the Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee held its ninth meeting in the Vatican, 19-20 January 2004 , equivalent to 27-28 Dhu al-Qada 1424 H. The Catholic Delegation was headed by Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Vatican City, while the Islamic Delegation was headed by H.E. Prof. Dr. Hamid bin Ahmad Al-Rifaie, President of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue , Jeddah. The theme was Human dignity and humanitarian rights in armed conflicts
the help of Almighty God, the Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee held its ninth
meeting in the Vatican, 19-20 January 2004 , equivalent to 27-28 Dhu al-Qada
1424 H. The Catholic Delegation was headed by Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald,
President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Vatican City,
while the Islamic Delegation was headed by H.E. Prof. Dr. Hamid bin Ahmad
Al-Rifaie, President of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue , Jeddah.
The theme was Human dignity and humanitarian rights in armed conflicts . This
was treated from a religious point of view according to the teaching of our two
religious traditions . There followed an exchange on Christian – Muslim
relations with regard to some current concerns . Both sides agreed on the
following points :
participants were honoured to be received in Audience by his Holiness Pope John
Paul II . who expressed appreciation for the work of the Committee and
encouraged it to continue its endeavours to promote peace .
Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald
Prof. Dr. Hamid A. Al-Rifaie
Tuesday, 20 January 2004
PROF. DR. HAMID BIN AHMAD AL – RIFAIE
of the international Islamic Forum for Dialogue
POPE AND THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE NINTH ANNUAL
MEETING OF THE ISLAMIC – CATHOLIC LIAISON COMMITTEE
Personally and on behalf
of Muslim delegation to the Islamic – Catholic Liaison
would like to express our pleasure to meet your holiness, and we are very happy
to see you in good health.
world today truly, is in need to wise men and intellectuals of your caliber.
a Muslim we appreciate your equitable positions regarding the middle - east
issues, and regarding peace and justice in the world.
look forward to hearing from your Holiness regarding respect the freedom of
belief, and not to violate the religious values practices, and to respect its
you once again, and my Allah help you.
20 January 2004
Most Holy Father,
participants in the ninth meeting of the Islamic – Catholic Liaison Committee
are honoured to be received by Your Holiness today. The annual meeting of the
committee provides an occasion for a useful exchange on situations around the
world in which Muslims and Christians are involved. The conflicts raging in
different parts of the world, but also the growing sense of the need for
interreligious cooperation in the service of peace, provide a significant
backdrop for these exchanges. They also highlight the importance of the them
which the committee has been discussing: Respect
for human dignity and humanitarian law in times of conflict.
constant appeals Your Holiness has made for peace based on justice, your
reiterated call for a strong commitment to education for peace, have provide an
inspiration to all of us. We are thankful for this meeting with Your Holiness
today, and we await your words of encouragement.
Dear BROTHER Bishop,
guarantees Human Rights to all humankind, without discriminations on the base of
race ethnics or religious differences. It is evident that Islam considers man as
one of God’s creatures, but the only one gifted with the power of reason, a
soul and the aspiration to pursue noble ideals. The fact that man has received
these gifts is mentioned in the Holy Koran: “We have honoured the sons of
Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance
things good and pure; and conferred on them special favours, above a great part
of Our Creation” (Sura 17:70). God has put man even above Angels, to whom He
ordered to bow in front of Adam, the first man. Man, having been so honoured,
has the duty to perform good deeds to deserve the gifts received by his Creator.
Man has the obligation to apply justice, to spread the truth, in order to
receive love and protection from his Lord.
task that man has to carry out during his earthly life is to bring happiness for
himself and all others. This will allow him to gain the reward in the afterlife.
elevated dignity of man, mentioned in the Holy Koran, concerns the whole of
humankind and it is not limited to privileged group.
success of the mission that man has to accomplish on earth depends on the
recognition and guarantee of Human Rights. Islam respects Human Rights to
everybody, in every aspect of life, and considers them as an absolute necessity
to protect the individuals and to ensure peace for the society, against threats
of aggression or war.
is the foundation of the preaching of Islam:
safeguard of Human Rights and their implementation are like a lifesaver to those
who are oppressed or whose property, life and honour are menaced. Islam
encourages to guarantee those rights in peace and war, even if peace is its
have the religious duty to entertain good and peaceful relations with other
peoples and to promote with them the collective interest. The Holy Quran says:
“Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your)
faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them:
for Allah loveth those who are just!” (Sura 60:8). “……. Therefore if
they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (guarantees of)
peace, then Allah hath opened no way for you (to war against them)” (Sura
4:90). “O ye who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and follow not the
footsteps of the Satan for he is to you an avowed enemy” (Sura 2:208). “But
if the enemy incline towards peace do thou (incline) towards peace, and trust in
Allah: for He is the One that heareth and knoweth (all things)” (Sura 8:61).
peace loving men will find in these “ayats” (verses) the golden rule to
follow to ensure peace and uproot all false justifications of war.
meaning of Islam is peace, and Muslims use this word innumerable times a day to
greet people. The words “salaam alaykum” (peace with you) are the last
pronounced in every prayer.
allows war only as legitimate defense.
