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Books and Documents

Interfaith Dialogue

Peace under Islam Requires Submission
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)…..

 

Guided by History, a Jew Tries to Unite Two Faiths Divided by War in Gaza
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......

 

When Jews and Muslims Got Along
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…..

Pontifical Council For Interreligious Dialogue, Vatican City, Delivers Letter Of Eid Greetings To Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam, Appreciating His Efforts in Interfaith Harmony
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."....

Tea with the RSS: London Meeting Reveals a Hush-Hush Outreach to Muslims
Hasan Suroor

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....

 
Buddhist-Muslim Dialogue
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!.....

Is Aakhira The Source Of Muslim Problem?
Mike Ghouse

 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.....

It is when we forget this fundamental fact, that religions are simply a device—invaluable, no doubt, but, nevertheless, a device or a means for attaining an end—and not an end in themselves, that other religions come to be thought of as rivals to the one that we happen to follow. When we erroneously begin to think of our religion as an end in itself, forgetting that it is simply a means, we begin to view other religions as false. When we make an idol out of our religion and begin to worship it in place of God, we begin to.....

 

Our nation has a sad history of religious violence that claimed thousands of human lives in the past. The memories of the maitatsine religious uprising are still fresh on our minds. One Akaluka was decapitated and his head hoisted on a pole for allegedly desecrating the Quran. Muslims and Christians still clash in northern states of Nigeria. Again, Boko Haram insurgency in the north-eastern part of the country is linked to their misinterpretation and twisting of the Quran. They want to Islamise Nigeria and enthrone Islamic theocracy in it……

 

He has witnessed the culture, through seeing the breaking of fast at sunset, and the family and community celebrations. Daniel is a Jew, and their most well known fast is Yom Kippur, which is one full day. He says that there are several other less well-known fasts that are not well observed. Daniel feels that in the USA there is not enough tolerance towards Muslims. "I have never found Muslims to impose their faith on others. Of course, we read reports of those that do, although this happens in other religions as well", he states……..

 

The Hizmet movement is one of the most active Muslim initiatives for, among other things, interfaith understanding, in modern times. Although he never claimed himself as its founder, this movement, now active in numerous countries, is linked to a key figure, Muhammed Fethullah Gülen, who can be rightly called as its initiator. The teachings of Gülen and the vision of the movement that he inspired can be encapsulated in the term Hizmet, which, in the Turkish language, means ‘service’—in this context, service to God and to fellow human beings…..

 

The God, who has His abode inside me, proved to be stronger than the devil that night and thus, saved me. I had experienced an epiphany. Thenceforth, my belief in Him has increased manifold. If there’s only one God and that is Allah (SWT), then He saved me. If Jesus is the only true son of the God, then He saved me that night. If my faith in Lord Rama is true, then He saved me. What is in a name? You may call Him Allah (SWT), a Buddhist may call Him Buddha, and a Christian may call Him Jesus; for a Hindu He or She could be one of the 33 million deities. But, He is the same who dwells inside all of us. All I know is that He saved me….

 

It is impossible that so great a mystery should be approached by one road only. The mystery of which Symmachus was speaking is the mystery of the universe, the mystery of God, the mystery of man’s relation with God. God, the Infinite, who is beyond all human comprehension, is simply too vast to be contained in just one religion or religious tradition. To suppress or to seek to combat and destroy religions other than one’s own is simply not the way. The point raised by Symmachus is still alive today, many centuries later!.....

 

The Melting Cup: Muslim Footballers Kick Stereotypes in Brazil
Saif Shahin, New Age Islam

Benzema, Ozil and the rest don’t just represent a “positive” face of Islam to Europe: they make the same representation to Muslims as well. They show that it is possible to be an Algerian and a French, a Turk and a German, an Albanian and a Swiss, an Arab and a European. It is possible to be a devout Muslim and live in harmony with non-Muslims, sweat on the same pitch, drink from the same bottle and share in each other’s joys and sorrows. It is possible to pray and fast and simultaneously play football—not simply in a physical but also in a cultural sense. None of these practices and identities are, or need be, exclusive to each other....

Islamic Values vs. Judeo-Christian Values
Nonie Darwish

Islam has trained the Islamic mind to solve any contradictions with the goal of making sure that Islam looks good at any cost. In other words, reality has to adjust to Islamic teachings. Muslims must never admit that Western success is attributed to the Judeo-Christian value system. That is why Muslim professors on American college campuses claim that Western cultural success is due to Islamic and not Biblical values, and that the US Constitution is Sharia compliant……

The Fading Memory of Amity
Khaled Ahmed

There was a moment of mystification in the country and then all was quiet again till the next outrage against the fleeing Hindus. The tide of Islam has already reached Sindh where the public memory of Hindu-Muslim amity is still fresh. But the knowledge of Nanakshahi Hinduism is fading and temples arouse hostility among the new generations……

 

Inter-community dialogue is inevitable because almost everywhere people are now living in religiously pluralistic societies. Such dialogue has become particularly urgent because people are under common pressures in the search for justice, peace and a hopeful future. We are faced with the common challenge to live together as human beings in close proximity to each other. Dialogue between adherents of different faiths, designed to get to the deepest levels of commitment and inspired by our common spiritual quest and concern for all of God’s creatures, is a clear human demand at this hour of human history......

 

What a Muslim American Learned from Zionists
Rabia Chaudry

Through the fellowship I learned that Zionism means something very different for Jews. The Jewish people’s longing of thousands of years for a homeland, a return from exile, a sanctuary from being a hated minority in the diaspora, an opportunity to establish Jewish values and honour God, a Biblical promise, a chance for redemption. As someone with years of interfaith experience I should have known all this, but I didn’t…..

 

But hopelessness has been declared a sin by Allah. We should follow the Quranic commandment of “Your religion for you and our religion for us” and close the doors of conflict through dialogue and supremacy of law. This path is filled with dangers, but with courage and dedication, we can achieve the destiny of peace, forbearance, love and inter-faith and inter-sectarian harmony……

 
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