Pluralism and the Advocacy for One’s own Tradition

Pluralism and the Advocacy for One’s own Tradition October 5, 2016

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And Allah invites to the Home of Peace and guides
whom He wills to the straight path (10:25).

This post is a form of Thanksgiving. I have experienced many beautiful and blessed moments in my life. One of these recurring blessings is the opportunity to visit St. Andrews School in Middletown and speak in their religious service. I spoke tonight and it was my fifth discourse in as many years.  I thank Allah All Mighty for giving me these opportunities. I sometimes suspect that he gives me so many chances in the hope that one day, one time, I may live up to His expectations.

The visit this year was also special because my wife accompanied me. She had heard a lot about the school which my kids who had accompanied me in the past described as the Harry Potter school and she enjoyed the wonderful ambience, the ceremonial dinner and the general atmosphere of the school.

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Everything about the ceremony is beautiful. The sanctuary, the atmosphere, the devotion with which my friend Rev. Jay Hutchinson, the Chaplain of the school, conducts the services and the attention and the obvious reverence with which the students and faculty attend the session. The physical space is charming and clearly possess an aura of sacredness about it.  But what is special is the metaphysical space – the openness, the tolerance and the love for all that is palpable and I am sure much of the credit is due to Jay.

Today I spoke about the challenge of being true to one’s own tradition and faith while simultaneously subscribing to a pluralistic worldview. How does one respect all paths to the divine without compromising fidelity to one’s own path? My answer was simple, but not losing sight of where the paths lead – To God. As long as one is focused on God and not religion one can be both devout and open, but if one gives greater importance to religion and forgets God, one will find it difficult to be open and pluralistic.

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I relied primarily on the following two verses of the Quran and 10:99. To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good (Quran 5:48) and And if Allah willed, He could have made them [of] one religion, but He admits whom He wills into His mercy. (Quran 42:8) to articulate my message.     

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