Imam Zijad’s Corner: Openness: The Way Forward

To engage with the “other” requires deliberate efforts, resources and time. Knowledge is an important ingredient of this activity but openness is essential.

And I believe that through knowledge about other religions we will precisely become more open to other religions. If we don’t have knowledge of the unknown, we cannot know if it is valuable. If we do not know, we would assume, suspect, etc.

Openness to other religions does not mean that we should change our own religion, of course not. But it may sometimes lead to the appreciation of certain aspects in other religions, and it may also lead to critical thinking about certain aspects in own religion. In other words, through studies of own religion and studies of other religions, our religious belief, and spirituality are likely to become stronger.

We will also discover the many similarities in the various religions.  We will also learn that many religious people have often gone astray in their practices, not because the religions had faults, but because of them as custodians of the religions.

So, what are the principles that guide me in relating to my brothers and sisters from other religious traditions? In a talk long ago in Cairo, Bishop Kenneth Cragg stressed the importance of openness with “others”: an open door, an open hand, an open heart, an open mind and, yes, an open creed. I could not agree more fully with his insight.