Open Letter to Pope Benedict from Indian Muslims
The Milli Gazette Online, New Delhi, India
We the Indian Muslim Community as well as the secular masses of India are extremely perturbed by your recent fulminations which are basically an affront to Islam and our Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.). Even though your statements have hurt our sentiments, we assure you that in no way will they hinder the cordial relations that we enjoy with our Indian Christian brethren. We do accept your apologies and also request you to refrain from making such ill informed, prejudiced and historical statements in the future. You have every right to voice your opinion though we humbly suggest that you study the works of atleast the German scholars of Islam who have over the centuries contributed to a constructive and analytical critique of Islam. Indeed your verbal barrage has been untimely to say the least.
They have come at a very critical stage for inter-faith relations globally. On the one hand is being propagated the "Clash of Civilizations" that is committed to promoting a religio-civilizational war. On the other hand, US Imperialism led by the Neo-Conservative Bush junta in alliance with NATO and Zionist Israel is waging a war on Muslim countries as well as the Third World.
We also fear that your statement will harm the cause of the Lebanese nation. It was the unity of the Arab Muslims and Christians that was central to the triumph over Israel. Your statement may have sown the seeds of discord and division amongst the Lebanese which in turn will pave the way for the next Israeli war.
A systematic attempt is afoot globally to demonise Islam and Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and the recent manifestation of this was the cartoon controversy which had a strong racist and communal bias. A concerted attempt is being made to abet and promote Islamophobia by sections of the Western World. And you will also vividly recall that the last time that the West indulged in Judeophobia, it led to the Jewish Holocaust. The West over the centuries has progressed from its hatred of Judaism and persecution of the Jews to its similar demonization of Muslims and Islam. The west has evolved in its religio-cultural prejudices, yes, from Judeophobia to Islamophobia !!.
Your venerable successor Pope John Paul II was a man of faith and was committed to promoting inter-faith dialogue. He even verbally opposed the US aggression on Iraq. We were surprised at your silence even when your Eastern flock of Maronite Christians was brutally slaughtered during the Israeli war on Lebanon.
At this critical hour we need the men of faith to indulge in a "Dialogue of Civilizations". This is not a war between the religions of the world. This is also not a civil war within the Abrahamic faiths. The battle is truly between the religions of the world on one hand and Zionism on the other. Both Jewish and Christian Zionism's are theologically corrupting and thus have a subversive influence on Judaism and Christianity. At stake are the very moral and ethical foundations of Judaism and the principles of love, mercy and compassion, which was the central message of Prophet Jesus (p.b.u.h.). In fact Christian Zionism degrades the centrality of Christ in the process of salvation and redemption and places Israel at the centre whilst replacing Jesus !!.
It is again Christian and Jewish Zionism that are the greatest impediments to a peaceful and just resolution of the Palestine-Israeli conflict. Our vision is for a just peace for the Jews, Christians and Muslims of Israel and Palestine. Here again we witness an utter lack of engagement on the part of the Catholic Church even though the Holy Land and the town of Bethlehem are under siege. Is the fate of Arab Christians of lesser consequence to the Western Catholic Church?. Is this the old schism between the Western Latin Church and the Churches of the East?.
Humanity is at an abyss. We stand at the crossroads. One path is that of wars, destruction and Armageddon, the other is the path of love, justice and peace and the spiritual evolution of humanity and all of God's Creation. The choice is clear and for you to make.
We look forward to the day when people of all the faiths of the world can dwell in peace, in the spirit of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), Gautam Buddha (p.b.u.h.) and Jesus Christ (p.b.u.h.) - the common legacy and teachers of humanity.
Feroze H. Mithiborwala (Social Activist)
Syed Iftikhar Ahmed (Editor, Weekly Shodhan, Mumbai)
Sarfaraz Arzu (Editor, Daily Hindustan, Mumbai)
Meraj Siddiqui (Social Activist)
Hanif Lakdawala (Academic)
Muhammad Anis (Social Activist)
17 September 2006
Mumbai - India