SHAFAQNA- Thanks to the empathy and cooperation of leaders of heavenly religions, I hope the coming year will be full of love, faith, spirituality, peace, justice, humanity, and mercy for all human beings, especially Christians and other followers of the divine religions.
Ayatollah Alireza Arafi, Head of Islamic Seminaries in Iran sent a message to Rev. Prof. Dr. Ioan Sauca, General Secretary of World Council of Churches. The letter is as follows:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
إِذْ قالَتِ الْمَلائِکَةُ یا مَرْیَمُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ یُبَشِّرُکِ بِکَلِمَةٍ مِنْهُ اسْمُهُ الْمَسیحُ عیسَیابْنُمَرْیَمَ وَجیهاً فِیالدُّنْیا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَ مِنَالْمُقَرَّبینَ (آلعمران:۴۵)
When the angels said: O’ Mary, Allah (SWT) gives you the good news of a word from God whose name is Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary distinguished in the world and the hereafter
Rev. Prof. Dr. Ioan Sauca
Interim World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary
The blessed birth anniversary of the Word of God, Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), which has been praised in several chapters of the Holy Quran, is a reminder of all his great virtues. His great nobility, grace, kindness, and especially his closeness to God is celebrated during these sacred days.
I sincerely congratulate this great holiday and the beginning of the New Year to Your Excellency and your esteemed colleagues, to our Christian brothers and sisters in the Islamic Republic of Iran and all over the world, as well as to all the believers of divine religions and the Seekers of transcendence.
Your Reverence! As you are aware, according to authentic historical documents, the first encounter of Muslims with their Christian religious brothers in the early years of the prophetic mission of God’s Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) led to a historical and religious turning point, which has left an excellent memory in the historical memory of Muslims of his Christian brothers.
When a group of Muslims, on the advice of their prophet (peace be upon him and his family) sought refuge from the oppression of the pagans to a Christian faithful and devout king. Despite the insistence of the representatives of the polytheists, after hearing parts of the divine book of Muslims on the greatness and dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her blessed child, as well as hearing the religious teachings of Islam which are similar to the divine teachings of Christianity, he refused to surrender that Muslim group to their pagan leaders and placed them under his protection in his own land. It was there that true Islam and true Christianity, in complete intimacy and respect for religious sanctities, shook hands, and supported each other against the enemies of God.
It seems that in both recent and upcoming challenges, such as the corona epidemic and, more importantly, the massive offense launched by demons in the human bodies against religious sanctities in recent years, teachings of this historic success in the face of adversities, including the support of God-worshipers for each other by respecting each other’s sanctities, will be very helpful.
Thanks to the empathy and cooperation of leaders of heavenly religions, I hope the coming year will be full of love, faith, spirituality, peace, justice, humanity, and mercy for all human beings, especially Christians and other followers of the divine religions.
In the end, on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Iranian seminaries, I announce our willingness for joint activities with the World Council of Churches in order to achieve religious solutions to mitigate global crises such as wars, environmental problems, disrespect, and hatred spread against the sanctities of religions.
Head of Islamic Seminaries in Iran
You can read the answer of Rev. Prof. Dr. Ioan Sauca to his excellency’s letter below.
Greetings from the World Council of Churches in Geneva and sincere thanks for your letter in which you kindly sent greetings for Christmas and the New Year.
At the start of 2021, I send you good wishes for your important work as Head of Islamic Seminaries in Iran. The training of future leaders and teachers in our religious communities is a vital task. In our work at the WCC, we seek to encourage emerging leaders and teachers in our churches to develop a deep knowledge of other religious traditions and the capacity to engage in interreligious dialogue and cooperation for the good of the wider world.
At the WCC we are very pleased to have a long-established process of dialogue with the Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Tehran. In October 2020 I had the privilege of meeting online with their Excellencies Dr. Abuzar Ebrahimi Torkaman of the Islamic Culture and Religious Organisation and Dr. Mohammad Mahdi Tashkiri of the Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue to mark 25 years of our dialogue.
A report may be found here:
A major project in our recent work in inter-religious relations at the WCC has been the production, jointly with the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue in Rome, of a document entitled “Serving a Wounded World in Inter-religious Solidarity: A Christian Call to Reflection and Action During COVID-19 and Beyond”. We are very pleased that our colleagues in Tehran are working on a translation of this document into Persian.
We hope that this document will be of interest to you and your colleagues. More information may be found here:
This comes with my prayers for the people of Iran at this time of many continuing challenges. With God’s help, may our work in 2021 contribute to greater justice and peace and deeper mutual understanding and respect between the nations of the world.
Geneva, December 5 January 2021
Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca
Interim General Secretary World Council of Churches