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Interfaith Breakfast - November 23, 2010

 

“The Golden Rule Common to all Faiths”

 

Friends,

I am very glad to be here today, and I would like to thank Mr. David Sweet for giving me the opportunity to share my personal experiences with all of you.

It was Ronald Reagan that once said, “Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged”. The former US President seemed to have described Canada perfectly in this statement, as we are free to practice whichever faith we choose. Whereas in many areas around the world people are persecuted for their religious beliefs, in Canada, we celebrate these differences. Just take a look around the room and you will see the diversity that makes Canada a strong, united, and prosperous nation. This is something of which we should be immensely proud. It is cowardly to point fingers and accuse one another of wrongdoings, solely based on religious affiliation. We as human beings must stand together against evil in whatever guise it wears, and remember that all religions are the essence of peace and love. During my lifetime I have been influenced by many wonderful people who did not share my religious beliefs, but that did not stop me from recognizing that they had something of value to contribute to my growth as a human being.

All religions teach us to be a better person, all religions promote peace. Islam teaches respect for all religions and humankind. One of the Prophet Muhammad’s most quoted sayings is, “none of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself”. Before we can truly love God, we must learn to love one another. My religion teaches me to be compassionate, strong, calm, and accept God’s will. It teaches me to be inclusive.

The word Islam means submission to the will of God.

Quite often we see pictures in newspapers with captions such as, “A Muslim man praying to Allah”. This creates an impression that Allah is the God of only Muslims, a misunderstanding that helps widen the gap between religions. Muslims believe in One God; the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.  God has no gender or shape or form that we can comprehend. God is One in His Essence without any associate, Single without any equal, Eternal without a similar. Nothing precedes Him, He is without any end. He is the First and the Last. He knows everything.  Nothing is like Him and He is not like anything. Measure does not bind Him and boundaries do not contain Him.

Muslims trace their beginning from Adam and Eve, although the Muslim belief is that in disobeying God both Adam and Eve were at fault and both were forgiven and there is no subsequent sin or guilt arising out of it for those who followed them or came after them.

While Muhammad (PBUH) is an important figure of Islam, the most quoted prophet in the Quran is Jesus. A devout Muslim never refers to him simply as 'Jesus', but always adds the phrase 'peace be upon him'. The Quran confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the Qur'an is entitled 'Mary'), and Mary is considered the purest woman in all creation.

Islam embraces followers of Jesus and Moses. In the Quran, God addresses the followers of Moses:

“O Children of Israel! call to mind the (special) favour which I bestowed upon you, and fulfill your covenant with Me as I fulfill My Covenant with you, and fear none but Me.”

Many misconceptions about Islam exist today and are often encouraged by the media. The term Holy War is often heard as something that is a part of Islam, however there is no such thing as “Holy War” in Islam. Jihad does not translate as a Holy War. Jihad means a struggle – the struggle with one’s own ego and false pride, the struggle that you do every day to keep on the right path, to be a good person. As the Quran says, “Whoever kills another one without justifiable cause, surely he is killing all of humanity. And whoever saves the life of another one, surely he saves the lives of all of humanity”.

Many people believe that women are subordinate to men in Islam but God said in the Quran, “be you male or female, you are equal to one another”.

Another misconception is that Islam is intolerant of other religions but that is not true. God gave this world to everyone.

In Hadith Qudsi in a direct revelation to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH), God says the 8th heaven is my nation, and everyone who comes here belongs to one family. I alone dispense judgment and there are no separations here, no differences of colour, religion, race language or scripture. In the 8th Heaven we are all children of Adam.

I will leave you with these words from the Quran:

“O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another and not that you may despise each other.

Hold to forgiveness, command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant”.

Thank you – I wish you all peace.