Tracing bridge building among Abrahamic Faiths

Once the American Muslim community rarely ventured out beyond the comfort of its narrow confines of mosques and Islamic Centers, yet interfaith communication has now become an essential part of all of its local and national organizations. This became abundantly clear following the terrorists' attacks of September 11, 2001, when they realized their larger responsibility of communicating and collaborating with the broader American community. 

First efforts in interfaith understanding in North America can be traced to a conference called "Parliament of the World's Religions" that was held in Chicago during 1893. It was on this occasion that Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb, the earliest "Anglo" convert in North America, spoke on Islam in the American context. Several others meetings followed this conference, such as the first World Congress of Faiths in 1933. However, the force behind these early meetings was aimed at bringing together disparate factions of Christianity; the introduction of other faiths was only a secondary objective.

In the Second Vatican Council held in 1962, the Catholic Church issued its "Decree of Ecumenism" to restore unity among Christians. This Vatican Council is often credited for ecumenical understanding of the Jews and Muslims. Muslims were hailed as those who "profess to hold the faith of Abraham and together with us adore the one, merciful God." But beyond this pronouncement, although the Jewish - Christian dialogue was pursued vigorously following World War II, Muslims were tangentially involved and nothing of substance was accomplished.

An exception is a convention arranged by the American Academy of Religion in New York during 1979, where Muslims took the initiative, with the assistance of the Muslim- Jewish - Christian Conference. Professor Ismail al Faruqi, a founder of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (Herndon, Virginia) who was at the time Chairman of the Islamic Studies Group of the Academy, edited its proceedings; calling it a first step towards dialog between the three faiths. 

Given this context, the terrorists' attacks of 9/11/2001, served as rude awakening for all three faiths, more so for the Muslims, and especially for American Muslims. A group of Islamic scholars, among them a worldwide respected Islamic scholar, Shiekh Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi addressed an Islamic- Christian summit in Rome held during the first week of October 2001. 

In his address, Professor Al-Qaradawi spoke of the urgency of situation as the "personal credibility as believers and religious leaders is also at a crossroads." That "the whole world is looking forward to what extent the force of our moral example is effective." That "either we carry out an active role that might reshape the current events towards the right course in a way that best suits our creeds or we sink into oblivion for good." He stressed the fact that Muslims welcomed "any approach that might bring Muslim scholars and Christian bishops to common grounds to cooperate in order to find suitable solutions to contingent or chronic problems that are directly related to Muslim-Christian world."

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are united in their acceptance of the Abrahamic faith, and consider it as the source of inspiration and guide for human life. The faith inherited from Abraham (peace and blessings of God on him) has monotheism as its pivotal center. The three faiths profess one God as the Creator of the universe and man, who is active in history but separated from it, and is the Judge of man's actions, and has spoken to man through the prophets.

And despite essential doctrinal differences between them, this commonality of faith and its correlates is of such importance, that Muslims, Jews and Christians could speak together in an atmosphere of understanding and friendship since they are all "believers in the same God." As such, they could join hands to guide and enlighten others on the essentiality of faith, and work unitedly to further the causes of humanity, as well as redress it from the pervasive ills of secular maladies. 

The Qur'an gives Jews and Christians the honorific title of "People of the Scripture", and Muslims are required to respect their faiths. The Qur'an admonishes: "And argue not with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is better." (Al-Ankaboot, 29:46). 

Muslims have a firm belief that the Gospels are a Scripture revealed by God. That Moses and Jesus are God's beloved messenger who endured untold sufferings to disseminate His message. That the mother of Jesus, Mary was chosen by God to be the most honorable among women. Indeed, two chapters of the Qur'an are named after the Virgin Mary and the Family of Imran, while none is named after Khadijah, the wife of Prophet Muhammad, or his daughter Fatimah, or his mother Aminah. Furthermore, verses in the Qur'an describe many of the miracles by Jesus that are not found in the Gospels.

In the conference at Rome, Professor Al-Qaradawi brought to the notice of those attending that he and other Islamic scholars worldwide had condemned the terrorists' attacks in no uncertain terms. This, because Islam holds human life in great esteem and an attack against innocent human beings is a grave sin, backed by the Qur'anic verse that reads: "Whosoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if had saved the life of all mankind." (Al-Maidah, 5:32).

Further that Islam is against bloodshed in all its forms. Fighting in Islam is usually launched to repel aggression, per Qur'anic injunction: "Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loves not aggressors." (Al-Baqarah 2:190).

Professor Al-Qaradawi emphasized that it is the lack of mutual understanding, and the ignorance of basics of creeds and dictates of faiths that hinder constructive dialogue and tarnish the image of Abrahamic faiths. Thus fuel to the fire is added in a politically charged atmosphere by extraneous elements, which want to use religion for irreligious purposes. They would rather resurrect the Crusade era that left indelible impressions on the minds of Muslims as well as Christians. And that it is time to use wisdom to help extinguish the smoldering fires that might destroy the entire humankind. 

As many Muslims feared, the biased Western media, especially in the US controlled by special interest groups, and the Christian conservatives came out spewing vitriol directed towards the Islamic world and American Muslims. This suited the neoconservatives in the US administration with their hegemonic designs of controlling the world, colonialization of Muslim lands and establishing a domineering empire according to their desired world order.

Given this, various Islamic organizations in the USA such as Islamic Society of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, Council on American- Islamic Relations, American Muslim Council, and Muslim Public Affairs Council met with the Christian leaders and arranged interfaith meetings with their counterpart Christian organizations. The effect of these efforts is materialized when we see for example, the New York based National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA adopted a resolution on September 28, 2001 stating that Christian and Muslim religious workers will work together to help major media producers become more sensitive to Muslims and provide accurate information on Islam. Its general secretary, Dr. Bob Edgar said that his organization is concerned about the current wave of hate crimes and, therefore, was initiating monthly consultations among Christian and Muslim leaders. 

