American Muslims Offer Condolences on Pope’s Death

Washington, DC: A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group Sunday offered condolences on the death of Pope John Paul II.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a statement: “Muslims worldwide respected Pope John Paul II as an advocate for justice and human rights. His message of international peace and interfaith reconciliation is one that will reverberate for decades to come. We offer our sincere condolences to members of the Roman Catholic Church and to all those who seek a more peaceful world.”
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Pope John Paul II. I join the Catholic Church in mourning. Today, we have lost a champion of Human Rights, a true man of God and a friend of the Muslim World.
American Muslim Alliance: The American Muslim Alliance (AMA), a civic education organization with 101 chapters nationwide, has expressed its profound sorrow at the sad demise of the Pope John Paul II, spiritual leader of the Catholic Church.
“Pope John Paul’s spiritual sensitivity is summed up in his famous statement that ‘there can be no peace without justice and no justice without forgiveness,’ AMA Chair Dr. Agha Saeed said. “We all know the connection between peace and justice, but the Pope has done all of us a favor by highlighting the sublime connection between justice and forgiveness. ”
The AMA statement reads: Pope John Paul II was one of the most important and illustrious figures of the twentieth century who will be remembered for his moral courage to oppose, critique and reject the extremism of the left and the right, and to distance himself from the oppressive practices of East and West. He showed remarkable courage in opposing Russian totalitarianism, on the one hand, and American aggression against Iraq, on the other.
Not only he was the first Pope to visit a mosque, and not only he was the first Pope to call for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, he was also the Pope who called for a “dialogue of life” with all faiths and religions. It was under his leadership that during last quarter of the 20th Century, beginning with the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church developed a new theology of interfaith outreach and accommodation.
This vision of inter-religious communication most clearly stated by the Pope in his 1991 encyclical Redemptoris Missio: "Each member of the faithful and all Christian communities are called to practice …the dialogue of life”. This call to dialogue has been detailed into four categories: 1) dialogue of life, 2) active outreach, 3) mutual learning by way of theological exchange, and 4) the sharing of religious experience.
Muslim and Christians can pay a living tribute to the memory of the Pope by continuing the inter-religious communication as a dialogue of life.
Dr. Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khalbun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University: I have a special place in my heart for Pope John Paul II. I recall the days after 9/11, when the Pope really reached out to the Muslim World. In a time where Muslims were confused, angered and saddened, it was the leader of the Catholic Church who stood like a rock, reaching out and calling for peace and understanding. It was very easy to point fingers and indict Muslims, but he urged Christians to advance what he called a “civilization of love”. He was a leader in the interfaith dialogue, indeed; he was the first leader of the Catholic Church to set foot inside a Mosque, sharing a prayer service with Muslims shortly after 9/11.
I had great respect and admiration for Pope John Paul II. He was an inspiration for my work and a hero in terms of his love for all people. He was a giant in the world and we will miss his leadership. He led the Church with wisdom and dignity, a role model for believers of all faiths. We Muslims say at the death of someone “from God we come and to god we go”. My prayers and blessings are with this great soul.
American Muslim Voice: “The loss of the Pope is a tragic event with far-reaching consequences worldwide. We the members of AMV send our deepest condolences to all members of the Roman Catholic Church. May we all learn the lessons of wisdom he offered during his lifetime in the hope of building towards a peaceful future.”

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