Shining A Light on Interfaith Cooperation
When an Imam at a Jordan mosque became sick before the traditional Friday call to prayer, he asked a neighbor, a Catholic priest, to perform the ritual. While this seems a gracious act that happens within communities, it’s also remarkable in the context of tension between Christians and Muslims worldwide.
To shine a light on counter-to-trend examples like this one, a coalition of American and Jordanian experts is planning a conference in Amman, Jordan, where a dozen speakers will share inspiring cases of forgiveness and reconciliation that took place in the United States and the Middle East, especially in Jordan.
Leaders hope the opportunity to exchange such experiences and meet face to face between exemplary leaders from these communities will break negative stereotypes and open new channels for communication. The conference is planned as a three-day event in late 2014, with representation from the United States and the Middle East.
Despite the tension that is often associated with Muslims and Christians in the west, the reality on the ground in Jordanian village communities is different. The love here is what in Arabic is described as “al Ishra” or “living connected together” as one family in a rural small community. This bond is very strong and has withstood many regional and national waves of violence.
The fact that a priest and imam in a small village were able to cooperate creates faith that it can be done on a larger scale, and the relations between religious clergy in larger urban areas should be studied to that end.
Other stories show Christian-Muslim hospitality extended in the other direction. After the events of 9/11 and the backlash against Muslims in America, a group of Christian-American women accompanied Muslim women to go to different public offices and shopping stores. While attacks on mosques and violent incidents make news, there are thousands of untold stories of love, cooperation, solidarity, harmonious coexistence, and sacrifice that have occurred or are still taking place between Christians and Muslims all over the world.
Conference organizers hope the messages of cooperation and co-existence will spread from the 100-150 attendees to the public at large via web pages, social media and word of mouth.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Governing Professions.