The Broken Dialogue

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality Topics: Interfaith, Jews Values: Tolerance Views: 6966
6966

Jews and Muslims have been tied together by culture and history for centuries. For over a thousand years both peoples have contributed to the Middle Eastern civilization. But this relationship has become increasingly difficult in recent years. Blood, tears and violence has marked these relations. Both sides continue to blame the 'other'.

The 'other' and the problems they create - have been used as an excuse to hide behind the ignorance that has shaped our views about each other. The mass media -  in most part- has dehumanized the 'other' and has played a significant role in perpetuating the distrust, misperceptions, skepticism, fear, hatred and violence against each other.

Islam and Judaism -  the two monotheistic faiths, have lost their identities in the political chaos of today. The distinction between religious identities and that of political one has been blurred to a point where Islam equates to Arabs and terrorists and to be a Jew means to be an Israeli. Neither all Muslims are Arabs nor all Jews are Israelis and neither do all adhere to the same political philosophies.

Most of us today, emphatically defend our political positions but have lost focus on creating and having a constructive dialogue between Islam and Judaism. Not only have these two Abrahamic religions shared the same roots and ancestry through Prophet Abraham, they are joined together by faith in the One God.

The Muslim testimony of faith--la ilaha illa Allah, "There is no god but God" - has been narrated in the Torah by: "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). While the latter words are not found in the Muslim testimony of faith, they are found in the Quran: "Truly the believers are those whose hearts quiver when God is remembered." (8:2). Islam has a deeply universal spirit. Its message for all humanity is one of peace and mutual respect. It has built into it respect for Judaism and Christianity.

As Muslims and Jews, we have a responsibility to create a world where we can live together in peace and with dignity. Many of us believe that Jews and Muslims cannot co-exist because of the political divide. But both religions emphasize the need to live peacefully with others. Prophet Muhammad (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) - once said: "None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." The Torah says, "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18)

Even in the contemporary world, France and the United States are examples where the Jewish and Muslim communities live together in harmony, despite their religious and political differences.

Its not that Muslims and Jews cannot co-exist but words like 'Jewish lobby', 'Jewish conspiracy', and statements like 'Jews are the main cause of most problems in the Muslim world' keep not only reappearing in our discussions but it adds fuel to the fire of ignorance. The imagery of Jews and their nefarious plans against the Muslims are portrayed in the Muslim media as much as Muslims being terrorists and hating the freedoms of the west in the western media.

Among the Muslim world, it is still rare to hear Muslim voices that encourage dialogue. Mostly, this attitude is explained as an outcome of deep rooted frustration. Muslims in most parts of the Islamic world have been disillusioned by their governments, and they blame the west for keeping those governments in power and hence their reluctance to a dialogue.

What as Muslims we overlook is that nothing in Islam allows us to reject or harm a human being due to his/her religion, language or ethnicity. The message of Islam requires respect of Jewish faith. Jews have been called "The People of the Book", in the Qu'ran. Prophet Mohammed (May Peace be Upon Him) constantly taught respect for all human beings, with all their differences. One day, he stood up out of respect when he saw a funeral procession nearby. When someone told the Prophet that it was that of a Jew, he replied "Is it not human soul?"

During the initial phase of the Prophet's time in Medina, the Prophet Muhammad said: "He who is unjust with a contractor (Christians and Jews of Medina), I shall bear witness against him on the Day of Judgment". Later, during a period of conflict between Jews and Muslims, eight Qur'anic verses were revealed to absolve a Jew who had falsely been accused of a crime by a Muslim.  

The recognition of Moses and the Torah is as much a part of Islamic teachings as the belief in all the other Prophets and the divine Books. In the light of these teachings, we, as Muslims cannot continue to perpetuate the negative image of Jews in the name of Islam. 

It is the responsibility of all Muslims and Jews to recognize the link between Islam and Judaism. From the Muslim perspective, it also means that we must respect the pain and suffering of the Jewish people during the Second World War that has had long lasting effects on the Jewish way of thinking. This is not to say that the Palestinian issue should be overlooked. From a Jewish point of view, they need to understand that Islam is not their enemy; it never was and will never be. Those who use Islam as tool to propagate hate and violence must not be taken as the voice of Islam.

As much as it is the responsibilities of the Muslims to take this message to their communities, it is as important for Jewish communities all over the globe to reciprocate. Both sides must understand that criticism of a regime either in the Muslim world or Israel does not mean disrespecting Islam or Judaism.

