Muslim intellectuals welcome joint text with Catholics

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The Document on Human Fraternity signed earlier this year by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar during the Pope’s trip to the United Arab Emirates has been hailed as “an unprecedented institutional event in the history of Christian-Muslim relations.” In a text that runs to 15 pages and is entitled “The Brotherhood for Knowledge and Cooperation,” 22 Muslim intellectuals and leaders have welcomed it as a sign that “a new phase is opening up, in different aspects, in the relations between our two religions.” “This phase seems to be moving toward the recognition of the providential legitimacy and diversity of Revelations, theologies, religions, languages and religious communities,” they write. “Diversity is no longer seen as a call to conquest or proselytism, or a pretext for a simple facade of tolerance, but rather as an opportunity to exercise and put into practice the fraternity which is “a vocation contained in God’s plan for creation.” Consequently, and by “respect for religious plurality “¦ recognition of the other is necessary,” the signatories also affirm. It is an acknowledgment that is “neither a forced uniformity nor a conciliatory syncretism, but instead “a warning against the risk of placing one group against the other or in the other’s place.”
Among the signatories are the Senegalese Sheikh Ahmed Tidiane Sy and personalities who have long been involved in Islamic-Christian dialogue, such as the Algerian Mustafa Cherif and the Lebanese Mohammed Sammak. They were joined by muftis from Bosnia and Slovenia, the Grand Imam of the Lahore Mosque in Pakistan, a member of Kaiciid, a Saudi organization engaged in interfaith dialogue and based in Austria, as well as several representatives of Emirates organizations. Some Shia Muslims also signed the text, including the Iraqi Jawad al-Khoei.

Pope Francis and Al Azhar’s Sheikh Ahmed
al-Tayyeb greeting each other at the Vatican