Interfaith Dialogue – How to present Islam to a western audience بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم ادع الى سبيل ربك بالحكمة Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom
Speaking about Islam, or proselytizing • Faith is a personal matter in the US, it is a community affair in Muslim countries • Proselytizing a faith is generally viewed negatively in American culture • Answering questions about one’s faith is viewed favorably • Sharing one’s values is acceptable and respected • Religious people are thought of as intolerant – Being religious has a negative connotation due to historical events
Pre-requisites for a fruitful engagement • Know your audience • Don’t assume people know or believe in the bible • Don’t assume people believe in God • Don’t assume same values: Story of Yazidin church • Very few religious scholars • Most people are neutral about faith, and Islam • Don’t assume every question is hostile • Learn how to recognize hostile individuals by their questions • Don’t engage with hostile individuals in conversation or debate
Pre-requisites for a fruitful engagement • How to speak to people without faith • Emphasize common moral values • Emphasize Islam’s respect and honor of humanity and human dignity – most people are ignorant of what the Quran and Al Albayt A.S. teach in this regard • Don’t compare to Christianity or the Bible, most don’t care • Creationism vs. Evolution – not an Islamic debate
Pre-requisites for a fruitful engagement • How to speak to lay people with Christian beliefs: • Know Islam’s history: Early Christians visiting Mecca looking for the Profit SAWA, Najashi, and Prophet Mmuhammad’s SAWA letters to Christians • Know Christianity’s history: Inquisitions, Catholic-Protestant 100 year war, crimes in the name of Jesus • Know basics about various Christian sects • Know Islam’s history in the US and the founding fathers…..did you know Thomas Jefferson was a Unitarian and had his own Bible, and Quran?
Pre-requisites for a fruitful engagement • How to dialogue with scholars: • Know the Bible, in English • Know key verses on which Trinitarian Christianity stands, and understand the Intra-Christian debate • Study the early Church history and development • Become familiar with current Muslim/Christian dialogue initiatives including The Common Word, Qom/Vatican, Turkey/UST dialogue, etc • Understand the differences in understanding key religious terms. They don’t mean the same to Muslims and Christians:
Terminology: Same words different meaning: • Messiah: • Prophet: • Purgatory: • Infallible: • Inspired vs. Revealed: