United Under One God, Christians Should Work For Peace And Justice With Muslims, Jews, And All Others Of Goodwill

United Under One God, Christians Should Work For Peace And Justice With Muslims, Jews, And All Others Of Goodwill March 8, 2017

Fethullah Gulen with St John Pal II by Forum für INTERKULTURELLEN Dialog FID e.V. (Benutzer:nescafe) (Dialog Berlin) [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
Fethullah Gulen with St John Pal II by Forum für INTERKULTURELLEN Dialog FID e.V. (Benutzer:nescafe) (Dialog Berlin) [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
As St. John Paul II noted in Gambia, the common heritage of Abraham should bring Christians and Muslims together, to know each other better, and to work for a better world together:

The Catholic Church everywhere, as also here in Gambia, welcome opportunities for Christians and Muslims to know each other better, to share with each other their reverence for God, and to cooperate in serving the human family. Catholics rejoice in the religious freedom which makes your society, and which makes it possible for the majority Muslim community and the Christian community to live together in respect and accord. Like the patriarch Abraham, we are all pilgrims on the path seeking to do God’s will in everything. Although we differ in many ways, important elements of our respective faiths can serve as a basis for fruitful dialogue and a strengthening of the spirit of tolerance and mutual help.[3]

Or, as he said to Muslim representatives from Guiena, we hold with Muslims the fundamental rights and dignity which is to be accorded with every person, and this should serve as a foundation for cooperation and peacebuilding between Christians and Muslims:

Christians and Muslims, we are all warmed by the sunshine of God who is present and acts in the history of individuals and peoples. Christians and Muslims, we believe in God, Creator of mankind and the whole universe. We adore him and seek to submit to his will.

In this faith, Christians and Muslims have many points in common: the important place given to prayer; esteem for morality; the sense of human dignity which is at the basis of the basic rights of every person.[4]

In nations when group one or another is a minority, xenophobia often takes control. Christians have a history of mistreating Muslims, as Muslims have mistreating Christians, not because their faiths demand it, but because the people themselves fail to live out the ideals of their faith as they treated the other, a minority group, with regressive policies. For this reason, John Paul II also said it was the duty of host nations to be concerned with the well-being of guest workers or minority religious communities, to make sure they are justly treated instead of abused, as justice and mutual respect demands:

There have been in the past, and continue to be in the present, unfortunate instances of misunderstanding, intolerance and conflict between Christians and Muslims, especially in circumstances where either Muslims or Christians are a minority or are guest workers in a given country. It is our challenge as religious leaders to find ways to overcome such difficulties in the spirit of justice, brotherhood and mutual respect. [5]

Such hospitality and respect, of course, should be for all religious and ethnic minorities. When one group is unjustly treated and abused, justice is lost, and society loses its moral foundation. It has lost its authority as it is no longer working for the common good, and insofar as that common good is rejected by its leaders, its leaders are to be opposed because they have, through such injustice, lost their authority to regulate society.

Those who are of faith traditions other than are own and working for the common good are to be praised, as their actions can be used to help restore the commonwealth must be recognized and used to counteract any unjust polemics which come their way.  Christians, who have lost their vision of justice, that is, those who strive to promote hostility instead of cooperation with Muslims, need to see and read what Muslims are doing for the common good. This is how polemics against Muslims will be able to be put down, just as polemics against Catholics and Jews was able to be put down when Catholic and Jews were better understood by society.  Thus, when anti-Semitism itself is on the rise, it is great to see Muslims working to help defend and protect Jewish interests – such as the Muslims willing to guard and restore Jewish cemeteries  which are being attacked by people hostile to Jewish livelihood. Likewie, it is important to note, contrary to the way many consider Muslim and their relationship with the Jews, many Muslims want to live in solidarity with the Jews, and indeed, are willing to pray together for peace, recognizing their unity with the Jews.

Many Muslims are putting Christians to shame as they try to work for peace, dealing with threats from extremists claiming to be fellow Muslims, as well as Christians who seek the use of violence to eradicate Islam from the world. Instead of sitting by doing nothing,  or using the violence against themselves as just cause to become violent, they put themselves on the line, working for justice and peace, as  Father Rafic Greiche, a Coptic Catholic priest, told Catholic News Service: “Ordinary Muslims are kind and try to help however they can –  they’re often first on the scene, rescuing the injured and taking them to hospitals.”

For this reason, it is imperative that we differentiate between ordinary Muslims who seekto follow the higher ethical calling of their religion, with militants, who use religion as a political tool for earthly gain.  Such mlitants do not serve for the benefit of Muslims, which is how and why many Muslims themselves suffer at their hands, becoming refugees needing help and aid by the rest of the world. It should not be surprising, therefore, when Christian and Muslim refugees come together, they are able to form great bonds of friendship based upon their common experience, and come together with a common desire to change the world so it becomes better as people of different religious faiths come together to work for peaceful cooperation among themselves.

Christians, Jews and Muslims show they truly can work together. They can build better relations, despite the conflicts seen in the world.  Yes, they have differences of belief and practice from each other, but they also hold much in common, as they are all in the tradition of Abraham, and see in the God of Abraham the one true God who seeks peace and justice in the world. This is why John Paul II was able to put a special appeal to the three religions, asking them to work and remember the best of their tradition tells them to respect each other, because God is not only just, but merciful:

I likewise address this special appeal to the Jewish people, who are with us the inheritance of Abraham, “our father in faith” (cf. NA 4; Rm 4:11ff) and the tradition of the Old Testament, as well as to the Muslims who, like us, believe in the just and merciful God. [6]

Christians should look to and respect the work of Jews, Muslims, and people of all other religious traditions, which seek to work together with justice and mercy. When demagogues and xenophobes seek to create hatred and promote violence and injustice against one or another religious tradition, all need to come together and denounce such imprudence, lest society itself crumbles as it loses the notion that government is to serve the  common good.


 

[1] Notra Aetate. Vatican Translation. ¶3.

[2] Notra Aetate, ¶3.

[3] Pope John Paul II, To the People of Gambia (Feb. 23, 1992) in Interreligious Dialogue: The Official Teachings of the Catholic Church (1963 – 1995). ed. Francesco Gioia (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1997), 480.

[4] Pope John Paul II, To the Representatives of the Muslims of Guiena (Feb. 25, 1992) in Interreligious Dialogue: The Official Teachings of the Catholic Church (1963 – 1995). ed. Francesco Gioia (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1997), 480-1.

[5] Pope John Paul II,  To the Delegation of the World Islamic Call Society (Jan 15, 1990) in Interreligious Dialogue: The Official Teachings of the Catholic Church (1963 – 1995). ed. Francesco Gioia (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1997), 429.

[6] Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Re Socialis in Interreligious Dialogue: The Official Teachings of the Catholic Church (1963 – 1995). ed. Francesco Gioia (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1997), 99 [¶4].

 

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