Our common belief in the one God of mercy and love calls us into relationship with one another,” the statement reads. “Therefore we see our dialogue as a spiritual journey. Common ethical concerns compel us to take responsibility for our relationship within U.S. society.”

This is a good thing. And it went better than last year when B16 was the topic of conversation and there was a lot of clean-up going on.

A lot of things have changed in a year. And a lot more haven’t. Or they’ve gotten worse. Lets hope that by the next USCCB/ISNA meeting we’ll have a lot more progress to go on.

(Full Text of the Abbirged/Summary of the statement sent to the Pope to follow.)

Extract: ‘Without justice between us there can be no peace’ (From the Guardian Unlimited)

The full text of the letter from Muslim leaders ran to 29 pages. They also issued an abridged text, which appears here in full.

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

A Common Word between Us and You (Summary and Abridgement)

Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population.

Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.

The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour.

These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity.

The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity.

The following are only a few examples: Of God’s Unity, God says in the Holy Qur’an: “Say: He is God, the One! / God, the Self-Sufficient Besought of all!” (Al-Ikhlas, 112:1-2).

Of the necessity of love for God, God says in the Holy Qur’an: “So invoke the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him with a complete devotion.” (Al-Muzzammil, 73:8).

Of the necessity of love for the neighbour, the Prophet Muhammad said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.”

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ said: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. / And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment./And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

In the Holy Qur’an, God Most High enjoins Muslims to issue the following call to Christians (and Jews – the People of the Scripture):

“Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him).” (Aal ‘Imran 3:64)

The words “we shall ascribe no partner unto Him” relate to the Unity of God, and the words “worship none but God”, relate to being totally devoted to God.

Hence they all relate to the First and Greatest Commandment.

According to one of the oldest and most authoritative commentaries on the Holy Qur’an the words “that none of us shall take others for lords beside God” mean “that none of us should obey the other in disobedience to what God has commanded”.

This relates to the Second Commandment because justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part of love of the neighbour.

Thus in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, we as Muslims invite Christians to come together with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is most essential to our faith and practice: the Two Commandments of love.

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