Finding common ground between faith communities
Photo by Jason Teakle, Brant News
Keynote speaker Abu Noman Tarek, imam and director of religious affairs with the Muslim Association of Hamilton, speaks during an interfaith event at the Brantford Public Library on Monday night.
Don Wood says he's concerned about the impact of terrorism around the globe.
"Why can't we seem to get along?" said Wood, a member of Sydenham Street United Church. "I wanted to know more about the Islamic faith."
Wood was one of about 100 people who attended an interfaith gathering called "The Life of Muhammad," hosted by Sydenham Street United Church and the Brantford Mosque at the Brantford Public Library on Monday night.
The event was part of a week-long celebration of the life of the Prophet Muhammad taking place across Hamilton and Brantford until Nov. 15.
Keynote speaker Abu Noman Tarek, imam and director of religious affairs with the Muslim Association of Hamilton, said terrorism or violence are never acceptable in Islam.
"To anyone who is abusing people in the name of Islam, we will do everything we can against them within our scope," Tarek said. "Jihad is not holy war. Jihad means struggle, which is something we all do every day.
"There is no room for attacking innocents."
Tarek said Christians and Muslims believe in the same God.
"There is only one God and he created all of humanity," Tarek said. "Every single nation and tribe received messengers.
"The Qur'an acknowledges that diversity is given to us by God. This kind of gathering helps us to get to know each other."
Muslims and Christians were both taught to seek justice for all by their respective prophets, Tarek said.
"All prophets were sent by the same God with the same mission," Tarek said. "Muhammed, peace be upon him, taught Muslims to treat non-Muslims with kindness and justice. He taught us to stand up for justice for all – even against our enemies. Our prophets may have left, but their messages of love and peace are with us."
Rev. Barry Pridham of Sydenham Street United Church said it is a positive initiative to engage in dialogue among Muslims, Christians and people of no faith.
"There is only one God in heaven," Pridham said. "The sooner we learn that and live that out, the more peaceful, loving and inclusive the world will be. Both of our faiths recognize the diversity of God's people.
"Extremism is an element in all faiths. Our faiths become distorted by vested interests – political or otherwise – or through ignorance. Tonight is an effort to break down the myths of Islam."
Haneen Hijazi of Brantford said she attended Monday's event to gain a better understanding of both her Muslim faith and the faith of others.
"I came to learn more about Muhammad," Hijazi said. "I didn't know what Christians believed in, so I get to learn what others believe, too."