PEACE Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) and the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRMSP) will print copies of the Arabic version of the open letter recently written initially by 138 Islamic scholars and addressed to their Christian counterparts to seek better understanding and relations between the followers of the two religions.
This was one of the resolutions reached during the “solidarity forum” held at Amil’s Tower, this city last February 2 by IRMSP members.
The IRMSP and guests agreed there is a need to disseminate the letter among both Islamic and Christian religious and lay leaders and members to enlighten them and thereby promote peaceable relations in the city. IRMSP has earlier printed hundreds of copies of the letter in English version.
In the letter, the Islamic leaders emphasized the common injunctions of the Koran and Bible to love both God and fellow as basis or “common ground” for the envisioned better relations between the two religions.
The forum centered around the reflections given by three Muslims on the letter. The speakers were Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) professor Alih Aiyub, city councilor Atty. Mel Sadain, and newspaper columnist Anisa Yacub-Romero.
Archbishop Romulo Valles and evangelicals pastor Rev. Ronald Bilang gave responses.
Valles’ response centered around the reply of Pope Benedict XVI to the scholars’ letter, addressed to Prince Ghazali bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan. In his message, read by Valles, the pope said he is “inspired (by) the text (of the letter) and for the call for a common commitment to promoting peace in the world”.
The pope invited Prince Talal and a delegation of the scholars behind the letter to a meeting sponsored by the Vatican to discuss the groundbreaking initiative. “The Pope is confident that, once this is achieved, it will be possible to cooperate in a productive way in the areas of culture and society, and for the promotion of justice and peace in society and throughout the world”, Valles quoted the pope.
During the forum, WMSU Prof. Ali Yacub also formally assumed as new Muslim convenor in the IRMSP, vice Jaafar Kimpa. The other convenors are Fr. Angel Calvo for the Catholics and Rev. Bilang for the evangelical community.
The speakers called for the propagation of social and moral values as well as information and advocacies in support of better interfaith relations in the city and region.
Several evangelical pastors, Catholic leaders including Ateneo de Zamboanga Unviersity president Fr. Antonio Moreno, and Muslim leaders also attended the forum. The synthesis was made by WMSU president Dr. Grace J. Rebollos, who is also vice-chairman of PAZ.