"A Common Word" Letter Sparks a Series of Dialogues Among Christians and Muslims

August 11, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: World Council of Churches


A recent dialogue held in late July at Yale University in the United States brought together Muslim and Christian scholars, intellectuals, academics and religious leaders from the United States and around the world. The event was one of a series of dialogues organized in response to the October 2007 open letter "A Common Word" sent by 138 Muslim scholars to Christians around the world. The letter invited them to dialogue about what they viewed as the common parts of their respective faiths.

Rima Barsoum, programme executive for Christian-Muslim relations at the World Council of Churches (WCC), participated on behalf of the international ecumenical Christian body. The National Council of Churches in the USA (NCCUSA), the Roman Catholic Church and the World Evangelical Alliance were also represented.

"The participation of the WCC and the NCCCUSA highlights the ecumenical dimension of interfaith dialogue," Barsoum said. "The Yale conference and other events provide an opportunity for Christians to share their perspectives and theological resources for engaging in interfaith dialogue."

Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan, the architect of the "Common Word" initiative said: "The intention in sending out the 'A Common Word' missive was simply to try to make peace between Muslims and Christians globally."

"It was and is an extended global handshake of religious goodwill, friendship and fellowship and consequently of inter-religious peace.”

As a handshake the letter has found willing outstretched hands across the Christian world from the Vatican to the WCC and the World Evangelical Alliance.