Following the attacks on Islam and American Muslims by evangelist preacher Franklin Graham and the degrading remarks on Prophet Mohammed by Jerry Vines, former head of Southern Baptist Church, televangelist Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell, the National Council immediately refuted and condemned these statements as they were "not only factually untrue and offensive, but also dangerous to the national security of every nation where Christians and Muslims are seeking a peaceful relation." 

We can see another example of bridge building in the annual meeting of the Mid-West Dialogue of Catholics and Muslims. In the meeting held on November 7-8, 2001 at the head offices of Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) (an umbrella organization for all Islamic associations in North America) in Plainfield, Indiana, a statement issued offered consolation for suffering people, and cautioned: "We must not, out of anger and vengeance, indiscriminately retaliate in ways that bring on even more loss of innocent life", asserting that "America must be a safe place for all our citizens in all of their diversity." The statement concluded: "Let us rededicate ourselves to global peace, human dignity, and the eradication of injustice that breeds rage and vengeance." 

The National Council of Churches of Christ (NCCC) in their meeting held on February 25, 2002 with the Islamic Society of North America sought closer ties with Muslims. And that they will work together with other Muslim organizations on a project to formulate "Living Room Dialogues" to bring Islam's basic teachings into the living rooms of their associated members. The NCCC, USA also announced that it would offer in June 2002 an intensive course on Islam and Christian- Muslim relations through the reputed Hartford Seminary. 

An excellent illustration of this close collaboration was recently exhibited on August 14, 2003, when a very wide coalition of interfaith, civil rights and academic freedom groups participated in a packed conference at the National Press Building in Washington, DC, to oppose the appointment of Daniel Pipes at the Congressional recess by President Bush to the US Institute of Peace. Daniel Pipes is known for his extremely biased views of Islam and Muslims and, because of this, the responsible Senate Committee had blocked his appointment. Dr. Reverend Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance whose members come from over 65 different religious traditions, led the press conference. Other speakers included representatives from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American-Arab Anti-discrimination Committee, Jews for Justice in Palestine and Israel, the Arab American Institute, Academics for Justice, the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, American Muslims for Jerusalem, and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. 

The above are a few notable examples of the work that is being done by various Islamic and other faith based organizations to build bridges of understanding. Certainly important is the work by the local organizations at the grassroots level with Jews and Christians of different denominations. They meet at the local schools, mosques, churches, synagogues and community centers. Most allocate these responsibilities to their Imams and others have appointed special personnel who in concert with others, attend to the interfaith and outreach work, meetings in regular sessions at least once a month.

Humankind is suffering greatly due to the loss of spirituality and faith-based standards and values. It is the duty and responsibility of Muslims, where this sense is the strongest, to bring into coordination Christians and Jews with them, and work jointly to restore these attributes in the American society. America is a very religious-conscious society, but unfortunately, it is misinformed and ignorant about Islam. It is work at the grassroots that will remedy this situation as well as open up the American Muslims to a better understanding of other faith groups. With their transcendental sources (Qur'an and Sunnah) intact and unpolluted, interacting with the best of human intellection through Ijtihad, and resolutely standing for the causes of peace, justice and equity for all humankind, it is only through such joint effort that they will be able to find their due place of honor and respect in the American milieu.

Siraj Islam Mufti, Ph.D. is a researcher and freelance journalist.

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Older Comments:
It is not GOD that divides those of the different
monotheistic faiths. It is just the ambitions of
those who want or need to wear the robes and tell others what GOD wants us all to do.

We should not take these persons so seriously.
As long as long as we all stay away from the basic sins, there are as many ways to worship as there are individual humans.

I think that you should tell more about the 6 Articles of Faith and explain what they are, but don'y get to deep.

you need to tell people what the 3 articles of faith are and explain waht they are

Peace be with you, Ray Hooker. Here's a tip: if you include a salutation of peace in your comments and also perhaps mention that there's no god but God then Muslims are supposed to be nice to you (God willing). Also, if you additionally happen to believe that the Quran represents the word of God - and you say so - then I think Muslims can actually get into some sort of trouble for being rude to you (God forbid).

--Yahya Bergum

I certainly apologize if my reference to DNA is taken to imply that muslim beliefs were related to ethnicity. I simply was using an image to describe some of the core beliefs that I am told are central. There is a lot of difference between guilt by association and identifying core beliefs and philosophy. I think it is far more respectful to let someone tell me what they believe rather than say "you believe this".

For example I am against US policies that oppress others intentionally or not for US interests sake. The Boxer rebellion in the light of history was clearly an grievous error and evil. I would suggest that the US occupation of Japan was not. Other issues are not always so clear though you would be surprised to know some of my feelings on current US actions.

I honestly done know how to get beyond the name calling and simplified views. The problem is to stay on topic long enough to have a meaningful dialogue. It is also better to be specific. For example, when you talk of violence, I believe (please confirm) that muslims are talking about the oppression of the Palestinians and many in the West are talking about violence against civilian targets. Each side has some hard questions to ask.

Another great divide is between beliefs and the actions of government. What do Christians and Muslims believe is true and right? Why are actions often at odds with beliefs?

I really think that one big issue is difference in the definition of religion. In the west, it is a personal thing, which might guide civil actions but is nonetheless personal. This perspective is shared by other groups such as the Buddhists. I know that is true because I am a westerner and know my own thoughts.

