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We know you are aware that we are approaching the tenth anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11. On that day we will remember the scores of people who lost their lives in those attacks, the families that continue to grieve their loved ones, and the way in which our country was forever changed on that fateful day. In houses of worship throughout our community there will be prayers of remembrance and reconciliation.
Unfortunately, however, this day of remembrance may also draw forth vitriolic language of condemnation against those thought to be responsible. But instead of focusing on the small number of Islamic terrorists who are directly responsible, blame will be blanketed on all Muslims. Indeed, not only have we witnessed a gross misrepresentation of Islam in the media, but we have also watched as certain politicians have fanned the flames of hatred and bigotry by intentionally spreading misinformation about the faith of our Muslim brothers and sisters.
Clearly, there are choices to be made in how we mark this anniversary and what we accentuate, and these choices will be very important. But these choices must be made with an accurate understanding that bring forth true wisdom in these matters. Indeed, the rich tradition of Islam should not be judged by the actions of a small number of fundamentalist terrorists any more than Christianity should be judged by the actions of a Florida pastor who wanted to publicly burn the Koran or by a Norwegian fundamentalist Christian who cold-bloodedly murdered so many in July, 2011.
To assist you and your house of worship, InterFaith Works of Central New York and its Round Table of Faith Leaders have put together a Resource Guide for Understanding Islam and Engaging in Interfaith Education that you can utilize to assist yourcongregation to grow in understanding. In loose-leaf notebook form (so new resources can be added) we have compiled articles, worship ideas, and activities that can help you and your house of worship during this anniversary time and beyond. In making this an ongoing process, we hope that you and others can make suggestions of other resources that can be added over time.
Some might wonder if learning about another faith tradition in sympathetic understanding might water-down or even compromise one’s commitment to one’s own faith tradition. Here is the delightfully mysterious paradox our organization has come to embrace. The deeper we move in the practice of truly opening up to others who are different from ourselves—and honoring and respecting that which we at first might not understand—the more we move into the depths of our own faith tradition. And the deeper we move into the depths of our own tradition, the more available we are to learn about others without condemnation or judgment. Truly we are learning that we can be “right” without having to make someone else “wrong.”
We are eager and ready to send out these materials to those who are interested. Please call or email InterFaith Works if you would like to receive them at (315) 449-3552, ext. 101, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
May your work and the work of your house of worship be blessed.
The Very Rev. William C. Redfield, InterFaith Works Convener of Round Table of Faith Leaders
Beth A.Broadway, IntyerFaith Works Executive Director
Follow this link to the printable Resource Guide information request form