Muslim leader to Pope: "I wish to see Muslims and Christians growing in mutual understanding…"

Muslim leader to Pope: "I wish to see Muslims and Christians growing in mutual understanding…" September 23, 2011

“The following story by the Prophet Mohammed reminds us of the Gospel according to Matthew:

“Allah will ask a man on the Day of Resurrection: ‘I was sick but you did not visit Me, I asked food from you but you did not feed Me and I asked drink from you but you did not provide Me’, at which the man will ask in astonishment: ‘Thou art God, how can you be sick, thirsty or hungry?’, and Allah will answer: ‘On that day a friend of yours was sick but you did not visit him. If you had visited him, you would have found Me by him. On that day a friend of yours was hungry and you did not give him anything to eat, and on that day a friend of yours was thirsty and you did not give him anything to drink.” Where someone stretches out the hand of mercy and kindness, this is where God is manifest, there is mercy, there is God. Where a mother embraces her child, where we smile at someone, everywhere one makes a sign of kindness, love and mercy, is where the revelation of God’s mercy is made real, where it is made possible to experience God.

God describes His mercy in the Koran as absolute. The only thing which God has “obliged” Himself to do in the Koran is mercy: Sura 6, verse 12 reads as follows: ‘He has decreed that mercy is His attribute.’

Expressed in Christian terms as love, and in Islamic terms as mercy, God therefore reveals Himself in love and mercy experienced and lived here and now in this world. According to this understanding of God as being in dialogue with Man,. Man can, indeed should make the revelation of God real. Love and mercy are therefore the criterion which we as Muslims and Christians share in order to distinguish between a divine offer and a non-divine offer. These are the words of 1 John (4:16): “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”, and in the same vein the words of the Prophet Muhammad: “God says: ‘When I make him My beloved I become his ears to hear, and his eyes to see and his hands to grasp and his feet to walk. When he asks Me I grant him and when he seeks My protection I protect him.'” I wish to see Muslims and Christians growing in mutual understanding and in God’s love and mercy, and I would like to wish to You, Your Holiness, God’s blessing on this path.”

— Prof. Dr. Mouhanad Khorchide, an Islamic scholar, 24 September 2011

Read his full text.

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17 responses to “Muslim leader to Pope: "I wish to see Muslims and Christians growing in mutual understanding…"”

  1. I have to wonder how many Muslims, upon reading these words, would complain about “creeping Chrislam” invading their faith. We would call such complainers zealots, fundamentalists, and accuse them of possibly harboring violent thoughts toward not only Christians but also the “appeasers” within their own faith.

    Does hatred truly turn us into a reflection of that which we hate?

  2. On September 17, Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington along with Niha Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Larry Shaw, chairman of the council’s board, met with the Iranian president in an effort to secure the release of two American hikers.

    I think that collaborative, inter-religious efforts like this need more publicity. For me, this is a sign of hope.

  3. I hope this message will be shared widely. More specifically, I hope my own bishop will read this message directed to the pope and experience a conversion away from his bigotry towards Muslims.

    That would be the bishop who used his homily at midnight mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in 2010 to vilify Muslims, including Muslims who seek a peaceful life in the U.S. That was the main focus for his Christmas eve homily, on a night when the church was filled with the devout as well as twice-a-year visitors who might have been wondering, in their hearts, whether they should return to the Catholic church.

  4. “Where someone stretches out the hand of mercy and kindness, this is where God is manifest, there is mercy, there is God. Where a mother embraces her child, where we smile at someone, everywhere one makes a sign of kindness, love and mercy, is where the revelation of God’s mercy is made real, where it is made possible to experience God.”

    That is absolutely beautiful and worthy of memorization.

  5. Steve, curious where you see “directed to the pope and experience a conversion away from his bigotry towards Muslims.”

    I think Pope Benedict XVI has tried to work with the muslim faith far more than the Islamic leaders have tried to work with the Catholic Church. Even his 9/12/2006 Regensburg lecture was reaching out to Muslims and it was handed back to him with violent protest.

    When do Islamic countries start to open themselves up to other faiths as we see here and in Europe? When do they allow Christians to practice their faith and allow muslims who desire to convert to be allowed to do so freely without violence and killing?

    I would have been much more impressed with this leter had it came out against jihad and Sharia…

  6. Greta #5: “I would have been much more impressed with this leter had it came out against jihad and Sharia…”

    I doubt that, Greta. Anyone who can find a way to relate extremist terrorism to a young girl playing soccer is quite likely unable to give *any* credit to any Imam, no matter how strident their words against violence.

    But, I am willing to be wrong here, and willing to give you an opportunity to prove the truth of your words.

    Most of these statements were delivered in the days and weeks following 9/11, but some were delivered later.

