Arab Christians the closest to understanding Islam — King
Following is the official translation of remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah at a meeting with participants in “The Challenges Facing Arab Christians” Conference on Tuesday:
In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
Dear brothers, I am pleased to welcome you in your country, Jordan, and salute and thank you for all your good efforts.
Our region is undergoing a state of violence and intra-religious, sectarian, as well as ideological conflicts. We have for long warned against the adverse consequences of such a situation, which produces patterns of behaviour that are alien to our traditions and humanitarian and cultural heritage based on the principles of moderation, tolerance, coexistence and acceptance of others. These common challenges and difficulties, that we face as Muslims and Christians, necessitate concerted efforts and full cooperation among us all to overcome. We should agree on a unifying, rather than divisive, code of conduct.
Our main concern is that such an entrenched negative perception and the state of isolation between the followers of the different religions might undermine the social fabric. This requires all of us to focus on education, and the way we bring up our children to protect the generations to come. This is the responsibility of families and other educational institutions, as well as mosques and churches.
We support every effort to preserve the historical Arab Christian identity, and safeguard the right to worship freely, based on a rule in both the Christian and Islamic faiths that underlines love of God and love of neighbour, as embodied in the “A Common Word” initiative.
Therefore, I call upon you to promote the process of interfaith dialogue and focus on maximising the common elements that unite the followers of different religions and sects. Towards that end, we have been proactive in putting forward several initiatives such as the Amman Message, a Common Word and the World Interfaith Harmony Week.
We are proud that Jordan constitutes a unique model of coexistence and fraternity between Muslims and Christians. We also believe that the protection of the rights of Christians is a duty rather than a favour. Arab Christians have played a key role in building Arab societies, and defending the just causes of our nation.
Arab Christians are the closest to understanding Islam and its true values. We call upon them at this stage to defend Islam, which is subject to a lot of injustice because some are ignorant of the essence of this faith, which preaches tolerance and moderation, and rejects extremism and isolationism.
Jerusalem, which is, regrettably, subject to the worst forms of Judaisation today, stands witness to fourteen centuries of deep, solid and fraternal relations between Muslims and Christians, enhanced by the Pact of Omar [Ibn Al Khattab], and promoted by my grandfather, Sharif Hussein Bin Ali, may God bless his soul. My father, the late King Hussein, and I continued to follow in his footsteps, with God’s help.
We all have the duty to defend the Arab identity of Jerusalem, and protect its Islamic and Christian holy sites. Arab Christians should cling to their Arab identity. It is our collective duty to stand in the face of all practices aimed at displacing or marginalising them.
In conclusion, I wish you all the success, hoping that you will reach workable recommendations that I will consult thereon with brotherly Arab leaders and the international community to provide the support required to implement them.
Peace, God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.