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A Common Word

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

On the Occasion of the Eid al-Fitr al-Mubarak 1428 A.H. / October 13th 2007 C.E., and on the One Year Anniversary of the Open Letter of 38 Muslim Scholars to H.H. Pope Benedict XVI,

An Open Letter and Call from Muslim Religious Leaders to:

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,
His All-Holiness Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Constantinople, New Rome,
His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa,
His Beatitude Ignatius IV, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East,
His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem,
His Beatitude Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia,
His Beatitude Pavle, Patriarch of Belgrade and Serbia,
His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania,
His Beatitude Maxim, Patriarch of Bulgaria,
His Beatitude Ilia II, Archbishop of Mtskheta-Tbilisi, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia,
His Beatitude Chrisostomos, Archbishop of Cyprus,
His Beatitude Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece,
His Beatitude Sawa, Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland,
His Beatitude Anastasios, Archbishop of Tirana, Duerres and All Albania,
His Beatitude Christoforos, Metropolitan of the Czech and Slovak Republics,

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the Apostolic Throne of St. Mark,
His Beatitude Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians,
His Beatitude Ignatius Zakka I, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church,
His Holiness Mar Thoma Didymos I, Catholicos of the East on the Apostolic Throne of St.Thomas and the Malankara Metropolitan,
His Holiness Abune Paulos, Fifth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Echege of the See of St. Tekle Haymanot, Archbishop of Axium,

His Beatitude Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East,

The Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury,
Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, andPresident of the Lutheran World Federation,
Rev. George H. Freeman, General Secretary, World Methodist Council,
Rev. David Coffey, President of the Baptist World Alliance,
Rev. Setri Nyomi, General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches,

Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, General Secretary, World Council of Churches,And Leaders of Christian Churches, everywhere….


In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
A Common Word between Us and You


 

(Summary and Abridgement)

Muslims and Christians together make up 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. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians. The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity. The following are only a few examples:

Of God’s Unity, God says in the Holy Qur’an: Say: He is God, the One! / God, the Self-Sufficient Besought of all! (Al-Ikhlas, 112:1-2). Of the necessity of love for God, God says in the Holy Qur’an: So invoke the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him with acomplete devotion (Al-Muzzammil, 73:8). Of the necessity of love for the neighbour, the Prophet Muhammad ρ said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbourwhat you love for yourself.”

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ υ said: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord isOne. / And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, withall your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. / And thesecond, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no othercommandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)


In the Holy Qur’an, God Most High enjoins Muslims to issue the following call toChristians (and Jews—the People of the Scripture):

Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us andyou: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe nopartner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they whohave surrendered (unto Him). (Aal ‘Imran 3:64)

The words: we shall ascribe no partner unto Him relate to the Unity of God, and the words: worship none but God, relate to being totally devoted to God. Hence they all relate to the First and Greatest Commandment. According to one of the oldest and most authoritative commentaries on the Holy Qur’an the words: that none of us shall take others for lords beside God, mean ‘that none of us should obey the other in disobedience to what God has commanded’. This relates to the Second Commandment because justiceand freedom of religion are a crucial part of love of the neighbour. Thus in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, we as Muslims invite Christians to cometogether with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is mostessential to our faith and practice: the Two Commandments of love.

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,

And may peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad

A COMMON WORD BETWEEN US AND YOU

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and contend withthem in the fairest way. Lo! thy Lord is Best Aware of him who strayeth from His way,and He is Best Aware of those who go aright. (The Holy Qur’an, Al-Nahl, 16:125)

(I) LOVE OF GOD

LOVE OF GOD IN ISLAM

The Testimonies of Faith

The central creed of Islam consists of the two testimonies of faith or Shahadahsi,1 which state that: there is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God. These Two Testimonies are the sine qua non of Islam. He or she who testifies to them is a Muslim; he or she who denies them is not a Muslim. Moreover, the Prophet Muhammadρ said: The best remembrance is: ‘there is no god but God’….2

The Best that All the Prophets have Said

Expanding on the best remembrance, the Prophet Muhammad ρ also said: The best that I have said—myself, and the prophets that came before me—is: ‘there is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise andHe hath power over all things3. The phrases which follow the First Testimony of faithare all from the Holy Qur’an; each describe a mode of love of God, and devotion to Him.

The words: He Alone, remind Muslims that their hearts4 must be devoted to God Alone, since God says in the Holy Qur’an: God hath not assigned unto any man two hearts within his body (Al-Ahzab, 33:4). God is Absolute and therefore devotion to Him must be totally sincere.

The words: He hath no associate, remind Muslims that they must love God uniquely, without rivals within their souls, since God says in the Holy Qur’an: Yet there are men who take rivals unto God: they love them as they should love God. But those of faith are more intense in their love for God …. (Al-Baqarah, 2:165). Indeed, [T]heir fleshand their hearts soften unto the remembrance of God …. (Al-Zumar, 39:23).

The words: His is the sovereignty, remind Muslims that their minds or their understandings must be totally devoted to God, for the sovereignty is precisely everything in creation or existence and everything that the mind can know. And all is in God’s Hand, since God says in the Holy Qur’an: Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the sovereignty, and, He is Able to do all things (Al-Mulk, 67:1).

The words: His is the praise remind Muslims that they must be grateful to God and trust Him with all their sentiments and emotions. God says in the Holy Qur’an:  


And if thou wert to ask them: Who created the heavens and the earth, and constrained the sun and the moon (to their appointed work)? they wouldsay: God. How then are they turned away ? / God maketh the provision wide for whom He will of His servants, and straiteneth it for whom (Hewill). Lo! God is Aware of all things. / And if thou wert to ask them: Whocauseth water to come down from the sky, and there with reviveth the earth after its death ? they verily would say: God. Say: Praise be to God! But most of them have no sense. (Al-‘Ankabut, 29:61-63)5

For all these bounties and more, human beings must always be truly grateful:

God is He Who created the heavens and the earth, and causeth water to descend from the sky, thereby producing fruits as food for you, and maketh the ships to be of service unto you, that they may run upon the sea at Hiscommand, and hath made of service unto you the rivers; / And maketh the sun and the moon, constant in their courses, to be of service unto you, andhath made of service unto you the night and the day./ And He giveth you ofall ye ask of Him, and if ye would count the graces of God ye cannot reckon them. Lo! man is verily a wrong-doer, an ingrate. (Ibrahim, 14:32-34)6

Indeed, the Fatihah—which is the greatest chapter in the Holy Qur’an7—starts with praise to God:

In the Name of God, the Infinitely Good, the All-Merciful. /Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds. /The Infinitely Good, the All-Merciful. /Owner of the Day of Judgement. /Thee we worship, and Thee we ask for help. /Guide us upon the straight path. /The path of those on whom is Thy Grace, not those who deserve anger nor those who are astray. (Al-Fatihah, 1:1-7)

The Fatihah, recited at least seventeen times daily by Muslims in the canonical prayers, reminds us of the praise and gratitude due to God for His Attributes of Infinite Goodness and All-Mercifulness, not merely for His Goodness and Mercy to us in this life but ultimately, on the Day of Judgement8 when it matters the most and when we hope to be forgiven for our sins. It thus ends with prayers for grace and guidance, so that we might attain—through what begins with praise and gratitude— salvation and love, for God says in the Holy Qur’an: Lo! those who believe and do good works, the Infinitely Good will appoint for them love. (Maryam, 19:96)

