02/27/2008, 00.00
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Muslim scholars’ letter to the “Jewish community”

Some Muslim intelelctuals write to the world’s Jewish community as others did back in October to Christian leaders. Signatories emphasise their commitment to improving and increasing mutual respect and understanding with members of other religions.

Lahore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An international group of Muslim scholars has sent another unprecedented letter, this time to the world’s Jewish community, a step that Sheikh Michael Mumisa, called a gesture of reconciliation that seeks to bring relief to people still smarting from open wounds, the result of hatred and misunderstanding between Jews and Muslims, sentiments that in some parts of the world have turned into violence and conflict.

Sheikh Mumisa, a signatory to the letter and a Cambridge University lecturer, said that it was the first of its kind in modern times sent to the Jewish community with the backing of Muslim scholars and leaders. “The message in this letter conveys to the Jewish community a genuine desire for mutual respect, for dialogue and deeper understanding.”

Another signatory is Prof Akbar Ahmed, a former Pakistan high commissioner to Great Britain, who last year also signed a similar statement from Muslim scholars to Christian leaders around the world.

In the letter the Muslim scholars write “that we are faced today not with ‘a clash of civilisations’ but with ‘a clash of ill-informed misunderstandings’.”

The letter goes on to say that “[d]eep-seated stereotypes and prejudices have resulted in a distancing of the communities and even a dehumanising of the ‘Other’. We urgently need to address this situation. We must strive towards turning ignorance into knowledge, intolerance into understanding, and pain into courage and sensitivity for the ‘Other’.”

The Muslim scholars stress that Muslims and Jews have much in common, and that this can favour inter-faith dialogue.

“Failure to do so will be a missed opportunity. Memories of positive historical encounters will dim and the current problems will lead to an increasing rift and more common misunderstandings between us.”

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