Abu Dhabi: If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace, Muslim scholars have said.

The scholars have written an open letter to heads of all Christian churches. The letter, signed by 138 leading Muslim religious scholars and leaders have called for a solid common ground on which the two global faiths can cooperate in establishing peace.

The basis of the letter is the shared belief of both Muslims and Christians in the principles of love of one God and love of the neighbour.

Launching the letter in Abu Dhabi yesterday, Shaikh Ali Zain Al Abideen Al Jifri, founder and Director General of the Tabah Foundation, said the signatories hoped that the recognition of this common ground will provide the followers of both faiths a shared understanding that will serve to diffuse tensions around the world.

"By following the Quranic precept of debating "in the fairest way", we, Muslims, hope to reach out so as to increase mutual understanding, reestablish trust between Muslims and Christians," Shaikh Al Jifri said.

He praised the letter and agreement between Muslims of all schools as "a truly miraculous achievement". "It is a serious initiative by point of references in both Muslim and Christian communities and not just a mere reaction to certain events. What is being achieved is a message of love and should give us all hope that Muslims and Christians will be able to proceed on the principles that unite us as people," Shaikh Al Jifri said.

Jihad Hashim Brown, Deputy Director general of the Abu Dhabi-based Tabah Foundation, said it is imperative that both sides share responsibility for peace and move the debate towards a frank and sincere dialogue of hearts and minds which furthers mutual understanding and respect between the two religious traditions.

The authors of the letter, drawn from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, North America and Asia, believe that both religions teach the two greatest commandments of Christianity. "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 home," Dr Shaikh Mohammad Saeed Ramadan Al Buti, dean of department of religion, University of Damascus, told the audience via phone from Damascus.

Some of the leading signatories

  • Prof Dr Abdul Wahab Bin Ebrahim Abu Sulaiman, member of the Committee of Senior Ulama, Saudi Arabia
  • Shaikh Dr Mohammad Salim Al Awa, Secretary General of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, head of the Egyptian Association for Culture and Dialogue
  • Prof Dr Mohammad Saeed Al Butti, Dean, Department of Religion, University of Damascus, Syria
  • Ayatollah Prof Dr Sayyed Mustafa Mohaghegh Damad, Dean of Department of Islamic Studies,
    the Academy of Sciences of Iran, prof of Law and Islamic Philosophy, Tehran University
  • Ayatollah Sayyed Abu Al Qasim Al Deebaji, Imam Zain Al Bideen mosque, Kuwait
  • Dr Ahmad Bin Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, Chief Mufti of Dubai
  • Shaikh Hamza Yousuf Hanson, founder and director of Zaytuna Institute, CA, USA
  • Dr Shaikh Ahmad Badr Al Din Hassoun, Grand Mufti of the Republic of Syria
  • Shaikh Sayed Ali Bin Abdul Rahman Al Hashemi, Advisor to the President for Judiciary and
    Religious Affairs, UAE
  • Dr Izz Al Deen Ebrahim, Advisor for Cultural Affairs, UAE Cabinet
  • Dr Murad Hofmann, Author and Muslim intellectual, Germany
  • Dr Anwar Ebrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Honorary President of Accountability
  • Dr Zaghloul Al Naggar, Professor King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Head of
    Committee on Scientific Facts in the Glorious Quran, Supreme Council on Islamic Affairs, Egypt
  • Dr Abdul Hadi Al Tazi, fellow of the Royal Moroccan Academy
  • Shaikh Naim Trnava, Grand Mufti of Kosovo
  • Dr Abdul Aziz Bin Othman Al Twaijiri, director general of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO)
  • Justice Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani, Vice-president, Darul Uloom Karachi, Pakistan.

Extracts from document

  • 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.
  • As Muslims, and in obedience to the Holy Quran, 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. Let this common ground be the basis of all future interfaith dialogue between us.
  • 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.
  • 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 one another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual goodwill.
  • Muslim, Christains and Jews should be free to each follow what God commanded them and not have to prostrate before kings and the like.
  • 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.