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Interfaith Programs

Toronto Interfaith Forum: On Relationship with God

Toronto, Canada - Author Qamrul Khanson greeted guests after the welcoming snacks and beverages at the January 7 forum on the theme of "The Relationship with God," with Rev. Stoyan Tadin as speaker. Excerpts of his speech follow.

God has given humans sufficient freedom to choose between right and wrong. Such freedom is not valued by many, who use this beautiful opportunity in sometimes bizarre ways. Freedom is entrenched in the human psyche, and everyone loves freedom; but how to utilize such a blessed freedom has long been a topic of discussion among thoughtful people.

Beside freedom, God embedded a sense of love within each human being so as to create societies with fewer conflicts and more peace. But humans have been selective about how they manifest this love, and the result of such selectivity has pacified some and enraged others. The goal of peace often seems far from reach.

The fall of humankind resulted in the loss of love among humans and between humans and God. The loss of the love of God has led to unrighteous choices in life. We are in substantial need of the love of God.

Opportunities to develop our capacity to love come through relationships with brothers and sisters, cousins, other family members, people of the same region, people of different nations, and all humankind. The different stages of love are opportunities to develop bonds of love and care for others as we care for ourselves. Yet we as humans fail in these relationships as in our relationship with Almighty God.

God created love between men and women in the bond of marriage to procreate with His blessing. Such a blessing leads us to understand that love is fruitful. A seed grows into a plant, which turns into tree; the tree in turn produces fruits which we cherish, and the fruits leave seeds which become a source of multitudes of more fruit. A similar process occurs among humans, with cattle feeding us milk and birds providing protein, for example. These are all manifestations of God's love towards humans. It is time to ponder what we can do individually and collectively to complete the process of love and inherit Heaven, which is the reservoir of love.

Let us reconnect with God within ourselves and love our family members, he concluded. Let us be prudent and develop a maturity of mind and understanding. In our families we experience dimensions of love, and when such a family spirit expands beyond our household we have opportunities to share our love and respect with each other collectively. This is the potential offered by the Universal Peace Federation.

After the speech, Auth. Khanson opened the forum for comments, questions, and answers by the speaker as well as by fellow attendees.

Victor Martinez asked whether love knows what to do in a relationship. Rev. Stoyan said that love heals the wounds among humans, but patience is always needed in dealing with wounds. By the virtue of true love, a lasting relationship is developed.

Dr. Golam Dastagir introduced his brother-in-law Nesar Ahmad as a new member of UPF-Central District. He said that God cherishes true love for humankind as His creation. God’s love is limitless. If humans come to know such a love, corruption would vanish.

A.R. Qureshi commented that love is not specific to humans; it is widely distributed among God’s creatures.

Mukhtar Khokhar commented that self-criticism always helps develop love for humankind and humility in front of God. We do not know the intentions in the heart of a person, but God knows what a person intends. If the intentions are good, God facilitates the fulfillment of the righteous intentions with love.

Rev. Earl Smith expressed a message of love for fellow humans which can motivate us to move closer to God.

Dr. Hussein Auckberaullee highlighted the importance of the message and said that Muslims pay Zakat [annual charitable contribution] so that the less fortunate can live better.

The session closed with a benediction by Rev. Smith.

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