Can Muslims and Christians co-exist – Symposium report 1 of 2
San Antonio, TX, Saturday, February 27, 2916 — Pastor Charles Flowers of Faith outreach center called on Christians and Muslims to share their perspectives on the subject matter in a symposium organized on Friday and Saturday.
No matter how difficult these conversations are, they are necessary to understand and learn about each other. God almighty in Quran says, the best ones among you are those who take the time to learn about each other, when we learn about each other conflicts fade and solutions emerge. God has created everything in order and in balance, and human greed and insecurities knock this balance off, and God advises us to restore it for our own good. The act of restoration is indeed a religious inspiration.
Every religion is beautiful and each one is designed to bring peace, tranquility and salvation to oneself, one learns to live in peace with himself or herself and with others. There is a shortage of Pastors, Rabbis, Imams, Pundits and religious men and women who have the integrity to say that others religions must be equally beautiful. My daughter said when she was around 10, “Dad, if the pastor tells the truth that all religions are beautiful, why would any one flock to his church?” The minute one feels or claims that his faith is the truth (and others are not), and is superior, it is religion no more, politics and greed have taken over the soul. To sell religion and have larger congregations, one has to lie about other faiths, what a shame!
Thanks to Pastor Flowers and Mrs. Janice Flowers for organizing this event, we were able to clarify a few misunderstandings, but a whole lot more needs to be done. God willing we will continue to strive to create heaven on the earth, where no one has to live in fear of the other. Pastor Flowers is a genuine guy, as he moderated the event with utmost sincerity and honesty, I applaud him for that.
Misinformation about Allah, Islam, Quran and the Prophet was painful to sit through and listen, particularly coming from my brothers who were former Muslims. May God bless them, and give them the knowledge to see that God is God of all humanity despite how we perceive him, her or it is one and the same.
On the other hand, we (Muslims) have failed to question the authenticity of the Hadiths, Ibn Hisham’s Seerah, the Sharia and the exegesis by Tamiya, Katheer, Maududi, Banna and others. Some of us have put these books on par with Quran, which we should have never done. In the next few yeas, we will be ready to sign a joint declaration that Quran is the only book for Islam – and the only quotes from Quran about Islam will be considered authentic.
We have to fix some of the Hadiths and Sharia books to be authentic and reflect Prophet Muhammad’s character who was a mercy to mankind. I don’t blame some of our friends from other faiths for being scared of what they read, and most of the time, they quote from these doubtful books, sincerely believing that it is Islam. As a Muslim, Quran is the only book for me, the material in other book will be authentic, only if it contributes to building peaceful cohesive societies. (Two Islams)
The format of the symposium did not allow me to present another point of view except shaking my head in disagreement when I heard things were way off. I was tempted to walk out a few times, instead I started scribbling Jesus’ mantra to turn the other cheek, meaning don’t do or say anything to aggravate the situation and started praying like them, asking the lord to forgive them, for they know not.
We cannot blame others for misunderstanding us without clarifying such misunderstandings, and making an effort to know others’ perspective. We have a lot of work to do. As Muslims, we have the responsibility to create a better world for all humanity.
The speakers included three former Muslims; Daniel Akbari, Kamal Saleem and Taufiq, and two practicing Muslims Raheel Reza and Mike Ghouse. Lt. Col. Roy White, and Joe Carey, both Christian Activists laid out the programs to counter Jihadis.
The social issues were addressed by four different speakers. Bishop Harry Jackson offered three lenses to look at the presidential candidates and I applaud him for his inclusivity, he responded positively if the candidate were a Muslim or a Hindu, if he or she would be qualified to serve. What a joy it was to hear him out.
Mrs. Alice Patterson presented how the primaries and precincts work. Her story of overcoming bias is worth listening to, and I have fought with myself not to have any bias towards another human and related with her story. Indeed she played a major role in organizing prayers when a Blackman Alfred Wright was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas in 2013.
Dr. Fernando Cabrera’s talk on education resonated with me, indeed, his parents told him exactly what my parents did – get education!
Gilbert Hernandez’s presentation was a big hit for me, and I hope to dedicate time for his project. So many young men and women are lost to the vultures form Gangs and Drug cartels. Muslim Youth are also facing similar problems, as a community we are deeply concerned and want to do everything to safeguard our kids from being recruited by the extremists. Gilbert’s passion to save our youth is admirable and I hope to connect him with Muslim organizations, they have a good system down to address this sorry state of affairs.
Blessed are the peacemakers, said Jesus on Mount Beatitude, which Prophet Muhammad practiced, and became a mercy to the universe. Following in their footsteps, unwaveringly, I hung on to their wisdom and remained a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer.
Raheel Raza and I gave our presentations on Friday night, which were received very well. I have full written up on my presentation, and will be available under the title of “My speech at San Antonio interfaith symposium about Muslims and Christians” at www.TheGhousediary.com
My commentary on the presentations of Kamal Saleem, Daniel Akbari, Lt. Col. Roy White, and Joe Carey will be finalized after the video or audio presentation becomes available to make sure I can quote them verbatim.
Pastor Charles Flowers concluded each segment with a summary and a graceful prayer. Fortunately, he chose to advance my calling that finding the truth is one’s own responsibility.
My last offering towards the very end of the program was that I will review each item and share my comments and suggestions about the program and publish it. Those who want to see another perspective are welcome to it.
My responsibility is to address the phobias and allay the fears; no American has to live in apprehensions or fear of fellow Americans. My role is to build bridges and free my friends from ill-will and malice.
Yes, Muslims and Christians have coexisted and will continue to do so, despite the shortcomings on both sides that mess up the relationships. I’ll summarize the historical, theological and social perspectives at a newspaper and then at the websites American Muslim Institution and ATF.
This is one of the rarest conferences I have attended where the host has set the highest standards of hospitality. How many people can I thank? Rosalie Astran, Zulmarie Santiago, Abraham Martinez and of course,
Twenty years from now our pastors, imams, rabbis, pundits, shamans and all the religious clergy will be telling the truth – that faith is in the heart of the believer just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
My faith is Islam and it is not superior to any religion, nor is any religion superior to Islam, claiming superiority is arrogance, and God in Islam does not favor arrogance, as it is the root cause of all evil and conflicts. Most Muslims get that right and a few don’t, just as with all other religions.
May God bring humility to us.