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Greeting from the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP)

Delivered by Prof. Dr Din Syamsuddin, president of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia, and president-moderator of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP) to the WCC 10th Assembly Unity Plenary.

05 November 2013

Delivered by Prof. Dr Din Syamsuddin, president of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia, and president-moderator of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP) to the WCC 10th Assembly Unity Plenary.

Eminences, Esteemed Christian Leaders,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to extend my gratitude to the World Council of Churches for inviting me to this great Assembly. I feel that I am really honoured and delighted to be here meeting with so many Christian leaders from all over the world. Allow me to convey the warmest greeting to all of you from Muslims in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, in particular from members of my organization, Muhammadiyah, which is sometimes labelled as “Protestant Islam”, and from the large family of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP) or Religions for Peace - Asia.

The organizing of this Assembly is timely and urgent. We are all now facing tremendous challenges in today’s world. The promise of a peace dividend brought about by the new era is yet to materialize. Our common dream of a new world civilization based on peace, social justice, equality, prosperity and harmony has yet to become a reality. It is indeed disheartening to see that conflicts remain a defining characteristic of today’s world. Tension between the Muslim world and the West, especially in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, has brought about phobia among certain communities in some Western and Muslim countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are now living in multi-cultural and multi-religious societies. No single society is monolithic. All great cultural and religious traditions have to deal with plurality and diversity of cultures and religions. These pluralities are both given and generated. As mentioned in many verses of the Holy Qur’an, God created mankind in races, nationalities and ethnicities with different skin colours and languages, with one purpose: that is, to engage in mutual understanding, mutual respect and cooperation. Plurality of religions is also a part of God’s Will. Indeed, plurality represents observable signs or evidence of God Almighty for intellectuals, and knowledgeable persons.

Cultural and religious plurality becomes more complex as development progresses and interactions between people of  different faiths and cultures take place. Plurality has resulted from creativity and adaptation of people to cope with realities, changes and challenges.

As a matter of fact, Christianity and Islam, together with Judaism, are from the same root, the Abrahamic faith. Therefore, despite their differences especially in theology, with each having its own way of   conceptualizing the Almighty God; there are many similarities between Islamic teachings and the teachings of Christianity.

Therefore, it is urgent for Christians and the Muslims, especially, to find a common word, that makes clear, inter alia, that each of our respective religions is indeed from God but also concerned with the welfare of human beings and humanity. Therefore, it is important for Christians and Muslims to engage in emphasizing their commonalities rather than sharpening their differences. This is a time when we need to curb any tendency to dramatize our differences, and instead to emphasize our similarities. It is much better for us to find our common word, in order to face our common enemies.

Our common enemies are not the religious others, but problems faced by our societies, such as poverty, illiteracy, injustice, discrimination, violence and terrorism, and many other forms of the absence of peace.

By acting in concert, we the people of different faiths will engage together in common actions. This is, indeed, positive unity. Thank you.