Rochester Interfaith Community Calls for Peace in Middle East

August 10, 2006

Source: Democrat and Chronicle

On August 10, 2006 Democrat and Chronicle published a guest essay by Muhammad Shafiq, Imam of the Islamic Center of Rochester, and Denise Yarbrough, Interreligious/ecumentical Director of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, "As our world spirals ever downward into war and violence, we in the interfaith community in Rochester stand together to call upon the U.S. government and the governments of all countries involved in armed conflicts of any sort to take immediate steps to stop the violence and begin a concerted and vigorous process to bring peace. If ever there was a time for people of faith to speak up and make our voices heard, it is now. Our faith traditions all teach that war and violence are not the will of the God in whom we all believe... Notwithstanding these unequivocal teachings, our political leaders at home and their counterparts in many places throughout the world continue to pursue a path of ruthless violence that brings about only death and destruction. The heart of God breaks as we pursue these destructive paths... The Christian perspective on violence is clear. Jesus said, 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.' (Matthew 5:9). Jesus taught his disciples, 'You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven ... .' And, 'I say to you, if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also, and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well.' (Matthew 5:43-44, 39). The Muslim perspective on violence is equally clear: 'Good and evil cannot be equal. Repel evil with what is better and your enemy will become as close as an old and valued friend.' (Quran, 44:34). Or again: 'If anyone murders a person, it is as if he murders all humankind, while if anyone saves a life, it is as if he saves the life of all humankind.' (Qu0ran, 5:32). It is no accident that the Christian and Muslim perspectives are congruent. Both derive from revelations by the same God, the one God, the God who created all things, including all human beings — the God who created all human beings in his image, that they might love and serve him and each other. It is crucial that the leaders of the world understand that people of faith do not support violence and war as the answer to human conflict."