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Islam and Christianity the Great Convergence: Working jointly towards equal citizenship rights

Mar 15 2017 - Message of His Royal Highness Prince Hassan bin Talal of the Hachemite Kingdom of Jordan

Dear friends, distinguished participants,

The peace of God in the world, as it was put in the Brussels Declaration, is essentially what we seek when we speak about the participation of human capital: it is not only the peace of God, but it is also the peace of God’s children that we attempt to build, by speaking of a “levelling”, that is to say, of universal citizenship with universal values shared by all. Let us look at those values for a moment.

The fundamental common element about monotheistic religions is faith and confidence in the good, human-loving, compassionate, and merciful God. All of our religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam consider justice and peace as gifts and blessings from God. All of our religions disapprove of religious justification of violence and inhumane actions, none of them approve of violence, terrorism or ill treatment of human beings. The Brussels Declaration unfortunately has not been heeded and that is why we are meeting here today, to say once again, in the spirit of Judaism, “What is hateful to you do not do to your fellow man – this is the entire law, all the rest is commentary. “ Christianity has the tradition of “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them for this is the law of the Prophet.”

In this context I would like to emphasize the importance of Islam as the third and youngest of the Abrahamic family of faiths, embodying ethical codes to which both Jews and Christians and likewise subscribe in spirit. The Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s hadiths are clear in the regulation of human relations and reciprocal responsibilities. When asked, the Holy Prophet is quoted in saying “What is the rule of Islam? What is the best thing in Islam? And the answer was: to feed the hungry, to give the greeting of peace both to those one knows and to those one does not know.”

Why are we going to emphasize the levelling of citizenship? I would suggest that for education to stand a realistic chance of achieving its desired goals of ultimately fostering better relations and enlightened outreach among faith groups, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, the oft espoused theory that mutual knowledge cures all, is clearly not enough; that to know is to love, mutual awareness and knowledge is what we would dearly promote were it not for the confrontation among co-religionists and co-nationalists. Incidentally, I believe in patriotism – loving your country; but nationalism as in loving your country at the expense of another, is what has happened in the Caucuses for instance, when Christian Russia backed Muslim Abkhazia against Christian Georgia, when Muslim Iran played off Christian Armenia against Muslim Azerbaijan. The list continues as you all well know, Ossetians against Georgians, both Christians, Lezgins against Azeri, both Muslim and so forth. My question to you and to myself is: do we not need to highlight the twin poles of the problem, the problem of us and the Other? What about these conflicts? Where are the lines of antagonism? Do they not always correspond to religious divisions? Is there an imperative of conducting not only interfaith, but also intra-faith discourse? I would suggest that citizenship is about values that apply not to, with all the respect, brand names, but apply to promoting creative commons, based on shared values.

And in that sense, I do wish that such an initiative today could lead somewhere down the road – next year is one hundred years since Versailles:  can you imagine a Versailles in 2018 that emphasizes the importance of a survey of our sources, for any chosen time period, of literature, fiction and nonfiction, mass communication, textbooks – of course, today we have civil society actively tweeting. Is there a knowledge base, a compassion of knowledge base for such tweets? Can we create a knowledge base and analyse it through regional symposia? Can we move in terms of a new twin pole, and that is not the binary twin pole, but the regional, greater good of the greater number, between West and East? We have this monolith, and I think the time has come to speak about North and South. From the Baltic to the Black Sea, from the Black Sea to the Levant, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Adriatic, all of this constitutes the cradle of civilization, and of course the  relationship between the haves and the have-nots, the black and the green, the hydrocarbons and the fertile crescent. In this spirit, I salute you and look forward to your recommendations.


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