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Interfaith Dialogue

 “The Church’s dialogue with Islam kicked off in an intensified manner in the 60s of the past century at a time when the Islamic world was busy solidifying its feet on the ground after obnoxious colonization. At the time, the Islamic world’s capabilities in terms of knowledge was very humble and did not allow it to efficiently participate in formulating the philosophy of dialogue which the Catholic Church initiated after it was left free to act after the famous Vatican Council (1962-1965). Hence dialogue in the Islamic perspective is still in its beginnings in terms of its definition and the forms of its practice and tools. ...

 

It is indeed a complex subject and any attempt to simplify it would leave to erroneous conclusions. But this trend is cause for concern for those of us who do care about belief in God and food for thought for those who are ‘in charge’ of religiosity and places of worship. How do they make these places more welcoming? They need to ask their congregations about their reasons for leaving, in addition to analyzing the polls on this subject....

Close personal relationships between people from different faith backgrounds are an important means for promoting interfaith understanding and inter-community harmony. In addition, they can also be a great way for us to grow personally. Such relationships can provide us opportunities to learn good things from other religious traditions and their adherents, which we can employ in our own life, for our own benefit....

 

When faced with certain situations, Christians often use the phrase ‘What Would Jesus Do’ as a reminder to them to behave in a manner that reflects their love for Jesus Christ. The phrase’ What Would Jesus Do’, or WWJD, can be traced as far back as the 19th century, when the evangelical Charles Spurgeon used it in his sermon, and in turn borrowed the concept from the early church’s Imitatio Christi ....

One cannot forget the brilliant Bhajans (devotional songs) sung by Mohammad Rafi, Man Tarpat Hari Darshna Ko Aaj (Baiju Bawara) or ‘Insaf Ka Mandir Hai Ye (Amar). There is a long list of these inter religious cultural expressions. The contributions of Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan match those of Ravi Shanker and Shiv Kumar Sharma to give just one example. In current times music maestro A R Rahman, on one side is composing ‘Piya Haji Ali’ and on the other is composing ‘Shantakaram Bhujanagshayanam’....

The warming of ties between Israel and Sunni-majority Muslim nations and Gulf countries have taken place in the backdrop of shared concerns over Shia Iran’s destabilizing efforts, its supporting terror proxies, and quest for nuclear weapons. The Saudis, just like the Israelis, are grievously concerned about Tehran’s expansionist efforts to gain hegemony in the Middle East and its direct involvement in propping up Syria’s Assad regime, its fomenting violence in Iraq, and its supporting rebels fighting in Yemen and terror groups like Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Hamas, and Islamic Jihad in Gaza....

 
How Can The Humanist Fight The Terrorist?
Rajmohan Gandhi
How Can The Humanist Fight The Terrorist?
Rajmohan Gandhi

“The Hindus, the Muslims, the Parsis and the Christians who have made India their country are fellow-countrymen, and they will have to live in unity, if only for their own interest.” “In no part of the world are one nationality and one religion synonymous terms; nor has it ever been so in India.” “Is the God of the Muslim different from the God of the Hindu? …There are deadly proverbs as between the followers of Siva and those of Vishnu, yet nobody suggests that these two do not belong to the same nation.”

In the once-united Indian subcontinent, Sufi poetry and thought became the balming influence among different communities and faiths during the Middle Ages. Absorbing the finest tenets of Hinduism and Islam, Sufi spiritual thought touched a chord in the hearts of thousands and offered a world view without any ethnic or community differences....

 

The Holy Qur’an repeatedly asks the followers to be thankful to God and remember His bounties. Prophet Muhammad asked his followers to be thankful to others. Surah Rahmaan (The Beneficent), chapter 55 of the Qur’an, is a perfect example where God repeatedly reminds us of all the bounties, and then asks us this question in a verse that repeats over and over:

Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?...

 In the film itself, the Emperor, a Muslim, is married to Jodhabai, a Hindu Rajput, which, by implications makes the Mughal lineage part Hindu from then onwards. There is no indication that she has converted; she celebrates Janmashtami in the palace – where the filmmaker K. Asif inserted an unforgettable song sung by Lata Mangeshkar, ‘Mohe Panghat Pe Nandlal Chedh Gayo Re’. Later in the film, in all together more tragic circumstances, Lata Mangeshkar also sings the ‘Naat ‘Bekas pe Karam Kijiye Sarkar-e-Madina’. The lyrics for both were written by Shakil Badayuni and were composed by Naushad....

The holy Quran encourages interfaith dialogue and calls Muslims to settle issues with the People of the Book through dialogue. The Quran says that if people from other religions come forward with the message of peace, Muslims should reciprocate. But unfortunately, the Muslim world did not show much warmth on this occasion....

An all-white painted shrine complex that has largely been inspired by the Central Asian architecture, ‘Caravanserai’, the Udero Lal shrine is a symbol of interfaith harmony. These were mostly built by traders in Central Asia as a roadside inn where travellers could rest and recover from the day’s journey and are rarely seen in the Indian subcontinent....

 

America is rich in cultural and religious diversity too but how many synagogues would employ Muslim caretakers? How many mosques in America would employ a caretaker/gatekeeper from the Jewish community (or people of other faith)? Can we copy and paste this beautiful example of Jewish-Muslim relationship in the Holy Land? I wonder if we have similar examples in Israel. Surely, it would also be wonderful to have the opposite- Jews working in a mosque in a Muslim-majority country....

