This I Believe
Ahmad and I grew close after Sept. 11th, 2001. He’s an imam. I’m a pastor. Muslim children attend school at Ahmad’s mosque next door to our church.
Hours after the attacks, Ahmad’s school children received threats. I heard about it. Walked over. Asked my neighbor what we could do.
Imams had already gathered to talk and pray. Press came. Lots of activity. We walked over to the church sanctuary. We prayed together. For peace. Discernment.
Prayers continued for the next few days. The sanctuary filled with people of every faith and non-believers. Praying. Meditating.
We needed to be together.
We didn’t feel it was a time for accusations and division. We felt a need to share common loss. Express our fears. Support each other. An editorial reported that our work together was a light of hope in dark times.
Later Ahmad and I walked hand in hand to a podium to receive an award from the city. For our example. Working together in dark times.
Some called it courageous. Is walking down the street to ask if your neighbor is OK courageous? To ask your neighbor if you can help; is that a rare act, deserving an editorial and city-wide recognition? I don’t believe it should be.
People crave truth in light and darkness.
Brahmanism teaches: “Do naught to others which if done to you, would cause you pain.”
Buddhism teaches: “Hurt not others with what pains yourself.”
Confucianism teaches: “Do not unto others what you would not they should do unto you.”
Judaism teaches: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation …”
Christianity teaches: “In everything do to others as you would have them do unto you.”
Islam teaches: “No one of you is a believer until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”
Universal, eternal truth.
A few weeks ago six imams, six Islamic religious teachers, prayed prior to a flight. They were removed from the plane. They had frightened a passenger.
The next week our interfaith community shared prayer with the Muslim community at a park across the street from U.S Airways offices. We prayed, spoke against unfair, demeaning treatment of people and against racial, ethnic, and religious profiling.
Ahmad was one the imams. My friend. I respect and love him. I’ve learned so much about his faith and about my own since we’ve prayed, eaten and discussed together.
Ahmad and his friends should not have been denied return flights to their homes – especially since police and FBI cleared them of anything and everything – because someone unfamiliar with Ahmad’s faith, wisdom, integrity and humility is uneasy in his presence.
Let’s learn each other by name. Let’s take the opportunity while we still share breath, earth, and time to learn from one another’s magnificent faith, wisdom, and unique experiences.
We should embrace each other. We’re equally precious human creatures.
This I believe: we should all agree not to demean and do harm to each other.
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