A year ago my wife and I started a Book Club in our church. We meet once a month to discuss books related to faith. Recently we are discussing this book by a Jewish rabbi and an Islamic iman.
Jews believe themselves to be descendants of Abraham through his son Isaac. Some Arabs believe themselves to be descendants of Abraham through his other son Ismail. Muslims generally believe themselves to be spiritual descendants of Abraham. That makes Jews and Muslims brothers of some sort. Why, then are they in such conflict these days. This wall that we saw in the Wes Bank, built by the Israelis to separate themselves from the Palestinians, is one of the many symbols of the conflict. The graffiti is a symbol of the Palestinians’ anger.
In this book, Rabbi Marc Schneier and Iman Shamsi Ali put forward their understanding of their own faith and scripture - and that of the other side - to try to find common ground. Schneier argue that in addition to “love thy neighbour”, we should also “love the stranger. Ali argue that “jihad” means to struggle for good, to avoid evil, based on faith in Allah - more than armed struggle and domination. They have worked to bring Jews and Muslims together in dialogue, in the face of severe criticism.
Let us hope, and pray, that there are more people like them who are willing to stand up and reach out to the other side. The alternative is just too ugly and scary to ponder.