Press Releases

U.S. Muslims Call for Dialogue Over Pope’s Comments on Islam

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful


CAIR seeks meeting with Vatican representative in Washington, D.C.

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/15/2006) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called for increased dialogue between Muslims and Catholics over the controversy sparked by remarks perceived as insulting to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad made by Pope Benedict XVI. CAIR is also seeking a meeting with the Vatican’s representative in Washington, D.C., to discuss the remarks.

In an address on Tuesday, the Pope quoted a 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor as saying: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

SEE: Muslim Leaders Blast Pope’s Comments (Washington Post)

In a statement issued today, the Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said:

“The proper response to the Pope’s inaccurate and divisive remarks is for Muslims and Catholics worldwide to increase dialogue and outreach efforts aimed at building better relations between Christianity and Islam. This unfortunate episode also offers an opportunity for Christians to learn more about Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and the Islamic concept of jihad.

“Jihad is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense (e.g., – having a standing army for national defense), or fighting against tyranny or oppression. ‘Jihad’ should not be translated as ‘holy war.’

“The Quran, Islam’s revealed text, condemns forced acceptance of any faith when it states: ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion.’ (2:256) Islam calls for peace once oppression ends: ‘Fight in the cause of God with those who fight against you, but do not exceed the limits…If they desist, let there be no hostility except against the oppressors.” (2:190-193)

“Muslims are also asked to maintain good relations with people of other faiths, and to engage in constructive dialogue. ‘And dispute not with the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) except with means better (than mere disputation). . .but say, ‘We believe in the Revelation that has come down to us and in that which came down to you.'” (29:46)

“The Quran also states: ‘(Rest assured that) those who believe (in the Quran), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians, and the Sabians – whoever believes in God and the last day and performs good deeds – will be rewarded by their Lord. They will have nothing to fear or to regret.’ (2:62)

“In Islam, there is no contradiction between faith and reason. The first verses revealed to the Prophet Muhammad included: ‘Read! In the name of your Lord. . .Read! Your Lord is the Most Gracious, Who taught by the (use of the) pen, taught man what he knew not.’ Historically, whenever Islam flourished, so did knowledge and discovery.

“Let us all continue the interfaith efforts promoted by the late Pope John Paul II, who made great strides in bringing Muslims and Catholics together for the common good.”

Along with a request for a meeting with a Vatican representative in the United States, CAIR is urging Americans of all faiths to learn more about Islam and about the life and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad by requesting a free Quran or a book or DVD about Muhammad at and

CAIR 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.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:



Council on American-Islamic Relations

453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.

Washington, D.C. 20003

Tel: 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726

Fax: 202-488-0833




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