Originally published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“If any Church or other place of worship stands in need of protection, they will find us standing shoulder to shoulder with them.” His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad – the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the fifth successor of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian and the only existing Muslim caliph – said this to Pope Benedict XVI in a hand-delivered letter on Nov. 10, 2011.
These words of mutual understanding and protection fostered a true building of an interfaith bridge in the future between Christians and Muslims so that they can work together for peace and absolute justice in the world.
Recently, Ahmad echoed further words of mutual understanding to Pope Francis I by congratulating him on his election: “First of all, I would like to offer congratulations to Pope Francis I and to Catholics across the world.” In the same spirit, I reiterate these words for Pope Francis, too.
Some people might be shaking their heads when reading this and equating it to a utopian fantasy. Any reasonable person would be dismayed by analyzing the current Christian-Muslim situation that exists around the world.
This bleak outlook begins in Pakistan, where recently a mob of 3,000 Pakistani Muslims went to a local Christian town, aptly named Joseph Colony, and burned down 150 homes without provocation. Not only is this a very tragic incident, but it has created a sense of distrust between the Christians and Muslims.
This can be labeled as just another isolated incident, but then it would be tantamount to being dishonest to what is really going on here.
On March 12, 2012, the Grand Mufti Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had the audacity to call for the destruction of all churches within the region and declared that there should not be two religions on the Arabian Peninsula.
These examples only help to create a picture of a premeditated agenda to destroy any semblance of any kind of relationships between Christians and Muslims and, hence, destroy the notion of peace and absolute justice in the world.
But it does not exist under the Qur’an and Prophet Mohammed. The Qur’an obligates Muslims to protect all houses of worship including churches (Qur’an 22:41). Prophet Mohammed upheld the well-being of Christians to be the highest priority in the Charter of Privileges, “Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them” and “No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it.”
Ahmad used the word “protection” because it is a principle tenet of Islam (Qur’an and Prophet Mohammed) that allows for peace to be procured and absolute justice to be maintained. He has even spoken at length in person to convey this to Britain’s House of Lords, U.S Capitol Hill and European Parliament. His community has vigilantly fought for peace and absolute justice for over 120 years through interfaith dialogues and community service (i.e., feeding and clothing the homeless and needy).
Pope Francis has a lot of work ahead of him to assuage the strained Christian-Muslim relations, but with an ally like Ahmad and his community, Christians and Muslims will be able to stand shoulder to shoulder for the sake of peace and absolute justice in world.