It is called A Common Word Between Us and You. It is a letter, signed last month by 138 Muslim scholars from around the world and addressed to Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders. It stresses the importance of finding common ground between the two faiths.

From Friday prayers in a mosque in Iran to Sunday services in a church in middle America, different days and places of worship divide Islamic and Christian believers.

Conflict between Islam and Christianity has existed for centuries.

And the al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, and the U.S.-led response in Afghanistan and Iraq have strained relations even more. Now, representatives from Islam are hoping a piece of paper can begin to resolve the differences.

Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America explains the genesis of the letter. “The letter begins with a verse from the Koran. It says, go ahead and invite your brothers and sisters from the people of the book, that is, the Jews and Christians, and emphasize – unite – on your common word.”

The letter emphasizes what Islam and Christianity have in common — belief in only one God, love of one’s neighbor.

“This gives hope, actually, because when you hear everyday, the news of death and destruction in the name of religion, then people become so disappointed, so dismayed,” he says. “They wonder if there is going to be an end to this kind of tragedies, this kind of demonizing of religion.”

The Episcopal Bishop of Washington, John Bryson Chane, says finding common ground is critical at a time when the world is at risk.

“I think we’re looking at core teachings from these three great Abrahamic traditions that have been quite silent on these issues but are now starting to emerge, based on the fact that anybody can push a button and destroy a whole population, or for that matter the global community in a matter of minutes. I mean, that’s not good Christian stewardship, that’s not good Islamic stewardship, it’s not good Jewish stewardship.” (MORE)


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