Thursday, October 11, 2007

World's Muslim Leaders Ask Christians for Common Ground

By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 11, 2007

Dozens of Muslim leaders from around the world released a letter today to "leaders of Christian churches everywhere" emphasizing the shared theological roots of the two faiths and saying the survival of the world depends on them finding common ground.

The document, "A Common Word between Us and You," was signed by 138 clerics, scholars and other Muslim leaders and released at news conferences in London, Abu Dhabi, and Washington.

The effort was organized by The Royal Academy, the same Jordan-based group behind a letter sent last October to Pope Benedict accepting his apology after he delivered a controversial lecture about Islam that set off protests.

Noting that Christians and Muslims together are more than half the world's population, the letter says "If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace . . . our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world is perhaps at stake," it reads.

The letter is addressed to more than 30 Christian leaders, including the Pope and the leaders of the world's Orthodox Christians and Anglicans. Its signatories include present and former grand muftis of Syria, Slovenia, Palestine and Egypt, as well as professors, political leaders and advocates such as the co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

In Washington, John Esposito, director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown, said that the letter was a feat partially because it was able to bring together Muslim leaders from a wide range of theological schools across Sunni, Shia, Salafi and Sufi traditions.

"This is a challenge to Christianity. It will be wonderful to see their responses," he said.

The 29-page letter's main point is that Christianity and Islam share two key foundations: love of one God and love of one's neighbor. "Thus in obedience to the Holy Qu'ran, we as Muslims invite Christians to come together with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is most essential to our faith and practice: the two commandments of love."

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