Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - 06/03/2000 info:
Christian-Muslim Relations

Reaffirmation of the traditionally good relations between Christians and their Muslim neighbours is found especially in the exchange which takes place, on a daily basis, between Christian and Muslim youngsters who attend Jerusalem's mostly Christian private schools. Here, life-long friendships are made; children learn about each other's religions while common bonds of culture and politics mold the outlook of youngsters as they get progressively involved in the affairs of their community and society. This tradition of good Christian-Muslim relations has evolved through centuries of

coexistence and exchange. The contribution of the following factors to this tradition is worth mentioning:'

1. The Arab-Israeli conflict has affected the entire Palestinian population equally, with the experience of dispersal and loss of homeland. From fifty to sixty thousand Christians, or 35 % of all Palestinian Christians, became refugees following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Altogether, 726,000 Palestinians became refugees as a result of that war.

2. The contribution which mostly western Christian institutions have made since the 19th century to the education, health and other needs of the population irrespective of religion.

3. The presence of the Holy Places, and the Islamic recognition by of the centrality of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth to Christianity. This recognition is best demonstrated by Caliph 'Umar's al-'Uhda al-'Umariyya, the guarantee of safety for Christians and their holy places in 638 AD when Islam entered the country.

4. The urban nature of the Christian Population and its residence in mixed Christian-Muslim neighbourboods, emphasises openness and neighbourly relations. In those instances where Christian lived in villages and rural areas, relations were always characterised by friendly co-operation and communal sharing.

5. Christians take equal pride in their national and religious roots. Being a good Christian has never detracted from being a good Palestinian nationalist, and vice versa.

6. The Ottoman millet system which recognized the autonomy of the Christian communities to run their own internal affairs especially those related to religious and civil matters.

Bernard Sabella, Jerusalem. Religious aspects, Passia Publications 1995

Created / Updated Monday, March 06, 2000 at 13:31:48