Home Consciousness How interfaith conversations turned our fears into friendships

How interfaith conversations turned our fears into friendships

How interfaith conversations turned our fears into friendships


Dr. Kelly James Clark writer of “Raging Hearth of Love: What I Realized from Jesus, the Jews, and the Prophet” 

I used to be midway by a week-long workshop with Muslim, Christian, and Jewish professors from all over the world when it occurred. The summary subjects offered by our preeminent professors have been heady and foreboding. However a very powerful problem, extra essential than attempting to make sense of these subjects, was breaking down our imposing nationwide, cultural, and non secular boundaries in an effort to construct bridges throughout a few of our world’s deepest and most painful divides.

On day one, reenacting deep and lingering animosities, the 2 Iranian Muslims sat collectively and whispered asides to 1 one other; on the opposite aspect of the room (which could have been the opposite aspect of the world) the Israeli Jews huddled collectively. After a couple of days collectively, although, we have been rising more and more snug with each other, overcoming our preliminary resistances.

By day three, after being gently nudged collectively, the divisions started to crack, the teams started to merge, and friendships started to type.

It occurred on the finish of day three. One of many Israeli Jews, feeling unduly snug, walked as much as one of many Muslims and requested, “You need to kill me, don’t you?”

The sort Muslim smiled, seemed him within the eye, and stated, “No.”

The sort Muslim then patiently proceeded to speak, with out condescension, about his emotions in the direction of Jews (favorable), Israel (not so favorable), and violence (opposed). The 2 of them walked collectively into the eating room, shared a meal, and talked lengthy into the evening.

I knew that these extremely educated professors would enter the workshop on science and faith armed with their fears. I additionally knew that these fears had the ability to divide. But, the mission’s success—working collectively on problems with mutual concern in science and faith—would rely upon working collectively to face our fears.

Lots of Christians and numerous Jews imagine that Muslims are by nature violent and that Islam is a faith of violence. Such fears are fed by regular streams of media pictures of violent Arabs. Extremely selective and extremely unrepresentative pictures “verify” the message that Muslims need to kill non-Muslims (Jews, Christians): “They” need to kill “us.”

However they don’t.

If we have been higher knowledgeable, we’d know that. If we have been higher, we’d know that.

I discussed that the professors have been extremely educated for that reason: even essentially the most extremely educated are bothered with and pushed by worry. You would possibly suppose that the extremely educated would know higher; that professors, of all folks, would have overcome their irrational fears. However no.

On the finish of our week collectively, we have been all—Muslim-Christian-Jew—milling about, awaiting rides to the airport. Then that Jewish man—the one who requested that query—walked as much as that Muslim man—the one who confirmed kindness regardless of the confrontation—and with an enormous grin on his face gave him a giant hug. Hugging broke out throughout. The Iranians and the Israelis, whose international locations are in battle, hugged. Christians have been hugging Jews, who have been hugging Muslims, who have been hugging Christians. Tears flowed.

We didn’t discover ourselves all the time agreeing with each other (although we realized that we agreed on lots). Removed from it. However love created an island of peace inside a sea of worry.

After per week of deliberate and generally painful bridgebuilding, of tearing down partitions and opening up hearts and minds, of studying to talk little and pay attention lots, the magic occurred: the love that overcomes worry turned enemies into associates.

My flourishing, I’ve realized, has dramatically elevated by loving people who find themselves actually completely different from me. I’ve been invited into their international locations and their properties. They’ve shared their meals and their tales with me.

I’ve realized in regards to the Ottoman Empire, the al Aqsa Mosque, Sufi dancers, and Rumi’s poetry, on the one hand, and the Wailing Wall, Ashkenazis and IQ, Previous Metropolis Jerusalem, and the Hassidic mystics, on the opposite. And I’ve realized that Muslims and Jews, like Christians, are various teams. There’s merely nothing fascinating that one may say that will apply to all Muslims or all Jews all over the place and always. I’ve met Muslims who pray 5 occasions a day, others who pray thrice a day and even some who by no means pray. I’ve met deeply religious and deeply secular Jews.

My world is greater and higher as a result of I’ve realized how folks fairly completely different from me have been raised with beliefs and practices fairly completely different from mine. And I’ve realized a couple of extra essential issues by reaching out within the love that overcomes worry.

I’ve begun studying to see the world, God’s world, from the attitude of my Muslim and Jewish associates. Taking my very own tradition’s perspective as definitive, as people are inclined to do, implies that I’ve a restricted view of the world; it’s a type of cultural delight to raise our social group above different teams of individuals.

However we aren’t gods. We’re creatures, mired in a specific time and place. So to get nearer to God’s perspective on the world, finite creatures must avail themselves of the views of all of God’s fantastic creatures—even folks we worry. Muslims and Jews assist me to get nearer to God’s view of our wonderful world.

By attending to know Muslims and Jews, I’ve additionally realized how a lot we’re alike. Like me, they need to reside in peace amongst good neighbors and associates; they need to reside a protracted and wholesome life; they need monetary safety and to have the ability to share with family members in want; they need to work onerous at a job they like and go to sleep with out anxiousness in their very own mattress with a roof over their head; and so they need time to freely chill out and play. And, most significantly, they need higher lives for his or her youngsters.

“They” are lots like “us.”

I’ve realized of the love that overcomes worry from the friendships I’ve developed with Muslims and Jews. I feel right here of: Ghazala and Bruno, Zahabia and Nuh, and Laila and Enis; and I consider Sam and Silvia, Aaron and Anthony, and Ava and Ariel.

They’ve let me into their lives and world.

Peace with them is my peace; their flourishing is my flourishing.


Dr. Kelly James Clark is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Ibn Haldun College in Istanbul. He earned his PhD from the College of Notre Dame. He has authored over 100 articles and written, co-authored or edited over 30 books. His most up-to-date ebook, “Raging Hearth of Love: What I Realized from Jesus, the Jews, and the Prophet” is obtainable on Amazon: https://shorturl.at/msJM7



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