Reflections on The 3rd Ohio Muslim-Jewish Conference


CAIR-Ohio Weekly Newsletter:

REFLECTIONS ON THE 3RD OHIO MUSLIM-JEWISH CONFERENCE

(COLUMBUS, 12/07/09)
BY BABAK DARVISH,
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CAIR-OHIO COLUMBUS CHAPTER

I recently attended The 3rd Ohio Muslim-Jewish Conference, put together by Congregation Tifereth Israel and Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio. The theme of the event was "Muslims and Jews: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow Together".

Present at the event were many reputable speakers knowledgeable on Muslim-Jewish relations, history and architecture.

We learn that Muslim-Jewish relations have not always been as tense as they are today. In fact they were very mutually beneficial during the pre-modern medieval era.

Dr. Reuven Firestone mentioned people such as Maimonides, who was a famous Jewish Scholar who thrived under Muslim rule. He also talked about the Jewish Community at that time that looked at the Islamic lands with hope of a better life because they were fleeing persecution in Europe. He mentioned the positive and negative stories of Jews living under Muslim rule in Al-Andalus, Islamic Spain; Ottoman Turkey, and Safavid Persia. He also pointed out for the most part, Jews had lived prosperous lives under Muslim rule in Pre-Modern times. However, in Post-Modern times the West has been a better host.

The question of Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Iranian relations came up and was addressed by the various speakers including Dr. Jamal Badawi and what effect the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has had on the relations between Muslims and Jews. This topic was discussed amongst the audience as well. There was unanimity on the fact that Muslim-Jewish relations had been pretty good until the emergence of the British mandates of the former Ottoman provinces. This is interesting, because it shows that Muslims and Jews have a lot in common and in fact had very friendly relations until the issue of Israel and Palestine gained steam in the aftermath of World War One.

The question still remains about how we can fix this political divide within the religious communities. Should our politics divide us as religious people when we belong to a common tradition of the Prophet Abraham (pbuh)? In my opinion, one way we can work at solving is through open and free dialogue between Muslims and Jews on the issue of Israel/Palestine. The fact that Muslim and Jews can sit down together in events like these and are able to listen to each other's grievances is a huge step forward that creating a better future for our offspring. Why should political differences dictate on how we treat each other? Our respective faiths teach us that one of the noblest things one can do is to be able to listen to those who disagree with us. We should never treat those who disagree with us harshly because they may one day agree with us and in the same spirit; those who agree with us today may disagree with us tomorrow. So, we should be able to treat people fairly and listen to what they have to say.

I find that we as Muslims have many things in common with our Jewish brethren, including the way we perceive God, amongst other things. The Children of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, need to be reunited again and be able to help each other for the betterment of humankind.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-Columbus director, Babak Darvish, 614-451-3232,
bdarvish@cair.com.

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