Sunday, October 16, 2011

Calgary Muslim and Jewish scholars to hold dialogue

Muslim and Jewish scholars to hold dialogue
Meeting believed to be first of its kind in Calgary
By Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald
October 15, 2011

Rabbis and Islamic scholars in Calgary are meeting to discuss their views on the meaning and relevance of their religion's holiest scriptures.

They will be presenting their views on their holy books and what makes them holy and what the holy books say about peace and interfaith relations.

The Word of God for Divine Guidance will be held Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 6: 30 p.m. at the Beth Tzedec Congregation, 1325 Glenmore Tr. S.W., and is free and open to the public.

Rabbi Shaul Osadchey, of the Beth Tzedec Congregation, said the idea came following an Ahmadiyya conference last spring of Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars.

He extended an invitation to have the next conference at his synagogue.

"It will be the first such conference at a Jewish house of worship and is intended to draw a large number of Jews and Muslims into a constructive dialogue about their respective traditions," he says.

The topic of the conference will explore questions about the nature of the sacred texts of the two religions - the Torah and the Qur'an.

Osadchey and Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman of Temple B'nai Tikvah will discuss this topic with Islamic scholars Maulana Mahmood Butt and Mualana Mukhtar Cheema.

There will also be time for questions following the panel presentation.

Conference organizers Mohammed Atif and Osadchey say this is a step forward in Jewish-Muslim relations by noting "that education and dialogue offer the best opportunities for Jews and Muslims to better understand each other and to eliminate myths and stereotypes."

For further information and registration, visit www.islamevents.ca/ calgary or contact info.calgary@ ahmadiyya.ca or info@bethtzedec.ca.

"The intensity of the conflict in the Middle East emanates from a variety of complex historical, political, economic, social and religious factors," says Osadchey. "The heat from that strife fans out globally until the embers land in local communities. However, Jewish and Muslim communities in Calgary, for example, lead lives in which the political and economic issues in the Middle East are not directly pertinent to their daily lives. Only the social and religious aspects remain as potential obstacles for interfaith co-operation.

"The goal of the Ahmadiyya-Jewish conference is to douse stereotypes and misinformation about our respective religions to find common ground to forge a peaceful relationship. In turn, the local level can serve too as a type of interfaith model that can be emulated in the Middle East.

"To date, I am unaware that such a Muslim-Jewish dialogue in Calgary has taken place, let alone in a synagogue. Members of the host congregation Beth Tzedec and members of B'nai Tikvah will have the opportunity to welcome Muslims into a Jewish institution and within the comfort of their sacred space hear about the values and teachings of Muslims. The Ahmadiyya Muslim community will similarly be exposed to a Jewish house of worship and to thereby demythologize their perceptions."

A special tour of the synagogue is planned by Osadchey for the Muslim guests. A followup conference is being planned at the Ahmadiyya mosque to bring the Jewish community into their Muslim holy space.

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

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