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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Purpose of Interfaith Dialogue

The purpose of interfaith dialogue is to learn about each other, and to separate the myths from the realities.  To learn about each other as we believe and practice, and not what others say about us or vice-versa.

The bottom line is how do we build a society that all of us can learn to respect the otherness of others, and no one has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. Interfaith efforts are directed towards that goal. 

Prophet Muhammad is the first man to have conducted an interfaith dialogue.  Zarathustra, Moses, Krishna, and even Jesus did not have that opportunity. Prophet Muhammad was dealing with Judaism, Christianity, Pagans and other monotheistic traditions prevalent at that time. It was followed by the Muslims in Spain, and King Akbar in India.

Now we have many groups engaged in interfaith dialogue - there are about three or four of us who teach pluralism ; Aga Khan, Eboo Patel, myself and a few other Muslims. We have zero prejudice towards any faith, and we build Islam while building other faiths as well. Our Islam grows bigger as others faiths also shine.. our Islam does not hinge on diminishing or giving lesser value to other faiths.

Sadly, most of the fellow Americans have a singular perception of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus…. and others, and those perceptions were built up by media.  Even those who have been a part of the interfaith dialogue still are set in what is dished out to them for years.

Interfaith dialogue, removes those myths – hear me out, this is what Judaism is and not what you imagine, this is Islam, and not what you see on Fox…. INTERFAITH dialogue helps put together the real image of the group as opposed to what is out on television.  The input is coming from the respective religious representatives and not defined by someone else. 

How do we do that? http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2013/09/special-report-on-quran-burning-that.html
Indeed, in Quran 49:13 God says, I have created you into many tribes, communities…. And the best one among you is the one who knows each other.  God knows there will be conflicts with diversity, and then he tells us the best ones among us are those who learn about each other. Knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance of each other.

That is the ultimate goal of interfaith – to respect the otherness of others as Pluralism is defined by us.  That is you are who you are, and I am who I am. I will accept you the way you believe, dress, smile and I expect the same from you. In true interfaith meetings, there are no compromises, what is the need? After all it is a belief, and as long as it does not mess with my food, water, space and my loved ones, you are welcome to be who you are, as I will be who I am.

Of course, we will always have a few Muslim spies, Jewish spies, Hindus spies… and a few Muslims, Baha’i and Christians come to convert others, it’s a sport to them to see how many they can hunt.  They are a danger to building cohesive societies where no one has to live in apprehension of the other.

I am part of many groups and including my own – the rule is no one will even hint about conversion, or claim superiority of their faith over others. They can extol their faith, but never put down the other.

I have written quite extensively on the topic… Let me share the negative side of it which are few and far between:  http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2013/04/interfaith-disappointements.html
Mike Ghouse
(214) 325-1916 text/talk
Foundation for Pluralism
Studies in Religious Pluralism and societal pluralism
. . . . .

Mike Ghouse is a
speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism
, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.

1 comment:

  1. If you are interested in some new ideas on interfaith dialogue and the Trinity, please check out my website at www.religiouspluralism.ca, and give me your thoughts on improving content and presentation.

    My thesis is that an abstract version of the Trinity could be Christianity’s answer to the world need for a framework of pluralistic theology.

    In a constructive worldview: east, west, and far-east religions present a threefold understanding of One God manifest primarily in Muslim and Hebrew intuition of the Deity Absolute, Christian and Krishnan Hindu conception of the Universe Absolute Supreme Being; and Shaivite Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist apprehension of the Destroyer (meaning also Consummator), Unconditioned Absolute, or Spirit of All That Is and is not. Together with their variations and combinations in other major religions, these religious ideas reflect and express our collective understanding of God, in an expanded concept of the Holy Trinity.

    The Trinity Absolute is portrayed in the logic of world religions, as follows:

    1. Muslims and Jews may be said to worship only the first person of the Trinity, i.e. the existential Deity Absolute Creator, known as Allah or Yhwh, Abba or Father (as Jesus called him), Brahma, and other names; represented by Gabriel (Executive Archangel), Muhammad and Moses (mighty messenger prophets), and others.

    2. Christians and Krishnan Hindus may be said to worship the first person through a second person, i.e. the experiential Universe or "Universal” Absolute Supreme Being (Allsoul or Supersoul), called Son/Christ or Vishnu/Krishna; represented by Michael (Supreme Archangel), Jesus (teacher and savior of souls), and others. The Allsoul is that gestalt of personal human consciousness, which we expect will be the "body of Christ" (Mahdi, Messiah, Kalki or Maitreya) in the second coming – personified in history by Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Buddha (9th incarnation of Vishnu), and others.

    3. Shaivite Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucian-Taoists seem to venerate the synthesis of the first and second persons in a third person or appearance, ie. the Destiny Consummator of ultimate reality – unqualified Nirvana consciousness – associative Tao of All That Is – the absonite* Unconditioned Absolute Spirit “Synthesis of Source and Synthesis,”** who/which is logically expected to be Allah/Abba/Brahma glorified in and by union with the Supreme Being – represented in religions by Gabriel, Michael, and other Archangels, Mahadevas, Spiritpersons, etc., who may be included within the mysterious Holy Ghost.

    Other strains of religion seem to be psychological variations on the third person, or possibly combinations and permutations of the members of the Trinity – all just different personality perspectives on the Same God. Taken together, the world’s major religions give us at least two insights into the first person of this thrice-personal One God, two perceptions of the second person, and at least three glimpses of the third.

    * The ever-mysterious Holy Ghost or Unconditioned Spirit is neither absolutely infinite, nor absolutely finite, but absonite; meaning neither existential nor experiential, but their ultimate consummation; neither fully ideal nor totally real, but a middle path and grand synthesis of the superconscious and the conscious, in consciousness of the unconscious.

    ** This conception is so strong because somewhat as the Absonite Spirit is a synthesis of the spirit of the Absolute and the spirit of the Supreme, so it would seem that the evolving Supreme Being may himself also be a synthesis or “gestalt” of humanity with itself, in an Almighty Universe Allperson or Supersoul. Thus ultimately, the Absonite is their Unconditioned Absolute Coordinate Identity – the Spirit Synthesis of Source and Synthesis – the metaphysical Destiny Consummator of All That Is.

    For more details, please see: www.religiouspluralism.ca

    Samuel Stuart Maynes