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Am I My Brother’s Keeper? The Imperative Nature of Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation

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At the center of the conflicts are members of government who have unabashedly supported anti-democratic efforts and espoused and promoted racist and Islamophobic rhetoric.
At the center of the conflicts are members of government who have unabashedly supported anti-democratic efforts and espoused and promoted racist and Islamophobic rhetoric.

Currently dominating the news is the ongoing violence taking place in Palestine. Pundits from news outlets worldwide are taking a stand on one side or the other without necessarily reporting the facts. The approach of The Islamic Post is different, in that our aim is to report what is truly going on and to condemn atrocities no matter who may commit them. Moreover, we hope to show that the differences that create the nidus, or underlying intention for these atrocities is to propagate and sow discord and hate.  Universally, we are creations of the Supreme Maker and were created to live together on His spacious Earth. Because this idea is paramount to the survival of mankind, it is the focus of this article.  

One of the most important and most polarizing aspects of who we are, that makes us different from one another, is our religious beliefs. We are living in a time when there are relentless forces whose objective is to destroy the fabric of humanity by causing strife between all of the major religions of the world. The Muslims of America organization is equally unyielding in our determination to prevent this by various means. We have held rallies and conferences to promote interfaith dialogue in many settings, and use our news voice, The Islamic Post, to continue stressing the undeniable truth that we are all one family of Almighty God. It is absolutely imperative that we understand how connected we are, for the sake of humanity. Just saying that interfaith dialogue is important does not convey how vital it is to our very survival.  

In the texts central to all of the Abrahamic faiths, there is an overall theme that cooperation and goodwill amongst the peoples of the world is of paramount importance.  

There are Parshios (sections) in the Torah, that mention how Jews are to view and act towards their fellow man. The Torah teaches to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’. Accordingly, Jews are to treat people with the same kindness, respect, and love that they would want for themselves, as doing so demonstrates the love of God. They are also taught to forgive and even pray for their enemies. The Talmud (Jewish law) dictates that Jews should respond to the evil of an enemy with good, as this can result in abolishing hostility and promote reconciliation among people. 

In some books of the Bible, these same principles are mentioned. The text contains passages extolling the importance of loving your neighbor, often also cited as a fundamental principle in Christianity, to treat others with kindness and respect. In the book of Matthew, it is said: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” This is a central dogma in Christianity, as it is important to show love and forgiveness to all–even people who are considered enemies.  

Muslims believe in the Old Testament and the Torah. The Holy Quran includes the essence of these books and one cannot be a Muslim without accepting this fact. The idea of treating others as you would want to be treated, forgiving, and praying for enemies is an inextricable part of the Muslim’s moral values.  

We also recognize that notorious groups of people over time corrupted the Bible, and as well changed the laws in the Torah.  We wholeheartedly ascribe to the idea that Almighty God sent His Messengers and Prophets (peace be upon them all) to restore law and propagate the truth. In order to thwart the various missions of the Messengers, there were people among them who promoted alternative ideas and false proclamations to sow discord and do away with all ideas of unity. 

Today, the same groups exist within the inseparable faiths of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Sects of so-called Jews, Christians, and Muslims (namely Zionists, Israeli-affiliated Christian denominations, Wahhabis, and Salafis), propagate their own agendas with the clear purpose of inciting conflict and sowing discord.  

These people cannot then be considered representative of their particular faiths in that they do not demonstrate the belief of unity as exhibited by the practices of all the Prophets, including Moses, Jesus son of Mary, and the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon them all). They in fact have the label of faith but not its essence. This is not being stated to promote strife, but truly out of love of and concern for humanity. There is a need for these influential yet wayward groups to be held accountable for the misguidance they spread and to embody the core beliefs of the major orthodox bodies of their respective faith communities – thus, making apparent the message of true unity these faiths intend.  

It is therefore crucial to our very existence that we come together and talk about what makes us the same as opposed to what makes us different. Promoting love, goodwill, mutual respect and cooperation for all dispels discord and conflict, and the division they cause.  Essential to this message of love and harmony, is that we unite in the idea that we are all Almighty God’s children and that those who attempt to create the wedge of difference have simply lost their way. They are content with saying they believe in their particular creed, without offering evidence of this claim. 

A critical benefit of interfaith discussions is not only that it can highlight our similarities, but it can also aid in identifying those who attempt to divide us. So, the short answer is yes! You are your brother’s keeper, and as he goes, so shall you.We are thus required to come together in interfaith dialogue so that we may realize that we are all children of Almighty God, obligated to live in peace – protecting and advocating for the rights of all humanity. We aren’t different, but a sum of our differences – meaning that we are one, unified community of mankind, not simply a collection of individuals. 

Ultimately, we are one body not a collection of parts. Failure to embrace the reality of this idea will continue to lead to situations like the one that is currently going on in Gaza. Thousands of innocent lives are being lost so that the agenda of wayward people can continue to be propagated. Muslims, Jews, and Christians cannot hold separate rallies or protests that condemn one another. We have to come together and hold the harbingers of strife accountable for the atrocities committed against human lives. In order to avoid the ultimate destruction of humanity, we must hold fast to the notion that interfaith discussions are not merely a choice, but an obligation. Only by this, will humanity be saved and the people of the world live in accordance with the Divine Plan of our Almighty Creator. May He allow us all the blessing of the best of health, peace, and prosperity.

Jemille Wasi, MD