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IMAM ABDUR RASHIED OMAR

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Imam Abdur Rashid is Co-Director of the Kroc Institute’s Program in Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding and an Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame, USA. He is the former Imam of the Claremont Main Road Masjid.

The greatest passion of my life is to foster cordial and convivial relations between Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists, people of all of the world’s religions and of no religion. The genesis of this interreligious passion was inspired and nurtured by my participation in the anti-apartheid struggle. My interreligious encounters have positively transformed both my own personal religious perspective as well as the way I view others. The litmus test of good religion for me is the extent to which you are able to embrace “the other” as an extension of yourself. I would like to share this illuminating experience with the world and am a passionate advocate of interreligious and intercultural education and dialogue. I firmly believe it can make a major contribution to a more peaceful and just world.

 


Inspirational Verses
Among the numerous verses of the Glorious Qur’an that have served and sustained me in this endeavour is the following Ayah from Surah Yunus.


“If your Lord had so desired, all the people on the earth would surely have come to believe, all of them; do you then think, that you could compel people to believe?”
Surah 10 (Yunus), Verse 99

The above verse establishes the principle of freedom of belief and thought in Islam.

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At the conclusion of the verse, the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) is himself reproved for transgressing this principle by being over-enthusiastic in convincing others with regard to the truth of Islam. Thus, the Qur’an stresses that the differences in beliefs, views and ideas of humankind is not incidental and negative but represents a God-willed, basic factor of human existence.

A denial of the right of others to hold beliefs and views that are different and incompatible to one’s own is tantamount to a denial of God himself. The challenge, for Muslims, is to amplify the Qur’anic teachings on religious pluralism and work hard to make it an integral part of the fabric of contemporary Muslim culture.

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