A Positive Approach to Islam
A. Amrita Anandi, New Age Islam
desired and prayed for the grace that at some point of time, a Jesuit would
take up the in-depth study of Indian Sufism. God answered Courtois' prayer in
the person of Jackson. Jackson is one of the foremost Christian scholars on
Indian Sufism. Second, Jackson was inspired to 'reach out to Muslims' after
listening to a lecture given by Fr Putz SJ.....
compelling in this complex narrative is the modesty as well as the enormous
courage of the Albanians who risked their lives for BESA. In a poor country,
perhaps the poorest in Europe, the Righteous Muslim individuals did what they
thought was right and passed on the promises they had made to their children.
At this moment when the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is exhibited repugnant
brutality and evil, BESA is an inspiring story of Muslim heroes who opposed
inhumane terrorism and treasured human life……
Victor Edwin SJ, New Age Islam
Christians appreciate the Muslims’ commitment to prayer. It is truly humbling to find Muslims offer Namaaz in appointed times wherever they are: in trains, in train stations, hospitals, and in shops. They also value their dedication to fasting during the month of Ramzan and paying Zakat and feeding poor. Such loyalty in worship is quite impressive. However, most Christians know little about the attitude with which Muslims are expected to prepare for worship and the obligation of right conduct that is demanded of them……
Victor Edwin SJ, New Age Islam
It is also interesting to note that he attributed the goodness he found in Muslim faith to the activity of God. He has charted a new course in the Christian-Muslim relationship when he recognized the presence of God in the faith of Muslims. This openness he showed towards Muslims also led him to study the Qur’an. He also advised those who are in interested in approaching Muslims that they should give attention to the Sacred Scriptures of these two religions: the Qur’an and the Bible. He recognized that God works in the hearts of men and women through their scriptures. His attitude points to the importance of listening to the prompting of the God’s Spirit in the Scripture of the others in interfaith relations. …..
Aoren Longchar, New Age Islam
We all gather
together in the same prayer hall and worship together in the name of God who
created us all. In our community worship, we learn together more about God.
Although we are different in terms of our cultural and religious backgrounds,
we all have the same desire to be in relationship with God. This helps me to
appreciate the honouring of God in the midst of diversity. I am also enriched
by insights from other religions that I am gaining here, which helps me be less
complacent as a Christian. It enables me to reflect on and develop new
understandings of my own faith, and, ultimately, to enhance my faith in
Victor Edwin SJ, New Age Islam
.... Muslims should learn from Christians that art of selfless service. The service institution in education, health and social sectors rendered great service to nation building, she said, “personally I feel indebted to the Christian ethos for establishing the institutions of Hospital, Nursing, Caring. This is one of the biggest contribution of Christianity to the world and I bow my head in gratitude for this”. However, as a feminist thinker, she found it strange that the Catholic Church do not allow ‘divorce’ of estranged couples.....
Noor Inayat Khan
Noor Inayat Khan led a very unusual life. She was born in 1914 to an Indian Sufi mystic of noble lineage and an American half-sister of Perry Baker, often credited with introducing yoga into America. As a child, she and her parents escaped the chaos of revolutionary Moscow in a carriage belonging to Tolstoy’s son. Raised in Paris in a mansion filled with her father’s students and devotees, Khan became a virtuoso of the harp and the Veena, dressed in Western clothes, graduated from the Sorbonne and published a book of children’s tales — all before she was 25.....
Dialogue between believers in different faiths was also necessary to combat the greatest challenge of our times—atheism and materialism. To Shaikh Nursi, these were the common enemies of all communities who believe in God. Absolute denial of God, he wrote, was now at its peak. A major aim of dialogue was to counter this assault of atheism. This seems to suggest that Shaikh Nursi regarded political problems that underlie some conflicts between Muslims and the West to be secondary to this issue of countering the atheist assault......
We should not give up in raising our voice against the extremists and work to create a new mentality of living together Shiites, Sunnites, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Christians and Yazidis in peace and harmony, therefore we also have to take offensive action at the ideological level with Islamic world to stop the veneer of religious legitimacy and financing and sending militants…..
