Local Muslims, Christians dialogue, strive for harmony

Muslims and Christians gathered Oct. 17 to share faith stories, create understanding.

WCR PHOTO | THANDIWE KONGUAVI

Muslims and Christians gathered Oct. 17 to share faith stories, create understanding.

November 23, 2015
THANDIWE KONGUAVI
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Muslims and Christians should walk together, instead of stepping around each other, participants heard at a recent Christian-Muslim Interfaith Dialogue.

"The first concept of our faith teaches us to [have] love for all and hatred for none," said Khalida Khawaja, a member of Edmonton's Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

"That's our community's motto so we follow that on a daily basis. There are lots of teachings based on how to love your neighbour."

The differences between the Abrahamic faiths were embraced and the commonalities celebrated at the Oct. 17 event at St. Charles Catholic Church.

Christians and Muslims came together to learn from one another and grow in understanding and appreciation of each other's faith traditions at the event which drew about 150 people.

Impassioned table discussions were the focal point of the event, while keynote speeches gave participants something to talk about.

"Imagine if all Muslims and Christians worked together in prayer to alleviate poverty in Edmonton?" asked Anglican Bishop Jane Alexander, the keynote Christian speaker.

Julien Hammond, ecumenical officer for the Edmonton Archdiocese, said the hosting of this year's Christian-Muslim Dialogue event at the parish, in a year when the archdiocese is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's document on interreligious relations, was a treat.

"As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate here in the archdiocese, it is so encouraging to see that the same vision that animated the council fathers at Vatican II is alive and well today in the Christian and Muslim communities in our local setting," said Hammond.

Farah Jamil, a Sunni Muslim, said she has always cherished her relationships with people of other faith groups. Those relationships help enrich her own understanding of her faith.

GOD SPOKE TO BOTH

"As a Muslim, if you read the Quran it is actually part of the scripture that we need to have an understanding of our brothers and sisters because they too have books revealed by God," she said.

Facilitator Donna Entz, a Mennonite, said she was glad to see so many Christians at the event, especially in light of recent media attention on Islamophobia and the negative spin politics has taken on issues such as the niqab.

Alexander said as a Christian, her life is centred on Christ and she believes everything to be revealed about God is revealed in Christ. But that does not mean she cannot also see her faith through another lens.

In Nostra Aetate, the council fathers called for new relationships to form between Catholics and members of non-Christian religions, said Hammond.

These relationships would be founded on a common search for truth, belief in the presence and action of God everywhere in the world, and a desire for peace and harmony among all peoples.