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Interfaith Dialogue

This year, for the first time in 33 years, the solemn days of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Muharram (the Islamic New Year) juxtapose. In both faiths, the advent of the New Year is a time for introspection and self-examination. The upcoming holiday season for 16 million Jews and 1.6 billion Muslims offers the opportunity to reflect on the current state of Muslim-Jewish relations, how far we have come and the journey as we venture forth....

 

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. Matthew 5:5

And the servants of Most Gracious (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant [in reference to pagans of Mecca] address them, they say, ‘Peace!’ [Salaam] The Qur’an 25:63...

The Taj Mahal has unnecessarily become a standard for all tombs in India. Each monument is unique, yet the comparisons continue. The tomb of Shahnawaz Khan, son of Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan, in Burhanpur is called the ‘Black Taj Mahal’. The tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II in Bijapur is called the ‘Taj Mahal of the Deccan’. And I discovered recently, much to my horror, that the exquisite tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula in Agra, also made of marble, is called the ‘Baby Taj’...

 

Here, pitching his Islamic belief to prove the stature of Krishna, Nizami writes that poor have purer hearts and hence Allah grants the custody of his chosen one to poor women. Haleema, a poor paturer just like Yashoda, was a foster mother to Prophet Muhammad. For a devout Muslim like Nizami this comparison means a lot. Muslims consider Muhammad next only to God.

Nizami was not the only Muslim who held such a high regard for Krishna or Rama. Hafeez Jalandhari, Iqbal and Mohani are a few to name....

"Jews and Muslims have always had good relations here," says Navras J. Aafreedi, a scholar on India's Jewry. "There are no political issues like in the Middle East. And remember, the number of Muslims in South Asia is much larger than in the Arab world." Nakhoda Masjid, an impressive mosque, is a short walk away from the modest synagogue. ...

 

After being turned away by several landlords for months, Aftab Alam and his three friends, all of them doctors, finally found a place to rent in south Kolkata. Their elation, however, was short-lived. Soon after moving in, a neighbour told their landlord that they ought to be evicted, arguing, “Four Muslim men staying in a predominantly Hindu neighbourhood is problematic.”....

 

This is a time of unity and mutual love. A time when everyone should be in solidarity with the ones hit by disaster, the Imam says. “With that in mind, there were brothers from the Hindu religion to help clean the Masjids. And there were Muslims helping to clean the temples. That shows the unity of people. The message of this festival is to create oneness. And through the disaster, it’s happened. This unity should now last forever in our lives,” the Imam adds....

Encourage the Prophetic Models of Peaceful Coexistence
Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
Encourage the Prophetic Models of Peaceful Coexistence
Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

Muslim clerics are required to clarify the universal message of Islam and the Prophetic models which encourage peaceful coexistence with all communities. They are required to do so in the best way both in words and actions, in order to curb the rising hatred and disorder [Fasad] in the land. Based on the established major maxims of Islamic jurisprudence supported by the Quran and Sunnah, as they learn in their Islamic seminaries, they should step to the fore and help the multi-cultural society live with positive mindset....

Prejudice, unfortunately, can be found in all corners of society, and spreads like a virus. It is often caused by a lack of knowledge and false interpretations, despite what Britain ultimately stands for, which is mutual respect, liberty and tolerance. But our lived reality shows that while there is hate and discrimination that certainly needs to be tackled, there is also huge compassion, cross-community understanding and shared values in our brilliant Britain....

 

Chroniclers record the existence of a synod in a diocese called Beit Qatraye, near Jubail, in 676AD, more than 40 years after the Prophet’s death. Moreover, the peninsula’s six other countries all have churches. Qatar, which follows the same Wahhabi school of Islam as Saudi Arabia, let one be built a decade ago. Bahrain did so in 1906. This year it broke ground on Our Lady of Arabia, a new cathedral....

If believing in Jesus as a messenger of God implies believing in Christianity, then all believers in Islam are also Christians. Everyman knows the existence of a Supreme Being. But how to reach the Supreme Being is the problem. As for Muslims and Christians, the status of Jesus is basically the difference. No Muslim can claim true belief without believing in Jesus Christ who was one of the five “exalted” prophets of God. There is also the belief of Muslims in destiny which implies that the creation of Muslims and Christians to coexist in Nigeria by God is not a mistake....

 

The Ten Commandments appear twice in the Torah-in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. It is important to point out that there are no universally accepted parallels in Islam to the Ten Commandments and this is but one view of a set of Commandments in the Qur’an. Just like the Hebrew Bible, the Qur’an does not limit the Commandments to ten. Like the Hebrew Bible, there are numerous additional Commandments that are spread throughout the Qur’an....

With the claims of marginalization by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Supreme Council for Shari’ah in Nigeria (SCSN), who are those in majority then in the Buhari-government? Maybe non-Muslims and non-Christians! Buhari is then vindicated. No citizen in Buhari’s government will claim to belong to any religion other than Islam and Christianity. On that note, the two bodies have, therefore, justified that Buhari is just, transparent and politically willed to take Nigeria to the Promised Land....

 

Yes, mob lynching is abominable and institutionalized biases are worrisome but India is too strong to get split by such incidents. Didn’t we see recently how a man received flak from both Hindus and Muslims when he claimed on the social media that he refused to ride an OLA car he had booked because the driver was a Muslim? Our social bonding is not so brittle as to break so easily. Unless, of course, the people become complacent and the state remains a mute witness or become complicit in the acts of violent vigilantism....

“Rabbi, you say your name is Yosep?” I inquired. “Yes, like the Christians have Joseph,” he responded “Ah, like we have Yusuf among the Muslims. The same name except perhaps interpreted differently. Much like we all have the same God. So, you are a religious man, a man of the cloth so to speak, and whom we address as Sheikh in our country.”...

 

Acquire knowledge and think for yourself. The first step for both Muslims and non-Muslims is to acquire knowledge about each other and be encouraged to think for themselves when considering items in the media, as we live in a world of fake news and false information. This suggestion follows the almost universal advice given to us in the field: to use our own common sense...

 

From the ruins has emerged a vibrant desire by local residents to revive the city’s history, cultural life and diversity. Residents who suffered under ISIS rule, as well as returning refugees, want to bring a new energy to the city as a way of showcasing both the diversity of the past and a future that will never again surrender to the extremism of groups like ISIS....

 

Moments of insight like these remind me that journeying on the Sufi path puts me in direct contact not only with my living teachers, but with a lineage of saints, prophets and friends of God. In my own tradition of Mevlevi Sufism, rooted in the teachings of Maulana Rumi, I sometimes imagine the dialogue between Shams of Tabriz and Rumi happening within me....

So intense was the Nazi preoccupation with killing Jews that towards the end of World War II, when German rail capacity was limited and Hitler had to choose between using trains to transport troops to fight to save his Third Reich or using trains to transport Jews to the death camps, Hitler chose to kill Jews...

 

His battles were not fought against other religions, but against those who had attacked and oppressed the young Islamic community. We could equally show other examples from history, which would include the Buddha going on missions to prevent war during his life, or Francis of Assisi setting out on a peace-building mission during the height of the crusades to speak with the Muslim leader Salahuddin Ayubi, better known in the West as Saladin.....

 

One of the most treasured ornaments on my Christmas tree is a tiny crèche made in Bethlehem that my Muslim friend Maram brought from her native country. Somehow she knew its profound meaning for Christians; somehow she tapped that deep underground stream that bathes us all.....

Comparative religious studies are undertaken with the sole purpose of illuminating and enlightening rather than passing value judgements of good or bad, right or wrong. This approach educates us about how each community has a reservoir of meanings, a history, a culture, a ‘six-foot well’, as Buddha would say; that nourishes their faith. The expressions and symbolic language are distinct to that faith from others, as Rumi tells us, yet convey many common meanings that they share with each other....

 

According to the Quran, no race and no peoples are ontologically superior to others. Indeed, the Quran (49:11) warns believers against belittling other people groups: “O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them.” So, when Jews are criticized or praised in the Quran it is based entirely on their actions, not their race or religion − as is the case with Muslims....

The history buffs of our times and the weekend historians of the Sangh variety must pay attention to the facts mentioned above before approaching the media with their ahistorical communal assertions. Communal politics and Indian history are incompatible. The factual history of our civilisation does not support the “clash of civilisations” thesis....

 

Led by women working in diverse fields, the Iftars also dispel biases about Muslim women. “We have all kinds of women — those who wear a hijab or saris with Bindis, and Shias and Sunnis,” says Erum. By hosting the Iftar at home, the women hope to add a personal touch. “The bonding that comes when you sit together for Iftar or Sehri (the pre-dawn meal) is special,” says Safvi....

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