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People of Faith Are Kind to All Others, Including People of Other Faiths

People of Faith

Faith is a great uniter. Fostering kindness among people of all faiths is not only essential for societal harmony but also crucial for protecting religion.

Dr. Mahsheed Ansari, a Muslim lecturer at Charles Sturt University, states it clearly: “Kindness is one of the universal principles that all religious traditions adhere to. The Prophet [Muhammad] says kindness is a marker of faith, and whoever is not kind has no faith.” When Dr. Ansari goes shopping, she says, “It sounds a bit funny, but I intentionally smile at people. It’s a very simple virtue that we human beings have done for generations, but I think our modern lifestyle…has deprived us of these simple acts of kindness.”

The kindness that is born of faith manifests itself in myriad ways, large and small. In Kosovo, a land that has seen a great deal of war and conflict, much of it exacerbated by religious differences, the town of Ferizaj is home to a remarkable sign of unity and human solidarity: the Madhe Mosque and the Serbian Orthodox Church of the Holy Emperor Uroš occupy the same plot of land. They stand as enduring proof that human beings of faith can overcome all their disagreements and even ancient hostilities, and live together in peace.

Similarly, on March 1, 2023 in Abu Dhabi the Abrahamic Family House was inaugurated; this unique and groundbreaking structure houses a church, a mosque, and a synagogue. The Abrahamic Family House explains: “The Abrahamic Family House welcomes people to connect, explore, and reflect. We serve to deepen understanding of our common humanity through mutual dialogue, exchange of knowledge, and the practice of faith.”

Interfaith cooperation has been going on among visionaries of different religious traditions since time immemorial. Around the year 1275, the Spanish Roman Catholic writer Ramon Llull published a book entitled Book of the Gentile and the Three Wise Men, which has been described as “a work which, though Christian, is extraordinary in its charitable treatments of Jewish and Muslim perspectives and in its desire to foster religious peace.” Ramon Llull was a visionary and pioneer of today’s interfaith dialogue.

In modern times, sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968 went on strike to protest their low pay and abysmal working conditions; the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King journeyed to the city to show his solidarity with the striking workers. With racial tensions at an all-time high and many Christians denouncing Dr. King as well as the strikers, four faith leaders from different traditions stepped up to stand with Dr. King and speak out for compassion and justice: Father Nicholas L. Vieron of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Father Joseph Leppert of St. Therese Little Flower Roman Catholic Church, Rev. Frank McRae of St. John’s United Methodist Church, and Rabbi James Wax of Temple Israel. These four courageous leaders worked together to calm the community and push back strongly against hatred and prejudice.

Imad Enchassi, senior imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, recalls a woman he encountered as a young man who had a profound influence upon his life: “Before her, I had never known anyone to be so humble and selfless. She fed me when I was hungry, held me when I was traumatized and gave me sweets from a glass jar she kept in her classroom as a treat. She was one of the most beautiful and merciful humans one could meet. And she was a Christian nun.”

In 2021, a group of faith leaders from a variety of religious traditions reminded us of some key and foundational truths: “Our respective religious traditions teach that we all are created in God’s image, and that every one of us bears sacred sparks of the Divine in our souls, irrespective of ethnicity or race, gender, or religion.”

It is faith that gives us the eyes to see this all-encompassing unity.

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