In behalf of Muslims, I strongly condemn the evil acts of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi for terrorizing Christians, Yazidis, Shia and other minorities in Iraq. He is an evil man and must be caught and processed for his crimes against humanity, there is Genocide in making, and I recommend a bounty be posted to get him dead or alive…..
Dada J.P. Vaswani
Peace cannot be achieved by politics, power and diplomacy. True peace is possible only through the spirit of service. If I had a million tongues, I would appeal to you with each one of them, especially to my young friends who are going to be tomorrow’s leaders and opinion makers—seek not power! Seek service! Let us do as much good as we can, to as many as we can, in as many ways as we can, on many occasions as we can and as long as we can!......
Dada J.P. Vaswani
No matter what our backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, faiths and histories, we are involved in the future of the world together. Unless everyone achieves the desired goals, there can be no lasting peace and security. Every missed opportunity, every failed goal would be a root cause of global insecurity. When we achieve the goal of universal peace, as well as the more specific developmental goals, we would be eliminating the 20th century concept of ‘first’, ‘second’ and ‘third’ world countries….
John G. Stackhouse
A few basic facts will help us all, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, get past the stereotypes to understand the history of Islam and the events that alarm us here and abroad. First, Islam is indeed a religion of peace, but in a crucially qualified sense. The root word of both “Islam” and “Muslim” is “s-l-m”, which is also the root for “salaam” or “peace” — but it most basically means “submission” (to God)…..
Samuel G. Freedman
“I feel like I’m living out a certain Jewish prophetic stance, albeit in a Muslim organization,” Mr. Bender, 64, said. “I’ve wanted to play a role as a bridge builder, and I just couldn’t do it in the organized Jewish community because I insist on washing Israel’s dirty laundry.”....
Living with Muslims and Hindus, in just a month I’ve learned as well as unlearned so much!’ he explained. ‘I don’t say that reading about interfaith dialogue and participating in seminars about it is useless. Before coming here, I did a lot of that,’ he commented. ‘But it’s only when you live with people of other faiths for an extended period of time that you can begin to really understand them—as fellow human beings, with the same joys and sorrows and fears and hopes as yourself. Only then can you begin to appreciate and, yes, even love, them......
Mark R. Cohen
Jews enjoyed a vibrant cultural exchange with Islam. At its beginnings, Islam drew some of its inspiration from Judaism. Later on, Judaism was creatively enriched by contact with Islam, notably in the fields of law, medicine, science, poetry, and philosophy. Jewish intellectuals, of whom the illustrious Maimonides is but one example out of many, imbibed Arabic and Islamic cultural values and exchanged knowledge with Muslims in friendly, interdenominational settings…..
His Holiness Pope Francis
With a view to promoting interfaith dialogue, Islamic Studies Association, an organisation of Christians in collaboration with New Age Islam Foundation, organized an interfaith dialogue event in the office premises of New Age Islam Foundation on August 6. President of the Association, Padmashri Father Thomas V Kunnunkal SJ presented His Holiness Pope Francis’s letter of greetings, on behalf of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Vatican City, Rome, to Mr. Sultan Shahin, Editor New Age Islam. Fr Tom Kunnunkal, the President of Islamic Studies Association, and former Chairman, Central Board of Secondary Education and founder Chairman of National Institute of Open Schooling said: "Every year such letters are especially delivered to the Muslim community leaders, Ulema, intellectuals, scholars and interfaith activists . As Mr Sultan Shahin and his website have been at the forefront of interfaith dialogue and fight against religious intolerance, religious extremism and radicalisation of youth, in the eyes of Vatican, we are offering this letters along with our greetings and best wishes."...
..... Deprecating Islam-supremacism among many Muslims which, he said, was a hindrance in interfaith harmony, Mr Sultan Shahin also lamented that while our Christian brothers and sisters come to our rescue and support whenever we need that in our struggle for equal rights, Muslims generally do not come forward to help Christian minorities in India or elsewhere. He continued: "We Muslims seem to think that while Muslim minorities in India should have equal rights, it doesn't matter if other minorities or weaker sections are treated badly. We also never come out in support of religious minorities in Islamic countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia or other Muslim countries.
