One of the most common complaints about “Islam” from politicians and other truth-bending members of our society is that mainstream Muslims do not speak out when fellow Muslims commit atrocities such as suicide bombings. Muslims do, of course, both to their friends and neighbors and in forums that usually fail to reach the public at large. But often no one takes the time to listen or to find where these voices can be heard loud and clear. So it is not fair to ask why Muslims are failing so speak out against extremism without also asking why so little attention is paid in the mainstream media when they do. Well, hear ye, hear ye, there is a letter to prominent Christian leaders, including Pope Benedict and the leader of the Baptist church, from a broad spectrum of Muslim intellectuals and leaders, as reported Thursday on the BBC and The Guardian.

A pdf version of the English translation of the letter can be found on a website dedicated to the letter. The letter begins:

“Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.”

The letter goes on to call for a road to peace that emphasizes love for the one God and for neighbors. These Muslim intellectuals do not envision an apocalyptic vision of continual conflict between nations over who has a better position in God’s eyes, but argue for mutual tolerance. It will obviously take more than a letter, no matter how sincere the intentions, to mitigate the political conflicts that are currently channeled into a clash of civilizations reduced to religions. Muslims and Christians do not kill each other simply because they are Christians and Muslims anymore than Christians have killed fellow Christians or Muslims have murdered fellow Muslims solely for “religious” reasons. Beneath the veneer of religious rhetoric are the same fundamental sources of conflict that have inflicted humanity all along.

No matter which God you worship, or even if you think humanity is sufficiently divine to carry on without religion in the old monotheistic sense, read this letter by concerned Muslims and listen to the voices that can drown out the fearmongers on all sides if taken as part of a dialogue between equals. If you think your religion superior, then at least agree to let God sort out the differences on the Day of Judgment.

Daniel Martin Varisco