Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Commentary on the open letter

Sandro Magister has an extensive point-by-point commentary on the open letter sent by thirty-eight Muslim scholars last week which I linked to here. His preliminary paragraph summarizes well the points of the letter:

nstead of saying they are offended and demanding apologies, they express their respect for him and dialogue with him on faith and reason. They disagree on many points. But they also criticize those Muslims who want to impose, with violence, “utopian dreams in which the end justifies the means”

The analysis of the letter has a lot of great points and it's definitely worth a read both as a summary of the letter or as a companion. I don't need to repeat it here. One remark of Magister's that is important is this one:

It is worthwhile to recall that even the most authoritative leader of Shiite Islam, the Iraqi grand ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, has expressed toward Benedict XVI the respect and attention that can also be found in the letter of the 38. And he did this much sooner. In the most violent days of the anti-papal protest that exploded in the Muslim world, representatives of Al-Sistani visited on two occasions the secretary of the Vatican nunciature in Baghdad, monsignor Thomas Hlim Sbib, to express his friendship toward Benedict XVI and his desire for a meeting with him in Rome.

We should all pray for the continued health of Sistani. He's probably the greatest friend the West has anywhere in Islam today. That is to say his goals and those of the West largely coincide. His website can be found here in case anyone is interested in learning more.

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