The words: and He hath power over all things, remind Muslims that they must be mindful of God’s Omnipotence and thus fear God9. God says in the Holy Qur’an:

[A]nd fear God, and know that God is with the God-fearing. / Spend your wealth for the cause of God, and be not cast by your own hands to ruin; and do good. Lo! God loveth the virtuous. / …. (Al-Baqarah, 2:194-5)…
[A]nd fear God, and know that God is severe in punishment. (Al-Baqarah, 2:196)

Through fear of God, the actions, might and strength of Muslims should be totally devoted to God. God says in the Holy Qur’an:…

[A]nd know that God is with those who fear Him. (Al-Tawbah, 9:36) ….O ye who believe! What aileth you that when it is said unto you: Go forth in the way of God, ye are bowed down to the ground with heaviness. Take ye pleasure in the life of the world rather than in the Hereafter ? The comfort of the life of the world is but little in the Hereafter. / If ye go not forth He will afflict you with a painful doom, and will choose instead of you a folk otherthan you. Ye cannot harm Him at all. God is Able to do all things. (Al-Tawbah, 9:38-39)

The words: His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power overall things, when taken all together, remind Muslims that just as everything in creation glorifies God, everything that is in their souls must be devoted to God:  

All that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth glorifieth God; His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things. (Al-Taghabun, 64:1)
For indeed, all that is in people’s souls is known, and accountable, to God:
He knoweth all that is in the heavens and the earth, and He knoweth what ye conceal and what ye publish. And God is Aware of what is in the breasts (of men). (Al-Taghabun, 64:4)

As we can see from all the passages quoted above, souls are depicted in the Holy Qur’an as having three main faculties: the mind or the intelligence, which is made forcomprehending the truth; the will which is made for freedom of choice, and sentiment which is made for loving the good and the beautiful10. Put in another way, we could saythat man’s soul knows through understanding the truth, through willing the good, and through virtuous emotions and feeling love for God. Continuing in the same chapter ofthe Holy Qur’an (as that quoted above), God orders people to fear Him as much as possible, and to listen (and thus to understand the truth); to obey (and thus to will the good), and to spend (and thus to exercise love and virtue), which, He says, is better for our souls. By engaging everything in our souls—the faculties of knowledge, will, and love—we may come to be purified and attain ultimate success:

So fear God as best ye can, and listen, and obey, and spend; that is better for your souls. And those who are saved from the pettiness of their own souls, such are the successful. (Al-Taghabun, 64:16)

In summary then, when the entire phrase He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things is added to the testimony of faith—There is no god but God—it reminds Muslims that their hearts, their individual souls and all the faculties and powers of their souls (or simply their entire hearts and souls) must be totally devoted and attached to God. Thus God says to the Prophet Muhammad ρ in the Holy Qur’an:

Say: Lo! my worship and my sacrifice and my living and my dying are for God, Lord of the Worlds. / He hath no partner. This am I commanded, and I am first of those who surrender (unto Him). / Say: Shall I seek another than God for Lord, when He is Lord of all things? Each soul earneth only on its own account, nor doth any laden bear another’s load…. (Al-An’am, 6:162-164)

These verses epitomize the Prophet Muhammad’s ρ complete and utter devotion to God. Thus in the Holy Qur’an God enjoins Muslims who truly love God to follow this example11, in order in turn to be loved12 by God:  

Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love God, follow me; God will love you and forgive you your sins. God is Forgiving, Merciful. (Aal ‘Imran, 3:31)

Love of God in Islam is thus part of complete and total devotion to God; it is not a mere fleeting, partial emotion. As seen above, God commands in the Holy Qur’an: Say: Lo! my worship and my sacrifice and my living and my dying are for God, Lord of the Worlds. / He hath no partner. The call to be totally devoted and attached to God heart and soul, far from being a call for a mere emotion or for a mood, is in fact an injunction requiring all-embracing, constant and active love of God. It demands a love in which the innermost spiritual heart and the whole of the soul—with its intelligence, will and feeling—participate through devotion.

None Comes with Anything Better

We have seen how the blessed phrase: There is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things—which is the best that all the prophets have said—makes explicit what is implicit in the best remembrance (There is no god but God) by showing what it requires and entails, by way of devotion. It remains to be said that this blessed formula is also in itself a sacred invocation—a kind of extension of the First Testimony of faith (There is no god but God)—the ritual repetition of which can bring about, through God’s grace, some ofthe devotional attitudes it demands, namely, loving and being devoted to God with all one’s heart, all one’s soul, all one’s mind, all one’s will or strength, and all one’s sentiment. Hence the Prophet Muhammad ρ commended this remembrance by saying:

He who says: ‘there is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate,His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things’ one hundred times in a day, it is for them equal to setting ten slaves free, and one hundred good deeds are written for them and one hundred bad deeds are effaced, and it is for them a protection from the devil for that day until the evening. And none offers anything better than that, save one who does more than that.13 In other words, the blessed remembrance, There is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things, not only requires and implies that Muslims must be totally devoted to God andl ove Him with their whole hearts and their whole souls and all that is in them, but provides a way, like its beginning (the testimony of faith)—through its frequent repetition14—for them to realize this love with everything they are.God says in one of the very first revelations in the Holy Qur’an: So invoke the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him with a complete devotion (Al-Muzzammil,73:8).

LOVE OF GOD AS THE FIRST AND GREATEST COMMANDMENT IN THE BIBLE

The Shema in the Book of Deuteronomy (6:4-5), a centrepiece of the Old Testament and of Jewish liturgy, says: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! / You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.15

Likewise, in the New Testament, when Jesus Christ, the Messiah υ, is asked about the Greatest Commandment, he answers υ:

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. / Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, / “Teacher, which is the great commandment inthe law?” / Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God withall your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ / This is the first and greatest commandment. / And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ / On these two commandments hang all theLaw and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40)
And also:
Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” / Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one./ And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)

The commandment to love God fully is thus the First and Greatest Commandment of the Bible. Indeed, it is to be found in a number of other places throughout the Bible including: Deuteronomy 4:29, 10:12, 11:13 (also part of the Shema), 13:3, 26:16, 30:2, 30:6, 30:10; Joshua 22:5; Mark 12:32-33 and Luke 10:27-28.

However, in various places throughout the Bible, it occurs in slightly different forms and versions. For instance, in Matthew 22:37 (You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind), the Greek word for “heart” is kardia, the word for “soul” is psyche, and the word for “mind” is dianoia. Inthe version from Mark 12:30 (And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart,with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength) the word “strength” is added to the aforementioned three, translating the Greek word ischus.
The words of the lawyer in Luke 10:27 (which are confirmed by Jesus Christ υ in Luke 10:28) contain the same four terms as Mark 12:30. The words of the scribe in Mark 12:32 (which are approved of by Jesus Christ υ in Mark 12:34) contain the three terms kardia (“heart”), dianoia (“mind”), and ischus (“strength”).
In the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! / You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength). In Hebrew the word for “heart” is lev, the word for “soul” is nefesh, and the word for “strength” is me’od.
In Joshua 22:5, the Israelites are commanded by Joshua υ as follows to love God and be devoted to Him as follows:

“But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Mosesthe servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, towalk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Joshua 22:5)

What all these versions thus have in common—despite the language differences between the Hebrew Old Testament, the original words of Jesus Christ υ in Aramaic, and the actual transmitted Greek of the New Testament—is the command to love God fully with one’s heart and soul and to be fully devoted to Him. This is the First and Greatest Commandment for human beings.

