I write this letter to tell you how glad I am to have met you. It does
not seem to happen all that often that a Muslim and a Christian meet in a manner as we
did. We discovered a lot of common ground while not pretending that there is no disparity.
We are both aware of the differences between our faiths—and the need to think them
through. Our pledge that our conversation should take place in a friendly spirit,
appropriate for the topic, I consider something quite beautiful. May God be honored by
It is good to realize that both of us have very similar hopes and
expectations of life. What intrigued me in particular was our perception of an Almighty
God. While our understanding of religious dogma may differ, our affinity, affection and
intuitive consciousness of God are remarkably similar. To me that means that basically
mankind must have an innate knowledge of God, which He planted into our
Probably linked to that and highly significant to me is the fact that
both of us were acutely aware of our need for a pure heart in the sight of God. This is of
special significance as Jesus once said that only those who have a pure heart shall see
God (Matthew 5:8).
This reminds me of the Word, which says:
Be obedient to God,
and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desires you had
when you were still ignorant.
be holy in all that you do,
just as God who called you is holy!
(1 Peter 1:14,15)
Pursue holiness,(Hebrews 12:14)
because no one will see the Lord without it!
I am sure we are all too conscious of our lack of inward purity. Our
thoughts and actions are all too often rather unholy. I suppose deep down in our hearts we
are aware of the spiritual lack caused by our imperfection, even if we follow our expected
religious rules. Every confrontation with death creates in us troublesome questions, which
cause our fear of death—or perhaps rather fear of what comes after death. One might
‘enjoy’ life to a goodly extent in an atmosphere devoid of God, but ultimately
the expectation of death spoils it all, for we are all aware that
it is appointed to man once to die,
and after that is the judgment
as the Bible puts it. Ultimately all mankind sits in the same boat. All
fall short of God’s standard, be it in thought, word and even deed.
Is it not interesting to note in this context that every religion
follows ritual practices, which signify cleansing? They are essentially no more than
symbolic tokens and obviously do not really effect anything by themselves. While we may
clean our body by such rituals on the outside, we are well aware that water can never wash
away sin and by that create a clean heart!
Jesus once made a very remarkable statement when confronted about the
ritual washing of hands before meals:
Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth
goes into the stomach and then out of the body?
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart,
and these make a man ‘unclean’.
For out of the heart come
These are what make a man
‘unclean’. (Matthew 15:16-20)
Rituals are really no more than a
reminder of our need for purification—because
we know that we are impure.
After having committed a particularly ugly sin, David expressed his
longing beautifully in one of his psalms:
Wash away all my iniquity,
(Psalm 51:1-4, 9-10)
and cleanse me from my sin.
I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only have I sinned...
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God!
I’m sure we are both in agreement and are touched by this.
Yet on many other topics we are not likely to agree. In conversations with spiritual content
it is natural to argue according to our respective convictions. Someone rightly said that
all too often convictions are worse enemies to the truth than lies. Convictions are really
little more than opinions. Discussions on this basis are predictable: Everybody talks and
nobody listens. We should not follow such pattern. I suggest the answer is to
honestly face contentious issues squarely and with the determination to find out together
what is trustworthy and why. After all, it is a matter affecting eternity! Therefore, we
should not dare to be superficial in our search. We do not want to risk that one of us
will go astray! Unless our faith is based on evident revelation from God, we should be
critical. After all, if we do believe and follow God’s truth, what are we afraid
of losing? Divine truth must be and is detectable and backed up by evidence.
Knowing each other a little by now, I am sure that together we will,
with kindness, understanding and sober judgment, find what concerns us more than anything
else in this world!