Articles of Faith: Cleric Offers Tips to Living in Multifaith Society

June 1, 2007

Author: Anthony B. Robinson

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

It wasn't all that long ago that what most Americans knew of religions such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism came from books, not personal encounter or experience. That's changed. Not only have travel and technology made the world smaller, but America has become a religiously pluralistic nation. Islam is now the fastest- growing religion in North America.

There are more Buddhists than Methodists in this country. Twenty-first century America is a land of many faiths. You are as likely to have a Muslim or Buddhist as a neighbor or co-worker as you are a Presbyterian or a Jew.

How are people of different faiths to get along and live together? Jamal Rahman has some suggestions.

Rahman, a Sufi Muslim, is a minister at the Seattle Interfaith Community Church in Ballard. Growing up in Pakistan, his parents taught him the three things Gandhi said about how to relate to people of a religion different from your own.

"It is the sacred duty of every individual to have an appreciative understanding of other faiths," Gandhi taught. Not simply a good idea to know a little something about other religions, but our sacred duty! And not only that, we are to have "an appreciative understanding" of other faiths. For Rahman, the operative assumption is that every religion has beauty and value to be appreciated. That is the starting point.