Telling Stories: Interfaith
Issue 100 January 2013
From the very beginning of emel, reaching out was fundamental to us; showing the shared striving, the shared needs, and the shared hopes and aspirations of human beings.
From the very beginning of emel, reaching out was fundamental to us; showing the shared striving, the shared needs, and the shared hopes and aspirations of human beings. Nowhere has this been more prevalent than in our interfaith work. Along with the Prophets series, our features on interfaith have demonstrated time and time again the shared aspirations of human beings who are all searching for the Divine. In addition, we have looked at the aspirations of human beings to commit as stewards of the Earth, drawing on their faith in order to build better societies, better communities and reaching out to each other in one’s humanity regardless of the differences of theological understanding.
Whilst it has been argued by many that religion is a destructive force for humanity, that is not substantiated when one looks at the works of courageous but also faithful individuals who are deeply committed to their own faith but at the same time, reach out to other human beings. We examined such commitments in features such as the Rabbi and the Imam who reached out to each other in Jerusalem—Shaykh Abdul-Aziz Bukhari and Rabbi Eliyahu McClean, who worked in the most trying of conditions, but still managed to recognise the shared humanity and shared search for the Divine.
In Britain, where we are constantly under the microscope of ‘community cohesion’ on the ground interfaith work demonstrates a more optimistic reality. The work of the likes of Rabbi Gluck, Shaykh Ibraham Mogra, Ed Kessler, Yasir Suleiman, demonstrate communities working together for the benefit of their local infrastructures as well as a search for spiritual realities.
Another area of interfaith work is that of scriptural reasoning which explores differences and similarities with text, and allows individuals to come to a place of understanding from a position of authentic scripture. Individuals come together and authentically present their scriptures—sometimes around a story of an individual such as the Prophet Moses, or a theme such as justice, love, the neighbour; and discuss authentically, from their own scriptures, what such things mean.
Interfaith is also about social activism. The activist, Ibrahim Hewitt, who has been so instrumental in working for Palestine has found a partner in Reverend Garth Hewitt who is also passionate about these issues. Not actually related, but still sharing a name, they are common brothers in their search for justice in the Occupied Territories.
We have also covered other work such as that instrumentalised by James Kidner at Coexist, bringing together multi-faith dimensions, as well as the works of other groups such as the Three Faiths Forum, Muslim-Christian Initiatives and the Muslim-Jewish Initiatives.