In the light of what we have seen to be necessarily implied and evoked by the Prophet Muhammad’s ρ blessed saying: ‘The best that I have said—myself, and the prophets that came before me—is: ‘there is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things16, we can now perhaps understand the words ‘The best that I have said—myself, and the prophets that came before me’ as equating the blessed formula ‘there is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things’ precisely with the ‘First and Greatest Commandment’ to love God,with all one’s heart and soul, as found in various places in the Bible. That is to say, in other words, that the Prophet Muhammad ρ was perhaps, through inspiration, restating and alluding to the Bible’s First Commandment. God knows best, but certainly we have seen their effective similarity in meaning. Moreover, we also do know (as can be seen inthe endnotes), that both formulas have another remarkable parallel: the way they arise in a number of slightly differing versions and forms in different contexts, all of which, nevertheless, emphasize the primacy of total love and devotion to God17.

(II) LOVE OF THE NEIGHBOUR

LOVE OF THE NEIGHBOUR IN ISLAM

There are numerous injunctions in Islam about the necessity and paramount importance of love for—and mercy towards—the neighbour. Love of the neighbour is an essential and integral part of faith in God and love of God because in Islam without love of the neighbour there is no true faith in God and no righteousness. The Prophet Muhammad ρ said: “None of you has faith until you love for your brother what you lovefor yourself.18 And: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what youlove for yourself.”19 However, empathy and sympathy for the neighbour—and even formal prayers—are not enough. They must be accompanied by generosity and self-sacrifice. God says in the Holy Qur’an:

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces20 to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in God and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the pious. (Al-Baqarah 2:177)
And also:
Ye will not attain unto righteousness until ye expend of that which ye love.And whatsoever ye expend, God is Aware thereof.
(Aal ‘Imran, 3:92)

Without giving the neighbour what we ourselves love, we do not truly love Godor the neighbour.

LOVE OF THE NEIGHBOUR IN THE BIBLE

We have already cited the words of the Messiah, Jesus Christ υ, about the paramount importance, second only to the love of God, of the love of the neighbour:

This is the first and great commandment. / And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ / On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:38-40)
And:
And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

It remains only to be noted that this commandment is also to be found in the Old Testament:  

You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbour, and not bear sin because of him. / You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the LORD. (Leviticus19:17-18)

Thus the Second Commandment, like the First Commandment, demands generosity and self-sacrifice, and On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
 
(III) COME TO A COMMON WORD BETWEEN US AND YOU

A Common Word

Whilst Islam and Christianity are obviously different religions—and whilst there is no minimising some of their formal differences—it is clear that the Two Greatest Commandments are an area of common ground and a link between the Qur’an, the Torah and the New Testament. What prefaces the Two Commandments in the Torah and the New Testament, and what they arise out of, is the Unity of God—that there is only one God. For the Shema in the Torah, starts: (Deuteronomy 6:4) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! Likewise, Jesus υ said: (Mark 12:29) “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one”. Likewise, God says in the Holy Qur’an: Say: He, God, is One. / God, the Self-Sufficient Besought of all. (Al-Ikhlas, 112:1-2). Thus the Unity of God, love of Him, and love of the neighbour form a common ground upon which Islam and Christianity (and Judaism) are founded.This could not be otherwise since Jesus υ said: (Matthew 22:40)“On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Moreover, God confirms in the Holy Qur’an that the Prophet Muhammad ρ brought nothing fundamentally or essentially new: Naught is said to thee (Muhammad) but what already was said to the messengers before thee (Fussilat 41:43). And: Say (Muhammad): I am no new thing among the messengers (of God), nor know I what will be done with me or with you. I do but follow that what is Revealed to me, and I am but a plain warner (Al-Ahqaf, 46:9). Thus also God in the Holy Qur’an confirms that the same eternal truths of the Unity of God, of thenecessity for total love and devotion to God (and thus shunning false gods), and of the necessity for love of fellow human beings (and thus justice), underlie all true religion:

And verily We have raised in every nation a messenger, (proclaiming): Worship God and shun false gods. Then some of them (there were) whom God guided, and some of them (there were) upon whom error had just hold. Do but travel in the land and see the nature of the consequence for the deniers! (Al-Nahl, 16:36)
We verily sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance, that mankind may stand forth in justice….(Al-Hadid, 57:25)

Come to a Common Word!

In the Holy Qur’an, God Most High tells Muslims to issue the following call to Christians (and Jews—the People of the Scripture): Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). (Aal ‘Imran 3:64)

Clearly, the blessed words: we shall ascribe no partner unto Him relate to the Unity of God. Clearly also, worshipping none but God, relates to being totally devoted to God and hence to the First and Greatest Commandment. According to one of the oldest and most authoritative commentaries (tafsir) on the Holy Qur’an—the Jami’ Al-Bayan fi Ta’wil Al-Qur’an of Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jarir Al-Tabari (d. 310 A.H. / 923C.E.)—that none of us shall take others for lords beside God, means ‘that none of us should obey in disobedience to what God has commanded, nor glorify them by prostrating to them in the same way as they prostrate to God’. In other words, that Muslims, Christians and Jews should be free to each follow what God commanded them, and not have ‘to prostrate before kings and the like21; for God says elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an: Let there be no compulsion in religion…. (Al-Baqarah, 2:256). This clearly relates to the Second Commandment and to love of the neighbour of which justice22 and freedom of religion are a crucial part. God says in the Holy Qur’an:

God forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! God loveth the just dealers. (Al-Mumtahinah, 60:8)

We thus as Muslims invite Christians to remember Jesus’s υ words in the Gospel (Mark 12:29-31) that: 

… the LORD our God, the LORD is one. / And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

There is no other commandment greater than these. As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them—so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes, (in accordance with the verse of the Holy Qur’an [Al-Mumtahinah, 60:8] quoted above). Moreover, God says in the Holy Qur’an:  

They are not all alike. Of the People of the Scripture there is a staunch community who recite the revelations of God in the night season, falling prostrate (before Him). / They believe in God and the Last Day, and enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency, and vie one with another in good works. These are of the righteous. / And whatever good they do, nothing will be rejected of them. God is Aware of those who ward off (evil).(Aal-‘Imran, 3:113-115)

Is Christianity necessarily against Muslims? In the Gospel Jesus Christ υ says:  

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters abroad. (Matthew 12:30)
For he who is not against us is on our side.
(Mark 9:40)
… for he who is not against us is on our side. (Luke 9:50)

According to the Blessed Theophylact’s23 Explanation of the New Testament, these statements are not contradictions because the first statement (in the actual Greek text of the New Testament) refers to demons, whereas the second and third statements refer to people who recognised Jesus, but were not Christians. Muslims recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, not in the same way Christians do (but Christians themselves anyway have never all agreed with each other on Jesus Christ’s υ nature), but in the following way: ….the Messiah Jesus son of Mary is a Messenger of God and His Word which he cast unto Mary and a Spirit from Him.... (Al-Nisa’, 4:171). We therefore invite Christians to consider Muslims not against and thus with them, in accordance with Jesus Christ’s υ words here.

Finally, as Muslims, and in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, we ask Christians to come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions … that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God … (Aal ‘Imran, 3:64).

