To our Muslim brothers and sisters in the Arab world and beyond!
We salute you with the word peace, dear to all our hearts! Peace unto you and peace be with you! These words express our dearest aspirations for our world, especially for the Arab world, torn and bloody because of the wars raging in large parts of it over the past four years, especially in North Africa on the one hand and on the other hand in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza.
The war has taken an even more unbearable and bloody image, because of the emergence and development of takfiri groups sweeping large areas in our East, the cradle of civilizations and religions, as well as threatening the West.
We are partners to our Muslim brothers, especially in the Arab world, and we consider that the biggest challenge facing Islam and Muslims, especially in the Arab world, is this variety of takfirism. The biggest challenge is also the position of the countries and institutions of the Islamic religious and civil world toward these various takfiri groups that threaten Islam and Christianity, Muslims and Christians in their values of faith, and in rights and standards of humanity that represent the general world heritage of the whole of mankind.
I don’t like to consider myself an outsider in a world I love, and to which I belong, and of which and for which I am a part. I am not exaggerating if I express a wish dear to the majority, even of the vast majority. This wish has a two-fold aspect: first and foremost, that Muslim muftis or scholars of Islam, with the kings, princes and heads of governments and countries should work towards a comprehensive Arab reconciliation, beginning with this holy feast.
The second is the formation of an Arab group, and I dare to say that it should be Muslim-Christian, working on a new Arab Charter to meet the aspirations of the younger generation in a modern state of solidarity, where religion and state operate harmoniously each in its natural sphere, and Shari’a law chimes in with citizenship and respect for fundamental freedoms, especially freedom of worship and belief for everyone of all denominations and sects.
On that basis, thinkers of the Arab community could work to set the agenda for an intellectual and cultural programme stemming from our faith and values and our common heritage and history, and opening the way for a state to which a modern Arab could relate, and successfully identity with, that can be in harmony with today and the requirements of a future open civil society. So we Muslims and Christians will both keep our values of faith and meet the rising aspirations of the younger generations. We also call for bringing this vision to schools, colleges and universities, social institutions and the institutions of civil society at all levels.
Thus the Arab world takes an initiative towards the planning of what we call the New World Order, and we become makers of a road map of this new system and the new Arab world which copes with the aspirations of future generations and adapts to the diverse components of a vast world full of variables, in order to keep up with the world’s rapid evolution.
How much we rejoice as we read, day after day, the statements issued by Arab and Muslim religious authorities from East and West publishing enlightened Islamic thought and calls to renounce the ideology of different takfiri groups and their incitements against the vision of the value of human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, which is the basis of our rights and the Declaration of Human Rights.
We pray for our Muslim brethren, peoples and rulers, clerics and political and academic thinkers, to stand together united against these takfiri groups. This common position would be a clear factor in countering these takfiri groups, and be a guarantee for the Islamic world and its faith values and be a guarantee to reassure the Christians in the Arab Middle East, the cradle of Christianity, religions and civilizations. We even consider that those who act together and adopt a posture of solidarity in faith are in a stronger position than Arab and global military powers. Faith is the power that outweighs weapons! We are convinced of this.
So we raise our prayers in our churches in order for God to remove from our country this nightmare, the nightmare of war, murder and bloodshed, destruction and attacks carried out by the various takfiri groups on human dignity and spiritual values. They deprive people of their home and possessions and reasons for living, uprooting them from their ancestral land and scattering them, killing the hope and promise in their hearts of a bright future, especially for our young people, who are looking forward to life. They want to be in a place where everyone is esteemed of equal worth, and accepted, enjoying a proper standard of living, which matches their aspirations to live together and work together in safety and security, fellowship, compassion and forgiveness, solidarity, love and peace!
Our feasts are celebrations of our faith and values and convictions. For this reason, we Muslims and Christians have common feast days. This is why we wish our Muslim brethren, the kings, princes, rulers and heads of state a blessed Eid ul Adha. We thank those who share our feasts and send us messages of greeting. We consider this letter a special greeting to each one of them!
We extend these sincere wishes stemming from the heart of one who loves the Arab world of the great East, which is the cradle of religions and civilizations, and about which it is rightly said, “From the East comes light.”
Through these good wishes and by reflecting on them, we hope that the Arab world finds its own special place. Let it be neither a follower, nor an emulator. Let it not be remiss, breathlessly running behind others, but on the other hand, let it not be vulnerable to exploitation and fragmentation and extortion.
For all of you, my beloved brothers and sisters, we raise our hands in prayer, and offer you the most beautiful words of our faith for peace, with wishes for a happy future!
May God favour our intention! Happy Feast!
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East,
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem< for the Melkite Greek Catholic Church