I must confess that I was a little nervous about teaching a class on Islam early in my tenure at Dayspring. There is so much fear, prejudice and even hostility aimed at Muslims in our world today, based on the actions of a limited few and fomented by the media. But what an amazing and positive experience it has been!
Over 100 people began the exploration together, all but filling our fellowship hall. Many of us shared dinner beforehand. We were then privileged to witness our Muslim guests observe evening prayers at sunset. As I introduced Imam Ahmed Shqeirat of the Islamic Community Center of Tempe, I looked out upon 12 tables of eight persons, each with one or two Muslims along with members of Dayspring.
Rich encounters would continue over the course of our five Wednesday evenings together, utilizing a new video resource called “The Jesus Fatwah,” which features 17 Christian and Muslim scholars. One Dayspring member, profoundly moved by the piety and faith he encountered, said with a smile, “Why, they’re better Christians than we are!” One Muslim shared a similar sentiment: “I’d rather have a good Christian as a neighbor than a bad Muslim.” All expressed gratitude for the opportunity to interact and learn from each other.
At the second to the last session we had a visitor named Kerry, who’d heard about the experience at a recent interfaith gathering. Kerry is a member of Temple Emmanuel. I celebrated the fact that we had a Jew at a church learning about Islam! Many present expressed regret that the series was coming to a close. I indicated there would be another opportunity for us to come together, as Dayspring will be hosting this year’s Tempe Interfaith Thanksgiving Service on Tuesday, November 25 at 7:00p.m. Whether or not you participated in the Jesus Fatwah, I hope to see you there!
Peace, Salaam, Shalom,