CAIR: CATHOLIC, MUSLIM SCHOLARS MEET IN DC SUMMIT
At the invitation of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University and the Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group of prominent scholars, both Catholic and Muslim, convened in Washington, DC on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 for an intensive conversation. All participants have had extensive experience in the many forms and forums of interreligious dialogue.
Concerned about derogatory references to Islam in a recent papal lecture, these scholars gathered to reaffirm both the importance and the vitality of Muslim-Catholic relations. They strove to ratify by their presence and their shared insights the continuing significance of a mutually-supported dialogue of religions and cultures.
They sought to counter any efforts to diminish the positive record of interreligious understanding achieved by Catholics and Muslims in the four decades since the Second Vatican Council. They pledged themselves to renewed efforts, such as workshops, conferences and future publications, which could sustain and expand the good work that has been done by so many Muslims and Catholics to foster deeper interreligious appreciation and harmony.
OPEN LETTER TO POPE BENEDICT XVI BY 38 MUSLIM SCHOLARS AND LEADERS - TOP
Open Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
In an unprecedented move, an Open Letter signed by 38 leading Muslim religious scholars and leaders around the world was sent to Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 14, 2006. The letter, which is the first of its kind in several centuries, was a collaborative effort signed by such prominent figures as the Grand Muftis of Egypt, Russia, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Istanbul, Uzbekistan and Oman, as well as leading figures from the Shia community such as Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Taskhiri of Iran. The letter was also signed by HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, the Personal Envoy and Special Advisor to King Abdullah II of Jordan. Western scholars have signed the document, including California scholar, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Professor Tim Winter of the University of Cambridge.
The letter is being sent, in the spirit of goodwill, to address some of the controversial remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI during his lecture at the University of Regensburg in Germany on Sept. 12, 2006. The letter tackles the main issues raised by the Pope in his discussion of a debate between the medieval Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an 'educated Persian' such as compulsion in religion, reason and faith, forced conversion, the understanding of 'Jihad' or 'Holy War,' and the relationship between Christianity and Islam.
The Muslim signatories accept the Pope's personal expression of sorrow and assurance that the controversial quote did not reflect his personal opinion. At the same time, the letter represents an attempt to engage with the Papacy on theological grounds in order to tackle wide ranging misconceptions about Islam in the Western world.
Christianity and Islam make up more than half of humankind in a rapidly interconnected world, the letter states, and it is imperative that both sides share a responsibility for peace to move the debate away from the anger of the streets toward a frank and sincere dialogue of hearts and minds that furthers mutual understanding and respect between the two religious traditions.
The official and full English version of the text along with the complete list of signatories will be available on the Islamica Magazine website ( www.IslamicaMagazine.com) on Oct. 15, 2006. The official Arabic version will be available from leading Arab presses in the Muslim world.
CAIR CALLS FOR EXIT STRATEGY FROM IRAQ
(WASHINGTON D.C., 10/13/06) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a statement today called on the Bush Administration to put forth a strategy to end the occupation in Iraq, as a response to a recently released report that placed the Iraqi death toll at over 650,000.
According to a new study published in the scientific journal, The Lancet, more than 650,000 people have died in Iraq since the U.S. led invasion of the country began in March of 2003. The study was conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad.
In a statement today, CAIR said:
“It is quite apparent to any objective viewer that our current policy in Iraq is an utter failure. U.S. presence in Iraq is not bringing security for people in the region. To the contrary it is fueling massive and perhaps irreversible anti-American sentiments all across the Muslim world. President Bush needs to articulate an exit strategy. Simply saying we will stand down when Iraqis stand up is not reassuring to the American Muslim community.
“In addition, with over 3,000 of our own soldiers who have died in this war, it is high time for our government to make tough decisions that will enable an orderly withdrawal from Iraq. The Iraqi people will truly experience freedom when they perceive their land to be free from any foreign occupation.”
Yesterday, British General Richard Dannatt also echoed the call for an exit strategy, stating that Britain's armed forces are in danger of exhaustion and should aim to leave Iraq in the next few years. (SEE: "U.K. General Says He Wants Forces to Leave Iraq Soon," at http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=akKoxpbJJzmI&refer=europe)
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CAIR OFFERS CONDOLENCES ON DEATH OF DR. SHEIKH RASHAD KHALIL
(WASHINGTON, DC, 10/13/06) - CAIR today offered its condolences on the death of noted Islamic scholar Dr. Sheikh Rashad Khalil, who passed away early Thursday morning in his home in Sugarland, TX.
In a statement, CAIR said:
"To Allah we belong, and to Him we return. We offer our deepest sympathy and condolences for this great loss to the family of Dr. Khalil and the Muslims community.
Dr. Khalil was a well-known scholar and activist. He served both the local community and greater ummah by serving as Imam for the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH), President of MAS National, and Founder of the Islamic Dawah Center. The work and knowledge that he leaves behind will benefit future generations of Muslims."
The late Dr. Khalil was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Houston. He is survived by his wife, son, and two daughters.