CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Middle East Peace Programs
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The peace programs offer formal and informal opportunities for participants to understand more deeply both their own faith and other faiths that honor Abraham. Understanding and respect among people are the foundations for coexistence and can lead to cooperation and, ultimately, reconciliation. Witnessing people of different faiths praying together and embracing as brothers moved many participants to tears.
“Morning prayer touched my heart,” remarked Rabbi Michael Wiesser from Nebraska, USA. “Meetings with leaders of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism were so exceptional that it was often difficult to hold back my tears. The feeling of universal love has been palpable. In my long experience as a rabbi I have been blessed, but the blessings I sense now as a result of my interaction with all of the MEPI team are immense.”
There are impulses within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that state that the religion exists for its own sake and the sake of its own believers. However, the higher impulse of each religion is to exist for the whole world and for every person. Speakers at MEPI programs highlighted the positive bases in their religion for relating to people of other faiths.
Left: A meeting in Al Aqsa Plaza with Sheikh Muhammed Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine
Right: MEPI’s Antonio Betancourt and Orthodox Christian priests in Gaza engage in a warm debate.
For example, the chairman of the Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony in the United Kingdom, Imam Abdul Jalil Sajid, analyzed the passages in the Qur’an which have been used to increase tensions between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. He emphasized references in the Qur’an to righteous Jews and Christians, such as: “We sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous.” (5:46)
Dr. Clinton Bennett, former Executive Secretary for Interfaith Relations for the British Council of Churches, said Christians should respect Mohammad as inspired by God. He described the teachings of Jesus and Mohammad as complementary and called on Christians and Muslims to make common cause working for peace and justice.
On October 13, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI received an Open Letter from Muslim Leaders. Among the signers was Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Al-Tamimi, Chief Islamic Justice of Palestine and head of the Palestinian Center for Religion and Civilization. He hosted several MEPI dialogues at the Shari’a court in Al Azaria. The letter reflected the MEPI principles that “the unity of God, love of Him, and love of the neighbor form a common ground upon which Islam and Christianity and Judaism are founded.”
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