Imam Zijad’s Corner: Common Good – The Focus of All Religions

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Imam Zijad’s Corner: Common Good – The Focus of All Religions

Spiritual and intellectual leaders of the Muslim world are not alone these days in urging that sincere and renewed efforts be made to achieve mutual understanding and openness among all faiths, for the benefit of the entire human family.  As members of that global family, all Canadians share an obligation to work for the common good, to do justice, act in solidarity, and – sometimes the hardest of all – to forgive one another’s failings.

In fact, all of the foundational scriptures of world religion stress those four obligations as essential to our collective well-being. And today, we are especially challenged by the obligation of forgiveness which, as Pope John Paul II suggested, is a vital component of our present and future relationships. But rather than asking us merely to forget the sins and tragedies of the past, the late Pontiff developed and interwove the core themes of peace, justice and forgiveness in his memorable 2002 message for the World Day of Peace. His theme was prophetic in its scope: No Peace without Justice, no Justice without Forgiveness.

In the spirit of John Paul II and other enlightened peace-messengers of our era, I fully believe that our respective religious traditions do have the necessary resources and collective will to overcome past and present misunderstandings and foster true mutual friendship and understanding among all peoples.

In fact, our challenge goes far beyond the cliché of “forgive and forget”; we are doubly challenged to forgive and remember, so that we will not repeat our past failures and injustices. Our religious traditions – their prophets, scriptures, and teachers — are all clear on this. The prophets of God stirred human memories to guide our conscience, not our vengeance. But are we clear as we stand here?  It is up to us now to translate these traditions into substance.

This new opportunity of forgiving, overcoming, and collaborating does not imply giving up, suppressing, or diluting our distinct religious identities; far from it. Rather, we should embrace our future as a shared journey toward new discoveries, growth and common respect.

Through collaboration we can learn a deeper understanding and respect for one another as members of the global human family and appreciate the values that bind us together in spite of our differences. As God Almighty declared in the Qur’an: “O [human]kind! We created you from a single (pair) … male and female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Truly, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous [among] you … God has full knowledge and is well acquainted – with all things (Al Hujurat 49:13).

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