Judging: Can You Let Go?

11 12 2009
The following article is from Interfaith.com. For more resources on interfaith and to connect with other interfaith chapters around the world, visit http://www.interfaithing.com.

Is it possible to let go of judging others? How about letting go of judging ourselves? Many of us are familiar with the saying, “Judgehttp://www.interfaithing.comnot, and ye shall not be judged.” Maybe when we judge others what we are really doing is judging ourselves at the same time. Some say that our outer world is just a reflection of our inner world, how we truly feel about ourselves.

Often we do not even allow the other person a chance to explain, make amends or change. By judging we are drawing conclusions, it makes it final.  How often are we wrong about our judgments? It seems to be unconscious human nature to categorize people by their race, colour, gender or religion and then pass judgment on them.

It might be that when we judge another we are holding ourselves above the other person. We do not always have all the facts or the whole story. This might be a difficult concept to grasp for many but I think that when we judge others it can be that what we see in the other person is what we dislike in our Self. We are rejecting something in our self that we are not consciously aware of. How can we truly judge when we don’t know the other person’s circumstances in life? I like the saying, “I am neither superior nor inferior to anyone.”

Judgment can also come from feelings of inadequacy, envy and jealousy. It is not always easy to see that within us. We might think we are just making a comment or giving our opinion of the other person. Most of the time if we become emotionally charged while doing this it’s an indication that some feelings need to be resolved.

Complete at Source: http://www.interfaithing.com/articles/judging-can-you-let-go/

by Helena Basso on Monday, December 7th, 2009


Agree to Disagree – No Compulsion in Religion – by Baba Ali

19 11 2009


Source: http://ummahfilms.blogspot.com/

Via: Faith of Life Network

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

One Nation, Many Voice (Short Films)

20 03 2009

Click on the image below to watch the films at source:


via In Muslim film contest, diversity wins

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

Equality and religious tolerance in Islam

12 02 2009

Since the dawn of Islam in Arabia, the history of Islam has posed strong emphasis on ethno-cultural equality and freedom of religion. These practices are taught in the Holy Quran, can be found in the practices and preaching of Prophet Mohammad, are enforced by Muslim dynasties and are written in Islamic ordinance in various forms. These principals align with the Article 1, 2 and 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right as declared by the UN’s General Assembly.

Article 18 of UDHR discusses each individual’s right to practice religion according to his or her freewill. It states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

 Holy Quran declares: “O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct.Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware!” (49:13).  Notice that this ayah is addressed not to believers or Muslims but to mankind. To be honorable in the eyes of God one doesn’t have to be Muslim or Jew or Christian or Hindu or Jain– just pious. This notion was emphasized by Prophet Mohammad when he declared an end to any superiority between Arabi and Ajmi and whites and blacks based on their ethnic or racial backgrounds. Therefore, according to Islamic ethics, all men and women are created equal and must not be discriminated.

 The Constitution of Medina, “was a formal system” that endorsed the “principles of equality and pluralism” that protected the rights of Jews and Christians (Ahl Al-Kitab). This tradition of equality was carried on when equal opportunities were given to all alike by the Ottoman, Fatimid and Mughal rulers. In the 10th century Muslim city of Cordoba in Spain, ethnicity and race did not matter in the society. As book one, Exploring and Discovering, of primary six Ta’lim curriculum quotes: “In Cordoba, there are not Jews, Muslims, or Christians, there are probably not even Spaniards. In Cordoba, there are just Cordobeses.” (p. 20) During the Suleyman’s reign on Ottoman Empire, young non-Muslim boys were given special trainings to serve the state. Similarly, the Fatimid dynasty was known for its ethnic and religious tolerance. The Fatimid caliphs not only offered religious freedom to their people but also offered equal opportunities in the high offices of government. Mughal ruler Akbar, the Great, also enforced law in his country to give freedom of worship without interference from government officials. He invited scholars from different religions to his court to have open discussions about variant religious believes. (Exploring and Discovering)


Islam’s tolerance to religious and ethnic diversity and cultural pluralism is not limited to the Holy Book, the life of Holy Prophet or the Muslim dynasties of the past. This tradition can still be seen today in the work of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The mandate of AKDN is to “realise the social conscience of Islam” and to attain its goals “beyond the boundaries of creed, color, race and nationality”.  (AKDN: An Ethical Framework). AKDN has many non-Muslim skillful individuals employed based on merit (Steigerwald).


In the words of Article 1 and 2 of UDHR, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms… without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”




Foreword for How Do You Spell God?

7 02 2009

Below is the foreword by Dalai Lama for the book, “How Do You Spell God?” by Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Thomas Hartman

“All the world’s religious traditions are similar because they help us become better human beings. For centuries, millions people have found peace of mind their own religious tradition. Today, the world over, we can find followers of many faiths giving up their own welfare in order to help others. I believe that this wish to work for the happiness of others is the most important goal of all religious practice.


Human beings naturally possess different interests. So, it is not surprising that we have many different religious traditions with different ways of thinking and behaving. But this variety is a way for everyone to be happy. If we have a great variety of food, we will be able to satisfy different tastes and needs. When we only have bread, the people who eat rice are left out. And the reason those people eat rice is that rice is what grows best where they live.


Because the important point of all the different religious traditions is to be helpful, we must maintain harmony and respect between them. This will benefit not only the followers of each religion, but will make our own neighborhoods and countries more peaceful. To do this we need to understand something about the world’s different religions. Therefore, I am very happy that my friend Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Thomas Hartman have written this book that explains in a clear and easy way what the world’s religions are about.


For most of us, our religion depends on our family and where we were born and grew up. Usually I think it is better not to change that. However, the more we understand of each other’s ways, the more we can learn from each other. And the more easily we can develop respect and tolerance in our own lives and in our behavior towards each other. This will certainly help to increase peace and friendship throughout the world, which is one of the aims of all major religions.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama