Islamic Friendship Association of Australia – and the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, first Muslim Christian Open Public Dialogue

Friday 17th October 2003

 

Speech by Keysar Trad

 

Madam chair, fellow speakers, his eminence the Mufty, distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman Good evening and peace and blessings to you all.

 

Being the final speaker, I only have one or two additional points, most of the main points have already been covered.

 

The bible says:

 

Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27  To love God with all your heart and all your soul.

 

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

 

The Qur`an, the book that we Muslims believe to contain the final words of God tells us how to follow the commandments and points us to role models of our own human kind such as Abraham, Moses, Christ and Muhammad peace and blessings upon them all.  These role models applied all the commandments faithfully in their lives and showed us how to lead a life full of spirituality and love.  In this regard, God tells His messenger Muhammad peace and blessings upon him to say:

 

Qur`an 3:31  If you indeed love God, follow me and God will love you and forgive you your sins.

 

God also tells us in the Holy Qur`an

 

24:22 Forgo and forgive if you would like God to forgive you.

2:195, 3:148, 5:13 (and other verses) Do good, God loves those who do good.

2:222 God loves the penitent and those who purify themselves.

3:76 God loves those who are pious

3:134 Those who overcome their grudge and those who forgive people, Allah loves those who do good.

3:146 God loves those who patiently persevere

3:159 God loves those who rely on Him

5:43, 49:9 God loves those who are just

23:96 and 41:34: repel evil with goodness.

 

One of the names of Allah is the Loving, another is the forgiving, another is the Most Compassionate and another is the Most Merciful.

 

Quoting Christ, John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

 

The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) said: None of you is a true believer until you love for your brother (in humanity) what you love for yourself.

 

He also said:  You will not truly believe until you love one another … in order to love one another you must promote peace.

 

God also tells us never to despair of receiving His grace and Compassion saying at 39:53:  “Say to My devotees who have wronged themselves, do not despair of the Mercy of Allah, Allah forgives all sins, He indeed is the Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

 

The Qur`an tells us at 19:21 referring to Christ (peace and blessings upon him):  “We will make him a sign to people and a mercy from Us.”  And tells us at 21:107 that the prophet Muhammad was sent to this world to bring compassion and mercy:  “We only sent you as a mercy to the worlds.”

 

The prophet Muhammad himself described his mission as one to complete the teachings of the most noble mannerisms and character traits.

 

He also said: "My example and the example of the prophets before me is the same as that of a man who built a house, then beautified it and decorated it, except for the position of one brick in one of its corners, the people would go around this house, and marvel at it, and say:  If only this brick was put in place?  I am that brick, I am that brick, and I am the seal of the prophets."

 

As for the Qur`an itself, it states at 16:89:  “We sent down to you the book to clarify all things and as a guidance, a grace (and compassion) and good news for those who submit to God.”

 

17:9 “Indeed this Qur`an guides to that which is straighter and gives glad tidings to the believers who do good, that they have a great reward.”

 

27:1-3 Tah Seen, these are the verses of the Qur`an, a book of clarity, a guidance and glad tidings to the believers, those who establish prayer, give pure charity and believe with certainty in the final life.”

 

And at 46:12 “Before it was the book of Moses, a leader and a mercy, this is a book confirming, in the Arabic language, to caution those who do wrong and give good news to those with beautiful conduct.”

 

Now for the name Islam, a word that sums up two meanings, one of peace and the other of surrender to God, two principals that are just as central to Christianity as they are to Islam.

 

What all this indicates is that the message of prophet Muhammad peace and blessings upon him is a continuation of the divine revelations.  It continues the message of love and peace and submission to God that was brought by Noah, Abraham, Moses and Christ.  What we heard from the previous speakers proves beyond doubt our common origin and purpose and the respect that we share for each other and the respect we enjoy as a society.  The case presented about our ability to live together has been proved.  I wish to take us to something else, why it is so crucial for us as faith communities to work together.

 

Here we have two faiths based on love and goodwill, based on friendship and compassion, with such commonality in goals, the message of the Qur`an to us as believers in God, is to work together on the basis of our mutual agreement in the belief in God, refer 3:64  “Say O people of the book (Christians and Jews are referred to in the Qur`an as people of the book), come to a term that is mutually agreeable to us and to you, that we worship none other than God and that we not associate any partner in Him and that we not take each other as lords beside God.  As for those who turn away, say (to them): bear witness that we have submitted to the will of God.”

 

It is in our interest to heed this call from God and to work together, many amongst us would know and have battled against a number of social challenges that seem to be growing day by day.

 

There is the challenge of keeping families together in the face of increasing separations and break-downs, there is the challenge of teaching young people to respect their elders, and teaching the elders to have compassion and mercy for the young, there is the challenge of teaching youth to work towards constructive long term goals in the face of great distractions, there is the challenge of helping one another realise that happiness is not elusive but is reachable and enjoyable regardless of material conditions and without artificial stimulants.  There is the challenge of putting out the fire of violence and war that keep getting ignited every now and again.  There is the challenge of promoting friendship and goodwill amongst each other.  Respecting the role that each of us must fulfil for our respective communities will help us in offering constructive solutions to these and other challenges.

 

To begin addressing these challenges, we must emulate the mission of love and compassion portrayed by the two great teachers Christ and Muhammad peace be upon them both.  We have to nurture our souls and help others to rediscover and nurture their’s.  We have to remind each other of the values of faith, perseverance and compassion as God tells us in the Qur`an at 90:17.

 

After this, can anyone look at us, sitting here together and say that we are two groups?  Yes, we are Muslims and Christians, two very close but distinct faiths and we are together as one group, united in our love for God and for each other.

 

Our love for God is the cause, it is our motive, this meeting is the effect of this great love, the rest, the impact, what you take from here tonight, is entirely up to you.

 

I invite everyone here to read about each other’s faith with an open mind, to objectively consider each other’s way of life and to praise God for everything we have in common.

 

Peace and love to all.