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Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Celebrating 50 years | God • World • Human Family • Church

Moses, Jesus, Muhammad

On 28 January 1994, Msgr. Robert L. Stern and three of his associates were welcomed to the Abu Nur mosque in Damascus by the Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Kaftaro. The following are translated excerpts from the sheikh’s Friday sermon.

We have just received guests from the church in the United States. We welcome them and say, “Ahlan Wa Sahlan” to our brothers in the faith, welcome to the children of our Lord Jesus, may peace be upon him, welcome to the believers in the oneness of God.

Islam came with the great Qur’an, calling for the renewal of the faith that was brought by Abraham, Moses, the prophets of the Torah and Jesus. May peace be upon all of them.

They all came as teachers, graduates from the university of heaven; their teacher is God. Their credentials are not a B.A. or a Ph.D., but as messengers of God to lead people from ignorance to understanding, from hate to love, from war to brotherhood and collaboration.

Finally Muhammad came saying, “I and the prophets before me are similar to a man who built a house. The house was completed and people came to visit. They looked at it, admired its architecture, and said, ‘if only it did not have a missing stone.”’

Muhammad said, “I am this stone.” He never said that he brought a religion, for the Qur’an says “today I completed your religion”; that is, each prophet represented a stone in the building of the happiness of humanity to make us brothers: brothers in love, collaboration, equality, justice and charity.

Addressing Muhammad, the Qur’an says, “our main purpose in sending you is because of our mercy toward people.” This means all people are the children of God. God is the creator of all beings. As our Lord Muhammad says, “all beings are the children of God.”

The beings most loved by God are those who provide more good for God’s other children.

The United Nations, with all its power, has failed to achieve what has been achieved by the school of heaven. The school of heaven made people in the East brothers to the people in the West; it made the white man a brother to the black man; it made the believer have mercy on his fellow human being, even if that person was a nonbeliever.

Once the prophet Muhammad was distributing alms to the poor and an idol worshipper asked for help. Muhammad said to him, “you are not of my religion, so I won’t help you.”

Muhammad, like Jesus, Abraham and Moses, was human and human beings can make mistakes. But God corrects them. So the poor man went away feeling very sad. At that very moment the angel Gabriel came down from heaven with an urgent message for the prophet Muhammad, which said, you do not have to lead them to your faith. That is, you, Muhammad, are not responsible for the religious beliefs of people, but for assisting them regardless of their religion. You have to inform them, but the following of their faith is in the hands of God. God shows the right way to whomever He wants.

After the prophet received the angel’s words, he said, “send the man back to me.” He gave the man what he needed and never again did he refuse to help anyone in need, regardless of religion.

God says, “what you give others is for your own good.” It is as if humanity is made of one soul, so if the rich man helps the poor man, it is as if he were helping himself. What good you do, you will find it with God and you will he rewarded for it.

When Khaled Bin Al Walid liberated the land of Iraq and Persia, the people there were Christian. Part of the peace treaty stated that if a Christian citizen was in debt and could not pay, then it was the duty of the state to pay the debt for him. If a Christian person became old and could not work and pay his debt, the state should pay and provide him with what was necessary to live.

When the Christian delegation from Najran came to see the prophet and when it was time for them to say their prayers, the prophet Muhammad opened the doors of the mosque of the city. For whom did he open these doors? He opened them for the sons of his brother Jesus Christ. So these Christians prayed their prayers in the mosque of the prophet of God.

The Qur’an calls for belief in Islam, but not without belief in the messages of Moses and Jesus. The Qur’an is a call for the three religions at the same time. It does not stop there, because God did not restrict His heavenly message to Palestine, the countries of Damascus and the Arabian Peninsula. God included all nations; not one country was excluded. God sent prophets and messages to all nations.

“Jesus, Moses and all the prophets that we know, and those who we do not know, are the same. We do not differentiate among them, they are all believers. What has been sent to any prophet of any religion is only for the benefit of man and his happiness. Let people have mercy on one another…”

The Qur’an does not mention the name of any woman, not the daughters of the prophet, not Fatima, not Zeinab, not the prophet’s wives. It only gives the name of Mary, the mother of Jesus. And how many times? The Qur’an mentions her name more than 30 times. This name is mentioned with glory, faith and respect.

Jesus Christ says in the Bible, “love your neighbor as you love yourself,” and “love your God with all your heart.” Did Muhammad say anything less? Did Moses say anything more?

Muhammad also says that the prophets of God are sons of “Illat,” which means brothers by the same father, but of different mothers. Our religion is one: we believe in God, His books, His angels and the judgment Day. Our religious laws are different and our prayers may differ, but we all believe in the one God.

