Now, according to my mailbox, I'm one of the global opinion-formers who the World Security Network need to help build a new vision of tolerance and respect as the common spiritual core of our global village. This enticing prospect is followed by a number of anecdotes about the Prophet, showing him to be such an enlightened soul that he shared his mosque with Christians. Jews, too, as fellow sons and daughters of Abraham, were welcome to worship in the new mosque at Medina.
If the good people of Saudi Arabia take these messages and the Prophet's example to heart, and open up their mosques to Christian and Jewish worship, I can indeed see a new era of peace and co-operation. Muslims on Fridays, the sons of Levi on Saturdays, Christians on Sundays - all trying different routes to the One God. And no-one is more aware than I of the things we hold in common - what the mail calls "the Golden Nuggets of Humanity" (isn't that a casino in Vegas ?), the Golden Rules that are common to almost all religion - almost to all humanity.
In fact, I was (admittedly from a seat in the downstairs loo) pondering the wisdom of Old Egypt this very morning - the Instructions To Merikare, a sort of manual for a king's son :
Copy your forefathers, for [work] is carried out through knowledge; see, their words endure in writing. Open, that you may read and copy knowledge; (even) the expert will become one who is instructed. Do not be evil, for patience is good; make your lasting monument in the love of you.
Do justice, that you may live long upon earth. Calm the weeper, do not oppress the widow, do not oust a man from his father's property, do not degrade magnates from their seats. Beware of punishing wrongfully ..
The Instruction of Amenemope - a civil service manual which our rulers could profitably read :
Do not lead a man astray
reed pen or papyrus document:
It is the abomination of God.
Do not witness a false statement,
Nor remove a man (from the list) by your order;
Do not enroll someone who has nothing,
Nor make your pen be false.
If you find a large debt against a poor man,
Make it into three parts;
Release two of them and let one remain:
You will find it a path of life;
You will pass the night in sound sleep; in the morning
You will find it like good news.
Better it is to be praised as one loved by men
Than wealth in the storehouse;
Better is bread when the mind is at ease
Than riches with troubles.
Poor gloomy, Job-like Ptah-Hetep :
Old age has occured, and Age has arrived
Feebleness has come and weakness is renewed
One sleeps in discomfort(?) every day
The eyes are dim and the ears deaf
Strength perishes, weary-hearted
The mouth has become silent, and cannot speak.
The heart is finished, not (even) remembering yesterday
The Bones have been ill a long time
and Good has turned into Evil
All taste is gone
What age does to people is evil in everything
The nose is stopped up and does not smell
Sitting and standing are difficult.
But I digress. Who on earth are the World Security Network, whose Wikipedia entry is suspiciously sparse, and what sort of chap is head honcho Hubertus Hoffmann ?