Islam and the State . “A Common Word between Us and You”. Document on theological grounds for reconciliation between Muslims and Christians Addressed to the leading figures in the Christian churches, beginning with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
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“Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.
“The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity. The following are only a few examples:
“In the New Testament, Jesus Christ said: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. / And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.’ (Mark 12:29-31)
“Thus in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, 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.”
“Zakat and salat have often been used together in the Qur’an, being the basic elements of the Qur’anic Order. Since salat … stands for devotion [to “God the Creator”]… zakat stands for striving for the welfare and betterment, or growth and development, of mankind…. The Qur’an has not prescribed any fixed amount, limit, or percentage of wealth for zakat.” (Ahmed Ali, The Qur’an, 290.)
“He has laid down for you the (same) way of life which he had commended to Noah, and which we have enjoined on you, and which we bequeathed to Abraham, Moses and Jesus, so they should maintain the order and not be divided among themselves.” (Qur’an 42: 13)
“The Jews say, ‘Ezra is a son of God,” and the Christians say, “The Messiah [Christ] is a son of God.’ Such the sayings in their mouths! They resemble the saying of the infidels [i.e., polytheists and animists] of old! God do battle with them! How they are misguided! They take their teachers, and their monks, and the Messiah, son of Mary, for lords beside God, though bidden to worship one God only. There is no God but He! Far from His glory be what they associate with Him!” (9:30-1)
“If you are oppressed, oppress those who oppress you to the same degree. (2: 194)
Confucius: treat those who harm you with justice!
Jesus: turn the left cheek to them—demand respect, but not by force of arms, or you will be destroyed
“And when they [the Jews] were facing Goliath and his hordes they prayed … By the will of God they defeated them, and David killed Goliath… If God did not make men deter one another this earth would indeed be depraved.” (Qur’an 2:250-1)
“Western people often assume that Islam is a violent, militaristic faith which imposed itself on its subject peoples at sword-point…. The Quran does not sanctify warfare. It develops the notion of a just war of self-defense to protect decent values, but condemns killing and aggression.
“Furthermore, once the Arabs had left the peninsula, they found that nearly everybody belonged to the ahl al-kitab, the People of the Book, who had received authentic scriptures from God. They were not, therefore forced to convert to Islam; indeed, until the middle of the eighth century, conversion was not encouraged.
“The Muslims assumed that Islam was a religion for the descendants of Ismail, as Judaism was the faith of the sons of Isaac. … Once the Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians in their new empire had become dhimmis (protected subjects), they could not be raided or attacked in any way. It had always been a point of honour among Arabs to treat their clients will, to come to their aid, or to avenge an injury done to them.” (Karen Armstrong, Islam, 29-31.)
“Travellers throughout the Muslim world noted that Jews and Christians often held some of the highest positions in public and private life, and were self-governing in their religious life.” (Spodek, 376)
“A principal goal of conquest, however, remained the creation of a dar al-Islam, ‘an abode of Islam,’ a land with a government under which Islam could be practiced freely. This did not mean that the people of the land were forced to become Muslims, only that Muslims among them must have the freedom to practice their religion and sustain their culture.” (Spodek 376)
“Later, when many Muslims lived under non-Muslim governments, the ulama [see 376] declared that any government that permitted freedom of religion to Muslims could be a dar al-Islam. The alternative was a dar al-Harb, an ‘abode of war,’ which had to be opposed because it restricted the practice of Islam.” (Spodek 376)
Includes qadis (judges), assistants, Qur’an reciters, prayer leaders, and preachers.
“Islam has no formal hierarchical, bureaucratic institution of ulama—indeed it has no official Church. Informal networks of respected ulama have provided cohesion, stability, and flexibility within Islam, regardless of the changing forms of government.” (Spodek 376)