Children of Abraham

muslim

The traditional separation of the three Abrahamic religions means Catholics can have some fuzzy ideas about Judaism and Islam.

We are like a family that has cousins living in countries we have never visited.

The events of Friday 15, March brought us home to our Islamic cousins, although there is still some fuzziness floating around.

I am not an interfaith scholar, but I have worked with Muslims, have many Muslim friends, and I appreciate aspects of their faith that connect with mine.

Here are my responses to some recent questions.

But they worship another god, don’t they?

No.

Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Allah is Arabic for God just as Deus is Latin for God.

All three religions acknowledge Abraham as a founding father of their faith.

Muslims do not believe in Jesus

They do believe in Jesus although their understanding is different from ours.

They regard Jesus as the greatest prophet next to Mohammed. They also revere the Old Testament prophets dating back to Adam.

Incidentally, in the Qur’an there is more written about Mary the mother of Jesus than there is in our Gospels.

Isn’t the Qur’an  violent?

Anyone who thinks the Qur’an is violent should read the Old Testament. We must remember that religion is held in a culture which historically, has been threatened.

Our own Catholic tradition bears witness to this.

The Qur’an is also about peace, family, social order, prayer and praise, and it contains some magnificent hymns of praise to God.

Muslim women don’t have freedom

Really?

name that is a misconception and it has its counterpart in the Middle East where Muslim women think that Western women are degraded by men and used as sex objects.

Both views come from the media.  Muslim women judge our society by what they see in magazines and TV.

We are susceptible to the same kind of media conditioning.

In the Arab Emirates, I have enjoyed the parks and swimming pools that are available only to women and young children.

New Zealand women would probably enjoy this sort of freedom, too.

For Muslims, hospitality to the stranger is important. I have been grateful for that hospitality many times.

It is also gratifying to belong to a faith that has welcomed Muslim refugees and helped them settle in New Zealand.

The Catholic church offers support to Muslims recognise and value.

For anyone seeking an aspect of Islamic faith that will connect with Christian prayer, I suggest the 99 names of God.

All of these names are enshrined in both Muslim and Christian faith, God the all compassionate, God the merciful, the King, the All-Holy, the Giver of Peace, the Creator of Security. The Absolute, the Powerful, the Possessor of all, the Supreme, the Creator of the Universe, the Evolver, the Artist, the Forgiver, the Overcomer, the Great Giver, the Sustainer, the Opener of Gates, the All-Knowing, the Restrainer, the Extender, the Comforter, the Exalter, the Giver of Honour, the Giver of Disgrace, the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing, the Arbiter, the Judge, the All-subtle, the Ever Alert, the Indulgent, the Ever -forgiving, the Grateful, the Sublime, the Abundant, the Preserver, the Feeder, the Assessor, the Splendid, the Bountiful, the Observer, the Supreme, the All-embracing, the Loving, the Majestic, the Resurrector, the Witness, the Reality, the Dependable, the Strong, the Steadfast, the Friend, the All-Praiseworthy, the Accounter, the Originator, the Restorer, the Bringer of Death, the Life, the Independent, the Finder, the Magnificent, the Unique, the One, the Eternal, the All-Powerful, the Determinator, the Expediter, the Delayer, the First, the Endless, the Manifest, the Unmanifest, the Protecting Friend, the Most High, the Good, the Ever-returning, the Avenger, the Forgiver,  the Pitying, the Owner of All,  the Lord of Honour, the Equitable, the Unifier, the Independent, the Enricher, the Distressor, the Benefactor, the Light, the Guide, the Beautiful, the Everlasting, the Inheritor of All, the Guide to the Right, the Timeless.

These are the ninety-nine names of God.

There is a hundredth but that is personal, a name  that is for us to choose.

What is the name for God that lies closest to your heart?

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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