A Letter to Pope Benedict XVI
By Nihad Awad
Executive Director
Council on American-Islamic Relations

Dear CAIR Supporter,
About a month ago during my visit to Jordan I was invited by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, Special Advisor to King Abdullah II of Jordan, to sign, on behalf of CAIR, a letter of inter-religious solidarity that was to be sent to major Christian leaders in the world urging cooperation and inter-faith understanding.
Recently that historic 29-page letter titled "A Common Word Between Us and You," was sent to Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and more than 20 other Christian leaders.
Read the full text of the letter.
This initiative was coordinated by the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman, Jordan. Both Washington Post and Newsweek reported that several Christian leaders welcomed this letter.
The 138 Muslim signatories to this letter believe that meaningful world peace can only happen when members of both faiths work together to advance the cause of the love of God and the love of our neighbor, traditions intrinsic to both Christianity and Islam.
This one-of-a-kind effort demonstrates what mainstream Muslims can achieve by working together to reclaim the true message of Islam, which forever remains a message of love, mercy and peace. We have taken a historic step to assure Christian leaders that we envision a world where leaders of all faiths are working side-by-side to foster harmony and mutual understanding.
It is our hope at CAIR that in the coming days we will take this important initiative to the larger American Muslim community seeking their endorsement and support. Following which we will send this letter to major Christian leaders in America hoping to spur a new wave of inter-faith dialogue.
The letter that was sent to Pope Benedict XVI stated in part the following:
“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 neighbor, the Prophet Muhammad (SA) said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.
“In the New Testament, Jesus Christ u 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 neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
“Love of the neighbor is an essential and integral part of faith in God and love of God because in Islam without love of the neighbor there is no true faith in God and no righteousness. The Prophet Muhammad (SA) said: “None of you has faith until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” And: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.”
“However, empathy and sympathy for the neighbor — and even formal prayers — are not enough. They must be accompanied by generosity and self-sacrifice.
“Without giving the neighbor what we ourselves love, we do not truly love God or the neighbor.
“Finally, as Muslims, and in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, we ask Christians to come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions … 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 … (Aal ‘Imran, 3:64).
“Let this common ground be the basis of all future interfaith dialogue between us, for our common ground is that on which hangs all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:40).
“God says in the Holy Qur’an: Say (O Muslims): We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. / And if they believe in the like of that which ye believe, then are they rightly guided. But if they turn away, then are they in schism, and God will suffice thee against them. He is the Hearer, the Knower. (Al-Baqarah, 2:136-137)
“If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world’s inhabitants. Thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.
“So let our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us vie with each other only in righteousness and good works. Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual goodwill.”
It is my hope and prayer that today marks the beginning of a new chapter in inter-faith dialogue, cooperation and understanding.
May Allah bless all those who strive for peace, justice and mutual understanding.
To learn more about us, visit our new website to see our vision, mission and core principles as well as CAIR at-a-glance detailing information about CAIR. You can also read about CAIR national board and key staff and see the leaders of each of our 33 chapters.

 


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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