Letter to Our American Muslim Friends

The Middle East Study Committee Report begins with eight letters addressed to different communities. The PCUSA site has them posted, but for some reason, is currently down. I'll post all eight of them one by one. Please check back to www.pcusa.org/middleeastpeace for a fuller update. I expect the site should be back up and running soon. Our relationship in the Western Hemisphere is a more recent one than that of our connection with our Jewish neighbors. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has worked through the years for increased interfaith understanding in Muslim-Christian relations, and will continue to do so. Our sponsorship of the Interfaith Listening Program, bringing Christian and Muslim leaders from around the world to the U.S. to model what our society might look like, is evidence of this.

We are also encouraged by the open letter to the Christian churches, “A Common Word Between Us and You.” Our church responded favorably and continues to encourage our members and congregations to explore common ground with our Muslim neighbors.

We have resisted those who have attempted to stoke the fires of cultural conflict. We are aware that American Muslims have come under more scrutiny, pressure, and, indeed, racism since the tragedies of September 11th. Violence is a phenomenon of the human condition, not the exclusive domain of any religion or people group, as our own Christian history attests. We hope that we can continue to explore ways we can work together to bring attention to these injustices and work together for a future in which all of humanity is granted the dignity it deserves.

We also challenge you, especially those of you in the West, to take seriously your call to be bridge builders: both within the Muslim world (e.g. between Shiite and Sunni) and between the East and West. We know that more, much more, can be done. And while we are deeply aware of our own complicity (both for historic Western colonial influence in the Middle East and for more recent American intervention in the region), we are hopeful that more can be done from within the Muslim world to address the ongoing divides that erode our humanity.

We are grateful for American Muslims who continue to decry violence perpetrated in the name of Islam. We want to partner with you in amplifying your voices. And we would like to hear more, including voices from those in the Middle East where, as in our own country, violence, too often, can be a watchword and where religion, too often, can be used as a battering ram. We look to you, as leaders of the Islamic world, to speak and act strongly on behalf of justice for all, including Christians and your fellow Muslims.

We hope that you hear these words of challenge as from those who seek mutual friendship. May the common words between us and you be love, peace, and justice.