Tuesday, October 17, 2006

IslamicaMagazine - Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI

This showed up in my mailbox ... IslamicaMagazine - Open Letter to 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. 12, 2006. The letter, which is the outcome of a joint effort, was signed by top religious authorities such as Shaykh Ali Jumu‘ah (the Grand Mufti of Egypt), Shakyh Abdullah bin Bayyah (former Vice President of Mauritania, and leading religious scholar), and Shaykh Sa‘id Ramadan Al-Buti (from Syria), in addition to the Grand Muftis of Russia, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Slovenia, Istanbul, Uzbekistan, and Oman, as well as leading figures from the Shi‘a community such as Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Taskhiri of Iran. The letter was also signed by HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan and by Muslim scholars in the West such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf from California, Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Professor Tim Winter of the University of Cambridge.

All the eight schools of thought and jurisprudence in Islam are represented by the signatories, including a woman scholar. In this respect the letter is unique in the history of interfaith relations.

The letter was sent, in a spirit of goodwill, to respond to some of the remarks made by the Pope during his lecture at the University of Regensburg on Sept. 12, 2006. The letter tackles the main substantive issues raised in his treatment of a debate between the medieval Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an “educated Persian”, including reason and faith; forced conversion; “jihad” vs. “holy war”; and the relationship between Christianity and Islam. They engage the Pope on an intellectual level concerning these crucial topics—which go well beyond the controversial quotation of the emperor—pointing out what they see as mistakes and oversimplifications in the Pope’s own remarks about Islamic belief and practice.
I haven't read the actual letter yet (I'm still working out my personal time-management to get into a good reading schedule!) ... but at least in some corners, it seems the Holy Father's words are prompting a response and, indeed, a respectful a dialogue.

1 comment:

assiniboine said...

Yes, well. Does it ever occur to you that our Muslim friends are not entirely unlike Orthodox Jews, in that their observances seem to require Canaanite hewers of wood and drawers of water to make it all work?

(How ever do they cope in places like Pakistan and Iran where virtually everyone is Muslim?)

I just got a phone call from a Muslim friend -- at 2 a.m., when I was sound asleep! -- complaining about the rigours of the Ramzan fast and wondering if I would mind picking him up some five hours hence to go to the produce market. (I suspect his Ramzan beard was itching and it woke him up.) No, I don't mind that, but I do mind being roused at an ungodly hour: being a Christian, and not necessarily always a particularly observant one at that -- the spirit is willing and all that -- I don't participate in the Ramzan fast, you see, and I don't quite know why I should have to assist those who do.

It has been said of the Canadian prairies, "One can sympathise with those who were born here and don't know any different, but WHY would anyone have chosen to live here in the first place?" My feelings about Islam are much the same, I confess.