    And then there is this:

    A 67 page document compiled by CAIR listing statements by Muslim scholars and leaders condemning the actions of 9/11.

    And finally, this:

    A 16 page listing of statements condemning the London bombings.

    Your response, Greta?

  7. Nice statement but a central defect in Islam is a lack of central authority. One professor does not speak for the whole of it. For every statement like that, we have thousands calling for the death of “infidels.”

    The spread of Islam needs to be aggressively, intelligently and lovingly opposed. It is like the Borg; it cannot ultimately co-exist with other faiths. It believes in conversion by force.

  8. This is a fake HADITH of Mohammad….he would never say or think such thing… he thaought just about killing, slautering, raping,,,, etc !!!

    I am an arab Catholic in an arab country … i know muslims more than you all…
    we had tough short experience with Islaaaam …. just since 14 centuries !!!
    we have 2 diffrent levels of believing, praying, thinking, accepting the other, … even in drinking and eating !!!
    we will NEVER EVER meet with them !!!! unless we become LIKE THEM !!!!

    I think that the LORD is punshing the whole world with ISALAAAAAAAAMMMM !!!!

  9. Kevin: Good point. I agree. There is something pernicious about the religion of Islam. It seems there are underlying principles that do not reach the common light of day–to non-muslims. The fact that Christianity has vigorously fought against the spread of Islam (also called “Mohammadism”) for centuries should tell us that there are contradictions within mainstream Islam and more so in more left-leaning Islamists. I, for one, worry about the spread of Islam–especially now when I hear so much about Sharia law being pushed. We are going to ride on the roller coaster of “tolerance” until we become untolerable….

  10. Richard Johnson. Yes, I have seen those articles many times. first off, it is not a lot of different articles in the three links, but one major release and several others with the same info in smaller doses. These have been addressed and challenged by those who know Islam far better than I do and I would suspect anyone else here.
    I remember that those who looked at the statements said that in these comments, there is a call to not have military action, but to treat 9/11 as a violation to be handled by capture and bringing them to court. So right after 9/11, when Americans are ready to do some serious actions as we were after Pearl Harbor, these releases were largely damage control. Most were by scholars who work in universities and many of the signatories were easily found to have far different statements about jihad and the infidels in their ongoing writing prior to and agains after 9/11.

    While condemning the acts, none addressed the fundamentals of the koran where jihad is clear nor do they condemn by name the huge number of Imam’s who before and after 9/11 are still leading many of the major mosques of the world and proclaiming clear support of 9/11. Robert Spencer has detailed a lot of these in his books with a lot of footnotes and examples for which he has been placed on a kill list by the religion of peace.

    Kevin made a great point in that within Islam, there is no real leader or even leadership to clearly define what Islam teaches which I think is also part of the design of Islam to allow it to react according to their power within a nation. If Islam is weak, it is the religion of peace. If they dominate, the Imam sends out kill squads to attack anyone who in their mind defiles the holy book or Mohammed or dares to convert or to talk about any religion but Islam. So the peaceful weak ones are often quoted as needed, but no where does it say that what is written in the koran is wrong and can no longer be taught in the mosques.

    Sorry, richard, but if you spent more time on this and read a little more, you would find that Islam is not a religion that desires peace and unity with other religions of the world. If it was, you would not find them trying to wipe out people in countries where Islam is dominant.

  11. In other words, Greta…just being Muslim is enough to be branded as a suspect in your worldview. You’ve put together a rather nice catch-22 scenario in which you never truly have to challenge your viewpoint, you simply insist that those who speak out against violence in Islam are either stooges or useful idiots. Thus, nothing that can be said or done will ever truly satisfy your statement, “I would have been much more impressed with this leter had it came out against jihad and Sharia…”

    You have my sympathy, Greta.

  12. Richard, you are reading things into my comment not there. I note that you do not take up the fact that none of them were directly condemning the teaching contained in the koran on jihad, on killing the infidel if they do not submit, or against sharia law or call by name for the removal of Imams who are teaching this hate and calling on the exact violence they seem to condemn.

    How about taking a look at Nazi Germany as an example. While the Nazi’s were going about setting up camps, they had their PR group who was showing pictures of camps with happy folks being well fed and cared for. You could have then taken those words as many did and denied what was really going on and buried your head in the sand as many inside and outside Germany did at the time and even after the war.

    The statements if you take the time to read them, while condemning the attacks, called for them to be treated as law breaking events which called only for those responsible to be found and brought to trial. They also called for serious look at the root causes which is code word for lets find an excuse for the terrorist butchering of innocent people. They did not call for states who harbored and supported these terrorist to be punished in any way.

