Dozens of Muslim leaders from around the world will release the text of a letter to Christian leaders today in Washington that outlines proposed areas of understanding between the faiths and urges a search for “common ground.”

Addressed to Pope Benedict XVI and the major leaders of Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Evangelical, Anglican, Orthodox churches and other Christian sects, the 29-page letter offers interpretations of both the Quran and the Bible on the love of God, love of neighbor and other spiritual concepts that are similar in Christianity and Islam.

“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,” 138 Muslim leaders, representing all branches and divisions of the faith, say in the letter titled, “A Common Word Between Us and You.”

Local religious leaders say the document is likely to serve as a topic of conversation when Catholics and Muslims meet in Dearborn from Oct. 21-23 for the Midwest Muslim-Catholic Dialogue.

The news conference today at the National Press Club in Washington is extraordinary for two reasons, Muslims say: the importance of the proposed initiative and the unanimity among both Sunni and Shi’a leaders, the two sects of Islam.

“The Quran is a strong invitation to interfaith dialogue and respect for one another,” said Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, of the Islamic House of Wisdom, in Dearborn Heights. “Especially at this time, when we are at a crossroads of either more violence and war and destruction or returning to reason and responsibility, it is necessary for all of us to work together.”

The letter is being issued the day before Eid al-Fitr, the joyous feast that ends Ramadan, one of the major days on the Islamic calendar. It also coincides with the anniversary of a controversial speech given by Pope Benedict in Germany last year, in which he quoted a Medieval scholar about Islam in a way that many Muslims found offensive.

In the interfaith dialogue that followed, including a trip by Adam Cardinal Maida to the Islamic Center of America, in Dearborn, some Catholic leaders suggested that Muslims adopt a series of points of faith common to both traditions as a starting point for a far more intensive dialogue. The letter is intended as the Muslim response to that request. (MORE)


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