Once the American Muslim community rarely ventured out of the confines of Islamic centers, yet interfaith communication has now become an essential part of its activities, at the local and national level.
This became abundantly clear following the 9/11 attacks, when Muslims realized their larger responsibility of communicating and collaborating with the broader American community.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam are united in their acceptance of the Abrahamic faith, and consider it as the source of inspiration and guidance for human life. The faith inherited from Abraham 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.
Despite doctrinal differences, 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 united to further the causes of humanity.
The Quran gives Jews and Christians the honorific title of "People of the Scripture," and Muslims are required to respect their faiths. The Quran admonishes: "And argue not with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is better" (29:46).
Muslims have a firm belief that the Gospels are a Scripture revealed by God. That Moses and Jesus are God's beloved messengers 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, a chapter of the Quran is named after the Virgin Mary, while none is named after Khadijah, the wife of Prophet Muhammad, or his daughter Fatimah, or his mother, Aminah.
Furthermore, verses in the Quran describe many of the miracles by Jesus that are not found in the Gospels.
Following 9/11, as Muslims feared, the biased media, controlled by special interest groups, and the Christian conservatives came out spewing vitriol at them and their faith. This suited the neo-conservatives with their hegemonic designs and establishing a domineering world empire.
Given this, various Islamic organizations in the United States such as the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American Muslim Council, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council met with Christian leaders to arrange interfaith meetings.
Their efforts materialized when organizations, such as the New York-based National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., adopted a resolution on Sept. 28, 2001, stating that Christian and Muslim religious workers will work together in monthly meetings to become more sensitive to Muslims and provide accurate information on Islam.
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 the Southern Baptist Church, and televangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. immediately condemned these statements, saying 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."
Siraj Mufti, Ph.D., is a researcher and free-lance journalist.
Again I wish to response to Christopher Ward's question. I don't have the answer now Chris.
But rest assured that I call upon Muslims to agree with interfaith meetings if the aim is to correct misconceptions on all sides, be it Muslims, Jews and Christians.
Please remember that the Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him ) had a sense of respect for the people of the Book during his Prophetic lifetime. In fact at one occassion, the Prophet ( p.b.u.h ) had offered the mosque to be used as a prayer for a group of visiting Christians. Isn't that respect of a high degree ?
Please Brothers and sisters in Islam, use whatever means available to have a good cexisting relationship between various faith. It would be of no loss to all of us. Yes, I understand the sufferings worldwide. But we have to examine those causes separately then and not use it as a reason to refuse a series of good dialogues.
I agree with the good intentions to have dialogues with the people of the Book. Never mind, it is expected that they would have their side of their opinions. In spreading the message of the truth, Muslims only need to fear ALLAH and not others.
Such dialogues should be held in a conducive atmosphere and must not be confrantational. It doesn't matter on their acceptance or non-acceptance of our message. We are there to speak out the truth, at least if GOD ask upon us in the Day of Judgment what have we done to spread HIS Message, at least we will be able to say that we have tried.
I am against this people who call for interfaith meetings and such, for the simple reason that they tend to sugar-coat our deen and sometimes twisting words in order to please the people of the book. It is true that as Muslims we do believe that the injil and Torah were reveled by Allah (SWT), who whould question that, but to say or make it sound like we agree that what the people of the book have today is what was reveled by the Creator, please! They have altered their books. I have seen these interfaith meetings on TV and it involves Muslims attending christian services, which involve shirk, in order for them to see that we are open minded people. One thing is to be open minded, the other to participate in services that involve shirk. So brothers don't compromise your deen in order to please anyone. Since the people of the boook will not be pleased until you believe what they believe.
Please consider Mark 9:41 -- and then perhaps consider why you might feel it is essential for me to believe exactly as you believe. Would it not be enough to remind me to heed the Qur'an, if you happened to agree with something the Qur'an said, even if you were unaware of (perhaps) inviting me to believe as you believe? I am grateful for your attempts at interfaith dialogue.
[Qur'an 29:46] And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)." --- Yusuf Ali
[Qur'an 29:46] And argue not with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, "We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him." --- Saheeh International
[Mark 9:41] "For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward." --- Revised Standard Version
I do agree we should speak and not argue together in this atmosphere with friendship. However, I am not sure what "The Quran admonishes: "And argue not with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is better" (29:46)" really means. If the Quran holds the true religion and Christians have been fooled would Muslims not then have to argue with us about God all the time? I am not sure what this quote is suppose to mean. Could anyone explain further?
2. Following 9/11, as Muslims feared, the biased media, controlled by special interest groups, and the Christian conservatives came out spewing vitriol at them and their faith.
I completely agree that wether the vitroil is factually correct or not, spewing it is not a Christian thing to do. A fisherman how pounds the water with anger will not catch many fish.
What needs to occur is a peaceful council in which Muslim and Christian leaders get together face to face and talk out their differences. There are many questions each side has and many misconceptions that can truly only be solved in this manner.
Now then, with all due respect, Matthew 18:18 appears to be telling Christians that at least some of the Christians have (or perhaps once had) the authority to change Allah's (i.e., God's) rules, as the occasion would appear to warrant. Also, Matthew 28:9 reports that at least a few of Christ's disciples worshipped Jesus Christ (upon whom be peace) without being admonished for having done so. Actually, Muslims might be surprised by just how many Christians have expressed mixed emotions concerning those verses.
Note that I myself had previously read the New Testament before ever studying the Qur'an. I am especially therefore not in a position to know what is best for Muslims who have not done similarly. My suggestion would be to perhaps tell Christians that Muslims have been warned about fundamental differences between the Gospels and the Qur'an (differences which do indeed appear to exist). Beyond that, I would simply suggest that Muslims avoid offending Christians by presuming to know what they themselves have never actually read -- insha'Allah (i.e., God willing).
Assalamu alaikum (i.e., peace be with you -- i.e., Peace be unto you -- i.e., Shalom Aleichem).
Also, I would suggest that the significance for Christians of "the table" (Quran 5:112-115) is not so much that it is a miracle not reported within the four Canonical Gospels but rather, in my opinion, that it is a warning about asking and receiving something extraordinary from Allah (i.e., God) and then casually slipping back into error again.
Assalamu alaikum / Shalom Aleichem / Peace be unto you.