By Jamal Rahman, New Age Islam
27 May 2021
We Need To Spend Time With The Other And Grow In Friendship By Sharing Our Common Humanity
1. The Divine spark is present in every human being, no matter what their religion, ethnicity or beliefs. Being mindful of this reality is really very important.
2. Can we truly listen attentively, honour the Divine spark in the other and connect by sharing human stories?
Institutionalized religion divides people on the basis of differences of belief and rituals. In many places and throughout much of human history, such differences have been manipulated to fuel antagonism, create polarization and even foster violent conflict.
So, How Can We Go Beyond Polarization? What Should We Do?
I think that the first thing we can do is to become aware of our own prejudices, our biases, our stereotyping of others. If we shine the light of compassionate awareness on ourselves, we can, over time, diminish our conditioned biases and discover within us our Divine spark. You might call it our Buddha nature, Christ nature, Allah nature or the Breath of God. This Divine spark is present in every human being, no matter what their religion, ethnicity or beliefs. Being mindful of this reality is really very important.
The second thing is to ask, “How can I come to know others on a human level—someone who is different from me and with whom I think I have a problem? How can I make a personal connection with them?”
In Central Asia, they say, “Can you share three cups of tea—listen, respect and connect?” Can we take the time to be together and share these ‘three cups of tea’ with the ‘other’? Can I truly listen attentively, honour the Divine spark in the other and connect by sharing human stories?
We need to spend time with the other and grow in friendship by sharing our common humanity. When we get together to establish this friendship, it is not necessary to talk about theology or politics. But what is critical is to truly lay the foundation for a personal relationship. There is really no substitute for this if we truly want to overcome polarization.
Based in the USA, Jamal Rahman is a popular speaker and author on Islam, Sufi spirituality, and interfaith relations. Along with his Interfaith Amigos, he has been featured in The New York Times, CBS News, BBC, and various NPR programs. Jamal is co-founder and Muslim Sufi Imam at Interfaith Community Sanctuary and adjunct faculty at Seattle University. He travels nationally and internationally, presenting at retreats and workshops. Jamal’s passion lies in interfaith community building and activism.
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