Let this common ground be the basis of all future interfaith dialogue between us, for our common ground is that on which hangs all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew22:40). God says in the Holy Qur’an:

Say (O Muslims): We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. / And if they believe in the like of that which ye believe, then are they rightly guided. But if they turn away, then are they in schism, and God will suffice thee against them. He is the Hearer, the Knower. (Al-Baqarah, 2:136-137)

Between Us and You

Finding common ground between Muslims and Christians is not simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders. Christianity and Islam are the largest and second largest religions in the world and in history. Christians and Muslims reportedly make up over a third and over a fifth of humanity respectively. Together they make up more than 55% of the world’s population, making the relationship between these two religious communities the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world. If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world’s inhabitants. Thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.

And to those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say that our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony. God says in the Holy Qur’an: Lo! God enjoineth justice and kindness, and giving to kinsfolk, and forbiddeth lewdness and abomination and wickedness. He exhorteth you in order that ye may take heed (Al Nahl, 16:90). Jesus Christ υ said: Blessed are the peacemakers ….(Matthew 5:9), and also: For what profit is to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? (Matthew 16:26).

So let our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us vie with each other only in righteousness and good works. Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual goodwill. God says in the Holy Qur’an:  

And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. So judge between them by that which God hath revealed, and follow not their desires away from the truth which hath come unto thee. For each We have appointed a law and a way. Had God willed He could have made you one community.But that He may try you by that which He hath given you (He hath made you as ye are). So vie one with another in good works. Unto God ye will all return, and He will then inform you of that wherein ye differ. (Al-Ma’idah, 5:48)

Wal-Salaamu ‘Alaykum, Pax Vobiscum.© 2007 C.E., 1428 A.H.,The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Jordan.

See: www.acommonword.org or: www.acommonword.com

 


 

[1] In Arabic: La illaha illa Allah Muhammad rasul Allah. The two Shahadahs actually both occur (albeit separately) as phrases in the Holy Qur’an (in Muhammad 47:19, and Al-Fath 48:29, respectively).

[2] Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, Kitab Al-Da’awat, 462/5, no. 3383; Sunan Ibn Majah, 1249/2.

[3] Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, Kitab Al-Da’awat, Bab al-Du’a fi Yawm ‘Arafah, Hadith no. 3934.
It is important to note that the additional phrases, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things, all come from the Holy Qur’an, in exactly those forms, albeit in different passages. He Alone—referring to God Ψ—is found at least six timesin the Holy Qur’an (7:70; 14:40; 39:45; 40:12; 40:84 and 60:4). He hath no associate, is found in exactly that form at least once (Al-An’am, 6:173). His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things, is found in exactly this form once in the Holy Qur’an (Al-Taghabun, 64:1), and parts of itare found a number of other times (for instance, the words, He hath power over all things, are found at least five times: 5:120; 11:4; 30:50; 42:9 and 57:2).

[4] The Heart
In Islam the (spiritual, not physical) heart is the organ of perception of spiritual and metaphysical knowledge. Of one of the Prophet Muhammad’s ρ greatest visions God says in the Holy Qur’an: The inner heart lied not (in seeing) what it saw. (al-Najm, 53:11) Indeed, elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an, God says:[F]or indeed it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts, which are within the bosoms, that grow blind. (Al-Hajj, 22:46; see whole verse and also: 2:9-10; 2:74; 8:24; 26:88-89; 48:4; 83:14 et al.. There are in fact over a hundred mentions of the heart and its synonyms in the Holy Qur’an.) Now there are different understandings amongst Muslims as regards the direct Vision of God (as opposed to spiritual realities as such) God, be it in this life or the next—God says in the Holy Qur’an (of the Day of Judgement): That day will faces be resplendent, / Looking toward their Lord; (Al-Qiyamah, 75:22-23) Yet God also says in the Holy Qur’an: Such is God, your Lord. There is no God save Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He taketh care of all things. / Vision comprehendeth Him not, but He comprehendeth (all) vision. He is the Subtile, the Aware. / Proofs have come unto youfrom your Lord, so whoso seeth, it is for his own good, and whoso is blind is blind to his own hurt. And I am not a keeper over you. (Al-An’am, 6:102-104) Howbeit, it is evident that the Muslim conception of the (spiritual) heart is not very different from the Christian conception of the (spiritual) heart, as seen in Jesus’s υ words in the New Testament: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8); and Paul’s words: For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am known. (1 Corinthians13:12)

[5] See also: Luqman, 31:25.

[6] See also: Al-Nahl, 16:3-18.

[7] Sahih Bukhari, Kitab Tafsir Al-Qur’an, Bab ma Ja’a fi Fatihat Al-Kitab (Hadith no.1); also: Sahih Bukhari, Kitab Fada’il Al-Qur’an, Bab Fadl Fatihat Al-Kitab, (Hadith no.9), no. 5006.

[8] The Prophet Muhammad ρ said: God has one hundred mercies. He has sent down one of them between genii and human beings and beasts and animals and because of it they feel with each other; and through it they have mercy on each other; and through it, the wild animal feels for its offspring. And God has delayed ninety-nine mercies through which he will have mercy on his servants on the Day of Judgement. (Sahih Muslm, Kitab Al-Tawbah; 2109/4; no. 2752; see also Sahih Bukhari, Kitab Al-Riqaq, no. 6469).

[9] Fear of God is the Beginning of Wisdom
The Prophet Muhammad ρ is reported to have said: The chief part of wisdom is fear of God—be He exalted (Musnad al-Shahab, 100/1; Al-Dulaymi, Musnad Al-Firdaws, 270/2; Al-Tirmidhi, Nawadir Al-Usul; 84/3; Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Dala’il and Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Shu’ab; Ibn Lal, Al-Makarim; Al-Ash’ari, Al-Amthal, et al.) This evidently is similar to the Prophet Solomon υ words in the Bible: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom …. (Proverbs 9:10); and: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.(Proverbs 1:7)

[10] The Intelligence, the Will and Sentiment in the Holy Qur’an

Thus God in the Holy Qur’an tells human being to believe in Him and call on Him (thereby using the intelligence) with fear (which motivates the will) and with hope (and thus with sentiment):

Only those believe in Our revelations who, when they are reminded of them, fall down prostrate and hymn the praise of their Lord, and they are not scornful, / Who forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of that We have bestowed on them. / No soul knoweth what is kept hid for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do. (Al-Sajdah, 32:15-17)
(O mankind!) Call upon your Lord humbly and in secret. Lo! He loveth not aggressors. /Work not confusion in the earth after the fair ordering (thereof), and call on Him in fear and hope. Lo! the mercy of God is near unto the virtuous. (Al-A’raf, 7:55-56)

Likewise, the Prophet Muhammad ρ himself is described in terms which manifest knowledge (and hence the intelligence), eliciting hope (and hence sentiment) and instilling fear (and hence motivating the will):
O Prophet! Lo! We have sent thee as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and awarner.
(Al-Ahzab, 33:45)
Lo! We have sent thee (O Muhammad) as a witness and a bearer of good tidings and a warner, (Al-Fath, 48:8)

[11] A Goodly Example
The love and total devotion of the Prophet Muhammad ρ to God is for Muslims the model thatthey seek to imitate. God says in the Holy Qur’an:Verily in the messenger of God ye have a goodly example for him who hopeth for Godand the Last Day, and remembereth God much. (Al-Ahzab, 33:21)The totality of this love excludes worldliness and egotism, and is itself beautiful and loveable toMuslims. Love of God is itself loveable to Muslims. God says in the Holy Qur’an:And know that the messenger of God is among you. If he were to obey you in manymatters, ye would surely fall into misfortune; but God hath made the faith loveable to youand hath beautified it in your hearts, and hath made disbelief and lewdness and rebellionhateful unto you. Such are they who are the rightly guided. (Al-Hujurat, 49:7)

[12] This ‘particular love’ is in addition to God’s universal Mercy which embraceth all things (Al-A’raf,7:156); but God knows best.

