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Books and Documents

Interfaith Dialogue

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……

 
Buddhism and Racism
Religion, Sri Lanka

We need to comfort and support our Muslim, Christian and whatever brethren now. They need to know that they’re not alone and that mobs aren’t free to kill them and burn their homes. We need to offer them our words, our compassion and if need be (God forbid) our walls and homes. Sri Lanka has been through hell and we know all too well the suffering that hatred and ignorance brings to everyone, the victim and perpetrator alike.....

 

Muslims Christians and Jews at the House of Lords
Khalid Al Mubarak

Young Muslims, including students were given the chance to speak; but the main panellists were prominent Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Muslim leaders. Leon Silver, president of the East London Synagogue spoke about the common features and similarities between Islam and Judaism…..

 

The challenge for our millennial generation is to continue translating America's religious diversity into social action. The vast majority of interfaith efforts in the United States currently focus on the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. While such efforts are important, it is also necessary to engage with the growing numbers of Americans who identify with a diversity of other faith and spiritual traditions.....

Christians Engage in Understanding Their Muslim Brethren in an Extensive Course on “Islam and Interfaith Dialogue” in Shillong

The participants told the New Age Islam correspondent that they had plethora of doubts and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims, which came to an end upon the completion of the workshop. “Considering the present stereotyped images of Muslims the world over, I had developed so many wrong perceptions and negative impressions about Islam. But after I joined the workshop, I came to realise that there is a world of difference between the real Islam and misrepresentation of Muslims”, says Alan Varghese, one of the participants from a Christian seminary......Richi Thomas, a Christian seminary student from Singapore, told the New Age Islam correspondent that the event gave him an insight into the core values of peace and harmony deeply embedded in the holy Qur’an.....

Having failed to discredit the government through a corruption probe launched by his disciples in the judiciary, Mr Gulen seems bent on undermining its religious credentials. “They are using the Haghia Sophia to bait us. We will not walk into their trap,” says Bulent Turan, an AK deputy. Mr Arinc duly declared this week that a conversion was “not on the government’s agenda”….

 
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