‘We’re all children of Abraham’: The patriarch that unites Jews, Christians and Muslims

588e7b72a77c8.imageIn preparation for Sunday’s sermon, the Rev. Cress Darwin reviews the biblical book of Genesis.

He finds the story where God orders Abraham to leave his home and promises him numerous descendants comparable to the sand on the seashore and stars in the sky.

Darwin, who leads Second Presbyterian Church in Charleston, admires Abraham for his obedience and faithfulness.

“The hope that I take is that if God can use some of these characters, he can certainly use us,” Darwin said.

Abraham isn’t only revered by Christians. He’s a central figure in Judaism and Islam as well.

While the faiths are unique in their religious beliefs, customs and practices, Abraham is the common forefather that shows the religions have a lot more in common than what some may think.

Abraham is considered the patriarch of monotheism. According to the story recorded in Jewish, Christian and Islamic texts, he was instructed by God to leave his native land where his family worshipped pagan gods.

Texts say that Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. The former founded the Arab people from which the Prophet Muhammad came and founded the Islamic faith. From the latter, Judaism manifested and Jesus Christ is eventually born thousands of years later to initiate Christianity.

The faiths draw spiritual lessons from their elder who endured tests that challenged his commitment to God, including his willingness to sacrifice his son.

For Jews, he’s revered for his obedience. Christians say he was faithful like Jesus Christ. Muslims honor him for his submissiveness.

FULL ARTICLE FROM POST AND COURIER 

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Dr. Maryam Mostoufi: Interfaith dialogue feeds the soul

interfaith1Over the years I’ve heard a number of jokes that begin — “A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim walk into a… ” It’s an effective stem for a joke because it’s based on a negative stereotype that suggests it highly improbable that the three would voluntarily associate with one another.

Yet, in Springfield we’ve been proving for 40 years that those of diverse theological backgrounds do just that.

Four religious leaders within the Springfield community — the late Rev. Dr. Richard Maye and the Rev. Mark Watkins, Rev. Andy Templeman and Rabbi Barry Marks — had a vision. They saw a possibility for entering into dialogue based on their shared values and jointly tackling community issues.

Originally, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Unitarian clergy met over brownbag lunches once a month, as we still do. What they did not anticipate was the deep respect and friendships they and future members of the Greater Springfield Interfaith Association would develop over the years. Nor could they foresee a future that included as many other faiths as it does today.

This year we developed our first logo (About time!). It illustrates our belief that all faiths grow out of a spiritual sense of mystery and thus should be held with reverence and respect. The faith symbols are representative of those in Springfield and our membership — Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Humanist, Islamic, Jewish, Native American, Sikh, Tao, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian — all of which have participated in one way or another over the years.

FULL ARTICLE FROM STATE-JOURNAL REGISTER 

The Path to Enlightenment: Muslims, Brothers, Jews

downloadDuring a recent visit to Paris, I had a remarkable encounter that affirmed my faith in humanity. At a dinner party hosted by dear friends Annie Cohen-Solal and Marc Mézard, my wife and I met two extraordinary octogenarians whom Le Monde calls “les jumeaux de l’Islam,” the twins of Islam.)

Adel Rifaat and Bahgat Elnadi met as young Marxists in Cairo in 1955 and became inseparable during the five years they spent in various prison camps set up by Nasser between 1959 and 1964. In 1966, they were exiled to France and took up studies in Paris, where they solidified their inviolable intellectual partnership by earning a doctorate with a joint dissertation in political science. By that time, they had already published three books together under their nom de plume, Mahmoud Hussein. They have since gone on to write seven more books, working together nearly every day. So wedded are they that when one of them received an offer to work as chief of staff for former UNESCO secretary-general, Amadou Mahtar M’Bow, the condition of acceptance was that the job be split so that both Rifaat and Elnadi could continue to work together.

It is sad that in today’s world one still needs to make the point, especially in the Jewish community, which has its own penchant for Islamophobia. But Adel and Bahgat refute the canard that there are no moderate Muslims around. Let it be stated clearly; they are not Zionists. Over the course of their career, they have fiercely criticized Israel, regarding it as an outpost of imperialism in the Middle East. At the same time, they have engaged in dialogue with Jews and Israelis, including renowned historian Saul Friedlander, with whom they aired their differences and explored possible paths of reconciliation in a 1974 book “Arabs & Israelis: A Dialogue.”

FULL ARTICLE IN FORWARD.COM

CONSIDERING INTERFAITH RELATIONS BETWEEN JEWS, CHRISTIANS, AND MUSLIMS: AN INTERVIEW WITH PATRICK J. RYAN, S.J.

WHAT BINDS JEWS, CHRISTIANS, AND MUSLIMS TOGETHER IN A FAMILY OF FAITH AND FRIENDSHIP?

Rev. Patrick J. Ryan, S.J. considers this question in his wonderful new book, Amen: Jews, Fr_Patrick_Ryan_SMChristians, and Muslims Keep Faith with God (The Catholic University of America Press, October 2018).  Ryan takes a close theological look at Jews, Christians, and Muslims through their eyes, texts, and experiences.  He also shares his reflections on his own experience as a Christian in the company of Jewish and Muslim friends. Ryan writes that “we Muslims and Christians and Jews may live together more fruitfully and more peacefully if we recognize the polyvalence of Abraham, the polyvalence of great concepts like faith and revelation, community, and the path of righteousness.” Considering Interfaith Relations Between Jews, Christians, and Muslims: A

Ordained a Jesuit priest in 1968, Ryan is a graduate of Fordham University and Harvard University, where he studied with noted scholars Wilfred Cantwell Smith and Annemarie Schimmel. For nearly three decades, Ryan worked as an educator in West Africa, mostly in Nigeria and Ghana.  He is the author of Imale: Yoruba Participation in the Muslim Tradition: A Study of Clerical Piety (Scholars Press, 1978); The Coming of Our God: Scriptural Reflections for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany (Paulist, 1999), and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross: Scriptural Reflections for Lent (Paulist, 2004).