Muslims and Jews alike should work together to have a constructive dialogue to break down the existing prejudices and discover the 'other'. Continuation of keeping ourselves ignorant of the 'other' will ultimately have devastating consequences religiously, socially and politically. If we fail to have a dialogue, we may lose our generations to hate and violence.

Young people are not only the future, as the clich commonly goes. Young people are the ones who can change the world right now. It is they who are being mis-educated and they who are acting violently when they learn to hate.

Young people are the most fluent in the language of the Internet -- the language that is rapidly changing our world. They are in the best position to use this tool.

The question is whether this tool will be used for hate or for co-existence, for destruction or for respect. Groups that care about building bridges between Jews and Muslims must learn, unfortunately, from the model of White Supremacist groups and from Al-Qaeda -- who have brilliantly used the Internet to popularize their views. This medium needs to be taken back by those who wish to heal the world.

The young people of the world are the 'consumers' in the marketplace that every one with an agenda wants to win over. Educators for tolerance and respect and understanding must confront the reality that those with a far more sinister agenda are winning a game that the rest of us have hardly learned how to play.

Children of Abraham, an international non-profit organization, shares the same beliefs that youth dialogue is critical if we want to have a safer world. It is young people who commit the majority of violent acts and it is teenagers who are mature enough to take advantage of educational opportunities like Children of Abraham, while young enough to be transformed by them. 

The organization uses the Internet as a subversive tool -  bypassing many of the parents, teachers and clerics who would like to see our two peoples remain in mutual isolation. Teenagers are already online. Unmediated by adults with ulterior motives, youth forum on Children of Abraham provides a means for Jews and Muslims to communicate directly.

The four month, intensive online seminar known as the Discovery Program creates an opportunity for nine Muslim and nine Jewish teenagers from 18 different countries to participate in a wide range of discussions online four-five times per week. In future, the Children of Abraham will have a public forum for Muslim and Jewish youth all over the world to communicate directly with one another as little or as often as they would like.

The interaction between these students will result in a Jewish-Muslim educational guidebook.

If you are interested in applying for the Discovery Program 2006, click on the following link http://www.children-of-abraham.org/interns/application.php

The author is the co-executive director of Children of Abraham. You can contact her at : [email protected]


  Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality
  Topics: Interfaith, Jews  Values: Tolerance
Views: 6966

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Older Comments:
FIREBALL FROM US said:
This is his own opinion. We dont have to learn from the Jews. He works for them and propagates their view point. He is really voice of the jewish lobby. And it should be condemned. Look at all the miseries of the muslims and then tell me if ew should have a dialogue with the 'other' who are a cause of all this pain?
2006-02-21

HUDD FROM CANADA said:
What's your problem Doin? What do you want to achieve? You are not here on this website to learn about Muslims and try to understand. You are here to create discord and strife! I wonder, what would be your purpose in doing that. I understand your Jewish background automatically sets you on the side of Zionism and thus US politics, but however hellbound you are to prove us(Muslims) wrong, your work would be a Sisyphean self inflicted punishment.

5:63 is a description of a chosen option by the parties involved. Rabis and Priests could do exactly what they are suggested to do:"Why do not the rabbis and the priests forbid their evil speaking and their devouring of illicit gain? Verily evil is their handiwork." Those that listen are saved but persecuted for their truthfullness by their own kind that chose to continue in mischief. However, they would be true to their office,i.d.,spiritual leaders versus political stooges. The choice is theirs. Whatever Holy Script is there favouring the evil doing and the illicit gain? Are you tripping or what is your point? I agree with you, there couldn't be any dialogue between Muslims and Evil-doers. Still, a dialogue could be held between Jews and Christians, those that are honest seekers of truth and justice.

Doin, I don't believe that you are as stupid as you try to present yourself. 5:60 is allegorical, dah! I've seen people(irregardless of their original faiths) turned into monkeys. People that go to strip clubs and get themselves drunk then drool over dancing naked women and then have sex with whomever available, man or woman. Women that flaunt their sexuality in public places and pick up their monkey partners for a "quicky"! Oh, yeah, I saw pigs too. The pigs that entertain themselves in child pornography or child sex. The pigs that abduct young women for the purpose of forced prostitution,etc. H.A. told you that your mind was feable, I couldn't agree more. You cannot read the Holy Quran as you read the Bible.
2006-01-07

DOIN PHINE FROM CANADA said:
To Hudd, I would like to thank you for your comments. I found it to be contructive and helpful to me. I read the verses, and I found them helpful to my understanding especially 5:63

5:63 Why do not the rabbis and the priests forbid their evil speaking and their devouring of illicit gain? Verily evil is their handiwork.