This is the message that will truly unite the nations. A real union of nations means that a human being in China is a brother to a human being in Africa. As in a body, if one organ is in pain, the whole body responds. All parts collaborate. The whole world has become like a small village. The rich should help the poor, feed the hungry and give medicine to the sick.

Now the religions of the world have prohibited drugs. However the nations and their laws are unable to save humanity from drugs. The school of heaven is capable. When the prophet Muhammad was teaching the Arabs, they were the sons of the desert. They could not read or write. The prophet wrote faith in their hearts and they began to write from the wisdom that they acquired from their faith. Their minds and hearts became the ink wells and their tongues the pens. They spoke wisdom. They became merciful, cooperative and supportive of the weak, regardless of whom the weak were.

Once a Jew was accused of robbery, but he was innocent. The accusation was false; those who accused him were some Muslims who supported the real robber because he was one of their family. Religion tells you to support truth and justice, even if it is against your own parents, even yourself. But nations are concerned for national interests.

How can we compare the law of heavenly justice to the laws of earth? People can, with the right education, apply the laws of heaven not only to make peace among people from China to Spain, but to join in brotherhood and make this education available to all. Until mankind returns to the school of God and to God’s law, we will never be able to fight drugs.…

Why do people turn away from religion?

It is our fault, we religious leaders who do not teach religion as Jesus did. We do not teach religion as Muhammad did. They taught with the power of the spirit. They taught with wisdom and with sound argument and persuasion.

The Qur’an says, “you faithful Muslims, do as we have recommended and what was recommended to Abraham, Moses and Jesus: unite in faith and do not separate.”

Yet we find the followers of the same religion splintered into dozens of sects. Is this what God wants? Religion should unite not only people of the same faith, but all of humanity, whether they are of the same faith or not.

The prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, used to call on God five times each day. He would pray, “God, God of all beings, I testify that You are the only God and You share that divinity with no one.” Then he continued, saying, “God, God of all creatures, I testify that Muhammad is Your servant and Your prophet.” And finally, “God, God of all creation, I testify that all people are brothers.”

If all believers prayed as Muhammad and Jesus, there would be no need for the Security Council, for missiles and for atomic bombs. There would be no hungry people.

The prophet once delivered a sermon to his people:

“Why do people not teach their neighbors? Why do they not educate them and awaken their minds to think about useful matters and to avoid what is harmful? Why do they not learn from one another?”

The prophet stressed the importance of education. The educated should teach the ignorant, whether he is an individual, a group or a people. This is the heavenly united nations.…

In the story of the Jew and the Muslim, the prophet was about to make a bad judgment based on the testimony of the witness who accused the Jew of stealing, although he was innocent. The thief was a Muslim and his people defended him and lied. The prophet was human; he did not know who was innocent and was about to punish the Jew. But immediately the prophet received a revelation from heaven affirming the innocence of the Jew and incriminating the Muslim. The prophet was also inspired to ask for God’s forgiveness for what he was about to do.

In life the criminal might go free, using money and other means. The innocent, however, might be convicted because of the shortage of capabilities and resources. Who stands for them on judgment Day?…

This is religion, the religion of Abraham, Moses and Muhammad. This is Christianity and Islam. Unless we, the believers, work according to the teachings of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, and according to religious principles, neither the United Nations nor the Security Council can save us from failure leading to failure.

We, the believers, should be united by God’s love and by the common belief that there is only one God. This belief in the unity of God is agreed upon by the three religions.

In the Bible, I think in the Acts of the Apostles, there is a verse that says there is no god except the one God. Isn’t that so? [The sheikh looked to Msgr. Stern for confirmation.]…We men of religion will be the first to he judged by God because we are dividing people. We cannot cheat God in that matter. God does not have 50 religions, God has only one.

Religion for God is “Islam.” What is the meaning of Islam? As you are aware, God called the followers of Moses, Muslims; the followers of Jesus, Muslims; and the followers of all the prophets, Muslims. Islam means: the submission to God’s will. So if Christians submit to the will of God, they are Muslims. The Jew who submits to God’s will is a Muslim. The Muslim who does not submit to the will of God is not a Muslim, but a liar. On Judgment Day God will place him in the depths of hell.

Finally, I welcome our brothers, our guests, the representative of the Pontifical Mission and his colleagues. I say, “Ahlan Wa Sahlan.”

May God’s peace, mercy and blessings be upon you.

We would like to hear a word from you for which we will be grateful. [Following the mufti’s invitation, Msgr. Stern addressed the congregation.]

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