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Muslim-christian Dialogue


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Today a group at my church hosted muslim guests for conversation, workshops and food! It was really wonderful. These Muslims considered themselves "progressives". We broke off into small groups and connected one-on-one. We talked about our experiences with people of the other faith... discussed things in common and differences. We also talked about challenges in the relationships between Christians and Muslims.


We had 2 talks, one from Amir Hussein who teaches at California State University. Another from a feminist muslim activist in Toronto. We also had a wonderful Afghan lunch!


We used a great resource to guide our study, published by the United Church of Canada, called "That we may know each other." You can download or browse the PDF file here! http://www.united-church.ca/twmkeo/pdf/report.pdf


Has anyone else done this sort of thing?

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To All:


I live in a retirement community of some 400 residents in Colorado. Last summer we started an exploration of the Quran on our own. We meet for one hour at 1pm in our chapel here and proceed just as we would do if it were a study of the Christian Bible.I use the translation and insights of Muhammad Asad, a British scholar turned Muslim,as our source.


The meeting is open to all in the community, but so far we have not attracted Muslims, although we have attracted others of other faiths or of no faith.


So far, we have covered the first four "Surahs" most profitably.


As a member of the group, I have become aware of several aspects of the Muslim faith: 1) the doctrine of Allah as divine and the ineligibility of man for other than submission to the divine. The very word "islam" denotes this fact.2)the classification of Jesus as a prophet of a line of prophets of which Muhammed is the last.3) and the nature of the "Quran" as in a succession of expressions of divine intent which have arisen for the enlightenment of "The People of the Book" which include Jews, Christians, and Muslims.


It has all made for spirited debate, but we do need a few Muslims to join in. Perhaps this Board will prove to be an answer.



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RAMADAN MEETS ROSH HASHANAH & ASSISI: An invitation to interfaith sharing,

by Rabbi Arthur Waskow


Next fall (2005), the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish holy month of Tishrei (which begins with Rosh Hashanah) will coincide.


They will begin on or about October 3, and the saint's day for Francis of Assisi falls on October 4.


This confluence offers us an extraordinary moment for interweaving our celebrations in these three traditions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - the families of Abraham.


We have nine months to prepare - time to conceive, gestate, and bring to birth this joyful moment.


Nine months to create open hearts where now there are clenched teeth, to share tears with each other where now we shed each other's blood.


We are tottering on the precipice of religious and civilizational war. GOD HAS GIVEN US A SPECIAL GIFT to help us step away from the cliff: THE GIFT OF TIME. Time to help us walk hand-in-hand, listening to the Spirit alongside each other.


A few possible ways to share:


* Congregations can agree to share dinner after nightfall on any of the evenings of Ramadan, and carefully shape the dinner as a spiritual meal with prayer, meditation, storytelling.


Perhaps groups of six - including two people from each tradition - could share the stories of important moments in their own spiritual journeys.


Perhaps groups of three congregations - a church, a synagogue, a mosque - could each host one meal during the month for members of all three.


* Churches could invite Jews and Muslims to join in learning about and celebrating Francis of Assisi. (He was one of the few Christian saints who learned in a serious way from Muslim teachers.)


* Jews could invite Muslims and Christians into the "sukkah."


* Muslims could invite Jews and Christians to join in celebrating some aspects of Eid el-Fitr.


* Synagogues could invite Muslim scholars and spiritual leaders to teach in the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah how it is that Muslims understand the story of Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael. (The biblical version of the story is part of the Torah reading for Rosh Hashanah.) Then there could be open discussion of the differences, the similarities, the wisdom held in each of the versions of the story.


* Together, rabbis, priests, nuns, ministers, and imams - perhaps with their congregants - could take some action for human rights, for healing of the earth, for peace in the whole region where Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah sojourned.




We hope you will begin NOW to plan with others of the Abrahamic faiths in your own city or neighborhood.


(Rabbi Arthur Waskow is director of The Shalom Center - http://www.shalomnctr.org - and author of GODWRESTLING: ROUND 2.)

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