Joseph Richard Preville: How meaningful is the word “Amen” for Jews, Christians, and Muslims?

Rev. Patrick J. Ryan: Jews, Christians, and Muslims all end prayers with the word “Amen,” even if there are small differences in pronunciation. To say “Amen” is to pledge one’s fidelity to God who keeps faith with us. Each of the first four sections of the Book of Psalms ends with an “Amen,” a pledge to God by the faithful children of Israel. Jesus prayed that way, but he also used “Amen” at the beginning of many of his most important sayings; in John’s Gospel that opening “Amen” is doubled. Paul notes that Jesus is our “Amen” to God: “It is through him that we say the ‘Amen,’ to the glory of God” (2 Cor 1:20). The most common prayer in the Islamic tradition, the first sura of the Qur’an, ends with an “Amin” in prayer that is not part of the Quranic text.  In saying “Amen” we Jews, Christians, and Muslims entrust ourselves to God, put our faith in God’s word spoken to us, keep faith with the God who first keeps faith with us.

FULL ARTICLE FROM WORLD RELIGION NEWS 

 

Dr. Maryam Mostoufi: Interfaith dialogue feeds the soul

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Over the years I’ve heard a number of jokes that begin — “A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim walk into a… ” It’s an effective stem for a joke because it’s based on a negative stereotype that suggests it highly improbable that the three would voluntarily associate with one another.

Yet, in Springfield we’ve been proving for 40 years that those of diverse theological backgrounds do just that.

Four religious leaders within the Springfield community — the late Rev. Dr. Richard Maye and the Rev. Mark Watkins, Rev. Andy Templeman and Rabbi Barry Marks — had a vision. They saw a possibility for entering into dialogue based on their shared values and jointly tackling community issues.

Originally, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Unitarian clergy met over brownbag lunches once a month, as we still do. What they did not anticipate was the deep respect and friendships they and future members of the Greater Springfield Interfaith Association would develop over the years. Nor could they foresee a future that included as many other faiths as it does today.

This year we developed our first logo (About time!). It illustrates our belief that all faiths grow out of a spiritual sense of mystery and thus should be held with reverence and respect. The faith symbols are representative of those in Springfield and our membership — Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Humanist, Islamic, Jewish, Native American, Sikh, Tao, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian — all of which have participated in one way or another over the years.

Our monthly meetings have not been limited to chatting and chewing. We’ve used them as opportunities to educate ourselves about each other’s religious traditions, beliefs and practices and to learn about community issues and services. But we recognized early on that to be relevant, we needed to get out of our chairs and pulpits and into the larger community. We needed to literally practice what we preach.

FULL ARTICLE FROM STATE JOURNAL REGISTER 

9/11 Brought Them Together. They’ve Been Preaching Love Ever Since

Sarah van Gelder: How did the three of you start working together?

Rabbi Ted Falcon: When 9/11 occurred, I called Jamal, and the two of us did a Shabbat service together. Since then, we’ve taken part in each other’s services, and it has become natural to work together.

When one awakens spiritually, there is an awakening to inclusivity. You start to perceive that each authentic spiritual path is an avenue to a shared universal. To deepen means to explore that territory together along with the ethic that naturally flows from it.

Sarah: Had you done those exchanges before 9/11?

Brother Jamal Rahman: Not much. After 9/11, as a Muslim, I felt a strong need for such a community.

Ted: A lot of attention at that time was focused on the perpetrators of 9/11 as representative of Islam, and we wanted to counteract that. We needed to put public faces on mutual understanding between our faiths.

FULL ARTICLE FROM YES

South Carolina interfaith group turns ignorance, hate into opportunities for connection

 

1068147_1_0827-Muslim-Americans-Praying_standardBy Isabelle Cueto The State of Columbia

 

Mayor Hardy King of Irmo, S.C., came under fire just a few months ago for anti-Islam Facebook posts. Back then, he stood by his posts but said he didn’t know much about Islam.

That was when Chaudhry Sadiq reached out to Mr. King, inviting him to an end-of-Ramadan celebration at a Columbia, S.C., mosque, Masjid Noor Ul Huda, where Mr. Sadiq is president. While there, Sadiq said he pitched the idea of hosting a “demystifying Islam” event, and King agreed.

“It was mutual. It was mutually benefiting, it was mutually rewarding,” Sadiq said in a phone interview.

The event, “Demystifying Islam: Understanding Your Muslim Neighbors,” will fill part of the Irmo Town Hall with a library of resources on Aug. 30 for locals to learn about Muslim traditions. Books such as the Quran and other literature on the contributions of Muslims to society will be on display, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session.

“I hope that people that come will come with the open heart and open mind to understand,” King said. “I hope they’ll go, ‘Oh, OK, I didn’t know that,’ because I didn’t know that.”

Sadiq is president of the Peace and Integration Council of North America, which is a young national interfaith organization based in Columbia. He said what started as a sour situation that drew much attention and backlash was, in his eyes, a great opportunity.

“God has mysterious ways of bringing people together,” Sadiq said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR