Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf Advocates Moderate Religious Outlook at Dubai School of Government Talk
The key to cultural progress and religious acceptance is interfaith dialogue, tolerance for diversity, religious understanding, bridge-building and moderation, according to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Islamic religious scholar and the Founder and CEO of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA Society).
The Imam’s comments came during a talk on “Religious Tolerance and Muslim Life in America” held at the Dubai School of Government (DSG).
He said: “We are Christians and Muslims, but one of our faults is instead of worshipping God, we worship our religion and use that to cause division between us. The sense of brotherhood and unity that the prophets had for each other as servants of the true God is the primary lesson we should all learn.
“The demand is on us (Muslims) to feel a special brotherhood with the Christian and Jewish faiths and certainly our own. It is time to accept that the Laws of Moses, Jesus and Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) were never opposed to each other.”
During his talk, Imam Feisal discussed the need to promote healthy dialogue and understanding between Muslims and the West. He also described the reality of Islamic life and freedom of worship in the US.
He added: “It is important to raise awareness and disseminate knowledge to minimize misconceptions or prejudice. For this purpose, it is important to augment the avenues for studying Christian or Jewish culture in the Middle Eastern universities, which is in stark contrast to the universities in the West, many of which offer courses in Islamic studies.”
The Imam is on an outreach trip spanning key countries in the Middle East organised by the US State Department. His Excellency Justin Siberell, the US Counsul-General in Dubai, as well as officials from the Consulate and the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, were present at the lecture.
Dr. Tarik Yousef, Dean of the Dubai School of Government, said: “The need for tolerance and religious understanding is greater now than ever before. There are those who would drive the world toward a “clash of civilizations” scenario, but the vast majority of people in both the Islamic and Western worlds seek a peaceful world based on mutual respect. We are honored to host Iman Feisal Abdul Rauf, who has devoted his life to promoting a tolerant, open and confident vision of Islam which is fully at home in America, and we in the Dubai School of Government look forward to continuing our initiatives toward strengthening the bonds of understanding between the West and the Muslim world.”
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the Imam of Masjid Al-Farah, a mosque in New York City. He has dedicated his life to building bridges between Muslims and the West and is a leader in the effort to foster religious pluralism and integrate Islam into the contemporary American society.
By establishing ASMA in 1997, he created the first Muslim organization committed to bringing Muslims and non-Muslims together through programmes in academia, policy, current affairs and culture. As Imam of Masjid Al-Farah, he preaches a message of peace and understanding between people, regardless of creed, nationality or political beliefs.
Established in 2005 in cooperation with the Harvard Kennedy School, the Dubai School of Government is committed to the creation of knowledge and the dissemination of global best practices in the Arab world. The institution conducts various programmes that seek to enhance the region’s capacity for effective public policies.