Holy Koran when speaks about war makes it very clear that the recourse to
violence is possible only to repel an aggression. “To those against whom war
is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged; and verily
Allah is Most Powerful for their aid. (They are) those who have been expelled
from their homes in defiance or right, (for no cause) except that they say:
‘Our Lord is Allah’. Did not Allah check one set of people by means of
another. There would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches,
synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant
measure. Allah will certainly aid those who
aid His (cause). For verily Allah is Full of strength, Exalted in Might (Able to
enforce His Will).” (Sura 22:39,40).
in the cause of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress limits: for
Allah loveth not transgressors” (Sura 2:190). “And why should you not fight
in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill treated (and
oppressed)? Men, women and children whose cry is : ‘Our Lord! Rescue us from
this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from Thee One who will
protect: and raise for us from Thee One who will help!” (Sura 4:75).
the teachings of Islam, the principle of non-aggression comprises the
prohibition to fight against children, women of the enemy, and also against old
people and men of religion etc. The Prophet (r) commanded to his army to spare children, women, old men, to respect
trees, cultivations and not to destroy houses. He commanded also to avoid any
excess, treason, to not defame the dead.
of war have to be respected.
law dictates to treat prisoners in a humane way, as part of the Islamic Faith.
Allah speaks about the faithful who respect prisoners with these words: “And
they feed for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive”
(Sura 76:8). The Prophet (r)
recommended to his companions to take good care of prisoners. The Prophet (r)
himself, during his life, freed many prisoners without conditions, on the basis
of the following verse of the Holy Kuran: “It is not fitting for a Prophet
that he should have prisoners of war ……..” (Sura 8:67). Islam respects the
religion of the prisoners on the basis of the principle stated in the Holy
Koran: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: truth stands out clear from
error …..” (Sura 2:256). This verse concerns all people, other verses deal
specifically with the “People of the Book”. “And thus (it is) that We have
sent down the Book to thee. So the People of the Book believe therein, and also
do some of these (pagan Arabs): and none but unbelievers reject Our signs”
(Sura 29:47). Islam has always respected freedom of choice, thought, word and
faith in time of peace as of war, and also agreements and treatises .
respect of agreements and treatises.
principle derives from the truth of the Unity of God and the consequent unity of
mankind. The equality of all men requires the respect of engagements, among
individuals as well among countries. The Holy Quran says: “Fulfill the
Covenant of Allah when ye have entered into it, and break not your oaths after
ye have confirmed them: indeed ye have made Allah your surety; for Allah knoweth
all that ye do” (Sura 16:91). The principle of mutual agreement and trust has
always been in Islam the foundation for the solution of any problem or conflict
among men and among nations. The Holy Koran asserts the principle of respect of
agreements in many verses: “Those who faithfully observe their trusts and
their covenants ……Who will inherit Paradise. They will dwell therein (for
ever)” (Sura 23:8,11).
what happens in this world, catastrophes included, is decreed by Our Lord. The
Holy Koran says: “……. But when (once) Allah willeth a people’s
punishment there can be no turning it back, nor will they find, besides Him, any
to protect.” (Sura 13:11). “Say: who is it that can screen you from Allah.
If it be His wish to give you punishment or to give you mercy? Nor will they
find for themselves, besides Allah, any protector or helper,” (Sura 33:17).
But we must remember that God’s will does not mean that men should do their
best to perform good deeds and to alleviate the suffering of those stricken by
disasters. The Holy Kuran says: “O ye who believe! Bow down, prostrate
yourselves and adore your Lord: and do good: that ye may prosper.” (Sura
22:77). In face of disasters the main virtue is patience, as mentioned in the
following verses of the Holy Koran: (Al Imran 200: Al Baqara 153, 155: Zumar
10). If patience is necessary to
face suffering it is also indispensable and recommended mercy and compassion
towards those who are suffering.
mercy of God is infinite. Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, says in
the Holy Koran: (Al Hjr 56: Arroom 50: Al Haraf 156) According to Abdullah bin
Amr the Prophet said: “Allah will be merciful towards those who are
merciful”. According to Jarir bin Abdallah the Prophet said: “Allah will not
be merciful towards those who do not practice mercy”.
do good deeds
teaching of the Holy Koran stresses the command to do good deeds: “Who is he
that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan, which Allah will double unto his
credit and multiply many times? It is Allah that giveth (you) want or plenty,
and to Him shall be your return.” (Sura 2:245).
knows the effect of cooperation to reach the common interest. The Holy Koran
says: “……….Help you one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye
not one another in sin and rancour: fear Allah: for Allah is strict in
punishment” (Sura 5:2). From the point of view of Islam cooperation has the
purpose of giving happiness to oneself and to the others. If we adopt this ideal
humankind will fulfill its aim of security, prosperity and peace. Islam,
therefore, teaches that obeying the will of the Almighty, being unselfish and
generous towards those in distress, remembering that all men are brothers,
striving for peace among nations and peoples, is the only way to deserve the
love of Allah, reach happiness in this world and the reward in the future life.
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