By Ron Barham
A special opportunity exists for people to learn about some people with whom we share a common spiritual origin. The International Museum of Muslim Culture in
No naiveté is needed about the contemporary and political implications of Christian and Muslims reaching toward each other. We still live in the shadow of Sept. 11. Most headlines and much of what we “know” about Muslims reflect the acts of Islamist extremists who seize selected parts of The Quran which support their agenda. They dismiss parts which proclaim the monotheistic origins shared with Jews and Christians in Abraham. Among other things they ignore: “Surely, God loves not the oppressor...” (Quran 2:190)
Precisely because extremists have grabbed the center stage, we should avail ourselves of the opportunity to strengthen the voices of peace and brotherhood within the Muslim community and among our Christian brothers and sisters. The word Islam itself is derived from the Arabic word for peace, salaam. Devout Muslims practice a faith that recognizes Jews and Christians as “people of The Book.” The Quran affirms that both Torah and the gospel were revealed by God, although the Quran is held as a superior revelation and has clearly negative expressions about Jews and Christians.
When Jesus opened his ministry in the
When the apostle Paul proclaimed the great news to the people of
The recent visit by Pope Benedict with Muslims and Orthodox Christians in
As a Christian and as an American citizen, I feel a special responsibility to engage every contact available with persons of sincerity and devout practice of the highest principles of their faith. If people of faith cannot get to know each other and choose the path of peace, what hope is there for international peace?
I hope that Christians will avail ourselves of this occasion to practice hospitality and accept the invitation from our Muslim neighbors. I would be doubly proud of my faith partners if many entries in the exhibit’s guest book’s “comments” section recorded: “A United Methodist friend.”
An educational choice for school, senior adult and youth groups to gain understanding of our neighbors, the museum is adjacent to the Davis Planetarium, Mississippi Museum of Art and Thalia Mara Hall, and is purportedly the only Muslim museum in the
Barham is a clergy member of the