From MISNAOct. 15, 2010
“Mutual understanding” was the common term used to describe
relations between Christians and Muslims in interventions of two top Muslim
figures at the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. Iran’s Ayatollah Seyed
Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad Ahmadabadi, a Shi'ite law professor, recognized the need
to protect minority communities in his speech to the synod.
“The stability of the world depends on the stability of the livelihood of small and large groups and societies. It is therefore essential that believers of different faiths can exercise their rights without shame”. Though admitting that in time there have been “dark” moments in relations between the two faiths, and that there are still “reactionary” views, Ahmadabadi reminded, “there are Islamic nations where Christians live side by side with Muslims”.
A stand shared also by the Sunni, Muhammad al-Sammak, adviser to the chief mufti of Lebanon and secretary general of Lebanon's Christian-Muslim Committee for Dialogue: “We share the sufferings of Christians, especially after 9-11 that sparked a phobia of Islam. But now we are called to work together in respect of rights and duties, in the fight against fundamentalism, in the promotion of a culture of friendship and forgiveness”.
The two Muslim scholars told the synod of Bishops that the declining number of Christians in the Middle East region was a concern for all Muslims. “The emigration of Christians is an impoverishment of the Arabic identity, of its culture and authenticity”, said al-Sammak, defining Christians as “founding heritage” of the Arab societies. The Sunni scholar also explained that Christians of the orient are not a minority in the region “by chance”.
“Christians are an integral part of the cultural, literary and scientific formation of Islamic civilization. They are also the pioneers of modern Arabic renaissance and have safeguarded its language, the language of the holy Quran […] as they were in the front line in the liberation and conquest of sovereignty (Arab), today they are in the front line in resisting to the occupation, defending violated rights in particular in Jerusalem and in Occupied Palestine generally”, he added.