Article: Getting along in multifaith society, tips to

Discussion in 'Spirituality/Worship' started by TwoCatDoctors, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member

    Articles of Faith: Cleric offers tips to living in multifaith society


    IT WASN'T all that long ago that what most Americans knew of religions such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism came from books, not personal encounter or experience. That's changed. Not only have travel and technology made the world smaller, but America has become a religiously pluralistic nation. Islam is now the fastest- growing religion in North America.

    There are more Buddhists than Methodists in this country. Twenty-first century America is a land of many faiths. You are as likely to have a Muslim or Buddhist as a neighbor or co-worker as you are a Presbyterian or a Jew.

    How are people of different faiths to get along and live together? Jamal Rahman has some suggestions.

    Rahman, a Sufi Muslim, is a minister at the Seattle Interfaith Community Church in Ballard. Growing up in Pakistan, his parents taught him the three things Gandhi said about how to relate to people of a religion different from your own.

    "It is the sacred duty of every individual to have an appreciative understanding of other faiths," Gandhi taught. Not simply a good idea to know a little something about other religions, but our sacred duty! And not only that, we are to have "an appreciative understanding" of other faiths. For Rahman, the operative assumption is that every religion has beauty and value to be appreciated. That is the starting point.

    Rahman acknowledges that gaining such an appreciative understanding of other faiths can be a challenge in America because religion is often ignored in our schools.

    While he is all for separation of church and state, he doesn't see why that means religion can't be studied as any other important subject might be. Rahman believes religion to be an appropriate, even urgent, subject for study in schools, for training manuals and government briefings.

    Gandhi's second suggestion for loving our neighbors of other faiths: "We acknowledge and accept that every religion has truths and untruths."

    Be humble, Rahman says, about your religion. Love it, be devoted to it, but also know that it, too, is imperfect. The God to whom faith points and worships may be perfect, but religions are a complex mix of the sacred and the profane, the sinful and the holy. Rahman says that many anecdotes tell of Gandhi offering this suggestion, that every religion has truths and untruths, and then adding with a wink, "especially your own."

    Gandhi's third suggestion for living in a world of many faiths seems especially important today. "If a person of faith commits an evil or malicious act, do not criticize their faith. Instead, point out aspects of their faith that might guide better behavior." The idea, Rahman adds, is that we help one another to become better Muslims, Hindus, Christians or Jews.

    Rahman had a chance to practice that very teaching on a recent visit to the large Christian Faith Center in Seattle, where Casey Treat is the minister. In an effort to build relationships with evangelical Christians, Rahman and his friend, Rabbi Ted Falcon, attended worship at the Christian Faith Center.

    "Casey Treat preached a very beautiful sermon," Rahman said. "His theme was, when you meet someone who is in trouble, be like Jesus to them. Don't judge that person, be a help to them."

    It was a very beautiful sermon until the Rev. Treat said, "If you want to be filled with hate and anger, be a Muslim." After the service, Rahman and Falcon met with Treat. Referring to his words about Muslims as people who are filled with hate and anger, Rahman told the pastor, "I don't think Jesus would have said that."

    "I had to repeat that three times before Reverend Treat seemed to hear what I was saying, but eventually he did," Rahman said later with a laugh.

    If Rahman is a goodwill ambassador for his own Islamic faith as well as for respect and understanding among all faiths, he comes by it honestly. His parents were diplomats for their country of Bangladesh. Because of that, Rahman grew up not only in Bangladesh, but in Iran and Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

    Today, as one of the ministers at Seattle Interfaith Community Church and as a frequent speaker and teacher in the region, Rahman not only teaches Gandhi's ideas on relating to other religions, he lives them.

    Anthony Robinson's column appears Saturdays. He is a speaker, consultant and writer. His recent books include "Common Grace: How to be a Person and Other Spiritual Matters," and "Leadership for Vital Congregations." Want to suggest ideas for future columns? He can be reached at
  2. windblade

    windblade Active Member

    Wise and healing!
  3. springwater

    springwater Well-Known Member

    I find your courage to speak the truth admirable and your openness to learn more about and listen to the views of others while upholding your own refreshing.

    I know you have been through and sometimes have some difficult times but you have such a never say die are an inspiration for me.

    This particular article was so informative! I am a great admirer of Gandhi. Is it any wonder that this great man with his nonviolent ways did what might and force cannot do? He freed an entire huge nation from under colonial rule inspite of their many efforts to thwart his goal. And now the nation he strove so much for is one of the worlds superpowers!

    God Bless

  4. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member

    Thank you. I am so interested in learning about other faiths and beliefs and I think ultimately brings us closer together. Also learning about other faiths and beliefs does not diminish me as a person or diminish my faith. And from what I have read and learned here on this Spirituality/Worship board I feel more positive about the world than I did before because of the different faiths and beliefs and what they have shared here. It gives me more hope for a better world with all these wonderful people in it. And I hope that people continue to come here and share about their faiths and beliefs so that if we are asked about them, we will not judge harshly due to fear of the unknown--instead we will accept and welcome because we know there are wonderful things to learn and we are all brothers and sisters.