CAIRO — A galaxy of prominent Muslim scholars and interfaith experts issue on Monday, February 25, an open letter for the world's Jewish community calling for a dialogue to improve relations between Jews and Muslims who have common ground of shared beliefs.
"This letter is intended as a gesture of goodwill towards rabbinic leaders and the wider Jewish communities of the world," reads the document.
"Its aim is to build upon existing relations to improve mutual understanding and to further the positive work in building bridges between Muslims and Jews."
The letter is signed by Muslim scholars at the London-based Center for the Study of Muslim–Jewish Relations (CMJR) with the support of Muslims scholars throughout the world.
Signatories include Professor Akbar Ahmed, chair of the Islamic Studies at the American University in Washington and former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Britain, and renowned Swiss Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan.
The letter recognizes that tensions in today's world have worsened the relations between followers of the two faiths.
"Many Jews and Muslims today stand apart from each other due to feelings of anger, which in some parts of the world, translate into violence," it notes.
"Deep-seated stereotypes and prejudices have resulted in a distancing of the communities and even a dehumanizing of the 'Other'.
"We urgently need to address this situation."
It is not the first time Muslim scholars have taken the initiative to initiate dialogue with other religions.
In October of least year, 138 Muslim scholars and dignitaries addressed an open letter to the world's Christian clergy, including Pope Benedict XVI, for dialogue.
The new Muslim letter highlights the commonalities between Islam and Judaism, two Abrahamic faiths.
"There is more in common between our religions and peoples than is known to each of us," it says.
"Judaism and Islam are both monotheistic religions whose followers believe in the absolute unity of the One and Only God."
The letter cites a wide range of other similarities that extend from core beliefs to dietary restrictions.
"Jews and Muslims both have elaborate and comparable codes of conduct, laws and jurisprudence, covering all aspects of life.
"The importance of charity (sadaka, tsedaka) is pertinent to the value system of each tradition. Even the dietary procedures (halal and kosher) are comparable."
The Muslim letter calls for highlighting the "positive encounters" between Jews and Muslims through out history.
"For many centuries our communities co-existed and worked together fruitfully and peacefully.
"There needs to be an awareness of positive encounters at different stages of our history."