This is the greeting of peace of the three monotheistic religions, all stemming from the common trunk of the Prophet Abraham (may God’s Peace be with him). We believe in all the prophets that God sent to humanity to bring the word of Peace.
Portugal is a small country in Europe, its language and culture disseminated over four continents. Before globalisation, its colonies were filled with cultural diversity, multiple colours, races and creeds. After the independence of its colonies, some Muslims decided to come to Portugal, a privileged destination. In addition to religion, they had in common their Portuguese language.
With globalisation, the Islamic community of Portugal has seen the growth of the many races and nationalities of several Muslim countries. The search for better living conditions led many Muslims to settle in the main cities, so that Lisbon is no longer the principal host city.
The number of Muslims in the city of Oporto having risen, and the Islamic Community of Lisbon some distance away, the Oporto residents decided to create an association to represent them, regardless of race or nationality. This led to the opening of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Oporto, a duly authorised and registered religious entity. In addition to religious and social activities, the association is also responsible for interreligious dialogue in the North of Portugal.
Since then, we have been in dialogue with all religious creeds, priority being given to Christians and Jews, for with us they constitute the three monotheistic religions.
That was when the dialogue started between our community and representatives of the Jewish Community of Oporto. Our meetings and reciprocal visits to the synagogue and the mosque have fostered our institutional relations as well as the peaceful coexistence between our two communities. In the words of Dr. Michael Rothwell, if other world leaders got on as well as we do, we would find the road to lasting peace for the problems that afflict us. Unfortunately, however, other mentalities and territorial issues continue to separate us.
As head of our community in the city of Oporto, I had the privilege and the honour of being present at the inauguration of the Holocaust Museum in this wonderful city of Oporto.
By rule, a museum is an institution that preserves, investigates and disseminates the history of the evolution of humanity. We have become accustomed to visiting museums all over the world, remembering historical, in particular scientific and cultural facts.
Because the reason for man’s existence is mercy, the inauguration of a museum mirroring the atrocities suffered by part of humanity was not supposed to happen.
The Koran says: “that whoever kills a soul, or for spreading disorder on Earth, is as though he had killed all mankind, and whoever saves a life is as though he had saved all mankind”.
The Holocaust Museum will be a place of learning and reflection for all visitors, not only from the city of Oporto but also those who visit our city. It provides a reason to learn about, study and remember a part of humanity. Particularly for the youngest among us, because “to know the other helps us be closer to one another”.
As leaders of religious communities, we have the duty to promote peace and harmony among all religious believers. It is our contribution to the construction of a better world where our children may grow and coexist in peace.
In the same quarter in Abu Dhabi, a mosque, a synagogue and a church live peacefully side by side. They are an example to us all. In Jerusalem, a holy city for Jews, Christians and Muslims, we find three important religious symbols: the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Nativity and Al Aqsa Mosque.
It is our duty to maintain that flame of coexistence and friendship so that it serves as an example for all our members, not only here in the city of Oporto, but as an inspiration for others to follow this path of peace and solidary.
MAY GOD’S PEACE BE WITH YOU ALL.