by Irfan Patel
The rise of Islamophobia, antisemitism, and racism over the last couple of years have been a very worrying trend. To combat these, interfaith dialogue and action are more relevant and urgent now than ever before. Too much time has been wasted in presiding over our differences and it is time now to focus on attributes that bind and unite us.
Interfaith dialogue efforts serve two important purposes – first, it allows us to get a deeper understanding of each other’s faiths and second, it provides us the opportunity to build synergy using the commonalities of our faiths. While the ignorant are working overtime to create divisions in our society based on faith, the only path left to us is to combat this threat collectively. We can do this by coming together, learning about each other’s faiths, and standing firm in demanding justice and equity for all.
As noted earlier, these last few years have been quite challenging. Thankfully, in Delaware, we have established a very strong tradition of interfaith partnership and a solid network of institutions that give us hope for the future. For example, when the Muslim Ban was announced in January 2017, our interfaith partners rallied and conducted multiple vigils in support of the broader Muslim community and our rights. Similarly, in the aftermath of various shootings at synagogues across the country, we all rallied in support of, and grieved with, the Jewish community, sending a strong message that we are all united against hate crimes targeting our faith communities. As the Imam of The Islamic Society of Delaware (Masjid Ibrahim) Sheikh Abdel Hadi mentioned in one of his speeches at that time, “an attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us.”
In fact, the doctrine of ‘the golden rule’ essentially defines the ethics of reciprocity – we should treat others the way we would like to be treated. Our faith traditions across the spectrum play a very important role in enabling the principles of the golden rule. Well-established interfaith networks and partnerships have the potential to alleviate the multiple levels of suffering that harm our community by building on the synergy of our core beliefs. And only by frequently referring back to our core values will we be better placed and equipped to fight for common good – racial justice and equality, human rights, equal access for all to basic needs such as education and healthcare.
Only through celebrating the diversity of our beliefs will we be able to truly envision a world with eternal peace. And it starts with a candid conversation – a dialogue. This is the time to bring all faiths together through interfaith dialogue. Let not history repeat itself.
To recall the now-famous words of Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller:
Irfan Patel is Interfaith Committee Chair at the Islamic Society of Delaware and Muslim Representative on the Delaware Council on Faith-based Partnership.
Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author and do not represent the positions of institutions, organizations, or individuals that the author may be associated with in a professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.