All Religions are but one

18 04 2010

Since the object of praise is one,
from this point of view,
all religions are but one religion.
Know that all praise belongs to the Light of God
and is only lent to created forms and beings.
Should people praise anyone but the One
who alone deserves to be praised?
But they go astray in useless fantasy.
The Light of God in relation to phenomena
is like light shining upon a wall—
the wall is but a focus for these splendors.


Mathnawi III: 2124-2127
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
“Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance”
Threshold Books, 1996


Memories of Spain: Scenes from Al Andalus

17 06 2009

spainMemories of Spain is Dancepatheatre’s repertory concert that will sweep audiences through various eras of Spanish history and style through dance, word, music and song. This concert is Dancepatheatre’s Zilkha Hall debut, and features its hallmark of fusing modern dance with story, word, and voice.

Dancepatheatre’s ongoing Al Andalus Project moves forward in this program with Scenes from Al Andalus, a suite of solo and duet dances reflecting the various cultures, music and dance styles that peacefully co-existed in medieval Andalusia. Historical characters portrayed in dance include Fatima of Cordoba (a famous Muslim career woman and scholar), Hasdai Ibn Shaprut (leader of Cordoba’s Jewish community and foreign minister to the caliph), and Eleanor of Aquitaine (Queen of England), as well as a Greek Christian monk, a gypsy matron, and a Berber princess. Love duets, magic, and exotic intrigue are plentiful in this suite.

8:00pm performance. Zilkha Hall of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby Street, Houston Texas. Tickets: $11 Students and Seniors. $21 General Admission. $60 Front Row VIP with Cast Party Admission. Box Office:  or 713-315-2525. Information: call 713-522-6000, visit, or email

This Dancepatheatre project is supported in part by a grant from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.


Houston Area – Women’s Spiritual Gathering

21 04 2009


Next Women’s Spiritual gathering is on

May 7, 2009

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

1301 Bering Drive, Houston, Texas 77057

  The evening will include a vegetarian dinner,
music and an educational program hosted by the Relief Society,
which is the largest women’s organization in the world.

Interactive exhibits will include quilting, emergency preparedness,
and touring a Family History Center to learn more about genealogy research.

We will also celebrate mothers and daughters in recognition of Mother’s Day.

More information and registration: The Amazing Faith Project

Peace Hour on Peaceful Coexistence Radio

24 02 2009

Peaceful Coexistence Program is broadcasted every Friday from 10:00 a.m to 11:00 a.m KPFT-FM, 90.1 Houston in partnership with Boniuk Center



Subscribe to the program podcasts




Boniuk Center Podcasts

The KPFT-FM, Houston Archive

Defining Without Confining: reflections on a prophetic usage of sacred space.

22 02 2009

Reza Shah-Kazemi


In the ninth year after the Hijra (631), a prominent Christian delegation from Najrān, an important centre of Christianity in the Yemen,came to engage the Prophet in theological debate in Medina. The main point of contention was the nature of Christ: was he one of the messengers of God or the unique Son of God? What is of importance for our purposes is not the disagreements voiced, but the fact that when these Christians requested to leave the city to perform their liturgy, the Prophet invited them to accomplish their rites in his own mosque. According to Ibn Ishaq, who gives the standard account of this remarkable event, the Christians in question were Malaki, that is, they performed the Byzantine Christian rites. This means that they were enacting the Eucharistic rites which incorporated the fully-developed trinitarian theology of the Orthodox councils, emphasising the definitive creed of the divine sonship of Christ – doctrines explicitly criticised in the Qur’an. Nonetheless, the Prophet allowed the Christians to accomplish their mass and their rites in his own mosque. One observes here a perfect example of how disagreement on the plane of dogma can co-space, which is the exclusive property of no one religion.

This act of the Prophet should not be seen in isolation but as one in a series of such symbolic acts which, more powerfully than words, indicate the sanctity of the religions that preceded Islam. Another such act was the protection by the Prophet of the icon of the Virgin and Child in the Ka’ba. He instructed all idols within the holy house to be destroyed, but, according to at least two early historians, Waqidi and Azraqi, he himself protected this icon, not allowing it to be destroyed. Also of relevance here is the charter, said to be sealed by the prophet himself, granting protection to the monastery of St Catherine in Sinai. The charter states that wherever monks orhermits are to be found:

on any mountain, hill, village, or other habitable place, on the sea or in the deserts or in any convent, church or house of prayer, I shall be watching over them as their protector, with all my soul, together with all my umma; because they [the monks and hermits] are a part of my own people, and part of those protected by me.

Also, most significantly, the charter makes it incumbent on the Muslims not only to protect the monks, but also, in regard to Christians generally, to “consolidate their worship at Church”.

It is important at this point to cite some of the key verses of the Qur’an which clearly reveal the illogicality and vanity of religious chauvinism. Salvation is the consummation, through grace, of a fundamental spiritual orientation; it is not the automatic reward granted for belonging to one community rather than another. Perhaps the most important of all the proof-texts for upholding this claim is:

Truly those who believe, and the Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabeans – whoever believeth in God and the Last Day and performeth virtuous deeds – surely their reward is with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve. (II: 62).

Muhammad Asad, one of the most highly respected translators of the Qur’an, asserts that the word Islam itself would have been understood by the hearers of the word at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an in terms of its universal, and not communal, meaning. In other words, the religion bestowed upon the Prophet Muhammad was the very same religion which was bestowed upon his predecessors:

 He hath ordained for you of religion that which He commended unto Noah, and that which We reveal to thee [Muhammad], and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and be not divided therein … (XLII: 13)

The essence of religion is one and the same, but its forms vary. The reason for this diversity is succinctly given in this verse:

 For each We have appointed from you a Law and a Way. Had God willed, He could have made you one community. But that He might try you by that which He hath given you [He hath made you as you are]. So vie with one another in good works. Unto God ye will all return, and He will inform you of that wherein ye differed. (V: 48)

 The import of this verse is confirmed by this one:

 Unto each community We have given sacred rites (mansakan) which they are to perform; so let them not dispute with thee about the matter, but summon them unto thy Lord. (XXII: 67)

 On the one hand, there are different rites revealed for different religions; but on the other, there is no difference in the essence of the prophetic message. Muslims are told in the Qur’an in various places not to “distinguish between” any of God’s messengers.

 And yet, the Qur’an also contains severe condemnations of such doctrines as the sonship of Christ and other deviations of the People of the Book. It is thus not surprising that upholders of the exoteric viewpoint refer to verse 3:85, as superseding earlier ones such as 2:62, which appears to promise salvation to Christians Jews and Sabians:

 And whoso seeketh a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him, and he will be a loser in the Hereafter. (III: 85)

 Now whereas this last sentence is understood, from a theological point of view, as upholding the exclusive validity of Islam, defined as the religion revealed to God’s last Prophet, it can also be seen as confirming the intrinsic validity of all the revelations brought by all the prophets mentioned in the previous verse, 3:84, prophets such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc. One thus finds in the Qur’anic discourse both censure of the errors of the religious Other and affirmation of the essence of the revelations granted to the Other – both theological differentiation and a supra-theological unification.

Complete article: Interreligious Insight: a Journal of Dialogue and Engagement, July 2005 Edition

Can you hear me?

3 02 2009

Two children from different backgrounds struggle to escape their prisons. They discover one another and learn that despite their differences they have a common goal…


Download Song:

Lyrics for Ring the bells for Peace

1 02 2009

I believe in peace, my only wish. I believe that we can co-exist;
Let’s go further now than we’ve ever gone before and

 Ring the bells, ring the bells of change
Ring the bells, every boy and every girl
Ring the bells, ring the bells of peace all over the world

We’ve all been called to wake from sleep,
To feel our power to create the dreams,
To step out from the dark past our fathers? fear.

Ring the bells?

Here we stand in unity making one choice to be free.
Every truth blends into one as we believe it shall be done.
Here we stand as soldiers now, turning our swords into plows;
There is not a nobler climb, achieving peace in our own time.

I know peace begins with me, with all I feel and with all I see,
And I know it’s no easy task removing our own fearful masks;
But I have seen us rise and fall, stand on the moon, tear down the wall
And I know we can do it all, can do it well.
Show me the bells!

Ring the bells? Ring the bells? Ring the bells?


More Information: