Coexistence in the Mediterranean
Coexistence in the Mediterranean

Muslim-Christian Conference
Malta 1987

In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful, and Blessing and Peace be on our masters Muhammad, Jesus, Moses and all other Prophets, Apostles and Messengers of God.

Brothers and sisters, the word 'coexistence' means that there are two or more parties desiring to live together in peace, without dispute, quarrel or conflict. I believe that this is not unlike a group of people who have agreed to live together in one house and enjoy its facilities. This does not guarantee, however, that there will be love, understanding, harmony, devotion or sacrifice among all the individuals, for at any moment the house might collapse for the slightest reason.

As you know, God sent Prophets and Messengers who were the elite of mankind, selected by Him to shoulder the responsibility of bringing happiness to man, regardless of color, disposition, race, or wealth, consequently bringing peace to all creation. This selected elite came with true knowledge, enlightenment and high moral values. They called for abandoning divisiveness and conflict. They transcended the souls of men to the rank of angels, so that the earth became a paradise for the faithful to live on before going on to the Paradise in Heaven. The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him) summarized his message by saying: I have been raised as a teacher, I have been raised to complete the high moral values. The Quran also explained the message of Prophet Muhammad in the verse that reads:

He it is Who has sent among the unlettered ones a messenger of their own to recite unto them His revelations, and to purify them and teach them the Scripture and wisdom though heretofore they were indeed in error manifest. T.Q., Sura 62, The Friday, verse 2.

You may agree with me that the Mediterranean has witnessed beautiful golden periods, in which civilization prospered and happiness prevailed. It has also witnessed very dark periods in which suffering, misery and poverty prevailed. An even closer look at its history will reveal that the golden periods existed whenever true genuine religion prevailed and all of the people, rulers and subjects, rich or poor, clergymen and laymen alike, abided by its teachings. When these people deviated from the beauty, essence and gifts of religion, woes and calamities befell them that showed them they were far from following the word of God.

Religion cannot be satisfied with mere coexistence, because that is the least that it calls for. It seeks true brotherhood, love and altruism. I ask you to allow me to present to you some Islamic and Christian teachings on this topic.

At the level of the individual, Prophet Muhammad says: None of you is a believer until he desires for others what he desires for himself. and A Muslim is he who people are safe from his tongue and hand.

Thus, all those around a Muslim should feel at ease and comfortable knowing he will do them no harm, since he has become closer to an angel than a human being. He is prepared to starve to feed others, and will not have a moment's sleep until he is reassured about them.

Did Jesus Christ call for less than that when he said: Love your neighbors, and bless those who curse you? Did he not call for the feeding of the hungry, and the care of the sick, and say that he who does that, is doing it for the sake of God, Who will reward him for that?
A believer is one who looks after his family, and works not only to supply them with their daily needs. His constant concern is to instill within them the highest moral character and purity of heart. Truly, it is an ideal family that makes all those who come in contact with it happy. Prophet Muhammad says: Each one of you is a shepherd and each one of you is responsible for his flock.

At the level of society which is a combination of these families, we find that it is a happy and tranquil one because there is no ignorance, poverty or disease in it. It is a knowledgeable society that teaches others in words, actions and deeds. People of all religions and denominations live in it enjoying all freedom and respect. This is actually what is found in the true Muslim society. Prophet Muhammad says: Whoever does harm to a Christian or Jewish citizen is doing that to me.

The governor of this society or community does not discriminate between the lowly and the great, or between the rich and the poor, because all are equal in rights and duties.

Brothers and sisters, the support of the weak and the oppressed is the main concern of the one in charge of this society. The Islamic missions went to the east and west, not for any material interest or exploitation or colonization, but for the elimination of injustice and oppression, and to give the people their right to knowledge, learning and dignity. They were pioneering missions that cared for human rights before others did. They even cared for animal rights, bearing in mind that the Lord of Heaven rewards the benevolent and punishes the wrongdoer, even if it were to animals. Prophet Muhammad teaches us saying: A woman entered hell because of a cat which she imprisoned. Neither did she feed it nor did she leave it to look for its own food. And he says: A sinful woman entered heaven because she gave water to a thirsty dog. God met that good deed with acceptance. Prophet Muhammad also says: All creatures are God's dependents, the most beloved to God is he who is most helpful to them.

Isn't it time we all came back to the genuine core of religion, by making ourselves accountable for mischief, injustice, coercion, despotism, egotism, greed and covetousness, before the Lord of Heaven makes us accountable? Isn't it time we cared for the weak, the oppressed, the poor and the deprived? Isn't it time that we spread true knowledge, wisdom and an angelic spirit through words and actions?

Isn't it time that we, as clergymen, take the initiative to embody these noble qualities in us with all truthfulness and devotion in the way they were embodied in the disciples of Jesus and Muhammad? Isn't it time that the more advanced countries assist in action and spirit those that are deprived of knowledge and technology, in execution of what Prophet Muhammad says in his enlightened message: He who has an excess of water must give it to he who has no water. He who has an excess of food must give it in action and spirit those that are deprived of knowledge and technology, in execution of what Prophet Muhammad says in his enlightened message: He who has an excess of water must give it to he who has no water. He who has an excess of food must give it to he who has no food. He who has an excess of means of transport must give it to he who has he who has no food. He who has an excess of means of transport must give it to he who has none.

Thus, not only will there be coexistence but also love, harmony, sacrifice and accomplishment of the lofty objectives of our revealed religion. Prophet Muhammad says:
The likeness of the believers in their love and compassion for each other is that of one body; when there is an ailment in one part of it all other parts are attentive with vigilance and with fever.

Let us all strive to accomplish this and let us remember that the Lord of Heaven sees our deeds and rewards the benevolent and punishes the wrongdoer. God says in the Quran:

And say (to them): Act. God will behold your actions, and so will His messenger and the believers. T.Q., Sura 9, The Repentance, verse 105.

Peace be upon you all.