Read! Recite! Also, and more importantly, Proclaim! The title of this journal echoes the first word revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, a command to proclaim and to embody the great Love of God for humanity: Iqra!
On the occasion of Eid ul-Fitr, October 13, 2007, 138 Muslim scholars and clerics sent an open letter “to leaders of Christian churches, everywhere.” The signatories to that letter, titled “A Common Word Between Us and You”, included leaders from around the world representing every major school of Islamic thought from Sunni, Salafi to Shi’a. In essence, the letter proposed that Islam and Christianity both share the golden commandments of the paramount importance of loving God and loving one’s neighbor. It opened with a verse from the Qur’an, urging the faithful to come to understanding and share the core message of the two religious traditions:
Say [Iqra]: O People of the Scripture! Come to A Common Word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). Aal ‘Imran, 3:64 The letter concluded, saying:
So let our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us view with each other only in righteousness and good works. Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to one another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual good will.
Drawing upon scriptures, “A Common Word” proposed that dialogue and even contention in the fairest manner are incumbent upon Muslims, and that the principles of devotion to the one God and love of the neighbor are the strongest possible basis for mutual understanding, efficacious dialogue and cooperation between Christianity and Islam, because they stem from the theological core of each religions. Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Nostra Aetate, expresses this profound need for dialogue in the perspective of Christianity:
The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and love, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.
The spirit of these documents mirror our own University mission when we seek and promote interreligious dialogue. In a world fraught with religious tensions, we must all come together to the table of dialogue where we find the common message of our faiths. Compelled by love and urged by our pursuit for peace, the Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities and Dialogue of the Ateneo de Davao University took form and flight, proclaiming the message of our common heritage, inviting peoples to the table of dialogue and studying the different contexts of faiths, politics, history and philosophies in Mindanao. Indeed, Al Qalam, in its many works, re-echoes the angel Jibril’s command: Iqra! Proclaim!
May this journal be a venue for dialogue and understanding among the peoples of Mindanao!
Sincerely in our Lord,
Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ
Ateneo de Davao University