[13] Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab Bad’ al-Khalq, Bab Sifat Iblis wa Junudihi; Hadith no. 3329.

Other Versions of the Blessed Saying

This blessed saying of the Prophet Muhammad’s ρ, is found in dozens of hadith (sayings of theProphet Muhammad ρ) in differing contexts in slightly varying versions.The one we have quoted throughout in the text (There is no god but God, He alone. He hath noassociate. His is the sovereignty, and His is the praise, and He hath power over all things) is in fact the shortest version. It is to be found in Sahih al-Bukhari: Kitab al-Adhan (no. 852); Kitab al-Tahajjud (no. 1163); Kitab al-‘Umrah (no. 1825); Kitab Bad’ al-Khalq (no. 3329); Kitab al-Da‘awat (nos. 6404, 6458, 6477); Kitab al-Riqaq(no. 6551); Kitab al-I‘tisam bi’l-Kitab (no. 7378); in Sahih Muslim: Kitab al-Masajid (nos. 1366, 1368, 1370,1371, 1380); Kitab al-Hajj (nos. 3009, 3343); Kitab al-Dhikr wa’l-Du‘a’ (nos. 7018, 7020, 7082, 7084); in Sunan Abu Dawud: Kitab al-Witr (nos. 1506, 1507, 1508); Kitab al-Jihad (no. 2772); Kitab al-Kharaj (no.2989); Kitab al-Adab (nos. 5062, 5073, 5079); in Sunan al-Tirmidhi: Kitab al-Hajj (no. 965); Kitab al-Da‘awat(nos. 3718, 3743, 3984); in Sunan al-Nasa’i: Kitab al-Sahw (nos. 1347, 1348, 1349, 1350, 1351); KitabManasik al-Hajj (nos. 2985, 2997); Kitab al-Iman wa’l-Nudhur (no. 3793); in Sunan Ibn Majah: Kitab al-Adab(no. 3930); Kitab al-Du‘a’ (nos. 4000, 4011); and in Muwatta’ Malik: Kitab al-Qur’an (nos. 492, 494); Kitabal-Hajj (no. 831).

A longer version including the words yuhyi wa yumit—(There is no god but God, He alone. He hathno associate. His is the sovereignty, and His is the praise. He giveth life, and He giveth death, and He hathpower over all things.)—is to be found in Sunan Abu Dawud: Kitab al-Manasik (no. 1907); in Sunan al-Tirmidhi: Kitab al-Salah (no. 300); Kitab al-Da‘awat (nos. 3804, 3811, 3877, 3901); and in Sunan al-Nasa’i:Kitab Manasik al-Hajj (nos. 2974, 2987, 2998); Sunan Ibn Majah: Kitab al-Manasik (no. 3190).

Another longer version including the words bi yadihi al-khayr—(There is no god but God, He alone.He hath no associate. His is the sovereignty, and His is the praise. In His Hand is the good, and He hath power over all things.)—is to be found in Sunan Ibn Majah: Kitab al-Adab (no. 3931); Kitab al-Du‘a’ (no. 3994).

The longest version, which includes the words yuhyi wa yumit wa Huwa Hayyun la yamut bi yadihi al-khayr—(There is no god but God, He alone. He hath no associate. His is the sovereignty, and His is the praise.He giveth life, and He giveth death. He is the Living, who dieth not. In His Hand is the good, and He hath power over all things.)—is to be found in Sunan al-Tirmidhi: Kitab al-Da‘awat (no. 3756) and in Sunan IbnMajah: Kitab al-Tijarat (no. 2320), with the difference that this latter hadith reads: bi yadihi al-khayr kuluhu(in His Hand is all good).

It is important to note, however, that the Prophet Muhammad ρ, only described the first (shortest)version as: the best that I have said—myself, and the prophets that came before me, and only of that version did the Prophet ρ say: And none comes with anything better than that, save one who does more than that.

(These citations refer to the numbering system of The Sunna Project’s Encyclopaedia of Hadith(Jam‘ Jawami‘ al-Ahadith wa’l-Asanid), prepared in cooperation with the scholars of al-Azhar, whichincludes Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Sunan al-Nasa’i, SunanIbn Majah, and Muwatta’ Malik.)

[14] Frequent Remembrance of God in the Holy Qur’an

The Holy Qur’an is full of injunctions to invoke or remember God frequently:

Remember the name of thy Lord at morn and evening. (Al-Insan, 76:25)

So remember God, standing, sitting and [lying] down on your sides (Al-Nisa, 4:103).

And do thou (O Muhammad) remember thy Lord within thyself humbly and with awe,below thy breath, at morn and evening. And be not thou of the neglectful (Al-‘Araf,7:205)

.… Remember thy Lord much, and praise (Him) in the early hours of night and morning(Aal ‘Imran, 3:41).

O ye who believe! Remember God with much remembrance. / And glorify Him early andlate (Al-Ahzab, 33:41-42).

(See also: 2:198-200; 2:203; 2:238-239; 3:190-191; 6:91; 7:55; 7:180; 8:45; 17:110;22:27-41; 24:35-38; 26:227; 62:9-10; 87:1-17, et al.)

Similarly, the Holy Qur’an is full of verses that emphasize the paramount importance of theRemembrance of God (see: 2:151-7; 5:4; 6:118; 7:201; 8:2-4; 13:26-28; 14:24-27; 20:14; 20:33-34; 24:1;29:45; 33:35; 35:10; 39:9; 50:37; 51:55-58; and 33:2; 39:22-23 and 73:8-9 as already quoted, et al. ), andthe dire consequences of not practising it (see: 2:114; 4:142; 7:179-180; 18:28; 18:100-101; 20:99-101;20:124-127; 25:18; 25:29; 43:36; 53:29; 58:19; 63:9; 72:17 et al.; see also 107:4-6). Hence God ultimately says in the Holy Qur’an:

Has not the time arrived for the believers that their hearts in all humility should engagein the remembrance of God …. ? (Al-Hadid, 57:16);

…. [S]lacken not in remembrance of Me (Taha, 20:42),

and: Remember your Lord whenever you forget (Al-Kahf, 18:24).

[15] Herein all Biblical Scripture is taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by ThomasNelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[16] Sunan Al-Tirmithi, Kitab Al-Da’wat, Bab al-Du’a fi Yawm ‘Arafah, Hadith no. 3934. Op. cit..

[17] In the Best Stature

Christianity and Islam have comparable conceptions of man being created in the best stature andfrom God’s own breath. The Book of Genesis says:

(Genesis, 1:27) So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

And:

(Genesis, 2:7) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathedinto his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

And the Prophet Muhammad ρ said: Verily God created Adam in His own image. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab Al-Isti’than, 1; Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Birr 115; Musnad Ibn Hanbal, 2: 244, 251, 315, 323etc. et al.)

