Muslims and Christians commit to dialogue and fraternity

This JRS project in Aleppo brings children of different religious backgrounds together: JRS
This JRS project in Aleppo brings children of different religious backgrounds together: JRS

To coincide with the UN International Day of Peace (today), Catholic and Muslim leaders have issued a joint statement, calling upon all governments, religious institutions, and people of good will to work together in addressing the root causes of forced migration. The faith organisations recognise the Jubilee Year of Mercy, announced by Pope Francis, and the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca as opportunities to stand in solidarity and to call on the international community to share the responsibility of providing protection for those fleeing from their homes, to ensure good reception conditions and access, on arrival, to adequate and affordable services.

In a joint statement, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and the Religious Islamic Community of Italy (COREIS), the European partner of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), have called for robust policies to counter racist and xenophobic tendencies, saying that diversity must be recognised as an opportunity and a gift, not a threat.

“From the Muslim and Christian perspectives, all human beings have received the gift of life from God who looks upon His creation with mercy and compassion,” the statement says. “The human person in Islamic anthropology is the vicegerent (khalifah) of God on earth, while Christian theology holds that the human person is created in the image and likeness of God. Every human person is therefore to be treated as possessed of an inalienable dignity, regardless of differences in faith, culture, or nationality.”

Inspired by Mercy

The joint statement from JRS and COREIS points out that both Muslims and Christians are inspired by Mercy, which is one of the Names of God. Islam has a fundamental tradition of protection and hospitality towards the wayfarer, the widow and the orphan, while Christians are told in their scriptures that every time they welcome a stranger, they make Christ welcome. “To resist radicalism, and moral relativism, Muslims and Christians must recommit themselves to a more profound and engaged dialogue, in an encounter that is always rooted in a spirit of fraternity,” the statement says.Pilgrims at the Al-Haram Mosque: flickr, Al Jazeera

An estimated two million pilgrims have been in Saudi Arabia this week, marking the Eid al-Adha holiday. The five-day-long hajj is a series of rituals meant to cleanse the soul of sins and instil a sense of equality and brotherhood among Muslims.

“The pilgrim, the refugee, and the migrant, are all people who are searching, beyond hearth and home, for a place where they may encounter peace, be free of distress, and enjoy hospitality,” according to the statement. “Many forced migrants come from the Islamic and Christian traditions; they are in need of ‘not bread alone’, but also ‘the true word’: the spiritual consolation that is an experience of God's mercy, fraternity among Christians and Muslims, among believers and nonbelievers; as sisters and brothers to discover a common Peace.”

The full statement from the Jesuit Refugee Service and the Religious Islamic Community of Italy is available on the JRS website.