Islam Online is reporting that the elements of the global Muslim Brotherhood have responded a bit differently to a Vatican call for dialog in responsive to a Muslim initiative. As previous posts have reported, that initiative took the form of an open letter to the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury warning of the dangers to world peace in the absence of peace between Muslims and Christians. The letter, signed by a large number of global Muslim Brotherhood leaders, was drafted by the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Jordan who last year sponsored the Amman Message that was also signed by many Muslim Brotherhood leaders. The letter, in turn, was a partial response to controversy which arose last year when the Pope made a speech in Germany where he “explored the historical and philosophical differences between Islam and Christianity and the relationship between violence and faith.” Last week, the Pope invited unidentified scholars and intellectuals to a meeting at the Vatican for a dialogue.
The International Union of Muslim Scholars, headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, reacted to the invitation by saying that the dialog should not take place before the Pope apologies for the lecture:
“There should be no dialogue with the Vatican unless the Pope reversed his remarks that offended the Qur’an and the Prophet,” Mohamed Salim Awa, the IUMS secretary general, told IOL. “The IUMS rejection of dialogue is the least reaction to the Pope’s insults,” added Al-Awa, dismissing the Pope’s statements in the aftermath of the lecture as wordplay. “We don’t hold dialogue with those who insult our religion, Prophet and the Qur’an, but we rather call for boycotting them.” Awa said that the IUMS is open for dialogue with all Christians who do not represent the Vatican.”The IUMS is ready for dialogue with our Catholic brothers in the Arab world and all Christians worldwide save the Vatican,” he said.The IUMS has been boycotting the Vatican over Benedict’s refusal to apologize to Muslims for his lecture.
However, “European” Muslim Brotherhood leaders said they welcomed the opportunity for dialog:
Faisal Mawlawi, the deputy president of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, said dialogue will help bridge the gap between the two sides. “We hope the Muslim initiative and the Vatican positive response will bury the Pope’s faux pas,” he said, referring to a controversial speech by the pontiff in his native Germany last year, in which he hinted that Islam was violent and irrational. “Now the Pope has reciprocated the Muslim initiative and praised it,” said Mawlawi. He said the Muslim initiative has demonstrated that Islam is a peace-loving religion. “It has shown that Muslims eschew violence and reject knee-jerk reactions.” Lhaj Thami Breze, the chairman of the Union of Islamic Organizations in France (UOIF), said European Muslims are in dire need for such a dialogue. “We live at the heart of Christian Europe,” he said. “This dialogue will be a plus to European Muslims in social, political and security terms.”
Mawlawi, who lives in Lebanon, is Qaradawi’s deputy at the Fatwa Council and it is unlikely that he would take a position contrary to Qaradawi’s. Under the reign of the previous Pope, the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi organizations such as the Muslim World League had been meeting with the Vatican under the auspices of the The Islamic ‘“ Catholic Liaison Committee which was formed in 1995. It is likely that the varying positions taken by Brotherhood leaders at this time represent an attempt to regain the prestige earned by such meetings while avoiding the appearance of caving in on their demands for an apology.