Whether the recent tragic shooting at the Sikh temple in Milwaukee was a case of mistaken identity or a deliberate act of anti-Sikh terrorism, the need for interfaith dialogue has become increasingly evident in its wake. Even though Sikhism is the fifth main religion in the world with about 27 million followers worldwide and 500,000 in the US, most Americans are prone to confuse its followers with Muslims or Hindus.
It is sad that within less than 24 hours of the Sikh temple shooting, another house of worship is made target of hatred. A mosque in Joplin Missouri is burned to ashes around 3:30 am Monday morning. How can the world expect tolerance when it is a breeding ground for ignorance? Peaceful and meaningful dialogue is important at every level. Communication not only helps set up relationships between families but in the broader community as well. It helps build bridges creating awareness and educating our neighbors about our values.
Understanding and appreciating the differences between religions and cultures is vital in a society as diverse as ours. With this in mind, the women’s auxiliary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Baltimore chapter organized an interfaith event recently on July 14, 2012 at the Community’s mission house located at 4406 Garrison Blvd. Baltimore. Women of different faiths were invited to come together and focus on the similarities between their religions. A panel of Christian, Bahai and Muslim women sat alongside each other to discuss the purpose of fasting in their religions.
The program started at 11:45 am on a Saturday. It began with recitation of the Holy Quran. Pastor Sally Yancey from the local New Solid Pentecostal Church then spoke on fasting in Christianity. The Bahai faith was represented by Eileen Wallace Carpenter. Ayesha Muhammad, a Sunni Muslim and Aasilah Faheem Lone, secretary public relations for the women’s auxiliary, spoke about fasting in Islam.
Pastor Sally Yancey said, “The purpose of fasting seems to be the same in all religions, including Christianity: getting closer to God, learning discipline, crucifying the flesh, and making the body follow you.” She was welcomed again when she visited the Ahmadi Muslim women for Iftar (breaking of fast) at the mission house on Saturday, August 4th.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community encourages interfaith dialogue and has been arranging interfaith discussions for more than a 100 years. With its motto of tolerance – “Love for all, hatred for none” – it makes every effort to promote peace in Baltimore, and, indeed, the world. Its worldwide spiritual leader (Khalifa), His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, said in his Friday sermon of July 27th 2012, “God has promised a reward for the believers regardless of the religion they follow if they do righteous deeds.”
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