How the Israel-Hamas war has brought together Arab Christians and Muslims

The Muslim Times has the best collection for interfaith tolerance and pluralism and to refute sectarianism

Bonds strained in recent years by the rise of Islamic radicals have been cemented again.

(Author: Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian Christian journalist, is a former Ferris professor of journalism at Princeton University and a member of the Amman Baptist Church. He is on X @daoudkuttab and on Instagram & Threads @daoud.kuttab. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

AMMAN, Jordan (RNS) — Yasmine Faraa, a Jordanian of Palestinian heritage, was angered when an Israeli missile hit a building belonging to St. Porphyrios Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza, killing 18 and injuring 20.

Faraa, a Muslim, came up with the idea to hold a vigil outside the Orthodox Christian Church, in the Jordanian capital’s Sweifieh neighborhood, to show solidarity. The numbers that turned out for the vigil on Sunday (Oct. 22) surprised even the Jordanian police, who had initially decided that they didn’t need to block the roads leading to the church. The crowd was largely composed of middle- and upper-middle-class Jordanian families, who brought their kids and held signs denouncing the continued attack on Gaza.

After the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City — founded by Baptist missionaries in the 1880s and now run by the Anglican Episcopal Church in Jerusalem — was struck four days later, Mohammad Al-Momani, a former Jordanian deputy prime minister who is secretary general of the new Mithaq Party, quickly organized a small rally again in opposition to the war. (Israel has made claims that the hospital attack was a misfired Palestinian rocket, but this claim has not been confirmed either way according to major world media outlets.)

Christian and Muslim relations in the Mideast have a long history of cooperation, and the pan-Arab nationalist movement has always included Christian intellectuals, writers, poets, political leaders and professionals of all kinds. Faraa noted that in the 1970s her mother studied at the American University in Beirut, one of several leading institutes of higher education in the Middle East founded by Western Christian missionaries.

RELATED: Two young Palestinian women died in a Gaza church, treated like ‘human animals’

But these bonds have been strained in recent years by the rise of Islamic radical movements, which have sometimes attempted to create schisms within the Arab world. Radical Islamists discourage their followers from congratulating their Arab Christian neighbors celebrating Christmas or Easter. When Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli snipers in May of 2022, some cautioned devout Muslims not to call for mercy on her soul.

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Suggested reading for living in the image of the Loving and the Most Merciful God by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times:

Thirty Plus Quotes from the Poet of Love

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A Message of Compassion and Love from the Holy Bible

True Fasting: A Message of Compassion and Love from the Old Testament

Abou Ben Adhem, A Compassionate Man

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I am a Jew, a Catholic, a Christian and a Muslim; I am Zia H Shah

Surah Lail: Compassion and Generosity a Way to Paradise

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