Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Who is listening?

The January 18 issue of Commonweal contains a brief article by Rita Ferrone, who has written several books about the liturgy. It has the interesting subtitle When Islamic Moderates Speak, Who Listens? Here is a brief excerpt:

On October 13, 2007, a group of 138 Muslim scholars, religious leaders, and intellectuals published an open letter to all Christian churches, denominations, and individuals. Under the title “A Common Word between Us and You,” it is a lengthy, thoughtful reflection-based on the sacred texts of the Qur’an and the Bible-on the common ground that exists between Muslims and Christians. The goal of the writers was to support dialogue and work for peace at every level. The statement truly speaks with a “moderate voice” that is no less Muslim for being moderate.
. . .
The signatories are drawn from more than forty-two countries, representing a wide diversity of Islamic thought, practice, spirituality, and schools of jurisprudence. Addressed to the pope, leaders of Eastern Christian churches, Anglicans, Protestants, and all Christian leaders, the statement is arguably the boldest Muslim peace initiative ever undertaken. Professor David Ford, director of the Interfaith Program at Cambridge University, has called the effort “unprecedented” and “an astonishing achievement of solidarity.”

The statement is religious in nature. The Prophet Muhammad, in the Qur’an, calls Muslims to “come to a common word” with other “people of the Scriptures” (that is, Christians and Jews). Thus, within the Muslim context, the statement emerges as an act of obedience to Islamic religious imperatives, not merely a political or ideological response to Christians and Jews, or to the West.

The “common word,” as the authors have discerned it, is found in the divine command to love God and to love one’s neighbor, imperatives found in the Qur’an, the Book of Deuteronomy, and the New Testament. Because of the centrality of these commandments to Christians and Muslims alike, the statement carries great weight and urgency. As the authors point out, obedience to God’s commands is a matter on which rest not only our earthly prospects for peace, but also the eternal fate of human souls. The statement concludes with an affirmation from the Qur’an that God made the world in such a way that there is a variety of religious communities, and that those communities should “vie with one another in good works.”

The full article is here. We ask that you read it and share it with others.