Is the Growth of Interfaith Unity Possible Across the World?
Rabbi Allen S. Maller
Is the Growth of Interfaith Unity Possible Across the World?
Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Christians and Jews believe the hill is Jerusalem. Muslims believe the valley is Mecca. I believe they are all correct; and God willing, someday everyone may see both cities and their holy sanctuaries, Jerusalem’s Temple (Beit HaMikdosh) and Mecca’s Ka'ba, (Baitullah), as a pair of lungs breathing the Holy Spirit (Arabic: ??? ?????, Ru? al-Qudus; Hebrew: Ruakh ha-Kodesh) into the material world. For this breath/spirit of the Living God is central to humanity’s spiritual inspiration from the One God of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac.

In fairness, contemporary American atheists may be inclined to wage war on religion because religion has been waging war on them for so long. A brief truce was reached at the end of the Obama Administration, when Congress passed, and the President signed, a new version of the International Religious Freedom Act that officially included nonbelievers.

 
Mahatma Gandhi: A symbol of peace
Hussein Shobokshi
Mahatma Gandhi: A symbol of peace
Hussein Shobokshi

Gandhi’s nonviolent movement inspired the American civil rights champion Martin Luther King as well as the great African leader Nelson Mandela, who restored civil and social peace to his country. It also inspired the Czech hero Vaclav Havel, leader of the Velvet Revolution....

 

Khushwant Singh notes that at the Pingalwara, the home that Bhagatji set up for the people he tended to, “No discrimination was ever made on grounds of religion or caste: its inmates included Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims”. Anand observes that emotionally and physically ostracized humans were taken care of in the Pingalwara irrespective of their religion, caste, class or gender....

Associating other gods with God (Shirk) is the greatest sin according to the Qur’an. It is very interesting to note that in many of these verses, avoiding Shirk and showing kindness to parents are ordained side by side, highlighting Qur’an’s emphasis on respecting and serving the parents.  This is not surprising since parents are the closest things to God on this earth...

The Holy Land is reportedly termed holy land-الأرض المقدس, (Al-Ard Al-Muqaddasah) at least 7 times in the Qur’an; the most direct was in reference to Moses and the Israelites. And when Moses said to his people: O my people! Remember the favour of Allah upon you when He raised prophets among you and made you kings and gave you what He had not given to any other among the nations. O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah has prescribed (ordained) for you and turn not on your backs for then you will turn back losers. The Qur’an 5:20-21...

This seemingly inter-religious nomenclature is not an indication of a lack in Brahmanical sentiment but it is very true that they not only participate in the Muharram processions and mourning, but also abstain from social celebrations like marriages during the month of Muharram. The sect is also not as remote as one might imagine. It boasts of a number of well known names amongst its followers. Film star Sunil Dutt and Urdu writers such as Kashmiri Lal Zakir, Sabir Dutt and Nand Kishore Vikram are some of the better known Hussaini Brahmins....

 

What have the battlefields of Islamic history not seen? From the victory of 313 out-numbered believers at Badr, the liver of Hazrat Hamza eaten in Uhud by Hind, to the Prophet’s youngest wife atop a camel in the Battle of Jam’al? However, no battlefield has altered the course of Muslim history like Karbala and no sacrifice is remembered like the sacrifice of Hussain Ibne Ali in 680 C.E. No memory from early Islam has cast such darkness upon the Muslim world than of this horrifying massacre. No tragedy has provoked such haunting questions in the heart of Islam as Karbala does....

 

From Saadia Gaon (882-942) to Yehuda Halevi (1075-1141) to Maimonides (1135-1204), the leading luminaries of Jewish philosophy were in enduring conversation with their Muslim counterpart - Avicenna (980-1037), Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058-1111) and Averroes (1126-1198).  This Judeo-Islamic philosophical tradition was real and not created out of any political convenience or necessity. Today, militant Zionism, puritanical Islamism and evangelical imperialism are collectively invested in concealing these historical facts and either denying or else catapulting the profound heritage of Judeo-Islamic philosophy back into "ancient times"....

Other major Muslim personalities who made an impact on the cultural legacy of Islam in Chinese history include Syed Umar Shams al-Din (Sayyid al-Ajall) (1279). He was said to be the 27th generation of Prophet Muhammad’s descendent and a highly regarded Muslim official during the Yuan Dynasty. He was appointed imperial minister of finance, as recorded by Marco Polo in the 13th century. Sayyid al-Ajall was subsequently tasked with governing Yunnan and was described by one contemporary historian to have brought “civilisation” to Yunnan....

 

The battle over inter-religious marriage is, in fact, raging across the country. In Marsa, another village in northern Tunisia, the mayor, Slim Meherzi, a modernist with no party affiliation, has just celebrated a mixed marriage: a Tunisian woman with a Portuguese Catholic. He's very proud of it and is preparing to do it again in one month, this time with a French groom....

 

A rabbi, a minister, and an imam walk into a bar. No, really. Since 9/11, three religious leaders in Seattle have been meeting for sometimes “vigorous” discussions, lecturing together, and even doing joint spiritual teaching. Rabbi Ted Falcon is founder of Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue, Reverend Don Mackenzie is minister and head of staff at the University Congregational United Church of Christ, and Jamal Rahman is a Muslim Sufi minister at the Interfaith Community Church. And that time they walked into a bar?...

 
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