The Imams from Jordan and Pluralism
Carrollton, Texas – October 8, 2009-10-09 :- An exploratory meeting between the Imams of Jordan and the representatives of the Foundation for Pluralism took place in Carrollton. They were on a mission to understand how the interfaith works in the United States.
I am pleased to have been a part of the seminal initiative by the Saudis, one of their ministers had asked and I had arranged a meeting of 20 people at the Crescent court in 2004, reluctantly, as a first step, I had agreed to bring 5 Muslims, Jews and Christians each with a promise of including all other faiths later on. Thank God, the Saudis have taken intiatives and held an international interfaith meetings including many a faith traditions. The work goes on.
The most exciting thing to report is the concurrent emergence of Pluralism (Pluralism is an attitude of respecting the otherness of other - it is not a religion, ideology or a system) across the world. Due to lack of time on my part, I will write a few key points.
Interfaith is about faiths, whereas pluralism is about co-existence between, atheists, theists, monotheist and polytheists.
Invitation was sent to at least two individuals from every one of the 14 faiths I usually assemble.
About 15 people in all exchanged ideas including a Mormon, a Christian, a Universalist, myself and the Imams.
Genuine interfaith dialogue is about learning the uniqueness of each faith and seeing how we all can work in creating a society that respects and honors co-existence. Genuine interfaith dialogue is about respecting the other point of view and not have the eagerness to prove one has all the answers or superior. It is about humility and treating each one as an equal.
We have to accept the existence of fake ones too; whose sole agenda is ‘conversion’, to put it bluntly these meetings provide them customers or souls to harvest. The good ones set the standards at the front end - The Carrollton interfaith group is very clear about it – no proselytizing and on one will make an atttemp to prove that one is superior to the other.
I was thrilled to learn about some of the great things they are doing out there, the head Imam gets notes from all the Mosques about the sermons they deliver on Friday, and he was proudly reporting that their focus was on compassion and co-existence. He was telling the stories of Churches and Mosques lined up in Amman are treated as places of God. He also added that once a while an Imam feels the humiliation and anger and vents it out, he said it was the part of the freedom of speech and he shared that a few Rabbis on the other side of the border also spew out hate in their sermons. He made clear that it was never against Jews or Judaism but against the oppression as they see it.
When I mentioned about Prophet Muhammad being the initiator of interfaith dialogues which took place in his Mosque; the flood gates opened. Each one was eager and one of them was telling innumerable stories about the prophet Muhammad and how he respected others. In one story he said a few miscreants were passing by and one of them said death to the prophet by altering the greeting Salaam Alaikum, prophets’ wife Aisha had retorted back “same to you”, hearing that the Prophet told her, no we cannot do that, instead let’s pray that God give goodwill to all. Who knows prayers may change them.
In my blog Hate sermons, I have asked people of all faiths to speak out if some one is using the religious pulpit to spew hate towards others. The Wall Street Journal had falsely claimed around the beginning of 2009 that there are hate sermons delivered in the Mosques, I challenged them to prove it and they have not done it, and one Muslim doctor also had joined the Wall Street Journal, I demanded that he prove it too, instead he sent an email that it used to be the case several years ago.
Hate sermons are routinely delivered from the pulpits or cultural centers of many religions in the United States, and God bless so many individuals who speak out against them despite the pressure from some extremists to carry on the hate agenda. I know several Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Christian friends who have spoken up against hate sermons.
If all the religious and civic institutions on their own will, post the speeches and sermons on their websites, a self-monitoring system would evolve and hope the congregation will have common sense to question hate against any one, which is detrimental to safety and security of each one of the 6.5 billion of us.
Indeed, I will be writing an article about the stereotyping Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Zoroastrians and Sikhs, and the actual stories involving overcoming stereotyping.
Dinner buffet comprised of Chicken Biryani, Chicken Curry, Naan, Carrot desert and Salad.
I will write the finer points when I get a chance, I attended Karen Armstrong’s lecture on Tuesday and that was a heaven to listen to her wisdom. I’ve got to write about it. Then on Friday, I attended the release of Autobiography of Rev. Moon in Washington D.C and I have to write about it too. These two are my mentors along with Prophet Muhammad, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Gandhi, MLK and the new of course, President Obama who has just won the Nobel Peace Prize. God bless him and hope and pray that more and more people listen to his message of co-existence.
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