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Last Updated: Friday, 18 February, 2005, 09:49 GMT
UK Muslims urged to accept West
The Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Dr Mustafa Ceric
Dr Mustafa Ceric: Ecumenical work
One of Europe's top Islamic thinkers is to tell British Muslims they can reconcile their faith with the West.

Dr Mustafa Ceric, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, will give the Friday prayers sermon at the East London Mosque.

The cleric, internationally recognised for his peace efforts, has previously accused the media of creating hysteria around Islam.

He is expected to tell hundreds of worshippers to stand by their faith for a productive life.

In his sermon at East London Mosque, Dr Ceric will talk to British Muslims about civil engagement within the UK and their wider human rights in a time of high security fears.

He is also expected to talk about how different faiths can co-exist at times of crisis, referring to his own experiences of the bloody break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Dr Ceric will say that their duty is to recognise and reconcile the differences between the east and the west. Muslims would "regain their honour" by balancing their faith and a duty to work hard.

"The difference between the East and the West is in that that the East believes more in God's mercy than in hard work, whereas the West relies more on hard work than on the mercy of God," he will say.

"Islam is beyond East and West because it is beyond the eastern fatalism and the western hedonism."

International scholar

Dr Ceric is one of the few widely internationally recognised Islamic scholars born outside the Middle East or Asia. His views are considered important by many observers because of this European rather than Arab heritage.

Islam has no equivalent to Christianity's hierarchy of bishops and cardinals - but the title Grand Mufti is conferred on somebody considered within their own country to be the leading legal authority.

Beginning his career studying in Sarajevo, Dr Ceric won a place at Islam's top seat of learning, Egypt's Al-Azhar University. He then went on to study in the United States before returning to his homeland.

He came to prominence during the collapse of the former Yugoslavia by speaking out against injustices and arguing that people had a responsibility to use their faith to end the violence.

Since the September 11 attacks, Dr Ceric has been heavily involved in cross-community dialogue in the United States and in efforts to counter claims that Islam is linked to terrorism.

In an interview last year, Dr Ceric said that tolerance of others began with how you approached those closest to you.

"Once you learn tolerance in your family, with your wife, with your children, with your local community, with the people of your own faith, then you will pass this tolerance to others," he told Australia's National Radio.

"We have rights to love our faith, our religion, but to respect others.

"We have no choice but tolerance, we have no choice but dialogue."

Appeal for calm
24 Mar 04 |  Hardtalk

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