Abrahamic Roots Group

02-abrahamic-roots-thumbSr Patricia Byrne reports on a gathering she attended recently. It was a group of Muslim and Christian Women coming together to explore Scripture and Pray.

“I first encountered this group when they came to visit our hospice in Airdrie. They had already shown their support for the hospice with a fund-raising event but the Muslim women also wanted to see the hospice for themselves as a potential place where their ill loved ones might come. As yet no Muslims had availed of the facilities of the hospice. In the spirit of Mary Aikenhead the hospice is open to Muslim patients and patients of other faiths and none.

Following on from this visit and the opportunity it gave me to meet the group I received an invitation to an event which the group was hosting. Apart from anything else being a Sister of Charity I was drawn by the theme of the day:

‘The Poorest and Weakest in Christian and Muslim Scripture’

The day started at 11.45 for registration followed by lunch at 12pm. By this time I had met and spoken to several of the Muslim membership which was larger by 2:1 than the group of Christian women. Then it was announced that the Muslim women needed to go off to pray and this gave me a chance to meet the Christians.
Lunch was unhurried and when we moved on to the next stage eventually the meeting opened with ‘Assolamo Aliakum’ (‘Peace be upon you.’) We were welcomed and an opening prayer was said:
God Almighty
Creator of the World
Giver of Peace
We thank you for the wondrous variety of your people.
We entrust to you this time of learning and discovery together.
Be in our words, our thoughts and our actions and help us to be builders of peace.

The next phase of the meeting was explained. Each table was to have good representation of Christians and Muslims. We were now going to share on an aspect of our scriptures taking a Muslim quotation from the Quran and with the help of our Muslim sisters explore its meaning, agree on two points and feed them back to the floor. (The quotation from the Quran was first sung to us in Aramaic. This was a very enriching and moving experience).
Then the same was to be done with the Christian scripture, this time the Christians helping the Muslims to understand. Both quotations were alike in spirit:
Qaran: “Have you seen him who belies the rewards of the Hereafter? He it is who drives away the orphan and does not urge giving away the food of the miskeen (vulnerable).”

Bible: “My brothers, what good is it for someone to say that he has faith if his actions do not prove it? Can that faith save him? Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them “God bless you keep warm and eat well”………..”
It was perhaps a little bit more difficult for the Christians to understand the Muslim quotation which suffered from translation. Nevertheless it was clear that the message was the same from both sources.
What we Christians took away from our discussions around the Muslim passage was that while we speak of justice and charity in relation to helping our vulnerable brothers and sisters Muslims believe that it is the right of the poor to receive help and, on reflection, that’s what our understanding of justice is but the Muslim perspective just seemed to be different, the poor have a right to anything that is ours above and beyond what we need!
The third phase of the meeting was input from a Christian woman on her work in Africa and how that influenced her to become deeply involved with the organisation ‘Mary’s Meals’ which provides meals for a million children worldwide, and from a Muslim woman who is deeply involved in sending supplies to refugees. Both women were very inspiring in their commitment and compassion.
Off the Muslim women went again to pray!
An announcement was made that there is a mountain of clothes in a warehouse to be sorted and prepared for transportation to refugees and could we help by forming a group for this and other ‘jobs’ that might arise as we welcome refugees into our society. The Christian Chair pointed out that unless Christians become involved with this work the mostly Muslim refugees will only meet Muslims and will not have the opportunity to fully integrate into our society.
We finished the day with a prayer:
God of Abraham,
We thank you for this time together.
Help us to be aware of you in our thoughts, our words and our actions until we meet again, God willing. Amen

This gathering of Christian and Muslim women took place eight days after the attack in Paris, it was particularly important as a demonstration of our commitment to, and our faith in, each other.

‘Assolamo Aliakum’ (‘Peace be upon you.’)

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