The Arab Islamic and Christian Charter (Main Ideas)
- The Arab Islamic and Christian Charter
30 December, 2001
Palestine Media Center
The Arab Islamic and Christian Charter was announced on 20 December 2001. The Charter, which comes
as a result of six years of dialogue between Arab Islamic and Christian figures, represents the
necessity of the Arab Islamic-Christian solidarity to face the common threats that face all members
of the Arab people.
Members of the Arab Working Group on Muslim-Christian Dialogue are from Egypt, Palestine, Syria,
Lebanon, Jordan, the Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates. The group is open and welcomes others who
are committed to promoting the affirmations contained in the Charter.
In releasing the document, the working group states: "It is out of our faith in the One God, and by
virtue of our conviviality", (that is, their common commitment to a life they share together as
Muslims and Christians) "that we affirm our moral and religious obligation to work together toward
strengthening our common and equal belonging regardless of religious affiliation... We further
pledge to spare no effort toward freeing ourselves and our societies from religious, ethnic or
Following are the main ideas of the Arab Islamic and Christian Charter:
The Charter (in Arabic, Mithaq) as adopted by the group comes amidst a turbulent cultural climate
that pervades the entire world, a climate reflected in an especially critical way in the Arab world.
The Charter is the product of more than two years of careful research and study. Its formulation is
an expression of a shared commitment to an energetic engagement in "working together to promote
Insisting that religious freedom is "an intrinsic human right that is affirmed by the dictates of
religions", the Charter urges that Christians and Muslims share a common life not only through
intellectual discourse, but "standing together in the face of the challenges confronting our
societies in the spheres of society, education, morals and culture".
Affirming the common unity and heritage of Muslims and Christians, the Charter rejects "any foreign
influence that is part of a program of hegemony over the Arab world". It recommends dealing with
internal issues through the collaborative efforts of Arab nationals -- Muslims and Christians -- who
belong together to the one homeland. This can only occur through dialogue and cooperative work, as
"internal solutions" must be free from any outside interference that could reinforce mutual
Dialogue must continue as an ongoing activity translated into practical programs aimed at
strengthening coexistence and at addressing and treating "root causes of religious intolerance and
sectarian tensions", the document declares. It cautions against disregard for cultural and religious
distinctiveness. "Disrespect for diversity [in the Arab Society] is bound to lead to mutual
exclusiveness, restriction and antagonism in areas that are otherwise open to encounter, interaction
and cooperation between Muslims and Christians", the Charter declares
The Charter also rejects the confusion of genuine religious commitment with deplorable excesses that
invariably lead to extremism and violence. It insists, "Such excesses are necessarily
uncharacteristic of and inconsistent with religion". It further calls for "building a culture of
dialogue" and for promoting "tolerant values of faith" that affirm the humanness and spirituality of
The charter recognizes that human difference and diversity are a "reality that is itself one of
God's revelations in humanity and in the created universe". It goes on to point out, in no uncertain
terms, the need to courageously and steadfastly "confront forms of religious discourse that
dehumanize, injure or demonize [others]", and proposes, instead, that constructive opportunities for
mutual acquaintance, respect and trust-building between the followers of both religions be offered.
The Charter is an "invitation" to a living dialogue that reaffirms an Arab stance of Muslims and
Christians who together declare to the world a common commitment to defend their common Arab causes,
especially the issue of Palestine and Al-Quds [the Arabic name for Jerusalem].