Academic journal article Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Interfaith Symposium on Peace Service in the Abrahamie Traditions

Academic journal article Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Interfaith Symposium on Peace Service in the Abrahamie Traditions

Article excerpt

On October 30, 2004, a one-day symposium was held at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on peace service in the Abrahamic traditions. The two chief aims of the symposium were to highlight the need for collaboration among diverse groups in working toward peace, and to take concrete steps toward developing the notion of peace service in the Abrahamic traditions. Co-chair Dr. Irfan A. Omar of Marquette's Department of Theology hosted the symposium, which was co-sponsored by the nonprofit group Global Peace Services U.S.A. After opening remarks by Omar, an interfaith (Jewish-Christian-Muslim) prayer was read aloud by symposium co-chair Sr. Mary Evelyn Jegen, S.N.D., former board member of G.P.S.-U.S.A., followed by a welcome from the president of G.P.S., John Eriksson. After these introductory and welcoming remarks, a representative of each of the three Abrahamic faiths presented sources of peace service within his or her respective tradition. Each presentation was followed by a response from another representative of the same faith tradition, then by a question-and-answer session with symposium attendees.

Imam A. Rashied Omar, coordinator of the Kroc Institute's Program in Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame, presented the Muslim perspective. Rabia Terri Harris, founder and executive director of the Muslim Peace Fellowship and editor of Fellowship Magazine, then gave a response to Imam Omar's presentation. Dr. Michael Duffey, professor of theology at Marquette University, presented the Christian perspective on peace service, with a response by Sr. Carol Frances Jegen, B.V.M., Professor Emerita at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University in Chicago. Dr. Sherry Blumberg, director of education at Congregation Am Echod in Lindenhurst, IL, and adjunct professor at both the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee, presented the Jewish perspective, with a response by Dr. Amy Shapiro, professor and coordinator of the Philosophy Department at Alverno College and director of the Holocaust Education and Resource Center at Milwaukee's Coalition for Jewish Learning.

The thrust of Imam Omar's presentation was that the Muslim preoccupation with justice has led to an erosion of the core Islamic concept of compassion. Justice and compassion are two related core values in Islam. He maintained that compassion must supersede justice; that "just struggles must occur within the ethos of compassion." He also suggested that there is a need to generate more Islamic religious literature on nonviolence. Harris agreed that there is a need to train new scholars, including training in self-observation. According to Harris, self-observation includes reflection on our feelings toward the God whom we worship: "If we serve a God that makes us angry, we aren't serving the creator of human life." During the question period, a symposium attendee addressed the perception that Muslims see only two types of people in the world: Muslims and non-Muslim infidels. He questioned whether justice is sought only within the faith or for a more general population. Harris refuted the idea that such a rigid bifurcation exists. …

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