"However, it is important that we realise that human rights are indivisible. Any minority or weaker section of any community or country suffering anywhere affects us all. We Muslims must fight for the human rights of all minorities and weaker sections, particularly in Muslim countries and all the more so in those countries that designate themselves Islamic. Our heads should hang in shame if human rights are violated anywhere, particularly in countries that call themselves Islamic.
"Even an expression of shame and disgust and disapproval from us, if there is nothing else we can do, will by itself create an atmosphere of harmony among different faiths and work as the best form of interfaith dialogue. This will put us all on the same page. Merely reading out scholarly papers in seminar rooms or creating bonhomie for a couple of hours in a workshop will not do. If we consider some people our brothers and sisters, as we say in these seminar rooms, we should also stand up for them when they need us."....
To cut to the chase, it seems that the RSS is trying to engage in a version of "back channel diplomacy" to open up a dialogue with Muslims. The move is propelled by younger elements in the organisation who favour an engagement with liberal Muslims even though they are not clear about the terms of this engagement. In fact, it is more a stab at sussing out the Muslim mood than a concrete strategy to reach out to them.....
An Interfaith Vacation!
Roshan Shah, New Age Islam
Travelling, eating, chatting and joking with each other, and even sleeping together in shared rooms or under the stars, in just a few days, I bet, the entire bunch of people from diverse faith backgrounds would become good friends! Simply by living together for a short period of time, they would recognize how very similar they actually are—as fellow humans—despite their religious differences. They would have shed many of their prejudices about each other’s faiths and communities without having to listen to preachy sermons about harmony and dialogue….
As in the case of abstinence, the forms these practices assume differ in the different religions, but the purpose and significance of these practices are similar, if not identical, in all religions: seeking to help us moving from self-centredness to Reality- or God-centeredness....
G. N. Khaki and Shabir Ahmad Mugloo
Compassion and Mercy are also central to Buddhist ethics. Buddhism places much emphasis on Metta (loving kindness), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (sympathetic joy), and Upekkha (equanimity) as means of avoiding resentment. According to the Buddha, love and compassion are be generated only in a mind that is free from anger and hatred.....
For a Christian institute to invite Hindus for a Christmas party or for a Hindu organization to invite Muslims to celebrate Diwali or for Muslims to call over Christians and Hindus for Eid is one thing. But for a religious organization to honour the festival of another community is, I think—and I know you will agree—really quite uncommon. It was this that made our Iftar party that evening particularly different and special. What was even more beautiful about it was how it brought people from different faith traditions to sit together—for some, perhaps for the first time ever in their lives—to collectively adore God and to express their communion in the form of a common Dua and a shared meal.....
The Jewish Calendar
Syed Manzoor Alam, New Age Islam
‘Passover’, for instance, is by Biblical definition a spring festival. If the yearly cycle were to determine simply by counting twelve lunar months, something interesting would happen to that ‘Passover’; it would slowly creep back from spring into winter, because the lunar year is 11 days shorter. ‘Passover’ was, let’s say, on April 1st. The following year would be 11 days earlier, it would be on March 19th, the following year it would be on 8th and so on and it would slowly creep back into the winter. This is exactly what happens with the Muslim calendar in the month of Ramadan.....
…we are suitably humbled to realize that our understandings of God are just a limited and partial reflection of the Absolute Truth and that others also may possess equally valid (and equally partial and limited) understandings of the same, we might be inspired to reach out to each other in friendship, to learn more about God and goodness from each other and to enrich ourselves spiritually in the process —just as the two boys who stopped quarreling, became great friends and continue to learn from, and grow with, each other! The sky is too vast to contain just elephants or buildings and cars! God is too vast to be contained in just one religion!.....
There was hope that Indonesia will follow the inclusive governance set in motion by the Prophet (pbuh) in Madinah, work together with people of other faiths, despite the differences. Indeed he called "Ummah" to include all residents of Madinah, be it Christian, Jews, Pagans and others. But that is not what is happening in Indonesia. The same dream of Jinnah is shattered by the successive Pakistani leaders. Fanaticism is taking over and support for fanaticism is also visible.....