British Muslims eye better ties with Jews

Muslim leaders in the United Kingdom issued an unprecedented appeal to world Jewry for closer relations.

In a letter generated by the Muslim-Jewish study center at the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths in Cambridge, England, Muslim scholars acknowledged the gap in understanding that exists today between Jews and Muslims, and asked Jewish leaders to help them bridge it.

Sheik Michael Mumisa, a lecturer at the Woolf Institute, described the letter as the first in modern times sent to the Jewish community with the backing of scholars and Muslim leaders.

“The message in this letter conveys to the Jewish community a genuine desire for mutual respect, for dialogue and deeper understanding,” he said.

The letter to the world’s Jewish community, Mumisa said, is “a call for positive and constructive action that aims to improve Muslim-Jewish relations.”

Signators include Professor Akbar Ahmed, the chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington.

The letter notes that Judaism and Islam share core doctrinal beliefs, the most important of which is strict monotheism. That theological conjoining should in itself dictate greater communication, the signators urged.

Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of Great Britain, apparently has seen a copy of the letter. His response and those from other Jewish leaders are expected soon.

The letter’s aim, according to the Woolf Institute, is to show that Muslims are willing to engage in dialogue with the Jewish community about issues other than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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