On the other hand, does not the Muslim take a different point of view?

Just a few questions that I believe are very important.

Spare us your patronizing, Ray. Your quasi-racist comments about "Muslim DNA" should be enough to dismiss you as a vulgur apologist for empire.
Muslims have and continue to condemn violence, so your "concerns" that we dont are bogus, essentionally nothing but a cheap excuse to justify Islamophobia. The real issue is what causes people to take up arms, and thats what people like you avoid because therein lies the answer. What a shock it must be to realize that those who've been the recepient of carpet bombs arent grateful.
I can see why you like Fareed Zakaria, a shallow opportunist milking his way through. Zakaria supported the illegal invasion of Iraq, he is an advocate of empire, so it comes as no surprise that you're infatuated by him. It is "Muslims" like these who currently run the Islamic world at the behest of the West.
Your comment that Christianity is tolerant is simply at odds with reality. I have news for you, Muslims are not going to change themselves to accomodate the wishes of terrorists who want to eradicate their civilization. When you're done reading a real history book, feel free to slither back here.

I posted concerns with the article but after Ahmed's comments, I believe I need to say that I do stand for "peace, justice and equity for all humankind..". I believe the reaction shows tremendous lack of understanding of me and even my concerns. In particular every mistake by every western leader or government, especially of the US, is attributed to me and to "Christianity". Clearly there is room for more understanding.

I think that understanding does require honesty and not muffled conversation. For example, I am pleased when Fareed Zacharia, a muslim, promotes a democractically based government which respects the rights of minorities. I am disturbed when some of my muslim friends have argued that it is okay to execute muslims who have decided to leave the faith. I am also disturbed when I see the suffering of the Palestinians.

Christian society in past centuries, despite its roots has not been tolerant. Today most Christians along with other westerners reject that intolerant past. I would certainly welcome muslims who join in a condemnation of an intolerant society.

I do think however that we do need to openly deal with issues and disagreements. It is quite in vogue in the west to criticize western ideals in general and Christianity in particular. I think that a valid desire to confront sins of the past is often used against us. The problem is that many other societies do not share this tradition of self criticism. Does Islam promote open and honest dialogue? Are not many topics off limits? What about making religious disagreement a purely personal decision? Can we not reject political systems that enforce religious sensibilities and censure speech and activities? I would join anyone wanting to make that declaration not only for the western governments but as a standard for any society on the earth.

Peace be with you. When I am at the market and trying not to stare at a woman - for instance who is standing in line in front of me - it seems that whispering (as softly as possible!!!), "A'udhoo billahi min-ash-Shaytaan-ar-rajeem," makes me feel like a new person.

For some reason it would seem that I have to at least move my lips and, also it would seem, to perhaps expel a bit of air. Reciting it only in my mind seems much less effective.

One translation of this saying is, "I seek refuge in God from the outcast Satan." For an additional web search on this saying, I would recommend a google search of: billahi excellence

Assalamu alaikum (Peace be with you).

--Yahya Bergum

PS. I have lately included in most of my comments what shall (insha'Allah) become my legal name - to possibly enable my views to be more easily retrieved electronically. (Peace)

Very good Hanif: One of the first debates between Modern Christians and Muslims could be one of the following:
1: From the evidence in the Bible, did Jesus believe what the Modern Christians say about him? The point of this debate being to get Christians, particularly the tritheistic ones, to examine the beliefs and stance of Jesus. If Jesus didn't think of himself in the way they think about him, do they have a right to think that way. It also helps that at the first trial of Jesus by the Jewish religious authorities, Jesus refuted what the people were saying about him. As it happens, it is the same thing the tritheists say about him today.
2: Is the concept of tritheism incompatible with the concept of Jesus being a christ. It seems to me to be a bit ironic that most "Christians" believe something that seems to be the antithesis of Jesus being a christ thereby making the name a misnomer. I have met few Christians that know what a christ is. It may be that if more Muslims taught more tritheists what a christ was then more Christians would become monotheists. Even a debate might be greatly helpful to the worlds situation.
3: Is the Muslim view of Jesus more compatible with both the statements made by God in the old testament and by Jesus in the new testament?
This debate could also be good for Muslims. A hadith states that there will be over 70 sects in Islam with only one being acceptable. Having a 1 in 70 chance of being in the right one might be a good reason for every muslim to examine what they believe. The Quran indicates unkind treatment for those that blindly allow themselves to be lead into hell by not examining what they believe for themselves.

Dear Romesh,
U said "dialog between muslims and non-muslims is an exercise in futility." - because the main reason u r here because u try to find the mistake of what some of Muslim has been done then u used it as your weapon to attack muslim about our faith. U not came here to learnt or to improve yr knowledge about Islam. Inside yr heart kept telling that our faith is WRONG! did im correct?

"...they never cared to read my post." - because u r didnt want to share the view with us (just attack and attack)so some of us fedup with yr attitude.

"..Islam is 100% correct and every other religion must be wrong; and that it is the others who need to change and not muslims (or Islam)." - If other religion has changed due to something, did u think that religion is belong to true faith? If their religion can changing day after day - did u think that religion is pure and complete? Did God told us NOT today and CAN tomorrow? If yes; that mean that religion not complete and that 'GOD' is week because 'HE' need to change 'His' words - for Muslim when Allah say NO; its will NO forever. We cant change to YES base on our thinking because we are not GOD!

"Well, with this kind of thinking, folks, there is no possibility of any useful dialogue between muslim and non-muslim civilizations..." - Its up to u. Islam didnt force u to accept Islam.

"Recent examples -- Civil Wars in Lebanon and Yugoslovia. Did muslims gain anything from these 2 clashes? ......" - who are started this WAR? Did muslim went to Serb and slash them first? Did Muslim having powerfull weapon in that war? Its stupid if u r didnt had any advanced weapon to attack people more powerfull.

What we done, doing and will do is DEFEND not attack!


Reply to Pervez:

Well, you are the only person who cared to read my post carefully. As expeced, we can have differences.

Ummah: it is strictly an Islamic concept and has nothing to do with India, because India is not a predominantly muslim country. It conflicts with the concept of nation-state. Can't muslims just ignore this concept?; after all, they are unable to practice it, even if it exists in the koran. After all, muslim countries not only fight with non-muslims, they fight with muslim countries even more, e.g., Iran/Iraq war, Kuwait/Egypt Vs Iraq, etc.

Polygamy -- Well, muslims don't practice it when living in western countries, because it is illegal; why don't they insist on it in the west. By the way, living with lot of women in the west is not polygamy, it is adultery, which may be tolerated though punished at the whim of the authorities (though very rarely). Don't compare apples and oranges.

Dhimmis-- I am sure Hindus/Jews and others will disagree with muslims regarding the treatment they got. It is the victims who are the best judge (the slave owner describes his treatment of the slave as humane; who would you believe, slave or slave-owner).

Blasphemy -- Simply because France/Germany/Israel have stupid blasphemy laws regarding Holocaust deniall does not mean that they are correct. In muslim countries, anything deragotary against a religion is considered blasphemous; so one is even unable to discuss religion intellectually in any muslim country. In France/Germany/Israel, one can fight in the courts; it is almost impossible to fight in Sharia courts.

Apostasy -- you mistook the concept. It relates to change of religion. Islam/muslim countries sanction it with death; other countries allow it.

Mosque and State -- you are not looking for complete separation; others want complete separation. Nobody wants a state to fight religious wars.

Dialogue done intelligently is beneficial; usually, we consider ourselves right; henc

Dear Romesh Chander.
Lets examine some of the points you raised in your first post.
UMMAH(conflict with nation-state): India an Ummah of different nationalties speaking different languages having differing gods and festivals and cusine (Indians have to even depend on an alien language to act as a bridge between different nationalites)
POLYGAMY: you mean you oppose one man marrying more than one willing women in a world where it is legal for you to live with as many women as you want provided you are not married, where you dont even have to be of the opposite sex to be married, where you can share your wife with a stranger and call it modernity??!!
DHIMMIS: Were given equal rights except in certain situations and those rights and previlgaes were much more than the rights given in contempary socities. Im sure modern day non-muslims will be given better rights than presently allowed by modern secualar states. For instance Islam gives almost complete freedom to other religions to be judged by their own laws in many areas including personal law something even modern countries do not allow for.
BlASPHEMY: Try denying the jewish holocaust in germany or france then lets talk about it.
CALIPHATE: Whats that got to do with you? anyway heard of the Super Power Chaliphate? or you forget who the Pope is?
APOSTASY : Plenty of apostates living quite comfortably. However if a apostate gives becomes a danger to the state he is treated as a traitor as in any country in the world leading usually to death depending upon his crime.
JIHAD:Protect your country against attack, to go to the aid of oppressed(like US said in Iraq?? and India in Bangladesh?!!).
The Mosque and State: are seperated except that the laws do not go against Islam(like any modern state dont make laws going against human rights) and those include giving equal rights to all in the land and to give freedom for minorities to adhere to their religous laws and custom.
Im sure a dialoge will be benfici

Islam is not 1400 years old as most non muslims would believe it to be. The issue of debating belief in the one God, is a duty upon all believers. Chronologically speaking, the religion has been handed down to mankind in phases 1) past, 2) judaism, 3) christianity and 4) muslims. In essence, its the same God, same angels, same prophets, same region and the same religion, just shifted in time. Islam is the new arabic name for the religion - the religion of monotheism.

We (believers) are encouraged to debate with all people, be they, people of the Book (jews & christians) or disbelievers/polytheists (such as Mr Romesh).

It may be true that many muslims are not willing to debate but rather preach. This is a human failing rather than a fault with Islam. Consider, the Judaism (an past phase of Hebrew Islam), their superiority complex caused them to make the religion their own - resulting in a private club instead of a world religion. Perhaps some muslims are adopting a similar superiority complex but it was not always so.

Consider, the muslims in the golden era (7-11th century AD). Baghdad was the capital of the Islamic state, they had their nerve center there in a place called "House of wisdom". The strange (to us 21st century people) thing is that the brains in that "house" were not all muslim; it was a collection of minds; muslims (majority), jews, christians, hindus, etc.

At that time, muslims were confident in their beliefs and were happy to entertain vigorous debate with others in an open minded way. In todays interfaith debates, the first topic of discussion seems to be suicide killings and killing of non-combatants. The discussion of belief in the one God has been put aside.

Debate is a duty upon all muslims, so we should all be for it. There is a great deal of misunderstanding between the West and muslims and vice-versa - we need to try and reduce this.


Well Ray, I'm quite certain your "muslim friend" is as real as Santa Claus. I'm not particularly interested in your conspiracy theories about Muslims, however in responce to political and social hegemony - Its the West which has that area refined to a science, as we see that everyday with your barbaric behavior in the Middle East. Your rap sheet speaks for itself. Must be your DNA.
As far as the "christian right" is concerned, its fair to say that they are terrorists who're trying to ignite Armageddon to speed up the return of Christ(s) at our expense. Comparing lunatics like these with Muslims says a lot about your deranged thought processes.
I feel sorry for any Muslim dumb enough to befriend a bigot like you. Most of us however can see through the lazy rhetoric of frothing apologists for empire.

