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At a time when religious doctrines appear to us to be more disunited and in conflict than ever before, I write this short treatise profoundly certain that “the last strenuous step is the one before a breathtaking panorama is about to be revealed.”
“The concluding chapter” has begun, and it is full of fear, and anxiety and uncertainty, and yet it will be the same one that foreshadows the twist of the epilogue. Yet human experience teaches us that the very periods of greatest adversity have often been the preludes to momentous transformations. To cite just a few more recent examples, let us recall the great plague of the 14th century, which seemed to mark the irreversible decline of humanity, but instead led to the end of the Middle Ages and ushered in the Renaissance, an era of unprecedented cultural and intellectual renaissance. Similarly, the fierce divisions and religious conflicts of the Wars of Religion of the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe were followed by the enlightening period of the Enlightenment, which emphasized the value of reason and critical thinking, laying the foundation for modern democracies. Finally, we cannot forget the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in the United States, born at a time of social injustice and great racial tension, which produced significant changes in legislation and social attitudes toward diversity and equality.
Thus, even in the midst of conflicts that threaten to become “world catastrophes,” of exhausting suffering endured by the civilians of afflicted peoples, of the anxiety and uncertainty that characterize this what we at ASH consider the “concluding chapter” we now live through, we must maintain confidence that these same moments will be the soil from which a new change will sprout, an epilogue that, with hope and active work, will unveil an era of greater understanding and harmony among faiths and among people.
Without feeding the negative thoughts, and thus the halo of evil in the ether that seems to proliferate in these times (especially in the Holy Land), we should remember some factors that eternally bind as brothers the Abrahamic Faiths and thus Isarele, Palestine, Rome, Europe, America and of course all the rest of the World.
5 facts we should not forget
1. Jews, Christians and Muslims defend common values
Amid the contemporary dissonance that too often amplifies our differences, there is a symphony of common principles that demands attention, principles that are vital to the prosperity of civilization itself. Christianity and Islam, like the Jewish religion that preceded them, are not mere sharers in the world’s spiritual landscape, but defenders of values that are quintessential to the human family: the sanctity of life, the stability of the family, the fervor of religious devotion, respect for the elderly and the nurturing of the young.
In an age that is tempted to frame interactions between Christian, Jewish and Islamic societies within the narrative of confrontation and conflict, it is crucial to affirm and support the possibility of encounter, respect and dialogue. These great faith traditions have not resisted over the centuries inciting war or nurturing seeds of hatred and hostility. On the contrary, any interpretation that leads to extremism is a gross and serious distortion of the fundamental teachings of these religions. The tragedies caused by such distortions are aberrations, for at the heart of these faiths is the call for a universal brotherhood, one that recognizes all individuals as brothers and sisters, all as children of one GOD. It is in this recognition that we find the impulse to condemn violence in all its forms and to uphold the holiness and brotherhood of all humanity.
2. Jesus was a Jew
In any discourse concerning the intertwining of the history of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, it is imperative to acknowledge the Jewish roots of one of the most central figures in Christian and Islamic beliefs-Jesus of Nazareth. As Matthew’s Gospel states, Jesus was “son of David, son of Abraham,” anchoring him firmly in Jewish lineage and heritage. The narrative of Jesus’ life as recorded in Scripture is inseparable from Jewish customs and traditions. His parents were devout practitioners of their faith, observed the sacred rites of Passover, adhered to the Law and instilled in their son the importance of worship, as evidenced by his regular attendance at synagogue and participation in Jewish festivals.
To fully understand Jesus’ teachings and actions is to appreciate his identity as a Jew who lived in accordance with the religious practices of his community. This recognition not only enriches Christian understanding of Jesus but also fosters a deeper respect between Christian and Jewish relations. It is a profound error, and indeed a contradiction of the Christian faith, to nurture any form of anti-Semitism. Such attitudes are an affront to the very essence of Jesus’ ministry and message. Anti-Semitism, in any form, is akin to racism, a plague that is unequivocally condemned in the sight of GOD. To harbor animosity toward the Jewish people is to show contempt for the heritage and lineage of Jesus himself, who invited all to live as brothers and sisters. In this light, Christians are reminded that loving Jesus also means loving his people and respecting the faith from which he sprang, a faith that is at the heart of the Abrahamic traditions that aspire to universal brotherhood under GOD’s providence.
3. The bridge of respect in true Islam
Like everything: There is “good Islam,” (“true Islam) and “bad Islam,” as well as good Christianity, and evil, good Jews and bad Jews, simply because there are good and bad people.
In Islam, Jesus (in Arabic Isa, son of Mary) occupies a place of deep respect and significance, being honorably mentioned as many as 48 times in the Qur’an. His Jewish lineage and royal descent from David are not mere footnotes in Islamic scriptures, but integral parts of his identity that are recognized and revered. This recognition serves as a reminder that Islam is not isolated from its Abrahamic predecessors, but is intrinsically linked to them through common prophets and narratives.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) brought a message that is based on respect for all the prophets who preceded him, including Jesus. By venerating Jesus, Muslims inherently pay respect to the Jewish tradition from which he came. This veneration is not a superficial nod of recognition, but a deep respect for anyone who believes in the One and Only GOD, like Jesus. The Qur’anic depiction of Jesus as a righteous prophet, born of the Virgin Mary, is a narrative that intertwines the faiths, linking their followers in a shared lineage of devotion to GOD.
