MESSAGE FOR THE END OF RAMADAN 'ID AL-FITR 1419/1999
Christians and Muslims: Witnesses of GodÂs Love and Mercy
Dear Muslim Friends,
1. The great feasts, such as ÂId al-Fitr which you celebrate at the end of Ramadan, are special times both for God and for humanity. They are a special time for God, reminding us with more force, and in a community fashion, of GodÂs presence and action in human history and in our own personal and family life. Such feasts are also a special time for us human beings, a time of rest from daily work, a time for prayer and reflection, a time for ourselves and also for meeting our relatives, friends and neighbours.
2. God loves all human beings, excluding no one. He is the source of all love in the family, in society, in the world. It is from God that we learn to love one another in a gratuitous manner, without expecting any reward here below. God is the Merciful One. He is close to his servants. He hears their prayers. So we can say that belief in God impels us to an attitude of good will towards our brothers and sisters.
3. There are many ways of showing love, expressions of our faithfulness to the Merciful One: almsgiving - the alms on the occasion of ÂId al-Fitr have special importance for you -, care for orphans, the aged, the sick, for strangers, as also the commitment to promote human dignity and in favour of human rights, commitment to development, to the fight against many evils of our societies such as illiteracy, the influence of drugs, the abuse of minors, violence against women. Pardon, reconciliation, reopening dialogues that have broken down, the promotion of peace, education in respect for others - all these are different ways of expressing love. There exists, between our two religions, a considerable degree of agreement with regard to effectively showing mercy to oneÂs neighbour. Is there not here a wide field for collaboration between Christians and Muslims which needs to be developed ?
4. Offences against the love of neighbour are also numerous: ignoring the needs of others, refusing the duty of solidarity, hatred, discrimination based on sex, race or religion, injustice in all its forms. There is great convergence between our two religions in condemning such faults.
5. GodÂs love for humanity is universal, going beyond political frontiers, beyond the differences of race, culture or religion, beyond political or ideological options, independent of any particular social situation. We are therefore invited, on the basis of our belief, to love one another. True love is indeed at the heart of the believerÂs way of acting.
6. I am addressing to you this message fully conscious that we, both Christians and Muslims, have not always loved and respected one another as God requires of us. Unfortunately this lack of mutual love is not only a fact of past history, but is also part of present reality. Nevertheless it is important at the same time to note and to make known the numerous situations where Christians and Muslims live peacefully and fruitfully together. Such examples encourage us to do all we can so that Christians and Muslims everywhere may live together in this way. We are invited to examine the nature of our relations, both in the past and in the present, and above all to make a decision to become more and more what God calls us to be: witnesses of his goodness and mercy, especially towards the weaker members of society.
7. Wishing you, my dear Muslim Friends, an abundance of divine blessings, on my own behalf and on behalf of Catholics throughout the world, I renew my expressions of friendship and esteem.
Cardinal Francis Arinze