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My Turn: ‘Holding thoughts of peace in our hearts’

For the Monitor
Last modified: 2/28/2016 10:41:04 PM
The word “Islam” has the same root as the greetings “salaam,” “shalom” and “peace.”

On Jan. 24, the Greater Concord Interfaith Council sponsored a panel discussion. Representatives of six religions were asked, “What in your faith inspires peace and hope?” When Imam Mustafa, leader of Concord’s Muslim community, was invited to participate, he was grateful for the opportunity to discuss Islam and peace. He was so appreciative that he invited the entire GCIC to the Muslim Community Center for dinner and discussion on Saturday, Feb. 13. Anyone interested in interfaith dialogue was welcomed.

Common threads were discovered within the faiths represented that evening. Many stories in the Bible are also found in the Quran. Imam Mustafa’s respect of other religions and acknowledgment of “One God for all faiths” felt familiar to the Baha’is.

One guest wanted to give the imam a gift. Her eyes fell on a little, wooden heart. It had the word “peace” carved on one side. On the other, the same word appeared in Arabic and Hebrew. Perfect! She put it into her pocket.

Later, as she passed her gift to the imam, she explained it had been part of a fundraiser for “Kids4Peace,” a program that brings Palestinian and Israeli children from the Jerusalem area to New Hampshire for a few weeks of summer camp, together with kids from New England.

The imam was so moved by the gift, that he addressed his guests, saying that his message for Friday prayers the day before had been about holding thoughts of peace in our hearts. And then he held up the little, wooden heart, showing how it had “peace” inscribed in the three languages. He said he would cherish it, hoping, praying for more opportunities like this to build bridges of peace between Islam and other faiths.

(Susan Brewer of Concord is a representative of the Baha’i Faith Community on the Greater Concord Interfaith Council.)


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