Interfaith Dialogue will enrich your own faith

Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.

President John F. Kennedy

The United States has been described as a “Melting Pot” and as a “Toss Salad.” I prefer the “Toss Salad” better. I think we live in a very diverse country and when you get to know your neighbor makes this such a wonderful place to live.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms hosts Ramadan dinner for Atlanta Muslim community at Atlanta City Hall [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 32)]

For many years now Dorie Griggs, my wife, and I have been involved in participating in the very diverse interfaith community of Atlanta. Dorie helped to produce an interfaith dialogue TV show and I have helped by helping create websites and photograph these different organizations through the years.

Rev. Notasha Reid Rice – Ebenezer Baptist Church [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5600, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

Last night Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms hosted a Ramadan dinner for Atlanta Muslim community at Atlanta City Hall. The attendees were from many of the diverse faiths of Atlanta.

Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal – President of Atlanta’s Rabbinical Association [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 8000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 380)]

The three Abrahamic faiths: 1) Muslim, 2) Judaism & Christianity all had speakers at the event and people from those communities of faith in attendance as well.

Imam Plemon El Amin – Imam Emeritus Atlanta Masjid of Al Islam and ISB Board of Directors [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 14400, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

What I have discovered from my time in dialogue with people of different faith is that when it comes to living in community we are more alike than different. All the faiths hold education as core to their values which means their interest in public education is high.

Aisha Yaqoob Mahmood and Noor Abbady in Atlanta City Hall. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 52)]

While everyone enjoyed seeing their friends from their faith community at the Iftar Dinner, they also were just as pleased to be in such a diverse community.

 Soumaya Khalifa Executive Director and Founder ISB Atlanta and Luisa Fernanda Cardona Deputy Director, Office of Immigrant Affairs –  Atlanta City Hall.
[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 62)]

What I love about the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta is that they are about education of the faiths and not about proselytizing. They realized when we learn about the different faiths that we start to see some of our common bonds.

They are also realizing that they needed to help create a safe space for dialogue, so that people could learn about their neighbors and not feel threatened by them.

 Dorie Griggs and Hiba Ghalib at Atlanta City Hall. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 42)]

“If you let it [United States] give in to us versus them, at some point, America won’t be America anymore.”

President Bill Clinton
Imam Plemon El Amin – Imam Emeritus Atlanta Masjid of Al Islam and ISB Board of Directors [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 20000, 1/100, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 300)]

 When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world.  Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace.  And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race — out of every race.

President George W. Bush

Interfaith dialogue is possible only when two convictions pre-exist in the participants:

  1. No participant is seeking to proselytize any other participant.
  2. The participants are persuaded of the inherent validity and integrity of all the faith groups involved in the dialogue and are persuaded that no group possesses total and absolute knowledge regarding the nature and works of God and human involvement with the Divine.
Mr. Hassan Faye – Youth Director, MAS Atlanta & his wife Khadija Abourawi [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 40000, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions.

Hans Küng, Roman Catholic Theologian & Advocate for Interfaith Cooperation
Office of the Chief of Staff | Carmen Chubb for office of the mayor of the City of Atlanta Mayor was the keynote speaker. Keisha Lance Bottoms could not attend due to a fever and being advised by her doctor to rest. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

I recommend you hosting a group like the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta’s Interfaith Speakers Network. It is a collaboration between the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta (FAMA) and the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta (ISB).  The ISN provides opportunities to hear and interact with a panel of local practicing representatives from six faith traditions: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism Hinduism, and Sikhism. The panels are educational and facilitate dialogue and understanding between different religions. In addition to sharing information ISN panels showcase ways that different faith traditions can work together. 

ISN programs promote religious pluralism by both emphasizing our shared values and practices and modeling respectful civil discourse when discussing our differences.