November 21, 2019
On February 4, 2019, The Grand Imam of Al-Azhat, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and His Holiness Pope Francis issued a Joint Declaration entitled, “Human Fraternity.” This remarkable achievement challenges the prevailing stereotypes that many have regarding Islam and Christianity. The teachings found in “Human Fraternity” not only encourage Muslims and Christians but all peoples to follow along the pathways of peace.
Some might complain that documents and agreements on paper are insufficient for addressing the issues of the day and they are correct. Nonetheless, documents and agreements have the potential of raising our consciousness and call us to action.
The philosophy of “Human Fraternity” can be summarized in the opening paragraph:
“Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved. Through faith in God, who has created the universe, creatures and all human beings (equal on account of God’s mercy), believers are called to express this human fraternity by safeguarding creation and the entire universe and supporting all persons, especially the poorest and those most in need.”
Imagine what our World would be like if all practicing religious followers understood that their particular faith was the basis for seeing others as someone to love?
Too many people suffer from the misconception that every religious believer thinks of their faith in exclusive terms. The fact is the authentic practice of one’s faith finds its true purpose in the care, love, and respect of others.
The practice of Interfaith Spirituality does not negate or dismiss the particular and distinctive features of each Tradition. Rather, Faith Traditions are the various ways humans express their love for God in their service to other people especially “the poorest and those most in need.” “Human Fraternity” reminds us:
“We, who believe in God and in the final meeting with God and God’s judgment, on the basis of our religious and moral responsibility, and through this Document, call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.
We call upon intellectuals, philosophers, religious figures, artists, media professionals and men and women of culture in every part of the world, to rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere.”
As we encounter the violence and upheaval in the World today, we can easily become discouraged. Not a few feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. We must be grateful for all those men, women, and children who dedicate themselves to the cause of peace and mutual understanding. “Human Fraternity” is the fruit of intense dialogue in which people of differing Faiths found the meaning of their love for God in their love for others. This ancient insight must be reborn a thousand times over if peace will prevail on Earth.
In the days and months to come, we will continue to reflect on such Documents as “Human Fraternity” to foster hope and encourage all those committed to the pathways of peace. Thank you and deep blessing to all of you who foster and encourage peace and understanding in all the affairs of your life.