Remarks at Catholic University of America
Washington, DC, US
13 September 2005
There are those who believe that there is, or will be, a “clash of civilisations.” Indeed, opinion polls tell us that this idea, at some level, is held by far too many people in both Western and Muslim countries. What is worse, there are those who want conflict to occur, and are actively working to that end.
For all our sakes, for our common future, we must turn the world's footsteps away from such a path. We need dialogue – a dialogue of deeds, as well as words. That means re-affirming our common interests and values, making sure that all people, especially young people, can share in the great promise of this century, and giving a new voice to the quiet majority: the people of goodwill across the world.
To this end, in November of 2004, we in Jordan launched what has come to be known as the Amman Message. It carefully articulates Islam's essential social values: compassion, respect for others, tolerance and acceptance, and freedom of religion. And it rejects Muslim isolation from the global movement of human society.
The Amman Message's ultimate goal is to take back our religion from the vocal, violent and ignorant extremists who have tried to hijack Islam over the last hundred years. They do not speak for Islam any more than a Christian terrorist speaks for Christianity. And the real voices of our faiths will be, must be, heard.
But the road of moderation, and respect for others, is not one for Muslims alone. All humanity today needs to meet this challenge. That means more than just ‘tolerating' each other; it means real acceptance, based on human equality and fellowship.
It has never been more important that we understand – and live by – the “common word” of our faiths. It is a bond that can unite us in mutual respect and shield us against religious incitement. Such an approach is vital to global peace. Dogmatic conflicts create walls of mistrust. But if we break down those barriers, if we recognise our deepest shared values, we open the way to a better future. There are hurdles, certainly, but they are political, and political problems can be resolved by pragmatic solutions among people of goodwill.
In the Psalms, we read: Seek peace and pursue it. Jesus taught: Blessed are the peacemakers. The Holy Quran tells us: And God summoneth to the abode of Peace, and guideth whom He will to the way of righteousness. Join me now in helping to keep to the path of peace.
Thank you very much.
Peace be upon you.