The Amman Message Anniversary

In late October, Bishop Younan joined almost 200 Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith leaders gathered in Amman for the one year anniversary of the release of the Amman Message by King Abdullah last year. The Amman Message is an initiative to raise the moderate voices of Islam who interpret the Koran as teaching co-existence, peace and justice among all people. Learned scholars, patriarchs and church leaders spoke about the importance of taking this message to the world to help temper the fundamentalism and extremism that threatens a true understanding of the faith as they see it. One scholar reminded the group that the standard Muslim greeting is one of Peace: May Peace be upon you. Others urged the world to listen to other voices of Islam.

“Just as we don’t judge Christians by the actions of those who came to occupy our lands, and just as we don’t judge Judaism by the actions of their extremists, so we ask the world not to judge Islam by the actions of a few extremists. Bid Laden and Zakawe are criminals and killers. They do not represent Islam,” said Salah El-Din Kaftaro from Syria.

Bishop Younan spoke on a panel about Christianity’s role in helping the Amman initiative. He praised the initiative for its theology that promotes an Islamic theology of tolerance, love and mutual respect for one another. It also condemns any kind of terrorism or extremism. He said the Arab Christian Church can be instrumental in building bridges between Islam and the Western world because of its 1400 years of living peacefully with Muslims.

See for the full Amman Message …

Visits with Church and Political Leaders in Jordan

This same group of leaders traveled to Jordan the weekend before the Annual Council Meeting began. They discussed the role of faith communities in promoting a culture of non-violence, respect for all religions and peaceful co-existence with Jordanian government officials in Amman.

At a meeting with Jordanian Prime Minister Adnan Badran, delegation leaders Hanson, Noko and Younan commended Jordan’s contribution to the Middle East peace process, especially its support for inter-religious dialogue and far-reaching efforts to promote a culture of non-violence in resolving conflict. The meeting with Badran who is also Minister of Defence was also attended by Foreign Minister Farouq Qasrawi.

The representatives of the Jordanian government and king commended the LWF for its support to Palestinian refugees over several decades especially through humanitarian relief work. They also expressed willingness to work with the ELCJHL and the LWF on joint efforts to promote practical religious co-existence.

During separate meetings with the king’s personal envoy Prince Ghazi, and advisor, Mr Akel Biltaji, the significance of religious education in early schooling was discussed. Jordan, the LWF delegation learned, is involving students in education projects that promote religious tolerance. The LWF leaders also commended Jordan’s role as the custodian of holy sites in the Holy Land.

His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi, personal envoy and special advisor to King Abdullah, spoke frankly of the situation in Israel and the West Bank, emphasized the Royal Family’s interest in peaceful relations between Muslims and Christians, and sought formally to work with Lutherans to promote greater understanding.

Ghazi said Jordan is particularly concerned about the West Bank separation barrier which makes a two-state solution between Palestinians and Israelis impossible.

The prince proposed a Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, which attempts to avoid “a clash of civilizations” and depoliticizes religion. There is a growing awareness among Muslims that there needs to be dialogue with Christians and others, he said. Education is also important for Muslims to promote greater understanding with others. Seven “principles” of emphasis for Muslims the prince highlighted were: no terrorism, no offensive jihad, good citizenry, the possibility of democracy, respect for religions, human rights and women’s rights, he said. “Those are seven issues we think we can deliver through education,” he said. Taken from stories by John Brooks, ELCA News Director