Press Release From the Mea Culpa-ly-Challenged
Addendum: Dr. Ahmed Just e-mailed me an additional press release, which I have attached to the bottom of this posting.
I received this press release yesterday, Monday 2/25/08, from Dr. Akbar Ahmed of American University, and will comment later, on both this summary statement, and more importantly, the full “letter” to which it alludes. The press release was “embargoed” till today, and may also be appearing in US newspapers. My analysis of the full “letter” to the Jewish community about Muslim-Jewish “dialogue,” will be forthcoming. The “letter” is unsatisfactory—to make a generous assessment, now, which subsequently, and in some detail, I won’t.
To appreciate the “context” better, the letter introducing this much ballyhooed “dialogue” initiative was formally presented yesterday (2/25/08) by Tariq Ramadan who was delivering a lecture entitled, “The Nature of God.” How appropriately inappropriate.
“World’s First Cross-Denominational Statement from Muslims to Jews”
Leaders from the international Muslim community are to issue a statement to the world’s Jewish Community at the Centre for the Study of Muslim – Jewish Relations in Cambridge on Monday 25 February.
This is the first example of such a gesture from the Muslim to the Jewish community and demonstrates a genuine desire within the Muslim community to reach out to the leaders’ Jewish peers. The letter describes itself as ‘a call for positive and constructive action that aims to improve Muslim – Jewish relations’.
The initiative behind the statement comes from the Muslim members of the Centre for the Study of Muslim – Jewish Relations (CMJR), Cambridge, UK, Dr Amineh Hoti (Director) and Sheikh Michael Mumisa (Lecturer). It will be formally announced following the Centre’s annual Stone – Ashdown lecture* on Monday 25 February.
The signatories of the letter include:
Professor Akbar S Ahmed, Former High Commissioner of Pakistan to the UK and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University Washington, DC
Professor Bunyamin Duran, Vice-Rector: Islamic University of Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Ambassador Mahmud A. Durrani, Embassy of Pakistan, Washington D.C. S
ayyed Nadeem Kazmi, Director of International Affairs at the Al-Khoei Foundation (the largest Shia Institute in the UK)
Lord Khalid Hameed, High Sheriff of Greater London, UK
Dr Musharraf Hussain, Chief Imam and Director of Karimia Institute, UK
Professor Sari Nusseibeh, President of Al Quds University, Beit Hanina – Jerusalem
Dr Ataullah Saddiqui, Director of Markfield Institute of higher Education
A response from the Jewish community is expected in the days following the announcement. This will also be released by the Centre for the Study of Muslim – Jewish Relations.
PRESS RELEASE “2”
Professor Tariq Ramadan adds blessing to World’s First Cross-Denominational Statement in modern times from Muslims to Jews
Yesterday afternoon (Monday 25 February), world-renowned Muslim scholar Professor Tariq Ramadan publicly signed a statement to the world’s Jewish Community calling for peace and understanding.
The Letter has received the support of Muslim religious scholars and leaders from around the world and has already been welcomed by international Jewish leaders.
The event took place at the Woolf Institute’s Centre for the Study of Muslim – Jewish Relations in Cambridge (CMJR). The initiative behind the Letter comes from the Muslim scholars of CMJR, Dr Amineh Hoti and Sheikh Michael Mumisa who collaborated with leading Muslims from the UK and Overseas.
The Letter describes itself as ‘a call for positive and constructive action that aims to improve Muslim — Jewish relations’.
Following a lecture on the ‘Nature of God’, Professor Ramadan spoke of the significance of the Letter: ‘I really think that this Letter is a signal that we are ready to call for dialogue…We need to get beyond ‘tolerance’ which is saying that ‘I put up with you but I would rather you were not here’ to a mutual knowledge and a mutual respect.’ He described dialogue with Jews as ‘a risk but a necessity’.
