Dozens of Muslim leaders from around the world released a letter yesterday to "leaders of Christian churches everywhere" emphasizing the shared theological roots of the two faiths and saying the survival of the world depends on them finding common ground.
The document, "A Common Word Between Us and You," was signed by 138 clerics, scholars and others and released at news conferences in Jordan, London, Abu Dhabi and Washington.
The effort was organized by the Royal Academy, the same Jordan-based group behind a letter sent last October to Pope Benedict XVI after he delivered a lecture about Islam that set off protests.
Noting that the two faith groups together make up more than half of the world's population, the letter said: "If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. . . . thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world is perhaps at stake."
The letter was addressed to more than 30 Christian leaders, including Pope Benedict and the leaders of the world's Orthodox Christians and Anglicans. Its signatories include present and former grand muftis of Syria, Slovenia, Palestine and Egypt as well as professors, political leaders and advocates such as the co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
At the Washington news conference, John Esposito, director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown, said that the letter was a feat partially because it was able to bring together Muslim leaders from a wide range of theological schools across Sunni, Shia, Salafi and Sufi traditions.
"This is a challenge to Christianity," he said. "It will be wonderful to see their responses."
The key point of the 29-page letter is that Christianity and Islam share two foundations: love of one God, and love of one's neighbor. (MORE)