This message comes from Mindanao, Philippines and it is the voice of a Movement that in 1984 started to invite, especially Muslims and Christians, but also people of other living faiths, to build together a “chain”/”link” (Silsilah) of love convinced that all of us are part of the same human family, created by the same God.
This basic concept has been always supported by the spirituality of life-in-dialogue with God, with the Self, with Others and with Creation to promote a sustainable Culture of Dialogue, Path to Peace in our society.
This year 2018, we have reflected on our mission in the midst of an increasing violence and conflict in Mindanao, as well in other parts of the world. We are alarmed of many signs of violence, especially among Muslims groups fighting in the name of Islam. This is now an international reality visible also in Mindanao among groups that are fighting guided by their understanding of the “true Islam”.
What appears clear to us is that the victims are the Christians and also Muslims who do not have the same “ideological” understanding of Islam. It was a time when the relation among Christians and Muslims in Mindanao was better even in majority populated Muslim areas like Jolo, in the Southern part of the Philippines. Before the Christians there were free to go to the church and practice their regular Christian life. Now the church in the city of Jolo has to be protected by the military to protect the Christians who are in danger. This and many other alarming stories are the causes of sadness also among good Muslims, commonly called “Moderate Muslims”. They too live in fear because they are not “good Muslims” in the eyes of those who are practicing a more radical understanding of Islam that justifies violence.
In this situation, Silsilah this year in preparation for the 35h Anniversary of the Movement that will be on May 9, 2019, decided to move with more determination guided by the theme: “Silsilah, a sign of hope in the midst of divisions and conflicts”.
In this Holy Month of Ramadhan for the Muslim world, Silsilah wishes to share solidarity with the Muslims and reaffirm the belief that Islam can still contribute in the world today for a better future for all because Islam reminds us, among the many things, the value of prayer, fasting and attention to the needy, especially during the Holy month of Ramadhan.
In this context, we recall what the Catholic-Muslims Forum in Rome of 2008 affirmed after the open letter of 138 Muslim Religious leaders of the world of 2007 which emphasizes the Love of God and the Love of Neighbors in Islam and Christianity. In that document we also read:
For Muslims, as set out in ‘A Common Word’, love is a timeless transcendent power which guides and transforms human mutual regard. This love, as indicated by the Holy and Beloved Prophet Muhammad, is prior to the human love for the One True God. A Hadith indicates that God’s loving compassion for humanity is even greater than that of a mother for her child (Muslim, Bal al-Tawba: 21); it therefore exists before and independently of the human response to the One who is ‘The Loving’. So immense is this love and compassion that God has intervened to guide and save humanity in a perfect way many times and in many places, by sending prophets and scriptures. The last of these books, the Qur’an, portrays a world of signs, a marvelous cosmos of Divine artistry, which calls forth utter love and devotion, so that ‘those who have faith, have most love of God’ (2:165), and that ‘those that believe, and do good works, the Merciful shall engender love among them.’ (19:96) in a Hadith, we read that ‘Not one of you has faith until he loves for his neighbor what he loves for himself’ (Bukhari, Bab al-Iman: 13).
In that document, the Christians too, reaffirm the identity of Christianity and the importance of love and in the same document presents fifteen points: the importance of human life, the human dignity, the respect of the Creation of God, the genuine love of neighbors, the respect of religious minorities, the importance of education in human, civic, religions and moral values, the importance of love and harmony among believers, the ethical financial system, the attention for the youth.
These and other relevant points presented in the document tell us that there is the desire among Muslims and Christians to move together inspired by the Love of God, the love of neighbor and the love for the common good. This is the wish of Silsilah in this holy month of Ramadhan.
We invite Muslims to reflect in prayer the many points of their faith that help to build Peace in society and also invite the Christians and people of other faiths to be in “solidarity” with Muslims in this special time.
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