Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has given an intial positive response to the 'A Common Word' document from Muslim scholars and religious leaders addressed to Christian leaders.
Dr Anas S. Al-Shaikh-Ali, Chair of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists, and one of the signatories to the letter, presented it to the Archbishop at Lambeth Palace before the weekend.
The Archbishop welcomed the letter as a clear reaffirmation of the potential for further development of existing dialogue and common action between Christians and Muslims and other faith communities:
“The theological basis of the letter and and its call to “vie with each other only in righteousness and good works; to respect each other, be fair, just and kind to another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual goodwill”, are indicative of the kind of relationship for which we yearn in all parts of the world, and especially where Christians and Muslims live together. It is particularly important in underlining the need for respect towards minorities in contexts where either Islam or Christianity is the majority presence."
The Archbishop said that the letter’s emphasis on the fundamental importance of belief in the unity of God and love of neighbour is welcome. He said ”the letter rightly makes it clear that these are scriptural foundations equally for Jews, Christians, and for Muslims, and are the basis for justice and peace in the world.
Dr Williams continued: “There is much here to study and to build on. The letter’s understanding of the unity of God provides an opportunity for Christians and Muslims to explore together their distinctive understandings and the ways in which these mould and shape our lives. The call to respect, peace and goodwill should now be taken up by Christians and Muslims at all levels and in all countries and I shall endeavour in this country and internationally, to do my part in working for the righteousness which this letter proclaims as our common goal."