And We created you, then fashioned you, then told the angels: Fall ye prostrate before Adam! And they fellprostrate, all save Iblis, who was not of those who make prostration. (Al-A’raf, 7:11)

By the fig and the olive / By Mount Sinai, / And by this land made safe / Surely We created man of the beststature / Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low, / Save those who believe and do good works, andtheirs is a reward unfailing. / So who henceforth will give the lie to the about the judgment? / Is not Godthe wisest of all judges? (Al-Tin, 95:1-8)

God it is Who appointed for you the earth for a dwelling-place and the sky for a canopy, and fashioned youand perfected your shapes, and hath provided you with good things. Such is God, your Lord. Then blessedbe God, the Lord of the Worlds! (Al-Ghafir, 40:64)

Nay, but those who do wrong follow their own lusts without knowledge. Who is able to guide him whom God hath sent astray ? For such there are no helpers. / So set thy purpose (O Muhammad) for religion as aman by nature upright - the nature (framed) of God, in which He hath created man. There is no altering(the laws of) God’s creation. That is the right religion, but most men know not—/ (Al-Rum, 30:29-30)

And when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then fall down before him prostrate,(Sad, 38:72)

And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: Wilt thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee ? He said: Surely I know that which ye know not. / And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to the angels, saying: Inform Me of the names of these, if ye are truthful ./ They said: Be glorified! We have no knowledge saving that which Thou hast taught us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Knower, the Wise. / He said: O Adam! Inform them of their names, and when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not tell you that I know the secret of the heavens and the earth ? And I know that which ye disclose and which ye hide. / And when We said unto the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He demurred through pride, and so became a disbeliever... / And We said: O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and eat ye freely (of the fruits) thereof where ye will; but come not nigh this tree lest ye become wrong-doers. (Al-Baqarah, 2:30-35)

[18] Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Iman, Hadith no.13.

[19]Sahih Muslim , Kitab al-Iman, 67-1, Hadith no.45.

[20]The classical commentators on the Holy Qur’an (see: Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Al-Jalalayn) generally agree that this is a reference to (the last movements of) the Muslim prayer.

[21] Abu Ja’far Muhammad Bin Jarir Al-Tabari, Jami’ al-Bayan fi Ta’wil al-Qur’an, (Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, 1sted, 1992/1412,) tafsir of Aal-‘Imran, 3:64;Volume 3, pp. 299-302.

[22] According to grammarians cited by Tabari (op cit.) the word ‘common’ (sawa’) in ‘a common wordbetween us’ also means ‘just’, ‘fair’ (adl).

[23] The Blessed Theophylact (1055-1108 C.E.) was the Orthodox Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria (1090-1108 C.E.). His native language was the Greek of the New Testament. His Commentary is currentlyavailable in English from Chrysostom Press.



Signatories (in Alphabetical Order)

 

His Royal Eminence Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Ababakar

The 20th Sultan of Sokoto; Leader of the Muslims of Nigeria

H.E. Shaykh Dr. Hussein Hasan Abakar

Imam of the Muslims, Chad; President, Higher Council for Islamic Affairs, Chad

H.E. Prof. Dr. Abdul-Salam Al-Abbadi

President of Aal Al-Bayt University; Former Minister of Religious Affairs, Jordan

Prof. Dr. Taha Abd Al-Rahman

President of the Wisdom Circle for Thinkers and Researchers, Morocco;Director of Al-Umma Al-Wasat Magazine, International Union of Muslim Scholars

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of the Cordoba Initiative; Founder of the ASMASociety (American Society for Muslim Advancement);Imam of Masjid Al-Farah, NY, NY,USA

Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah

Vice President of the Fiqh Council of North America, USA

Dr.Shaykh Abd Al-Quddus Abu Salah

President of the International League for Islamic Ethics; Editor of the Journal forIslamic Ethics, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

H.E. Prof. Dr. Abd Al-Wahhab bin Ibrahim Abu Solaiman

Member of the Committee of Senior Ulama, Saudi ArabiaDr. Lateef Oladimeji AdegbiteActing Secretary and Legal Adviser, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs

H.E. Amb. Prof. Dr. Akbar Ahmed

Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University in Washington D.C., USA

H.E. Judge Prince Bola Ajibola

Former International High Court Judge; Former Minister of Justice of Nigeria; FormerAttorney-General of Nigeria; Founder of the Crescent University and Founder of theIslamic Movement of Africa (IMA)

H.E. Prof. Dr. Kamil Al-Ajlouni

 Head of National Centre for Diabetes; Founder of the Jordanian University of Scienceand Technology (JUST), Former Minister and Former Senator, Jordan

Shaykh Dr. Mohammed Salim Al-‘Awa

Secretary General of the International Union of Muslim Scholars; Head of the EgyptianAssociation for Culture and Dialogue

Mr. Nihad Awad

National Executive Director and Co-founder of the Council on American-IslamicRelations (CAIR), USA

H.E. Prof. Dr. Al-Hadi Al-Bakkoush

Former Prime Minister of Tunisia, AuthorH.E. Shaykh Al-Islam

Dr. Allah-Shakur bin Hemmat Bashazada

Grand Mufti of Azerbaijan and Head of the Muslim Administration of the Caucasus

H.E. Dr. Issam El-Bashir

Secretary General of the International Moderation Centre, Kuwait; Former Minister ofReligious Affairs, Sudan

H.E. Prof. Dr. Allamah Shaykh Abd Allah bin Mahfuz bin Bayyah

Professor, King Abdul Aziz University, Saudi Arabia; Former Minister of Justice, FormerMinister of Education and Former Minister of Religious Affairs, Mauritania; VicePresident of the International Union of Muslim Scholars; Founder and President, Global Center for Renewal and Guidance

Dr. Mohamed Bechari

President, Federal Society for Muslims in France; General Secretary of the EuropeanIslamic Conference (EIC), France; Member of the International Fiqh Academy

Prof. Dr. Ahmad Shawqi Benbin

Director of the Hasaniyya Library, Morocco

Prof. Dr. Allamah Shaykh Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan Al-Buti

Dean, Dept. of Religion, University of Damascus, Syria

Prof. Dr. Mustafa Çağrıci

Mufti of Istanbul, Turkey

H.E. Shaykh Prof. Dr. Mustafa Cerić

Grand Mufti and Head of Ulema of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Professor Ibrahim Chabbuh

Director General of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Jordan;President of the Association for the Safeguarding of the City of Qayrawan, Tunisia

H.E. Prof. Dr. Mustafa Cherif

Muslim Intellectual; Former Minister of Higher Education and Former Ambassador,Algeria

Dr. Caner Dagli

Assistant Professor, Roanoke College, USA

Ayatollah Prof. Dr. Seyyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad

Dean of Department of Islamic Studies, The Academy of Sciences of Iran; Professor ofLaw and Islamic Philosophy, Tehran University; Fellow, The Iranian Academy of Sciences, Iran; Former Inspector General of Iran

Ayatollah Seyyed Abu Al-Qasim Al-Deebaji

Imam Zayn Al-Abideen Mosque, Kuwait

H.E. Prof. Dr. Shakir Al-Fahham

Head of the Arabic Language Academy, Damascus; Former Minister of Education, Syria

Shaykh Seyyed Hani Fahs

Member of Supreme Shia Committee, Lebanon; Founding Member of the Arab Committee for the Islamic-Christian Dialogue, and the Permanent Committee for the Lebanese Dialogue

