Sunday, September 21, 2014

Islam is part of the communal hope for peace: remarks at the United Park Church

[ Note: below is the edited version of my remarks given in context of  the Compassion games, see flyer for program, held at the Park United Church in Toledo, Ohio. Clergy from Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu and Baha'i were invited to give brief presentations. If there is a video of the speeches made available we will post it.]

In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. The idea of community building is something that all the prophets, teachers and messengers that we read about in scripture emphasized.

It's especially important in today's world, noting that Toledo itself has been officially declared a city of compassion, largely due to the efforts of Judy and Woody Trautman [ see /Toledo declared compassionate city] .
One of Pastor Heilman's[ft.1] favorite Biblical verses is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Another one he often cites "Love your neighbor as yourself". Powerful words, especially the last passage, To love your neighbor the same way you love yourself, to be for their welfare as you are for your own, that's dynamic, something that tears down divisions and borders, where people are able to see others in the same light as themselves.

Prophet Muhammad [upon whom be peace and blessings]  said: " None of you are believers till you LOVE for your brother what you LOVE for yourself." He also said "you are not a believer when you go to sleep full while your neighbor is hungry." Indeed, in our tradition we have it that the Prophet was instructed so much about neighbors that he thought that it would become a Divine commandment to include the neighbor in the wills.

So "community" means to be an organized body, joined together for the common good, especially in issues such as hunger, for peoples of all types to see themselves as family, to build bonds in a way that blood families do.

I'm specifically asked to address how and why Islam is part of the communal hope for peace. To accomplish that, we must look at the Prophet Muhammad [d.632 C.E.]. Upon becoming established in Madinah, he set about establishing ties of brotherhood, where two different men were paired as brothers, to the point where they would include each others in their wills. It was very successful. He also established what we can call the world's first constitution, which included clauses for mutual defense and freedom of religion.  This was something agreed upon by Muslims, Jews and other Non Muslim parties.

There are many other examples from the teachings and history of the Prophet we could cite, nonetheless our main point is that to establish peace, there must be universal security, economic and political justice. These are values integral to the message of Islam. They are connected to the worship of God, and to stand for these values are themselves acts of worship. Thank you.

Ft.1 Ed Heilman is Pastor of Park United Church.