“To see in others a brother, is to be supported and to be loved”. Reading this first phase of the Introduction to the document on Humanhood for World Peace and Common Living Together has filled me with joy!

The Muslim authorities recognize, black and white, that we are all brothers is a great achievement. In fact, it is emphasized in the document: “In the understanding of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers”.

“The Pluralism and the diversity of religion, color, sex, race and language are the divine will with which God created the human beings”.

In Bangladesh I have listened the experience of many Christians who have been discriminated against because of their religion (students, workers in factories, office workers…) and even sometimes it happened to me that I felt a certain diffidence for being a Christian.

Surely I also have many positive experiences of relations with Muslims, relationships of esteem and appreciation. Very many, precisely because I am a nun, they ask me for prayers; thus proving to believe that God is One and that he listens to anyone who goes to Him with faith beyond the religion that they profess.

But being considered “brothers” goes beyond a relationship of esteem, one speaks almost of a blood relationship! I really perceive this as a great achievement, on both sides of course, because the prejudices to be broken down are present both in us and in them. For this reason, in the document we speak of “dialogue as a way, common collaboration as conduct, mutual knowledge as method and criteria”.

In Bangladesh it is practically impossible not to meet Muslims, to approach them, to cooperate with them and this is a great richness, an opportunity to grow in faith and in humanity.

It happened to me to narrate my vocation story to a Muslim boy (called to be a missionary and, with great joy, to be in a Muslim country) and to perceive that he understood the importance of my relationship with Jesus. At the same time he shared with me how he commits himself to live in the presence of Allah. I was moved by his faith.

At the same time, listening to the motivations and the values of Muslim volunteers who dedicate their time to street children, the teachers in our schools, and many simple people who make themselves to be available when needed, sure that Allah sees and asks us to be merciful like Him. This pushed me to be more generous in service and love.

Sharing our experiences of faith, working together to develop the lives of the most disadvantaged, allows us to become aware of our prejudices, to know how many values are present in others, how much we need to learn from others, how to entrust ourselves to God and how to serve the brothers.

The declaration touches all areas of our lives, all situations in which, as believers or better as members of the same human family, we are called to make our contribution and welcome the contribution of others without diminishing or despising so as to build a lasting peace. Each one is called to make room for the other, to know him, to welcome him, to enter into his way of seeing life in order to walk together towards God.

Sr. Annamaria Panza, Bangladesh Province


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