Rabbi Jonathan Magonet, who responded to Professor Ramadan’s talk, said this was a significant moment in the Muslim-Jewish encounter. The letter has already been welcomed by Jewish leaders. Rabbi David Rosen, International President, Religions for Peace and Advisor on Interfaith Relations to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has said, “”I wholeheartedly welcome this most important initiative on the part of Muslim scholars and representatives. The striking commonalities of Islam and Judaism and those historic periods and places of remarkable cooperation and cross-fertilization between the two faith communities, have been tragically overshadowed and even hijacked by modern politics. The benefits from respectful dialogue and cooperation between the Muslim and Jewish communities can be a blessing not only to the communities themselves; but can have a profound impact on wider even global relations between religions and peoples, contributing to the well being of human society as a whole.”
Rabbi Danny Rich, Director of Liberal Judaism has said, “I welcome this letter as an opportunity to strengthen relations between Muslims and Jews who, it seems to me, have more in common than divides them, and who together could contribute to making the world a more decent place for us, our children and future generations to occupy. Liberal Judaism, of which I am the Chief Executive, is deeply committed to pluralism both within and outside the Jewish community, by which it means that ultimate truth is only known to our common Creator and that diversity within faiths and in the community as a whole is of itself of great value. On behalf of Liberal Judaism I am pleased to reassure the writers of the letter that Liberal Judaism will use its best endeavours to respond generously and positively to the letter’s sentiments, and will both meet the challenges and share the opportunities which follow from the letter’s distribution.
Dr Judea Pearl, professor at UCLA and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation (established in memory of Dr Pearl’s son Daniel who was murdered by Islamic extremists in 2002 during his work as a journalist of the Economist), describes the Letter as ‘a welcome first step toward the goals we aspire to achieve through interfaith dialogues — peace, understanding and mutual respect. The Centre for the Study of Muslim – Jewish Relations should be commended for opening this channel of communication, especially in view of the fierce resistance that is often voiced against the very idea of dialogue.’ Dr Pearl commends the Letter’s progressive strategy for dealing with contradictory texts in the holy scriptures which ‘has the power of ushering reform without challenging the divine origin of the scriptures.’ Though he also warns that ’the effectiveness of this strategy depends critically on finding authoritative spiritual leaders who can implement it in practice …Unfortunately, many of these (educational) institutions currently support literalist interpretations which stand contrary to the conciliatory spirit of this Letter, and which are gaining momentum in vast areas of the Muslim world’. While welcoming the spirit of the Letter, and recognizing that the Letter ‘tries hard to avert controversial issues’, Dr Pearl expresses a ‘disappointment, owed to the assymetical language’ of the Letter that proposes: “a peaceful resolution that will assure mutual respect, prosperity and security to both Palestinians and Israelis, while allowing the Palestinian people their rights to self-determination.” Dr Pearl asserts that ‘Whereas the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination are affirmed explicitly, the rights of Israelis to the same status of self-determination are left undeclared, vulnerable to future assaults by enemies of co-existence.’
The signatories of the Letter include: Professor Akbar S Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University Washington, DC; Dr Seyed Amir Akrami Secretary for Inter Religious Dialogue at the Organisation for Islamic Culture and Communication, Tehran; Professor Bunyamin Duran, Vice-Rector: Islamic University of Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Ambassador Mahmud A. Durrani, Embassy of Pakistan, Washington D.C.; Dr Shaykh Suhaib Hasan Secretary General of the Islamic Sharia Council, London; Sayyed Nadeem Kazmi, Director of International Affairs at the Al-Khoei Foundation (the largest Shia Institute in the UK); His Excellency Shaykh Mustafa Ceric, The Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Office of Raisu-l-Ulama; Lord Khalid Hameed, High Sheriff of Greater London, UK; Dr Musharraf Hussain, Chief Imam and Director of Karimia Institute, UK; Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Muslim Council of Britain; Professor Sari Nusseibeh, President of Al Quds University, Beit Hanina – Jerusalem; Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, Founder and Principal of Jamia Al-Karam, Eaton Hall, Retford, UK; Professor Tariq Ramadan, Senior Research Fellow, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, UK; Dr Ataullah Saddiqui, Director of Markfield Institute of Higher Education.
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