Pope's Visit a Watershed for Islam and Christianity

Published February 8th, 2019 - 08:38 GMT
Pope Francis during a Mass at the Sheikh Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, AFP/ File Photo
Pope Francis during a Mass at the Sheikh Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, AFP/ File Photo

 

The UAE has proved once again that it is a land of love and co-existence. The visit of Pope Francis sends a powerful message of tolerance and peace to the world.

The Grand Imam of Al Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El Tayyeb, during his visit to the UAE, urged Christians in this region to discard the word minority. "You are citizens with all your rights and responsibilities", said the head of the largest university of Sunni Islam while speaking at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi coinciding with Pope Francis' visit.

The message was also intended for fundamentalists who seek to destroy the unity of nations by classifying citizens and separating them into groups based on religion.

Christianity was born in the Middle East, and hence persecuting them in the region would mean destroying the unity of a land where monotheist religions once lived together in peace. It also means destroying the bridge to openness and compassion, especially when Christians of the Middle East have an essential role as they forge a link between the Arab-Muslim world and the West.

The Lebanese Jesuit priest Gabriel Khairallah has brought out the similarities between Christianity and Islam. "Both religions are close by their recognition that it is God who is the centre of the world and not man; they are close in their veneration of God and in the time that it is necessary to devote to him. They are also close in their quest for social justice and in their fight to eradicate poverty. In these two religions, there is a call for proximity to the poorest and most vulnerable".

Tolerance, charity and love are all concepts taught by Islam and Christianity. Both religions call for peace which cannot be achieved without justice, compassion and respect.

Printing in Arabic was introduced in Lebanon by Christian monks. The first printing works appeared in 1726 at the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in the Lebanese village Khunshara. During the Ottoman occupation, these monks copied the Arabic manuscripts to save language even as Turkey tried imposing its language in the region.

The UAE has proved once again that it is a land of love and coexistence. The visit of Pope Francis sends a powerful message of tolerance and peace to the whole world.

Saint Francis of Assisi, from whom the pope chose his name and his guidance, has taught us a beautiful prayer that says: "Make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy" Let us therefore vow to be instruments of peace because each decision taken individually can affect the whole community.

By Christiane Waked who is a Political analyst based in Beirut and is also a contributor of theological articles to InfoVaticana


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