The Islamic affirmation of Jesus and all other prophets mentioned in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures means more than intertextual continuity; it exemplifies the deep respect that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and thus Islam as a whole, has for believers of monotheistic faiths. It emphasizes a key principle of Islam: respect for all prophets is equivalent to respect for all sincere believers in the one GOD. This principle fosters a relationship of mutual respect and opens avenues for interfaith dialogue and understanding.
4. Since Adam and Eve promise of universal salvation
From the earliest faith narratives, the Scriptures outline a divine plan of universal salvation, a theme that resonates throughout the tapestry of the Abrahamic religions. This concept emphasizes that the benevolence of the Almighty is not limited but extends magnanimously to all humanity.
The apostle Paul, in his first epistle to Timothy, articulates a cornerstone of this theology: “GOD our Savior…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). This passage encapsulates the all-encompassing nature of GOD’s saving will, devoid of distinction or prejudice, offering redemption to every soul.
Echoing this universality, the Letter to the Ephesians reveals that this plan was not an afterthought but a preordained purpose: “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the plan of his will” (Ephesians 1:4-5). Herein lies the affirmation that the divine intention for salvation was embedded in the very act of creation.
The trajectory of this saving promise took a crucial turn with the initial rejection of the Jews, as described in the Pauline letters. This divergence became the providential moment for the inclusion of the Gentiles into the fold of Abraham’s progeny, realizing the promise of redemption to a wider group. Paul’s metaphor of the olive tree in his letter
5. Truly we are all brothers and sisters
In the vast web of human faith, the threads of our spiritual beliefs intertwine to form a collective picture of unity, reminding us that we are indeed all brothers and sisters, sharing the same divine lineage.
Our shared heritage as sons and daughters of the same Father and Creator projects us into a destiny in which we reside under the same heavenly “roof,” imagined as one big family living together in peace.
Although the Qur’an does not explicitly speak of brotherhood between Christians, Jews and Muslims, its passages convey a spirit of inclusiveness and mutual respect. A poignant example is found in the verse, “Surely those who believe, those who follow the Book, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabeans-those among them who believe in Allah and the Last Day and do good works-will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear of them and they will not grieve.” (Qur’an 2:62). This verse transcends the boundaries of individual religious identities, uniting all who have faith in the One GOD and the Last Judgment, promising them a common destiny free from fear and sorrow.
Further underscoring this unity, the Qur’an advises, “And do not quarrel with the People of the Book, except in the best way, unless it be with those who do evil; but say, ‘We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our God and your God are One, and to Him we surrender.'” (Qur’an 29:46). This is a call for harmony and dialogue, recognizing the common foundation of monotheistic faiths and urging collective submission to the one GOD who encompasses them all.
Quranic ethics goes beyond mere tolerance and extends to a principle of justice and benevolence toward all humanity, regardless of religious belief. It is a clear call to recognize our common humanity and to cultivate justice and peace among all peoples. In doing so, we realize the Qur’an’s vision of a just society in which brotherhood and sisterhood are not bound by the labels of faith, but are affirmed through our common pursuit of righteousness and our submission to the One who is the source of everything.
When we turn our hearts and minds toward the Holy Land, our collective calling goes beyond mere observation and becomes an active engagement in prayer and efforts for peace, a peace that promises to uplift and perfect our existence.
Psalm 122, 6-9“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.’
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity.”
The Psalmist’s call “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! ” is not just a wish, but a call to action. It resounds through the centuries, imploring safety within the city walls and prosperity for its inhabitants. Jerusalem, a city that has known the turmoil of history, besieged by empires and shrouded in conflict, is nevertheless imagined as a bastion of peace, a symbol of a deeper prophetic truth. In this call, there is a recognition of the deep significance of Israel — the homeland promised to the Jews, a land that GOD has interwoven with their destiny. As we pray for peace in Jerusalem and throughout Israel, we call for a peace that fills us, aligning ourselves with the Psalmist’s intention for communal harmony and divine good.
This historical connection to Israel evolves in our sacred hymns and prayers, as the national GOD associated with Israel’s destiny becomes known as the Lord of all peoples, the Creator of the universe and every creature thereof. The emergence of universalistic monotheism carries with it a profound implication: one day, even those who now turn to idols and the nations beyond them will come to recognize this singular Deity. They, too, will recognize his sovereignty and, in a moment of ultimate reconciliation, prostrate themselves to acknowledge his unifying presence. This transformative vision propels us toward a future in which the recognition of a unique and universal GOD catalyzes unity among all peoples, sustained by the pursuit of peace and the recognition of a shared divine heritage.