Adventists and Muslims Meet for Learning and Fellowship

Sarah McDugal
Adventist Review

Adventists and Muslims from all over the San Diego area in California, United States, recently gathered at El Cajon Seventh-day Adventist Church for “One San Diego,” a day of mutual learning and fellowship.

The day was the brainchild of Richard Smith, pastor of El Cajon church, as well as of Peter Thomas and Tawfik Abdalla, Muslim ministry coordinators; and Gerald Babanezhad, volunteer coordinator of Muslim outreach for the Pacific Union Conference church region. They recognized that if people wish to become better neighbors to those around them, they should first attempt to understand each other better.

Posters advertising the event were placed in local mosques and Adventist churches, and emails were sent to area imams—a kind of Muslim spiritual leader. Adventists and Muslims from Sunni, Shia and Baha’i backgrounds came to the event, as did a Jewish woman who heard about it and asked if she could join in.

Good Neighbors

Creating a mutually welcoming and comfortable environment was a top priority for the organizers. Before the event, an imam visited the El Cajon church sanctuary so that leaders could discuss how to best accommodate the Muslim prayer times throughout the day. They also discussed ways that Muslims and Adventists can be good neighbors.

The program included prayers from leaders of Adventist and Muslim faiths, music from the San Diego Academy—a local Adventist-operated primary and secondary school—choir and bell choir, a question-and-answer time and a panel discussion about shared Muslim and Adventist history, values, goals, and needs.

“I loved this experience and would enjoy having another panel discussion,” said Amir Imam from the Al-Salam Mosque.

Leman Hamid, a Muslim, described the event as “a wonderful meeting between Muslims and Christians.” He said he would like to hear more about Christianity and what Christians feel and believe about Muslims.

Shared Beliefs

Organizers were pleased by the positive response of those who attended. “The day began with a measure of apprehension on both sides of the cultural divide which eased as attendees discovered how many beliefs both Seventh-day Adventists and Muslims hold in common,” Smith said.

Some of these shared beliefs include a strong emphasis on showing compassion, a deep desire to treat others as good neighbors, a refusal to eat pork and the desire to live a healthy lifestyle.

The mutual interest in health led to a follow-up health expo at a mosque a few weeks later. Also, Muslim women invited Adventist women who attended the One San Diego event to visit their mosques for worship time to experience their tradition and culture. The Adventist women responded positively, feeling that it would be helpful to the community for both groups to meet more and work together.

Plans include organizing sports activities for Adventist and Muslim school children, starting a home fellowship where Muslims and Adventists can learn from each other by sharing stories from the Bible and Quran, and planning future panel discussion events.

An original version of this story was published in the Pacific Union Recorder.


Pope with British Imams: the most important thing is the capacity to listen

Rome Reports

As an outward sign of inter-religious dialogue with the Muslim world, Pope Francis held a private audience with Card. Vincent Nichols and four Imams from England.
First, Card. Nichols greeted the pope, thanking him for receiving the audience and for supporting the UK especially after the attack on Westminster Bridge.
Archbishop of Westminster
“We want to also ask for your prayers. And I personally would like to thank you very much for the message that you sent for us.”
Pope Francis then said the most important action both parties could take right now is to listen to the other.
“What we should do to make the human nature better, it’s the work of the ear, the work of listening. To listen to one another amongst us. To listen to one another without making any haste to give a response. To listen to the voice of a brother or a sister and think about it before we give a response. But the most important thing is the capacity to listen.”
Afterwards, the pope greeted the four imams and delivered them each a medallion as a sign of peace.
Chairman, British Muslim Forum
“Today we are making history. We bring you on behalf, the message of peace and understanding and cooperation. Thank you very much. May God bless you.”
After the traditional photo, Pope Francis said goodbye to them all before leaving.
“Thank you. God bless you.”

From Zenit

Before his weekly General Audience this morning, April 5, 2017, Pope Francis met with a Catholic-Muslim delegation from Britain in the auletta of the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

Present wer: Maulana Ali Raza RIZVI, President of Majlis and Ulama Europe; Maulana Muhammad Shahid RAZA, Chairman of the British Muslim Forum, Great Britain; Shaykh Ibrahim MOGRA, Co-Chair of Christian Muslim Forum; and Maulana Sayed Ali Abbas RAZAWI, Director General of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society.

Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s greeting to the participants.

* * *

I welcome you with joy. I like to think that the most important work that we must do between us, in humanity, is the work “of the ear”: to listen to one another — to listen to one another without hurrying to give an answer. To receive the word of a brother, of a sister, and then to think of giving my own — but the capacity to listen, this is so important. It is interesting when persons have this capacity to listen, speaking in a low, tranquil tone . . . Instead, when they do not have it, they speak loudly and even shout. Among brothers, all of us must speak, listen to one another, and talk slowly, tranquilly, to seek the way together. And when one listens and speaks, one is already on the way.

I thank you for this path you are undertaking and I ask Almighty and Merciful God to bless you. And I ask you to pray for me.

Thank you very much.

Egypt says Pope Francis will visit in April

AP via Catholic Herald

Pontiff to meet Muslim and Coptic leaders during trip

Egypt says Pope Francis will pay an official visit to the majority Muslim nation during the final week of April.

Presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef said on Saturday the Pope’s visit will be in response to an invitation extended by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who met the Pope when he visited the Vatican in late 2014. Continue reading

Chinese Communist Party Officials Harden Rehtoric on Islam

BEIJING (AP) — China’s ruling Communist Party is hardening its rhetoric about Islam, with top officials making repeated warnings this past week about the specter of global religious extremism seeping into the country.

Shaerheti Ahan, a top political and legal affairs party official in Xinjiang, became the latest official from a predominantly Muslim region to warn political leaders gathered in Beijing about China becoming destabilized by the “international anti-terror situation.”

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