“Christians and Muslims reportedly make up over a third and over a fifth of humanity respectively. Together they may up more than 55% of the world’s population, making the relationship between these two religious communities the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world. If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace.”
This quotation comes from A Common Word between Us and You, an open letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars and leaders from around the world representing all branches of Islam. Their letter is addressed to the leaders of Christian churches everywhere, many of them listed by name. It discusses major features common to the two religions: belief in one God, the obligation to love God, and the obligation to love one’s neighbor. While not denying that Muslims and Christians differ over important issues of belief, A Common Word is careful to avoid giving offense to Christians. Instead it encourages both Christians and Muslims to follow their respective faiths more closely.
This letter is receiving positive responses from Christian leaders. For example, Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and president of the Lutheran World Federation, has this to say: “I acknowledge this letter in gratitude and recognition of the need for its further study and consideration. I likewise accept it in the belief that Jews, Muslims, and Christians are called to one another as to a holy site, where God's living revelation in the world is received in reverence among the faithful and not in fear of our neighbors.”
A Common Word between Us and You is a timely statement since the two faiths are frequently misrepresented and misunderstood, even by their own adherents. It is an important contribution to the respectful dialogue between Islam and Christianity now on the rise in many places. A Common Word deserves to be welcomed, not only by Christians and Muslims, but by all people of good will.
For a summary and abridgment of A Common Word, as well as the full text and other resources, see http://www.acommonword.com.