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Interfaith Dialogue Matters

Interfaith Dialogue Matters

By on May 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

Growing up raised by a Muslim father and Catholic mother, I lived interfaith dialogue every day of my life. So it’s natural for me to forge friendships and dialogue with people of all faiths; but, this is not the case with everyone. (Or so I found I out when I grew up and ventured into the “real world.”)

I often speak about how I was floored at the ignorance that persists surrounding religious understanding and tolerance- but also- the lack of interfaith dialogue taking place today.

I am learning that it starts with each of us- in our own communities.

In my community mosque, I have been blessed to have a spiritual leader that always made interfaith interaction a priority- from greeting Jewish students, college students and community groups into the mosque to observe, tour and hang out with us- to regular, regimented meetings with our Presbyterian church friends enjoining reconciliation intentions as well as learning opportunities.

For the last year and a half, I am blessed to be part of an interfaith group called “Middle East Food for Thought” otherwise knowns as “The Penguins.”  (The penguin reference came about from sheer randomness really.  But as we adopted the penguin essence, we realized that this wasn’t such an odd thing to pick up afterall!)

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A handful of the MEFFT members at an amazing Chicago reunion Memorial Day weekend.

A handful of the MEFFT members at an amazing Chicago reunion Memorial Day weekend.

Some facts about penguins:

  • They are black and white. (Remember that song? Ebony and ivory; living together in harmony.) Black and white also denotes “simplicity.” Getting along is really quite simple to some of us.  It’s “black and white.”
  • Penguins have the highest feather density than any other bird. And you know what they say, ‘birds of a feather flock together … ‘ (or something like that.) 😉
  • Penguins are highly social creatures. They band together in colonies. They have each other’s backs!
  • Penguins are flightless. They are grounded.
  • Penguins spend nearly 75% of their life in the water hunting for food. (That’s probably the ratio our interfaith “penguin group” spends talking about food. 25% Of our conversations are more serious in nature ranging from politics, religion to family and personal struggles.)

a foodWhen we’re not talking food, we talk about religious similiarities and differences.  But not always.  We’re not just a group of Jews, Muslims and Christians. An interreligous group would not be diverse without atheists, agnostics or “non-religious” individuals as well- people who also wish to embark on the same journey of learning as the rest of us.  We also talk about the middle east.  Yes, Israel, Palestine, war, propaganda, media coverage- there really isn’t a topic we don’t face head on.  At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: peace for the middle east and the entire world.

Our group (about 65 strong) is spread out across the U.S. and the world.  A group of us met in Chicago this weekend and enjoyed food, fun, exploration and exchanging of ideas.  This included sharing ideas with our school-aged kids as well.

Chocolate Penguins YUMMMMM!

Chocolate Penguins
YUMMMMM!

Our Christian brother, Rich, put it well when he described how groups like the Middle East Food for Thought are vitally important and can change the world.

“Jesus had 12 disciples, Mohammed had a small band of companions. I believe harmony between people of different faiths will grow. The intolerant and the haters are outnumbered….they just don’t know it yet.”

I agree with Rich.  Everything big started small.  Even if what we are doing inspires others to create their own interfaith groups in their own communities- it equates to more understanding, less ignorance.  More love.  Less hate.

So here’s to diversity of thought; acceptance of eachother’s differences; understanding of eachother’s similiarities; good friendship; good food and good intentions.

A penguin gathering is not complete without a penguin iceberg dip. (Compliements of Kim B.)

A penguin gathering is not complete without a penguin iceberg dip. (Compliments of Kim B.)

Okay- what can I say.  A lot of us REALLY like Dunkin Donuts coffee.  Thanks for the surpirse, B!

Okay- what can I say. A lot of us REALLY like Dunkin Donuts coffee. Thanks for the surpirse, B!

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About the Author

About the Author: I'm a Writer and Muslim Activist. I'm also a Board Member of the #MyJihad Public Education Campaign. Follow my blog at yasminareality.com or follow me on Twitter: @yasmina_reality. I'm also now on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YasminaReality Peace! .

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