Muslim Leaders’ Letter to Christians

On the occasion of Eid al-Fitr (October 13, 2007), 138 Muslim scholars have written an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Patriarchs of the Orthodox Christian Churches, and leaders of Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist and Reformed Churches, as well as the World Council of Churches.

The letter, titled A Common Word between Us and You, begins with these words:

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 document goes on to spell out what the Muslims scholars see as common ground for Christians and Muslims, summarized in the two fundamental commandments- to love (one) God, and to love the neighbor. The document will likely not be entirely accepted on all sides; for example, the Muslim affirmation of one God without partners is often seen to conflict directly with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Still, it promises to shape a worthwhile dialogue between Christians and Muslims, a dialogue that is, as they assert, essential for the peace of the world.

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