I don't believe 5:63 would help for dialogue either.

Also an extract from 5:60 "Allah hath turned some to apes and swine, and who serveth idols.", seems to make it alright to turn some none Muslims into apes and swine. That wouldn't help the dialogue would it now. However I don't know if it is meant for Jews and Christians or just people not of the "Book".

Finally I wish that you don't change what I say. I said I'm not your brother as we dont have the same parents, and that I'm not your friend because I don't know you. I never said that I wasn't a friend of Muslims, that is incorrect statement, and I would appreciate you correcting it. However If I gave you that impression I would like to apologise.
2006-01-06

HUDD FROM CANADA said:
My,my, Dion Pines, you upset me again with your calculated hypocracy. That you mentioned 5:51, this idea is imcomplete, it continues from 5:57 all through 5:66. Read it as you should read and remember, you were the one to deny that you were a friend or a brother to any of us Muslims. The Quran states not to take Christians or Jews as our protectors and guides. It would be like Jesus,pbuh,said:"They are blind leading the blind." If Muslims were blind they need not to go to the blind for guidance, dah! They need to go into the light that only God the Ruler of the Universe can provide. And God grants the seeing to whom He pleases. You might be blind and own the whole grain barn and be never hungry or wet. I prefer to be seeing and wonder in what God had created and give Him thanks even though I would be hungry and wet of the rain outside. Would then I deliberately blind myself just to share into your warm spot? Keep it. I prefer to be seeing and be as free as a bird.
I bid you Peace, mon ami, a bien tot!
2006-01-05

DOIN PHINE FROM CANADA said:
Verse 5:51 would make it difficult for Muslims to have a dialogue with Jews.
2006-01-05

S GANDHI FROM INDIA said:
islams and christians r twinbrothers
2006-01-04

YARON DAFFAN FROM AUSTRALIA said:
We all thrive for the same destinations, although the ways may vary. It is up to us to understand that loving each other and ourselves is an ESSENTIAL element of the path and not to use opinions as a means for violence or hate.
2006-01-03

MUCTARR BABA FROM THE GAMBIA said:
This is a message of Islam,as all muslims knows the message of Islam , is peace.So if we studied the content of this article as a believer of the message of our beloved prophet Mohamed pbuh,then one can easily see the meaning of Islam,which is peace.As a muslim ,I know the origin of the Arabs and the Jews,They all originated from prophet Ibraham.Then if two cousins can,t live in peace,then where is our Faith in our religion.There is satan in our mist who is playing around these two cousins to stay as enemies for ever.But I pray that Allah will touch the heart of these people and bring Salam to then and the whole world.INSHALA.
2005-12-26

NAJJAR FROM MOROCCO said:
Nice try "Children of Abraham" team, you will need more than a phony Internet site and few sincere Jews like the almost non-existent anti-Israel Jews (anti-Israel =no Israel as a country). But as an Arab leader said once; "Formerly, Arabs did not oppose the Jews. Nobody opposed the importance of the Wailing Wall for the Jews. Yet the Jews became totally different with the arrival of Zionism. They became hypocrital and aggressive. It became impossible to establish relations with them."

But, hey! according to even their own Holy Scriptures they dared to break the Covenant multiple times with Allah The Al-Mighty, what could prevent them from breaking or violating anything else with they fellow human beings?

But rest assured unlike your own brothers in Europe and other non-Muslim around the World, we do not hate the Jews because they are Jews, that would be definitely stooping very low and a grave sin by showing contempt toward God's creatures; we only hate the injustice, the treachery and the betrayal you have so far championed.

2005-12-26

SALIM FROM INDIA said:
you say that youth dialogue is critical if we want to have a safer world. but you are then saying this is that youre organisation is exist for destroy war. so you are say that you have solution for peace? it sounding like you are use the youth for a cheap propaganda.
2005-12-26

SYED HUSAIN FROM BANGLADESH said:
The problem with occupied Palestine land...part of which for the past 57 years or so has been renamed as 'Israel'...is really occuppied by the Zionists and not the Jews. The honest practicing Jews who know their scriptures well, suffer same kind of persecution as the Palestanians themselves do.

The Zionists are not peacemakers. Muslims can have a dialogue with the Jews and co-exist with them, but not with the Zionists.

I would suggest if you are trying to promote dialogue, do not misinform the young generation. Beside what are you going to tell the ordinary suffering Palestinians ..."Let's us start a new life ! and forget about the limb you lost or child you lost or father, mother, husband, wife, brother, sister you lost the land you lost .. come on ... have big heart " ??????????????

