Center for Islamic Pluralism Greetings to People of the Book on Their Holidays by Stephen Schwartz

CIP April 3, 2015

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Postage stamp issued by the Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina honoring the ca. 14th c. CE Sarajevo Haggadah. The manuscript was brought to the Balkans from the Iberian kingdom of Aragón and is considered a symbol of Bosnian interfaith cooperation.

The Center for Islamic Pluralism, reflecting the traditional and spiritual Islamic guidance of respect for the People of the Book – and specifically Jews and Christians – extends its greetings to them on their sacred observances. These are Passover (Pesach), the Hebrew celebration of deliverance from Pharaoh, which falls on April 3, 2015 in the common calendar, and the Christian Easter Sunday on April 5, 2015.

Moses (Musa aleyhiselaam) and Jesus (Isa aleyhiselaam) are outstanding figures in Islam. The praise of Musa in Qur’an closely follows that in the Jewish Torah. While Muslims do not consider Isa the son of almighty Allah, we recognize his birth as miraculous and his mother Mary (Mariam) as chaste when Isa was born.

377Greetings to the People of the Book are specially important now, when the three branches of Abrahamic monotheism appear at odds. Horrific bloodshed and chaos have spread across the region in which Moses and Jesus were born. Entire communities have been driven from their homes. Shrines of the three religions have been desecrated.

In addition, especially in Iraq, small monotheistic sects that are little-known in the world but which have been recognized in Islamic history as “People of the Book” are under assault by fanatics.

The calendrical proximity of the Jewish Passover and Christian Easter this year should cause all believers, Muslims included, to reflect on the common humanity of the children of the divine Creator, to protect those under threat of brutality, and to act for an enduring peace based on mutual respect and repudiation of violence and extremist ideologies.