Peace be upon you, Ray Hooker. Our beloved leader Muhammad (peace be upon him) asked Muslims to speak compassionately of him - when mentioning him after his passing (may Allah bless him). So you see, the types of incidents you mentioned just make us go crazy. Logical or not, you now know the secret for driving us berserk. For a comparison I am guessing that I could insult you (Allah forgive me) and you would probably not give it much thought - but not so with your mother (may Allah bless her and bring her peace). I hope that is helpful.

As for Muslim politics - I would tend to agree with you. However I happen to be a Muslim American nationalist, a rather odd duck it would seem. Therefore my personal views would not likely provide much insight into the thinking behind American Muslim politics or the global agenda of Islamists. In the interest of fairness I should probably add that I do have an interest in seeing America conform to the "Way of the Lord" as I believe you put it.

As for Islamic tolerance - at this site I have submitted complementary comments about Jews, Christians, Wiccans, atheists and Muslims alike. Now then, might you be more tolerant of Islam in America if the bankrupt politics of (admittedly beloved) Muslim globalists, traitors and tyrants were less prevalent at least in America? In the past I've had someone deported for the good of my extended family (may Allah bless all those concerned) so why not for the cause of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) - at least in the case of enemy clerics - for the sake of Allah's religion?

Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the messenger of Allah. Might I suggest that we all seek shelter in good from evil.

Again, peace be upon you.

--Yahya Bergum

PS. I fasted for Yom Kippur this year! I have, however, submitted that effort to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) as a "make-up day" for one of the days of fasting I missed last Ramadan. The Glory is Allah's.

I respect and enjoy the Muslim friend that I have. I believe the article though misrepresents Islam as tolerant. They are tolerant on their own terms. Built into the DNA of Islam is a determination to dominate politically and socially in a way way that makes the fears of the Christian right's influence pale by comparison. Ironically, Muslims and the US "Christian right" share many common beliefs. One distinction difference is that the Muslim aspiration to dominate. Most people, Muslims included, just want to live in peace, so I speak not of the Muslims but of the believes, thoughts and even radical proclamation in their midst.

Praise be to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) for

On a different note, Romesh, if you wish for your "revenge" might I recommend that you study Quran 1:7 - in transliterated Arabic. (Wrath of whom? Favor of whom?) ALLAH willing - you will profit by it - and we all will seek shelter in good from evil - and fortune will favor you.

Subhanallah (glory to Allah).

Wassalam (and peace).

--Yahya Bergum

I agree with many of the principles but I don't believe that it adequately deals with the fundamental differences between Islam and other faiths. Islam has at it's DNA core a commitment to political and social domination of society. It essentially is not tolerant. I do agree with being kind and fair and respectful. A society dominated by Islam does not respect the rights of others to disagree or encourage other in the way they see right. Just try and see what would happen in any Islamic country if anyone but a Muslim were to try to invite all to the "Way of the Lord" as they see it.

Dear Mr. Romesh,
I hope you are aware of copyright law. In which one author cannot copy a piece of Intellectaul property of some one else and say that it belongs to him.

Quran is a book of God, revealed to Prophet Mohammed. Now you will disagree with it, abd you have every right to.

So the issue one is we cannot change quran, because it is not written by us. The whole tradition os Islamic law has been evolved on the principles of Quran and sunnah(traditions of Prophet (pbuh). You will be surprised to note that in the western Jusrisprudence there are just two main schools of legal thought, the positivists and the naturalists.

But in Islamic tradition there are 4 major schools of legal thought. To your another surprise to pass a law in a western jurisprudence you need 2/3 majority in parliament, but in Islamic state, a group of renowned schoalrs are enough to anact a law. To read further please visit our site

I request you to please read Quran first and then the History of the world. Please be objective when you read through the oreintal scholars.

As your views reflect that you are too far from the basic facts. And you have been a victim of superficial rhetoric.

We can always have dialogue, but please get your basic facts clear. Then it would be a proper dialogue.

I am not sure whether you have visited the Arab lands. Please visit and see how westerners are respected in these lands.

My only request is open your heart. Be objective. Then read. I pray to Allah that he gives you the right spirit to understand Islam and Muslims.

And I hope and pray that you one day may see the light. And embrace Islam.

I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan.

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

30:33 And when adversity touches the people, they call upon their Lord, turning in repentance to Him. Then when He lets them taste mercy from Him, at once a party of them associate others with their Lord,

30:34 So that they will deny what We have granted them. Then enjoy yourselves, for you are going to know.

30:35 Or have We sent down to them an authority, and it speaks of what they were associating with Him?

30:40 Allah is the one who created you, then provided for you, then will cause you to die, and then will give you life. Are there any of your "partners" who does anything of that? Exalted is He and high above what they associate with Him.

[Saheeh International - Riyadh]

(Assalamu alaikum)

It takes a strong person to accept and consider flaws as they are perceived from the outside, rather than feel hurt and lash back. Anyone who is going to lay blame for events that happened in the distant past had better first consider the other side of the story fairly and without bias. My fiance is a Muslim Arab living in the US, and I've observed in him and his friends a tendency to feel wronged by "the West", by history, by Christians. There's an inability to let go, to always bring up ancient wounds, to blame others before first asking oneself what responsibility one bears for the current situation. And above all, there's a tendency to think "Muslims" vs everyone else, and keep a giant karmic scorecard, instead of realizing that all throughout history, people have wronged one another for all kinds of reasons, and Muslims are not being singled out right now any more than AIDS victims in Saudi Arabia, Berbers in Morocco, Christians in Pakistan... Let he who hasn't sinned throw the first stone, right?

Ignorance and apathy are the causes of problems everywhere, but arrogance can lead to willful ignorance- and arrogance very often comes to play in religious dialogues. Romesh has a point: How can we discuss if we are not even willing to admit negative truths about ourselves/our cultures/our ways of believing? He seems neutral to me, and while he pointed out some weaknesses relevant to the article and this discussion, I'm sure he could do the same on any topic that he's informed about. So why resort to nasty personal attacks? He has a point about the need to be open, and I agree that if any understanding is to happen TODAY, these ancient wrongs have to be dropped, because the world is evolving all the time, and we have to be willing to admit our flaws and give constructive criticism. Jeez man, didn't our moms all teach us to play nice?

Actually, Romesh Chander has expressed strong empathy for the oppressed in Chechnya and Palestine - if my memory serves well. Of course those are political causes and the topic of discussion here is religion.

Assalamu alaikum.

--Yahya Bergum

Romesh...I'll listen to you, and what you're saying, but itdoesnt' mean I am compelled to agree with you. In fact I don't have to agree with you at all, because in so far you have not provided me with any realistic, positive steps towards finding a common element between yourself nad the many Muslims here.

I would suggest to you, that if you are trying to make dialogue with Muslims, then stop attacking them on this website...hmm maybe then you will start to accomplish something. When you are ready to think outside of the box you have built for yourself, then MAYBE you can talk to Muslims who lived through the massacres of Sabra and Shatilla in Lebanon, and the slaughter of Muslims in Sarajevo by Christians!! WHen you talk to a person who has actually survived it and seen the bodies of Muslims piled up, then maybe once you start to think outside your ignorant little box, then you will be able to create a dialogue with Muslims. If you want dialogue, show some respect when you come here, don't think that when you spit in our face we are going to smile at you and welcome you wiht open arms...just take your hate somewhere else, and that goes to anyone else who thinks they can come here and say the battles of Yugoslavia and Lebanon were worht nothing. YOu have no right Chander. Arrivederci.

Assalamu alaikum, Muslima. I think the points in the article at are essentially correct. If you intended your comment to serve as a warning for Muslims then I would say that the warning you intended is certainly a valid warning. Jazak Allah khair.

My personal interest is to at least encourage Jews and Christians to obey Allah - according the books they are using - whether or not I would consider their theology to be correct - or the books they are using to be out of date or tampered with. Also, I think that my understanding of Al Quran and Ahadith is improved by the study of Allah's former books and numerous writings that those former books have inspired. In the absence of "Islamically annotated" editions of the former books and writings they have inspired, I simply have to entrust my faith to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). It is either that or explain why I was disinclined to (at least) study the former books (if not the inspired writings). May Allah reward you for good deeds and intentions.

--Yahya Bergum

The comments so far prove my point that the dialog between muslims and non-muslims is an exercise in futility.

To talk to each other, one must listen to each other. The comments so far indicate that they never cared to read my post. No where I talked about India or Hinduism in my post. I mentioned that some definite changes in Islamic thinking are needed; nobody cared to comment on them; I assume that they will literally follow every word of Koran, even though they are no longer applicable in the modern age and in a multicultural, multireligious world and nation-states; this implies that they assume that Islam is 100% correct and every other religion must be wrong; and that it is the others who need to change and not muslims (or Islam).

Well, with this kind of thinking, folks, there is no possibility of any useful dialogue between muslim and non-muslim civilizations; rather there will be a long and drawn-out clash lasting several centuries. Recent examples -- Civil Wars in Lebanon and Yugoslovia. Did muslims gain anything from these 2 clashes? I doubt they are likely to gain anything from any future clashes between civilizations.

H.A. completely agrees with Akbar Khan. I could not have said better. Ramesh Chandar thought he could get away with his false accusations and bias toward Muslims.

Whether you agree or disagree with the points of view on this site.Trying to bring an understanding and promote peaceful relations is the most important thing.The lack understanding and poor education must be eraticated.The world must learn, 1. We don't chose where we are born. 2. Do to others as you would have done to you.[All you need is love.]Our differences are what makes humankind beautiful and unique.Arguements about who is right or wrong.What kind of injustice was done in the PAST, is keeping humankind from "real understanding".Real global problems such as "hunger",Will never be solved arguing about humankinds suttle differences.Instead we just continue to hate and destroy what is ultimately you and me,us and them,man and woman,humankind.

Shalom Aleichem. Forgive my ignorance. I have a question for subscribers to Talmud.

As I understand it, you are not supposed to prostrate yourselves on stones engraved with pagan symbols. Under what circumstances might it be permissible to prostrate yourselves and - forgive me - why might you appear reluctant to do so? (Peace.)

May the Lord of the worlds will that peace be received by all those who are concerned with Israel. May it be that peace be received by us all. Ameen.

--Yahya Bergum

Never the less, Romesh Chander, I'm proud of you for reading it! It has advice for even atheists.

In response to Romesh Chander: I think you need to get real with your knowledge. Muslims have lived in peace and harmony with Christians and Jews in non-European places in the world ever since Islams extremely rapid expansion over the course of 50-100 years beginning in the 7th century. If you took the time some history of the world, you might have known that other faiths enjoyed the right to practice their faiths 100 percent in coexistence with Islam. When it came to Jerusalem, the holy church of the sepulcher to Christians was ordered destroyed by Al-Hakim, and even though his successor rebuilt the Church, Pope Urban II ordered the Christians to battle the Muslims; so when the unholy Crusaders entered the Holy Land of Jerusalem, they massacred everyone they could find, Muslims adn Christians alike. It was said in a message sent back to the Pope from the Crusaders that they killed so many people that they were up to their knees in blood on horseback.

Now, Mr. Chandar, what do you know about Muslims and how they are not changing their ways? You talk about Islam being rigid and unable to comply to modernization, yet you do not even know that the metaphysical, philosophical literature, and scientific, mathematical knowledge from the likes of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and those of Ancient Egypt, and Al-Hind that existed in the world, was translated into Arabic by Muslim scholars, because the Europeans were in the dark ages and the Church considered such knowledge blasphemous? So when you see Muslim thinkers such as Ibn Rushd (known as Averros in Europe) being recognized as one of the greatest thinkers in philosophical thought, and that his name is taught in European schools and universities, I know that your entire suggestion that Muslims are unwilling to change is wrong and misdirected. In fact Muslims should be recognized for their preservation of Western basic thought, as they took the arabic translations and retranslated them back into LATIN.

Actually Romesh, what needs to change is your Hindu fanatism. All BJP boys like you ever do is blame the problems of India on its Muslims.
Now granted that most of you are indoctrinated to dispise anyone who isnt a Hindu, especially monothiests, but ultimately you have to realize that the problems in India are a result of its own backward Hindu caste system.
I wouldnt selectively cite Quranic verses if you were you, particularly if I'm privy to the salacious and insane passages of the Bhagavant Gita and Vedas. So calm down and watch some cheesy bollywood flick...something more up your alley.

regarding Abrahamic Faiths...I am this article

"The problem is as I said, is that an argument has appeared or an idea which is I believe very much popular in the United States, saying that the Jews and Christians are belivers and we are all from the Abrahamic faith. And this is a very dangerous concept. Indeed, it can lead a person to disbelieve in Islaam. And that is because whoever claims that a non-believer is a believer or says that the non-believers' religion is true or doubts concerning the non-believer, whether he is a non-believer, he has left Islaam, by the concensus of the scholars. "
" "Abraham was neither a Jew or Christian", so therefore this claim that the Jews and Christians are from this thing called the Abrahamic faith and the Jews and Christians and Muslims have therefore some special bond that should draw us together to work to fix the environment (i.e. specifically because of that 'bond'), or whatever they want us to do, is a false call."

I dont know what to believe?

I agree w/ Sharif from Scotland regrading his reply to John Norman. I couldn't have said better.

As long as we have narrow-minded, ignorant, and compartmentalized-minded individuals like Ramesh Chander and John Norman, who are obviously Islamophobic, and who loves to live in a box, instead of going out to meet people of other faiths, NO BRIDGES WILL BE BUILT.

I am sure that there also many MUSLIMS who also live in the same kind of non-porous dark and dimmy boxes, like John Norman and Ramesh Chander. People like these always like to cast blame on the other side. Instead of being part of the solution, they are part of the problems.

They are so proud and haughty of who they are. They do not understand the definition of word humility and co-existence.

My solution to the problem: ROUND UP people like Ramesh Chander, John Norman, and Muslims and others (Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews) like these two "SUPER EARTHLY HEROES" and tie all of them in a dark bag, take them to the orbit, and kick them into space and let them float in space in for eternity. I am sure they would be fascinated by the sight of BLACK HOLES (the dark, dimmy boxes of space).

I thank all the interfaith groups for working hard to narrow the differences and to wake people up about the commonalities that exist b/w people of all faiths.

Let me stop writing... my blood temperure is 106.5 degrees F.


With all due respect, "invalidating Talmud" seems to me about as logical as "invalidating Tafsir." Both sets of writings are inspired by Allah's revelations. With the exception of certain rules that are, as I understand it, suspended - in the absence of a functioning Temple on the Mount - I personally know of nothing in Talmud that would be in conflict with what Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) commands, advises or otherwise warns us about via Al-Quran and Ahadith.

In my opinion, inspired writings are not the problem. The problem is the use of such writings to justify oppression. If I am not very much mistaken, Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) addressed this exact same issue - regarding the Jewish priest caste's application of Talmud.

If anyone feels that I am in error then by all means they ought to feel free to say so. My comment is after all submitted in reference to an article promoting interfaith understanding.

Assalamu alaikum.

--Yahya Bergum

No doubt the bridge between the Abrahamic faiths has improved in recent years, especically due to 9/11, but as Muslims, we cannot rely on such a feeble agreement. It is definitely necessary for Muslims, Jews, and Christians to be mindful and tolerant of one another, as our Prophet Muhammad (may Allah (swt) bless him and grant him peace) showed us ideally during the spread of Islam in his (saw) era. However, the ummah is in an entirely different state today. We not only have enemies surrounding us, we are enemies to one another--Muslims do not consider themselves to be of one. Many are attempting to close the gap between the Islamic and Western cultures by launching new forms of awareness, but at this point, it is simply not enough.

General consensus shows there is apathy and sometimes blatant hatred for Muslims and Islam in the West. The author mentions Jerry Vines and Franklin Graham, both of whom made degrading remarks towards Islam. Although the comments were denounced by Christian councils as false, the sad truth is that they are the personal preachers of the President and of the White House. With such ignorance present at the core of the American government, how can Muslims ever feel comfortable? Though the efforts of ICNA, ISNA, CAIR and countless other groups are highly commendable and necessary, Muslims can't expect to be freely accepted in a land where they have always been persecuted. We must be constantly vigilant; trusting our enemies will be our downfall and we must be aware of covert evils.

John Norman,
You sound vicious ... Can't you understand that God has cursed people like you because they always look for trouble-making? You sound like Adolf Hitler because you do not only hate Christians and Muslims, you hate Jews too. You cannot be anyone of these because they all respected God's commandments.

Understanding is very important, but not just among the leaders of the world, but among the less educated and less informed common folk as well. In America, so many Christians still think that Allah is a moon god, and trust me-- you won't find many evangical Christians writing articles that call for understanding of Islam or siding with the Muslim people. They are more likely to side with Jews (for policitcal reasons?) even though Judaism and Islam have much more in common, and even though Jews would beg to differ. On AM radio I have heard such incredible anti-Muslim talking points re-hashed again and again with no academic basis, all from "experts" who do not even know Arabic! They are such blatant agent provocatuers, stirring up hate. However, to say that there is not any propaganda in the Mid-East is rubbish as well. Muslims and Christians need to be very careful about those who provoke them to war and to fight one another. Or, as Caesar used to do, pit one against the other so that they both ruin each other. Islam and Christianity stand in the way for many social engineer-types who despise religion and want to implement a totally secular state. So, these efforts for cooperation are very good. Muslims and Christians need to make sure that religious expression is always a right in this nation, instead of our country just turning into one big secular state. America is much more religous than Europe and that is something to be proud of. In God We Trust! Amen!

Excellent points Sharif. The biggest mistake the Muslims ever made was give sanctuary to those who fled Europe's anti-jewish pogroms. We can see today the fruit of that endevour. What is needed is a jewish reformation, one which is fully divorced from Zionism and invalidates the Talmud.

There have been plenty of attempts in the world made at dialog between Muslims & Christians/Jews. All of them have failed. The reason being very simple that muslims refuse to change their 7th century koranic concepts for the modern age, especially concepts of Dhimmi, Ummah (conflict with nation-state), Apostasy (once a muslim, always a muslim; once a mosque, always a mosque), Blasphemy, Caliphate, polygamy, human rights, separation of mosque and the state, and practice of Jihad (currently it is equivalent to terrorism and nothing else).

Unless, muslims change their concepts, any dialogue will be an excerise in futility. Rather, it is more likely to lead to an inevitable Clash of Civilizations; we just witnessed one recently (the disintegration of Yugoslavia into 6 pieces). If the muslims keep up with this thinking, they should not expect any love and flowers in the western world, at least. Muslims want to live in the western world to enjoy its blessings but refuse its obligations to the nation-state and supermacy of civilian man-made laws over religious dictates; moreover, they refuse to give the same rights to Dhimmis living in the muslim countries as they enjoy themselves. After 9/11, even Mr Mufti has toned down his criticism of the west to enjoy its blessings and avoid its wrath, but I doubt he has changed his mind regarding the old koranic concepts (you can't fool people that easily).

Get real folks.

Reply to John Norman

I guess ur another person who belongs to that Zionist faction. Always have to bring out the bad about Muslims.
John, have you forgotten all the wars of conquest and imperialism of the Christian West? The Romans, then the Crusades, then the rest of Europe taking over all the world. Quite a selective memory you have, john. The Christian west has left much more death/destruction than the Muslims ever did, much more. And now, look at Israel. Responsible for messing up the whole of the Middle East. The biggest problem the world now faces is how to stop Israel from causing WW3. So John, take your head out where the sun dont shine.

MUTEE' FROM U.S. said:
As Salaam Alaikum
Only to fill in on your research findings concerning interfaith dialog from 1978 to 9/11.
Imam W Deen Mohammed gave an address at the vatican and met with Pope John Paul II. This Imam has long been working hard in the area of interfaith. The media does it's best to ignore this movement among others.
In 1975, with the help of Allah he began as leader, turning the then Nation of Islam to bearing witness to worshipping Allah only and Muhammad of 1400 years ago is His last Messsenger. Under the burden of racism within the group and racism without the battle is being fought.
In the U.S. what script will we follow? Will we have to leave like Lot? Is our future like Moses people with Pharoah? Will we go thru the events of Joseph life? The best is the life of Prophet Muhammad,the Peace of Allah be upon him and his followers. Al Islam came to remove the yokes from the people. The U.S. is in a state of ingorance like pre-Islam Mecca. We need to nourish our mind and hearts with this wonderful site and support it and others that carry the Truth.

Ignorance of each others creeds and doctrines may act as nails in the coffin of dialog but they are pounded in by our professions of faith. We are to make no distinction between the prophets and yet nearly every profession of faith mentions a human being along with God. Why is this? It is to identify each person as a follower of one prophet or another and separate them on the basis of that prophet. The reality is that every prophet was taught by the same Creator and so the differences in theology are the result of human factors. The commandments may have variations due to the needs of the people but the theology should be identical. This "association" of humans with God in the profession of faith is an opening for the refusal of universal monotheism as well as refusing to fulfill the commandment of being brothers and sisters to all humanity. Instead of working toward the greatest commonality, which would eventually become complete, nit picking starts in over the variety in the commandments or the personality of the prophets and minds close.
Take an eraser and think of each point as a combination of behaviors. Make a cut across the eraser and think of that as cutting off a set of behavior combinations as a commandment would do. There are always a few people within any group that will try to add more constraints until the volume left is just a point, or worse, a null or negative space. The whisperer of evil prompts these people to make the religion a burden if not impossible.

As usual, a muslim leaves out any account of muslim wars of conquest, colonialism and imperialism that have left a lasting impression on the non-muslim world. Pity