Unfortunately, we muslims lost the Land of Palestine primarily because of our own fault. We the the muslim people deviated from our Deen, compromised our ethics & values and as a result Almighty Allah has punished with the most horrible & throughly corupt leadership accross the muslim world and thereby He has increased our sufferings.

Your endeavour is a good one in theory & it can not be put in practice for one & only one reason ... we are not dealing with Jews here. It is the blood thirsty Zionist you have deal with, who also have powerful support from fellow anarchist .. the Bushies of world.
2005-12-26

NATIVE FROM USA said:
does this dialogue include how the Zionists are destroying Palestine, and want to wipe Palestinians off the face of the earth? no justice no peace - dialogue only for justice - not for flimsy liberal accomodation of the oppressive regime of the zionists.
2005-12-25

AUTHOR OF JEWISH LOBBY FROM PAKISTAN said:
Yes I am against it, just because we are children of Abraham its not means we are same. Its clear and every one can see that all over the world Jews directly or indirecty involve in the suffering of Muslims. Their main target to finish all non Jewish and Muslims are their first target because they know they are only one who can stand against them. We don't need any Author's advice it's clearly written in Quran that Jews and Christen is the enemy of Muslim and advised them to keep an eye on them. Yes I am agreed that Islam does not teach us to kill innocent human being all that happing is totally wrong and non Islamic. For me if some is doing that then they are Muslims.
2005-12-25

ATISH FROM CANADA said:
The author either ignores or forgets the fatc that Judaism has been hijacked by Ashkenazi Jews who are behind Zionism. The Sephardic jews (who are the original children of Ibrahim A.S.,) are no longer in control of affirs within the Jewish community.

We should be very careful in giving in ot the notion that Jews and Arabs have the same patronage.

Ashkenazi Jews are Caucasian by race who converted to Judaism during the crusades to avoid being crushed by the crusaders or the Muslims.

2005-12-25

DR EDRISS FROM US said:

I wonder why it's easy to call arab terrorists but hard to call jewish the Zionist nazists? at least somebody who shoot with American missiles an old blind disabled man, worth to be called nazist.

there is no Identity called Israelis!!! even the people who live now in Israel, agree that the old name is palistine.
for Islam and moslems, there is no problem that jew or others live in peace is they seek it. Submiting to Allah(Islam), since Adam, came to establish the right. it's the corrupted version of that submition who gave birth to what people name christianity or jewdaism. if the right belongs to jewish or whoever, the last message of submition insists on giving people their rights . in the other hand, the zionist nazists never ever believed to something called right or wrong. they believe just to their myths and the way they got lock up in the Ideology of "chosen people".

the history full of examples of ideologies similar to zionism. the 20 century witnessed 4 of them: the Italian fascism, the German Nazism, the zionism and the Imperial totalitarian japan. the 21 century still under the mercy of zionism and the hijacked American democracy who gave birth to what we can call Americanism.

from the Islamic side, the Dialogue is always open. anyone seeking justice has the right, according to Islam, to fair dialogue. there is something better in Islam than just dialogue: you can refuse dialogue and stay away from fighting Islam and moslems, respect the treadies AND you still have peace. your submition to God comes thru your free will.
the war waged by the oppressors, who invaded Islamic land for oil or to destroy Islam, had 90% of the world's media backing it with lies to demonize Islam and moslems. but the wrong, by nature, disintegrate with time.
If Islam advocate killing jew like what the news try to make you believe, why when christians were genociding them, they were welcomed in Islamic land!!!?
2005-12-24

UNKNOWN FROM UNKNOW said:
If she can open her eyes and mind and can feel the pain of Palestinian people. She might not write this type of article
2005-12-24

BRUCE FROM US said:
Finally, a voice of reason.
2005-12-23

A.REHMAN FROM USA said:
Excellent article, dialogue and understanding is the way to go. All the religions in the world teaches peace and harmony, in the end we have only one and same creator.
Last October I was doing a training in Thailand for RYS, Religious Youth Service, last day of the training one of the participants grandmother died in Indonesia-so the participant was very sad and upset, at that time all the 65 participants from seven different religions backround offered prayer for the departed soul, The grandmother was practicing Confucious religion, but youths from Islam, Buddish, Hindu, Taoism, Christian, Unification and Sikh did not see any different they all felt like it was their family member.
Wish you and organization in this noble cause.
2005-12-23