H.E. Shaykh Salim Falahat

Director General of the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan

Chief Abdul Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo

Member, Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs of Nigeria; Vice President, Jamaat NasrilIslamH.E. Shaykh Ravil Gainutdin Grand Mufti of Russia

Justice Ibrahim Kolapo Sulu Gambari

Justice of Nigerian Court of Appeal; National Vice Chairman, Nigerian FootballAssociation (NFA)

Prof. Dr. Abd Al-Karim Gharaybeh

Historian and Senator, Jordan

H.E. Prof. Dr. Abdullah Yusuf Al-Ghoneim

Director of the Kuwaiti Centre for Research and Studies on Kuwait; Former Minister of Education, Kuwait

H.E. Prof. Dr. Bu Abd Allah bin al-Hajj Muhammad Al Ghulam Allah

Minister of Religious Affairs, Algeria

Prof. Dr. Alan Godlas

Co-Chair, Islamic Studies, University of Georgia, USA; Editor-in-chief, Sufi News and Sufism World Report; Director, Sufis Without Borders

H.E. Shaykh Nezdad Grabus

Grand Mufti of Slovenia

H.E. Shaykh Dr. Al-Habib Ahmad bin Abd Al-Aziz Al-Haddad

Chief Mufti of Dubai, UAE

Shaykh Al-Habib Ali Mashhour bin Muhammad bin Salim bin Hafeeth

Imam of the Tarim Mosque and Head of Fatwa Council, Tarim, Yemen

Shaykh Al-Habib Umar bin Muhammad bin Salim bin Hafeeth

Dean, Dar Al-Mustafa, Tarim, Yemen

Professor Dr. Farouq Hamadah

Professor of the Sciences of Tradition, Mohammad V University, Morocco

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson

Founder and Director, Zaytuna Institute, CA, USA

H.E. Shaykh Dr. Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun

Grand Mufti of the Republic of Syria

H.E. Shaykh. Sayyed Ali bin Abd Al-Rahman Al-Hashimi

Advisor to the President for Judiciary and Religious Affairs, UAE

Prof. Dr. Hasan Hanafi

Muslim Intellectual, Department of Philosophy, Cairo University

Shaykh Kabir Helminski

Shaykh of the Mevlevi Tariqah; Co-Director of the Book Foundation, USA

H.E. Shaykh Sa‘id Hijjawi

Chief Scholar, The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought; Former Grand Muftiof Jordan

H.E. Prof. Dr. Shaykh Ahmad Hlayyel

Chief Islamic Justice of Jordan; Imam of the Hashemite Court; Former Minister ofReligious Affairs

H.E. Amb. Dr. Murad Hofmann

Author and Muslim Intellectual, Germany

H.E. Dr. Anwar Ibrahim

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia; Honorary President of AccountAbility

H.E. Shaykh Dr. Izz Al-Din Ibrahim

Advisor for Cultural Affairs, Prime Ministry, UAE

H.E. Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu

Secretary-General, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)

H.E. Prof. Dr. Omar Jah

Secretary of the Muslim Scholars Council, Gambia; Professor of Islamic Civilization and Thought, University of Gambia

H.E. Prof. Dr. Abbas Al-Jarari

Advisor to HM the King, Morocco

Shaykh Al-Habib Ali Zain Al-Abidin Al-Jifri

Founder and Director, Taba Institute, United Arab Emirates

H.E. Shaykh Prof. Dr. Ali Jum‘a

Grand Mufti of the Republic of Egypt

Prof. Dr. Yahya Mahmud bin Junayd

Secretary General, King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia

Dr. Ibrahim Kalin

Director, SETA Foundation, Ankara, Turkey; Asst. Prof. Georgetown University, USA

H.E. Amb. Aref Kamal

Muslim Intellectual, Pakistan

Professor Dr. ‘Abla Mohammed Kahlawi

Dean of Islamic and Arabic Studies, Al-Azhar University (Women’s College), Egypt

Prof. Dr. Said Hibatullah Kamilev

Director, Moscow Institute of Islamic Civilisation, Russian Federation

Prof. Dr. Hafiz Yusuf Z. Kavakci

Resident Scholar, Islamic Association of North Texas, Founder & Instructor of IANT Qur’anic Academy; Founding Dean of Suffa Islamic Seminary, Dallas, Texas, USA

Shaykh Dr. Nuh Ha Mim Keller

Shaykh in the Shadhili Order, USA

Prof. Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali

Dean and Professor, International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC),International Islamic University, Malaysia

Shaykh Amr Khaled

Islamic Missionary, Preacher and Broadcaster, Egypt; Founder and Chairman, RightStart Foundation International

Prof. Dr. Abd Al-Karim Khalifah

President of the Jordanian Arabic Language Academy; Former President of Jordan University

H.E. Shaykh Ahmad Al-Khalili

Grand Mufti of the Sultanate of Oman

Seyyed Jawad Al-Khoei

Secretary-General, Al-Khoei International Foundation

Shaykh Dr. Ahmad Kubaisi

Founder of the ‘Ulema Organization, Iraq

Mr. M. Ali Lakhani

Founder and Editor of Sacred Web: A Journal of Tradition and Modernity, Canada

Dr. Joseph Lumbard

Assistant Professor, Brandeis University, USA

H.E. Shaykh Mahmood A. Madani

Secretary General, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind; Member of Parliament, India

H.E. Prof. Dr. Abdel-Kabeer Al-Alawi Al-Madghari

Director General of Bayt Mal Al-Quds Agency (Al-Quds Fund); Former Minister ofReligious Affairs, Morocco

H.E. Imam Sayyed Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi

Former Prime Minister of Sudan; Head of Ansar Movement, Sudan

H.E. Prof. Dr. Rusmir Mahmutcehajic

Professor, Sarajevo University; President of the International Forum Bosnia; Former Vice President of the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Allamah Shaykh Sayyed Muhammad bin Muhammad Al-Mansour

High Authority (Marja’) of Zeidi Muslims, Yemen

Prof. Dr. Bashshar Awwad Marouf

Former Rector of the Islamic University, Iraq

H.E. Prof. Dr. Ahmad Matloub

Former Minister of Culture; Acting President of the Iraqi Academy of Sciences, Iraq

Prof. Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations and Director, Islamic Chaplaincy Program, Hartford Seminary; President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), USA

Dr. Yousef Meri

Special Scholar-in-Residence, Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Jordan

Dr. Jean-Louis Michon

Author; Muslim Scholar; Architect; Former UNESCO expert, Switzerland

Shaykh Abu Bakr Ahmad Al-Milibari

Secretary-General of the Ahl Al-Sunna Association, India

Pehin Dato Haj Suhaili bin Haj Mohiddin

Deputy Grand Mufti, Brunei

Ayatollah Sheikh Hussein Muayad

President and Founder, Knowledge Forum, Baghdad, Iraq

Prof. Dr. Izzedine Umar Musa

Professor of Islamic History, King Sa‘ud University, Saudi Arabia

Prof. Dr. Mohammad Farouk Al-Nabhan

Former Director of Dar Al-Hadith Al-Hasaniya, Morocco

Prof. Dr. Zaghloul El-Naggar

Professor, King Abd Al-Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Head, Committee on Scientific Facts in the Glorious Qur’an, Supreme Council on Islamic Affairs, Egypt

Mr. Sohail Nakhooda

Editor-in-Chief, Islamica Magazine, Jordan

Prof. Dr. Hisham Nashabeh

Chairman of the Board of Higher Education; Dean of Education at Makassed Association, Lebanon

H.E. Professor Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr

University Professor of Islamic Studies, George Washington University, Washington D.C, USA

Prof. Dr. Aref Ali Nayed

Former Professor at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (Rome);Former Professor at International Institute for Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC,Malaysia); Senior Advisor to the Cambridge Interfaith Program at the Faculty ofDivinity in Cambridge, UK

H.E. Shaykh Sevki Omarbasic

Grand Mufti of Croatia

Dato Dr. Abdul Hamid Othman

Advisor to the H.E. the Prime Minister of Malaysia

Prof. Dr. Ali Ozak

Head of the Endowment for Islamic Scientific Studies, Istanbul, Turkey

Imam Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini

Vice President of CO.RE.IS., Italy, Chairman of ISESCO Council for Education and Culture in the West, Advisor for Islamic Affairs of the Italian Minister of Interior.

H.E. Shaykh Dr. Nuh Ali Salman Al-Qudah

Grand Mufti of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

H.E. Shaykh Dr. Ikrima Said Sabri

Former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and All of Palestine, Imam of the Blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, and President of the Islamic Higher Council, Palestine

Ayatollah Al-Faqih Seyyed Hussein Ismail Al-Sadr

Baghdad, Iraq

Mr. Muhammad Al-Sammak

Secretary-General of the National Council for Islamic-Christian Dialogue;Secretary-General for the Islamic Spiritual Summit, Lebanon

Shaykh Seyyed Hasan Al-Saqqaf

Director of Dar Al-Imam Al-Nawawi, Jordan

Dr. Ayman Fuad Sayyid

Historian and Manuscript Expert, Former Secretary General of Dar al-Kutub Al-Misriyya, Cairo, Egypt

Prof. Dr. Suleiman Abdallah Schleifer

Professor Emeritus, The American University in Cairo

Dr. Seyyed Reza Shah-Kazemi

Author and Muslim Scholar, UK

Dr. Anas Al-Shaikh-Ali

Chair, Association of Muslim Social Scientists, UK; Chair, Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism, UK; Academic Advisor, IIIT, UK

Imam Zaid Shakir

Lecturer and Scholar-in-Residence, Zaytuna Institute, CA, USA

H.E. Prof. Dr. Ali Abdullah Al-Shamlan

Director General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS);Former Minister of Higher Education, Kuwait

Eng. Seyyed Hasan Shariatmadari

Leader of the Iranian National Republican Party (INR)

Dr. Muhammad Alwani Al-Sharif

Head of the European Academy of Islamic Culture and Sciences, Brussels, Belgium

H.E. Dr. Mohammad Abd Al-Ghaffar Al-Sharif

Secretary-General of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Kuwait

Dr. Tayba Hassan Al-Sharif

International Protection Officer, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Darfur, Sudan

Prof. Dr. Muhammad bin Sharifa

Former Rector of Wajda University; Morocco; Fellow of the Royal Moroccan Academy

Prof. Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqui / on behalf of the whole Fiqh Council of North America

Islamic Scholar and Theologian; Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America, USA

Shaykh Ahmad bin Sa’ud Al-Siyabi

Secretary General of the Directorate of the Grand Mufti, Oman

Al-Haji Yusuf Maitama Sule

Former Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations; Former Nigerian Minister of National Guidance

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Abd Al-Rahim Sultan-al-Ulama

Deputy-Dean of Scientific Research Affairs, United Arab Emirates University, UAE

Shaykh Dr. Tariq Sweidan

Director-General of the Risalah Satellite Channel

H.E. Shaykh Ahmad Muhammad Muti’i Tamim

The Head of the Religious Administration of Ukrainian Muslims, and Mufti of Ukraine

H.E. Shaykh Izz Al-Din Al-Tamimi

Senator; Former Chief Islamic Justice, Minister of Religious Affairs and Grand Mufti ofJordan

H.E. Shaykh Dr. Tayseer Rajab Al-Tamimi

Chief Islamic Justice of Palestine; Head of The Palestinian Center for Religion and Civilization Dialogue

Prof. Dr. H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal

Personal Envoy and Special Advisor of H.M. King Abdullah II; Chairman of the Board ofthe Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Jordan

Prof. Dr. Ammar Al-Talibi

Former Member of Parliament, Professor of Philosophy, University of Algeria

Ayatollah Shaykh Muhammad Ali Taskhiri

Secretary General of the World Assembly for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought (WAPIST), Iran

H.E. Prof. Dr. Shaykh Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayeb

President of Al-Azhar University, Former Grand Mufti of Egypt

Prof. Dr. Muddathir Abdel-Rahim Al-Tayib

Professor of Political Science and Islamic Studies, International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC), Malaysia

H.E. Amb. Prof. Dr. Abdel-Hadi Al-Tazi

Fellow of the Royal Moroccan Academy

H.E. Shaykh Naim Trnava

Grand Mufti of Kosovo

H.E. Dr. Abd Al-Aziz bin ‘Uthman Al-Tweijiri

 Director-General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO)

H.E. Prof. Dr. Nasaruddin Umar

Rector of the Institute for Advanced Qur’anic Studies; Secretary General of the Nahdhatul Ulamaa Consultative Council; Lecturer at the State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah, Jakarta, Indonesia

Shaykh Muhammad Hasan ‘Usayran

Jafari Mufti of Sidon and Al-Zahrani, Lebanon

Allamah Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

Vice President, Darul Uloom Karachi, Pakistan

Prof. Dr. Akhtarul Wasey

Director, Zakir Husain Institute of Islamic Studies, Jamia Milla Islamiya University,India

Shaykh Dr. Abdal Hakim Murad Winter

Shaykh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies, Divinity School, University of Cambridge;Director of the Muslim Academic Trust, UK

Prof. Dr. Mohammed El-Mokhtar Ould Bah

President, Chinguitt Modern University, Mauritania

H.E. Shaykh Muhammad Sodiq Mohammad Yusuf

Former Grand Mufti of the Muslim Spiritual Administration of Central Asia, Uzbekistan;Translator and Commentator of the Holy Qur’an

Prof. Dr. Saykh Wahba Mustafa Al-Zuhayli

Dean, Department of Islamic Jurisprudence, University of Damascus, Syria

H.E. Shaykh Mu’ammar Zukoulic

Mufti of Sanjak, Bosnia(138)

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CIP and Stations of the Cross

Mar 20, 2017

The ground-breaking art exhibition Stations of the Cross is now taking place in America

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Oct 25, 2016

An exciting chance to work with CIP's sister project, Coexist House - a newly registered charity aiming to transform religious understanding, perspectives and practices and to build better, more peaceful, relationships across divides.

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Once again, Michael Wakelin, Director of Programmes for Coexist House, is going to run the Macclesfield Half Marathon to raise money for this important project.

Am I My Brother's Keeper? Responding to the Syrian Refugee Crisis - booking now available online

Sep 05, 2016

Dr Georgette Bennett, head of the Multifaith Alliance and her colleague Mr Shadi Martini, Syrian refugee and humanitarian activist will be talking about responses to the current refugee crisis. Join us for what promises to be a thought-provoking presentation with information direct from the field.

Blog: Interview with The Revd Dr James Walters

Aug 18, 2016

Dr James Walters, chaplain and inter-faith advisor at the London School of Economics (LSE), discusses the challenges and opportunities posed by religious diversity on university campuses.

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