Hinduism, Islam Discussed at San Francisco Ladies Consular Corps Luncheon
Pasquini, Elaine, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
"I BELIEVE that knowledge is power and ignorance is our worst enemy," Dr. Thoraya Elkhadrawy told the Ladies of the Consular Corps and special guests gathered at her San Francisco residence April 11. "The only way to understand, respect and live in peace with each other is to learn about other religions and cultures."
Following a luncheon of Egyptian specialties, Elkhadrawy, wife of Egyptian Consul General Abderahman Salaheldin, and Ratna Prakash, wife of Indian Consul General B.S. Prakash, spoke on their respective religions-Islam and Hinduism.
Prakash, dressed in an exquisite silk sari from her native homeland, discussed the origins and sacred texts of Hinduism, India's oldest religion. Stressing that her faith is not just a religion, but also a way of life and a philosophy, she explained, "Everyone is free to interpret the religion in his or her own way."
The tenets of Hinduism include the belief in an absolute formless Brahman-a source of energy found in all forms of life-that life is a cycle of births and deaths, and that all life is sacred.
"Every denomination of Christianity and Islam is practiced in India," Prakash stated, "and India is a country where Jews are always welcome." In closing, she reminded her audience: "We need to remember the commonalities in our religions, not the differences."
"Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world," Elkhadrawy told her guests. "Its powerful appeal is based upon its simplicity, recognition of other monotheistic religions, and compassion." The elegant physician explained Islam's origin dating back to the 7th century. "The Qur'an, as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, did not come to replace the great revelations made to Abraham, Moses, and Jesus," she explained, "but is simply repeating the message that God sent to human beings that they must surrender themselves-body, heart, mind and soul-to God and try to create a just and decent society where all human beings are treated with justice and respect."
Reiterating her Consular Corps colleague's sentiments, Elkhadrawy affirmed, "We should spend more time focusing on the same compassionate peaceful message that all religions try to bring to our human race."
Jordanian Ambassador Al-Hussein Honored at Bay Area Reception
The Honorary Consul of Jordan and Mrs. Kamel Ayoub hosted an April 16 reception for Jordanian Ambassador to the United States Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein. The informal gathering at Burlingame's Sheraton Gateway Hotel gave members of the Bay Area's Arab-American community the unique opportunity to speak one-on-one with the affable ambassador. Mingling enthusiastically with the guests, the 44-year-old father of two was particularly interested in the children in attendance, and graciously posed for photos with many of the guests. Among the crowd were prominent community and religious leaders.
Earlier in the day the ambassador visited California's world famous high tech companies headquartered in Silicon Valley and also met with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who will visit Jordan in May. Al-Hussein and Amine Kherbi, Algeria's ambassador to the United States, were guests of honor at a luncheon hosted by TechWadi, the leading networking association for Arab-American professionals in the technology industry.
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