Reference was made in an earlier posting, The UAE: No. One for Inter-Faith Relationships, about a letter from distinguished Muslim leaders to Christian leaders around the world, requesting much more conversation.
In that article I concluded with a reference to the UAE, saying that this international process needs to be earthed nationally and locally:
“It would be a constructive thing if UAE Islamic and Christian leaders instituted a process and encouraged conversation in all cities and towns of the United Arab Emirates. These groups could be called ‘Common Ground’ whereby ordinary representatives of different faiths met together initially over a period of several weeks to share food, to get to know one another, to listen and to find common ground…”
“Muslims and Christians are different but they can agree on some fundamental principles, such as the commandment to love God and to love one’s neighbour. And surely participants might find common ground in a commitment to peacemaking and doing justice. And this is only a beginning. What leadership and what a signal this would give to people to know that such conversations were going on in the United Arab Emirates.”
Since that posting a story has been reported about young people in Boston, from different religious backgrounds, participating in an eight-year experiment to bridge the religious divide.
The process brings them together to:
* Getting to know each other and establish friendships
* Find commonalities in their religions
* Discover different things about the various religions
* Understand what the faith means to different people
* Share inter-faith hospitality over meals that meet the dietary requirements of all faiths
They have shared in a Hindi dance in a Jewish synagogue and they have broken the Ramadan fast with a Sukkot meal. They have heard what the Ramadan journey and fasting means to Muslim participants.
The process is being evaluated and people from different parts of the world are eyeing this experience and wondering if it could be applied and adapted to their situation.
It could be a model worthy of being evaluated and adapted to the UAE.
For more on this story:
Jane Lampman, ‘American Youths Bridge Religious Divides’, CSM, 24 October 2007.
Image: Bridge in the Making.
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