Mainstream Muslims call for better relations with Christians
Reuters is reporting this evening that an unprecedented letter has been sent to Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders from 138 Muslim scholars. They said that finding common ground between the world's biggest faiths was not simply a matter for polite dialogue between religious leaders.
"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," the scholars wrote.
"Our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake," they wrote, adding that Islam and Christianity already agreed that love of God and neighbor were the two most important commandments of their faiths.
Relations between Muslims and Christians have been strained as al Qaeda has struck around the world and as the United States and other Western countries intervened in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This joint letter is unprecedented in Islam, which has no central authority that speaks on behalf of all worshippers.
The list of signatories includes senior figures throughout the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. They represent Sunni, Shi'ite and Sufi schools of Islam.
Among them were the grand muftis of Egypt, Palestine, Oman, Jordan, Syria, Bosnia and Russia and many imams and scholars. War-torn Iraq was represented by both Shi'ites and Sunnis.
Mustafa Cagrici, the mufti who prayed with Benedict in Istanbul's Blue Mosque last year, was also on the list, as was the popular Egyptian television preacher Amr Khaled.
The letter was addressed to the Pope, leaders of Orthodox Christian churches, Anglican leader Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the heads of the world alliances of the Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist and Reformed churches.
Archbishop Williams said he welcomed the letter as "indicative of the kind of relationship for which we yearn in all parts of the world. The call to respect, peace and goodwill should now be taken up by Christians and Muslims at all levels and in all countries," he said.
All too often mainstream voices calling for better relations between different religions and races are drowned out by the smaller by noisy voices of the preachers of hate. I hope this message gets the attention it deserves and the scholars who write it, not the Jihadists, are recognised as the real voice of Islam - a word which means "Peace."