Questionnaire Responses

One person’s interfaith story

The Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims is looking to gather stories and experiences of encounters between members of different faith groups especially between Muslims and Jews. We are highlighting some responses on our website.

Tell us about a time you visited a Mosque, Synagogue or place of worship other than one of your own faith’s.

After Daniel Pearl was murdered in Pakistan in 2002, I was not only
heartbroken, but as someone of Pakistani heritage, I felt an obligation
to reach out to Jewish people. Among other things, I attended an event
at a synagogue which featured a dialogue between Judea Pearl, father
of Daniel Pearl and distinguished computer scientist, and Akbar S.
Ahmed, former High Commissioner of Pakistan to U.K and currently Chair
of Islamic Studies, American University in Washington, D.C. I’ve
attended other events at non-Muslim places of worship, but this was
the most memorable.

Is Canada in general, and the GTA in particular, a place that encourages different religious groups to coexist and cooperate?

Yes, Canada and GTA do encourage coexistence and cooperation. While I
like the bonds that interfaith events engender, I think more needs to
be done to engage in difficult conversations. This way, even when
there is no agreement – which can not always happen – we would better
appreciate each others’ point of views.

Have you ever felt that you had to defend members of another religious group in a conversation with your peers?

Yes. This happens most often when some of my friends start calling the
“Israeli lobby” the “Jewish lobby”. While I appreciate that many Jews
have a strong bond with Israel, I know many Jews who are deeply
distressed at Israeli policies that deny rights to non-Jewish people
who under Israeli control.

Is there any prominent member of another religious community, for example a thinker, writer, imam or rabbi, whom you find particularly inspiring?

Yes, it is Rabbi Michael Lerner, who I have met. What I find most
inspiring about him is his deep commitment to human rights and
progressive causes. Of course, I also find Pope Francis deeply
inspiring.

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