Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Peace Between Christian and Muslim?

Tuesday after Advent 1
December 1, 2009

The Lord be with you

Muslim terrorists have certainly been in the news lately. We all know the terrible events of 9/11 that sparked our involvement in Afghanistan. Those who know history also know that Islam was born in war, first to unify the Arabian Peninsula, and then conquests across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and deep into Asia. The wars and counter wars make for captivating reading, but it can cause us to miss something important in the history of Islam … its strong tradition of peace.

People getting along really doesn’t make the headlines often, but I remember one remarkable time it did in my lifetime. Anwar Sadat (Muslim), Menachem Begin (Jewish), and Jimmy Carter (Christian) clasped hands together in a peace accord. Yes Sadat was assassinated by a Muslim, and Begin was assassinated by a Jew, and Carter failed to be re-elected, but we did see three men from three different faith traditions coming together for the sake of peace.

I remember reading about a New York mosque emptying out into the streets after the 9/11 attacks chanting “Death to the Taliban!” Clearly they did not support the violent actions undertaken by the murderers that hijacked the airplanes.

Still, I have heard from time to time people say, “Why don’t the important people in Islam speak out against the violence?” Well … many have.

On October 13, 2007 no less than 138 Muslim leaders from around the world, “representing all denominations and schools of thought” in Islam, issued A Common Word Between Us and You. “It extensively quotes the Qur’an and the Bible to show that both Islam and Christianity teach love for God and love for one’s neighbor. The document focuses on beliefs held in common. It also encourages peaceful and harmonious relationships between Muslims and Christians, since together these faiths incorporate ‘well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world.’” (LOGIA, A Journal of Lutheran Theology, volume XVIII, # 4, page 23)

Just because a person is a Muslim does not automatically make them a terrorist. If we are to make progress in our relationship with Muslims it seems wise to find common ground. At least for many, that common ground can be love for God and for our neighbor.

A link to A Common Word Between Us and You, along with reactions to it from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic groups, can be found by clicking the document name in this paragraph.

Blessings in Christ
Pastor John Rickert

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