    If you read a little more and study the long term strategy of Islam through the ages, what is actually written and being taught in the mosques, and the teaching that those who are not converted need to submit and pay a price, you would have a better understanding of the total threat. My point is that like the Nazi and other evils, you have the good cop out their working in close relationship with the bad cop and that is part of their overall strategy and goal. When I see the Imam’s of all the Muslim Countries calling for an end to terrorism in the name of Islam, for an end to Sharia law, and solid proof that nothing evil is happening in the mosques with open inspections, then I will start to forgive and accept it as a religion of peace.

    CAIR has been closely linked to organizations that have donated funding to terrorist groups and their cry for acceptance of Islam even while we are at war with those using Islam to kill innocent people is a joke. They are the Joseph Goebbels of Islam. Remember what the PR Nazi guro said.. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    In every nation led by Islam in full control, there is repression of all dissent as witnessed in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and all the others. The so call arab spring in Egypt I note now has mobs going after Israel and storming their embassy. Last time I looked, Egypt has been at peace with Israel for decades. Lybia is soon to become another Islamic state governed by Sharia law and we will see how much freedom they have there. Turkey was once a state that had put Islam in a corner in regard to its more violent and repressive components, but it is falling in to that same repression. I note they just stopped and tagged 30 Jews from flights into Turkey, stripped them, confined them for hours, and then released them with not explanation other than they were Jews.

    When the Catholic Church allowed the abuse of mostly male teenage kids by 1-2% of the priests with coverup by a few bishops, the attack on the Church was all over and complete. It found mass attack for Catholic leadership and resulted in one of the most intensive programs to protect kids in existence in the world today. Try volunteering in a Catholic school and see what you have to go through if you are near a child. Keep in mind there is not quoted text anywhere in Catholic teaching advocating the abuse of children, but the exact opposite. There is not a 1200 year long history of the abuse of children supported by Church teaching. Islam has been violent and attacking countries and calling for world domination with the spread of their faith with the use of violence for 1200 years or more and it is in the teaching for all to find.

    It is a cancer within Islam and if they want to be accepted into the world community as a religion of peace, they need to get the cancer removed and only they can do so peacefully. Otherwise Islam will continue to attack and finally, someone is going to say enough and use massive force and we will have a war that makes Iraq and Afghanistan look like a school picnic. The only question is what is that trigger point and most suspect it to be a nuclear or biological attack killing millions. I prefer to prevent those with this teaching and proven incliniation to be prevented from using this on innocent people and pretending this is not fact only emboldens them more that the Joseph Goebbles big lie strategy is working for them.

  13. Greta, for the record, I was not saying that Pope Benedict needs to be converted “away from his biogtry towards Muslims.” My sentence structure there wasn’t the best and may, consequently, have left that impression. Sorry about that. I was saying that I hope my bishop (Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois) will read the message that was sent to the pope, pray over it, and perhaps allow himself to be converted away from his anti-Muslim bigotry. Bishop Paprocki (not the Pope) was the person who preached a Christmas Eve homily in 2010 in which he celebrated the execution of a Muslim general on Christmas Day (way back) and then moved on to suggesting that even Muslims who live peaceful lives in the U.S. should be regarded with suspicion. In other words, he used the Holy Mass not only to expose the congregation to his biogtry (a celebration of his sin, effectively), but he tried to induce the congregation to share in that sin.

    Bishop Paprocki’s homily is still out there on the web. Read it for yourself. You might consider saying a prayer for Bishop Paprocki, too. He can change; he can turn from his bigotry and embrace more fully the love of the God who loves all people…the God who came to earth in the form of the Christ child, the prince of peace. What a wonderful conversion story he could share this Christmas if he is able to give up his bigotry. What an example he would provide for each man, woman, and child in his diocese. Good cause to lift up in prayer!

  14. Steve, I read the homily. Can you point out what this Bishop said that was a lie or in error? Somehow I am not seeing the bigotry and of course this will provoke comments that I am aslo a bigot. But just for grins, can some of those who want to claim that, lay out the lies or erroris in this homily first that I can be educated?

    You say he “celebrated the execution of a Muslim general on Christmas Day.” I read it as saying that had this general not been defeated, but had won, we probably would not be celebrating Christmas. He seems to lay it out very well. It was fact that since its founding, Islam for 300 years had been allowed to spread by the sword or surrender. Many Christians had been killed and many were slaves for life. It is not unlike what we see happening to Christians today being martyrd in Muslim countries. What Christian country is forcing Muslims to convert or die? What Christian country is sending out terrorist supported by the Christian church and bible to kill those who disagree with their teaching or faith? What Christian nation has its people rioting and killing over a joke about Jesus or even the offensive use of Christ in urine? What Christian country is cheering over the death of innocent muslim women and children. Last time I looked, there was much angst in this Christian country over the war on those who have committed or who support terrorist attacks. Last time I looked, you are free to speak and protest and write to your government condemning their actions with which you disagree. Name a Muslim led nation that does the same. Muslims are being tortured and killed in muslim nations for trying to voice their views. How about flying into Saudi Arabia, Iran, or even Iraq and Afghanistan with a bible and going out speaking the good news and not expecting viloence? These nations laws are designed around the Koran and its teaching. Even Turkey is now falling prey to this same perverted religion.

