Originally Published in the Press-Telegram
As members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, we congratulate Pope Francis on his election as the new pontiff. The prophet Muhammad emphatically taught inter-faith respect and understanding, especially towards those who dedicate their lives in the service of God. Muslims and Christians have a rich history of peace and coexistence, especially evident in the life of the prophet Muhammad. When the early Muslims suffered terrible persecution, Muhammad advised some of his followers to migrate to Abyssinia. He was confident that the Christian king of that land, known for his righteousness, would protect them. As the Koran is the only scripture outside the Bible to affirm the truth of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, this won them the king’s heart, and he extended peace and protection. Later, Muhammad had the Charter of Privileges delivered to Saint Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai. The charter, too, sought to extend peace and protection to Christians and their churches for all times to come. In this spirit of commonality, we invite Francis to work with Muslims towards greater peace, harmony and mutual respect.