A Muslim-Christian handshake

Posted on December 7, 2007


 Christian Science Monitor

An unprecedented outreach from top Islamic leaders to Christians is meeting a positive response. This budding dialogue has the potential to correct misunderstandings and foster trust among each faith’s followers – which the world sorely needs.

The overture began in October with a letter from 138 Muslim clerics and scholars addressed to Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders. “The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians,” it stated, and called for dialogue among the leaders of faiths that together account for more than half of the world’s population.

The letter (available at http://www.acommonword.com) is remarkable for its depth and message. Its signers represent all major schools of Islamic thought. It quotes from religious texts of Muslims, Christians, and Jews to show two shared, fundamental beliefs: love of one God, and love of neighbor.

Last week, the pope responded by praising the “positive spirit” behind the letter and inviting a delegation of its signers to the Vatican for talks. Just a year ago he angered many Muslims with a speech that linked Islam to violence. In the United States, the Muslim letter has prompted Yale Divinity School to lead an effort toward interfaith conferences and workshops in the US, Britain, and the Middle East. [more]

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