(I wrote this letter as an activity during our Silsilah Summer Course (April 7-May 4 2013, Zamboanga City). We were made to imagine talking to a Muslim friend and tell them how we look at our friendship. Our Muslim friends on the other hand were made to write the same to us Christians. When I wrote this, I imagined not only my new found friends in the Silsilah Interreligious Dialogue program but most especially my Muslim friends in the Mindanao State University-Marawi City.)
So we’re here. Trying to make up for those years when our friendship was tested by rumors and vain talks. We’re not supposed to feel alienated from each other. We’re fellow human beings, I know it and you know it too. But somehow there are circumstances beyond our control, and even circumstances that control us. We are of different communities, communities which are characterized by hostility towards each other. They say that you are up to kill us while others say that we are up to take advantage of you, to take away your land, to oppress you, and to repress your distinctive culture. We know very well that between me and you, none of that sort of feelings has ever entered our consciousness. But that’s what they say and sometimes people around us would hinder us from reaching out to each other.
But we are friends. Whenever I see you, I do not feel hatred or animosity. You are a human being, no less human than I and all others who feel joy, sadness and love. We breathe the same air, and the same sun rises and sets over us. We both turn our eyes towards heaven, believing that in that abode is the Maker of us all. We may call Him in different names but it is not our fault. We are born into it. You may be a Muslim and I may be a Christian, but above all this we are followers of God. You may pray to Him prostrating yourself and I may pray to Him kneeling, but again it’s not our fault. God looks into our hearts and He knows that we love Him just the same.
A couple of days ago, I saw one of your own people accused of kidnapping and a day after that you told me about someone whose bag had been snatched by someone of my own people. But that gave me no reason to hate you and I’m happy that you think that way too. You see, we both have good and bad elements among our own people. But between you and me, we choose to remain good. And I think, that’s what matters most. People are not born to hate, we are born to love. “Only the unloved hate.”
Again, I want to tell you that I’m happy knowing that we’ve remained friends after all these years. We’re supposed to be like that. Nothing should stop us from being so. For as long as you and I are here and for as long as we believe that love can bridge every gap, there is no reason for us to be discouraged. We’re friends and we should let the world see that despite our differences we are still capable of loving each other and the rest of humanity.
I still have plenty of things to say to you, but I’m sleepy now. Night has taken its toll on me. For the mean time, I entrust you to His loving care for in His arms we are all loved, we are all wanted, we are all cared for.
And may God bless you and me.