    Will be waiting to see a response other than it is bigoted today in America to point out facts and truth.

  15. Greta #12: “I note that you do not take up the fact that none of them were directly condemning the teaching contained in the koran on jihad, on killing the infidel if they do not submit, or against sharia law or call by name for the removal of Imams who are teaching this hate and calling on the exact violence they seem to condemn.”

    Greta, do you condemn this teaching in the Bible?

    “If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst.” (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

    Or this one?

    “Suppose a man or woman among you, in one of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, has done evil in the sight of the LORD your God and has violated the covenant by serving other gods or by worshiping the sun, the moon, or any of the forces of heaven, which I have strictly forbidden. When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then that man or woman must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death.” (Deuteronomy 17:2-5 NLT)

    Now, of course, the first thing you are going to do is point out that these were commands given to Israel, not to the Church, and therefore they are not relevant under the current dispensation of grace. This is of course how any competent teacher or student of the Bible would respond. No doubt you would consider someone who cherry picked such passages with the intent of playing “gotcha” with a Christian to be uneducated with the whole of Scripture.

    As for your statement regarding the passages in the Koran, are you doing a similar cherry-picking to prove your point, or are you treating the Koran in the same way you would want someone to treat the Bible?

    I cannot understand how folks who can dismiss as cranks and malcontents those former and current Catholics who are calling for “reform” or questioning the Church’s treatment of the child abuse crisis can then, in one simple moment of logical disconnect, trust disgruntled former Muslims and neo-conservative political hacks when they quote the Koran out of context in an attempt to condemn the entire Islamic faith. How does this make sense?

  16. Greta, you have read Bishop Paprocki’s Christmas homily and did not see bigotry in it. I guess that’s possible, depending on how you go about defining bigorty.

    My own definition of bigotry includes treating all members of a group (or virtually all members of a group) as a single entity — painting them all with the same broad brush. And that’s indeed what Bishop Paprocki did in his homily. Yes, I know, he at one point (only once) offered the obligatory “They’re not all terrorists” line, but it’s easy to see from the rest of his homily that he does think any individual Muslim is a pretty good bet as a potential terrorist. He offered that one (very weak) disclaimer in the same spirit that my aged relative is inclined to say, “Well, you know, all Black people aren’t lazy, but…” If you want to call that approach something other than bigotry, you are certainly entitled. As for me, I will pray hard that the bishop will not spend more of his time and energy dehumanizing the billion-plus men, women, and children on this planet who happen to be Muslim. (Yes, that’s what happens when one stereotypes. Individuals get turned into “an other,” in this case, a dangerous other.)

    In his homily, Bishop Paprocki specifically slams Muslims who seek a peaceful life as American citizens. The bishop laments that Muslims can “simply continue to move in peacefully and legally as they are already doing in Western Europe and even here in the United States until they reach a majority and impose Islamist values and sharia law with little or no resistance.”

    Please, Greta, ask yourself if it was NOT bigotry in the nineteenth century when such fear-mongering was used on a daily basis against Irish and Italian immigrants who were Catholic: “If those darn Romanists are allowed to invade our land, well, they’re going to make us all answer to the Pope! Even the nice ones are dangerous because they might turn our cities and towns into bastions of Romanism!” That was bigotry. What Bishop Paprocki has engaged in is bigotry. We need to call a sin a sin. And when someone (a church leader) sins in a big way in public, we need to pray for their conversion to the message of the gospel. I’m a sinner, and so is the bishop. We can both be saved by returning to the gospel. But first we need to be willing to recognize our sins and name them and ask for forgiveness. I don’t think Bishop Paprocki needs to be stuck in his bigotry forever and always; this is one of those temptations that he (like the rest of us) must fight.

  17. Steve:

    What I have often thought about doing when I hear a homily like this:

    Maybe I will put earplugs in my ears and read from the magazine, Magnificat, or a hard copy of a deacon’s homily posted on this website.

    I have taught Church History to adult Catholics in formation for 14 years and have never known about the Polish King, John Sobieski III, who led the troops to victory over the Turks in1683.

    Now here may be a stretch on my part:

    Is there a connection with the fact that Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, who is or Polish ancestry and is associated strongly with the American Catholic Polish Community, and his Christmas homily?

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