The Common Word between Us and You: Are Love of God and Love of Neighbour Sufficient Basis for Christian-Muslim Relations

The guest speaker for the weekly Wednesday Forum on February 17, 2010 was Jay Rock who discussed “The Common Word between Us and You: Are love of God and love of neighbour sufficient basis for Christian-Muslim relations?” while Prof. Dr. Bernard Adeney-Risakotta, ICRS-Yogya Director, acted as moderator who made the discussion atmosphere more exciting. Mr. Rock questioned how did Christians respond the concept of Common Word and its relationship with Islam? Can this term affirm a basis for relationship, and also see the importance of attending to our differences?

The original document of Common Word was an issue that was signed in 2007. It was an invitation from Christian religious leaders and was signed by 138 Muslim scholar-leaders from around the world. The document was entitled “A common Word between Us and You”? referring to the third Surah of the Quran, verse 64, which says that all people of the scripture come to a common and fair word between us and you. It was interesting because it is an invitation to come together to pursue peace and justice; rooted in two principles that needed to be shared by everybody which are the love of God and love of neighbour.

Jay Rock argued that living together in a common Word is significant because the variety of people, who signed the concept of “common Word”? come from Asia, America, Middle East and Europe, will spread the notion to their own neighbours. Second, the notion of “common Word”? is rooted in the scripture, like Al Quran and the Bible. Both these scriptures actually represent kindness in living together peacefully with different people. Third, it asked for a mutual accountability among Muslims and Christians for a communal life, peace and to live together. Mutual accountability, if taken seriously, will have importance to people. Fourth, appeal for action of peace. It is based on the thinking that our common future relationship will be based on the social relationship. Fifth, it is significant because “common Word”? affirms justice and freedom of religion as the sense to love our neighbour.

During open forum, a lot of questions, input and criticism came from scholars who concentrated on interreligious relationship like Fatimah Hussein and Suhadi Cholil. The latter perceived that the problem in Indonesian actually is not only external matters among Muslim and Christian, but also more in internal problems. For instance, the hostility and dispute among Muslims in interpreting a problem create disagreement and conflict, therefore many streams in Islam, such as radical Islam, moderate Islam and Local Islam etc. Each of them does not belong together. It does not only happen in Islam, also in Christianity. Besides that, Suhadi asked how far the notion of “Common Word”? have gone as far as well-adaptability is concerned by religious institutions, since he himself was quite doubtful seeing if the notion will be implemented well in Indonesia.

The forum was concluded well by the moderator by giving some clear key points that had been presented by the speaker, for instance the word of “Common Word”? supposed not only became external problems, but also internal problems from each religion. The forum was closed at 2:30 in the afternoon marked by round of applause for the speaker.

Jay T. Rock is the Coordinator for Interfaith Relations for the Presbyterian Church in U.S.A.

(TIB)

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