Muslims Welcome Vatican Dialogue Call

European Muslim leaders and Azhar scholars welcomed Saturday, December 1, a Vatican call for dialogue in response to an earlier Muslim initiative, though a leading international Muslim association has reiterated demands for a clear apology from Pope.

Muslims Welcome Vatican Dialogue Call

"We welcome the Pope's positive response to the Muslim letter," Mohamed Al-Bishari, the secretary general of the Islamic-European Conference, told

Pope Benedict invited on Thursday, November 29, Muslim scholars and intellectuals to a meeting at the Vatican for a dialogue.

The invitation came almost two months after 138 Muslim scholars and dignitaries from around the world sent an open letter to the world's Christian clergy, including Pope Benedict, for dialogue based on common essentials between Islam and Christianity

Bishari, one of the signatories to the 29-page "A Common Word Between Us and You" letter, said any dialogue with the Vatican should be unconditional and without a preplanned agenda.

Bishari said a Vatican meeting will not be a photo-op.

"We need a serious dialogue between two conflicting systems," he said.

Faisal Mawlawi, the deputy president of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, said dialogue will help bridge the gap between the two sides.

"We hope the Muslim initiative and the Vatican positive response will bury the Pope's faux pas," he said, referring to a controversial speech by the pontiff in his native Germany last year, in which he hinted that Islam was violent and irrational.

"Now the Pope has reciprocated the Muslim initiative and praised it," said Mawlawi.

He said the Muslim initiative has demonstrated that Islam is a peace-loving religion.

"It has shown that Muslims eschew violence and reject knee-jerk reactions."

Lhaj Thami Breze, the chairman of the umbrella French Council of Muslim Faith and the Union of Islamic Organizations in France (UOIF), said European Muslims are in dire need for such a dialogue.

"We live at the heart of Christian Europe," he said. "This dialogue will be a plus to European Muslims in social, political and security terms."


Though welcoming the Vatican's call for dialogue, Azhar Scholars have expressed their reservations about the meeting's venue.

"Of course we welcome dialogue, but it must take place in a Muslim country not the Vatican," Abdel-Moati Badoiumi, a member of Al-Azhar's Islamic Research Academy (IRA), told IOL.

"Saudi King (Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz) recently visited Pope Benedict in the Vatican," he said.

He said the pope should now return the Muslim compliment.

"It is the Pope's turn now to arrange a meeting with Muslim scholars at a Muslim capital," he noted.

Mustafa Al-Shakaa, another member of the IRA, the executive arm of Al-Azhar, agreed that a dialogue should be outside the Holy See.

"We welcome a candid dialogue that tackle all bones of contention, but it should be in a neutral country," he said.

Sheikh Mahmoud Ashour, a member of Al-Azhar's inter-faith dialogue committee, said said holding the dialogue in a place other than the Vatican because the Pope's lecture had deeply offended Muslim sensibilities.

"The pope's words are still resonating across the Muslim world," he said.

But the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) insisted on a clear apology from the Pope for his lecture before shaking the Pope's hands.
"There should be no dialogue with the Vatican unless the Pope reversed his remarks that offended the Qur'an and the Prophet," Mohamed Salim Awa, the IUMS secretary general, told IOL.

"The IUMS rejection of dialogue is the least reaction to the Pope's insults," added Al-Awa, dismissing the Pope's statements in the aftermath of the lecture as wordplay.

"We don't hold dialogue with those who insult our religion, Prophet and the Qur'an, but we rather call for boycotting them."

Awa said that the IUMS is open for dialogue with all Christians who do not represent the Vatican.

"The IUMS is ready for dialogue with our Catholic brothers in the Arab world and all Christians worldwide save the Vatican," he said.

The IUMS has been boycotting the Vatican over Benedict's refusal to apologize to Muslims for his lecture.

Pope Benedict stopped short of a clear apology sought by Muslims over his anti-Islam quotes, only expressing regret for the reaction to his speech.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Aralık 2007, 09:57