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(Gasp! What are we in for now?! Why did I bring my daughter? Hmmm, let me read some more of this.) “THERE ARE MANY SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MUSLIMS AND JEWS. LET’S FIND THE ANSWERS TOGETHER…” (That doesn’t sound so bad.) “…WE’LL LEARN FROM IMAM SHAIKH SHAFAYAT MOHAMED.” (Wow, I’m impressed!) “…A PANEL DISCUSSION…RABBI FARBER…RABBI ROJZMAN…FIU DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES…” (Hey, this could be good!)
Salaams, Brothers & Sisters!
Those were my reactions as I waited for the meeting to start and I read from the flyer advertising the interfaith event held on December 19th at Beth Torah in North Miami Beach. I’m trying to give you a taste of what it’s like to attend one of these interfaith sessions. Of course, they’re always different depending on the crowd, but I do get a little nervous every time, and I’m not even the one in the hot seat. Can you imagine how the Shaikh feels? I’m also writing this to let you all know what a GREAT job our dear brother and scholar did on Wednesday night. He didn’t get paid for it, he got no public recognition, he had little moral support, and yet he went out on a limb to face several hundred informed and questioning Jews and tried to answer their very thought-provoking questions. Maulana was well-received by the crowd as he told about his Caribbean (not Arab) background. He was open and warm and human. He gave an overview of the five pillars of Islam, with emphasis on the similarities to Judaism. Then he sat with two Rabbis for the panel discussion. This was moderated by Daniel Alvarez, a very educated FIU professor of Religious Studies. Alvarez was able to lend clarity and validity to the discussion as he articulated the historical and political facts surrounding the issues. (I think this is important for future discussions.) But, how do we answer this question: “Shaikh Mohamed, we appreciate your sincerity and willingness to share your ideas with us…but where are the voices of the other six million American Muslims? Why aren’t your people speaking out against terrorism and radical extremists? What are the rest of us supposed to think about their silence?”
Peace to you all,
P.S. Oh, yeah.. I’m glad I brought my 9-year old daughter. Sarah made friends with the Rabbi’s daughter, Danielle. They talked about their teachers, braces on their teeth, dumb brothers, and other 4th grade stuff. They didn’t have any problems getting along.
P.P.S. And I got to meet some nice people, too. I even got to hug some cute little old ladies. Alhamdulallah.
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