The enduring legacy of Prophet Abraham (as) was analysed at an interfaith symposium held on Sunday 20 September at the University of Western Sydney, Bankstown campus.
As part of the Positive Change through Faith series of events, the symposium organised jointly by the Australian MEFF Consortium and the Islamic Foundation for Education and Welfare (IFEW) brought together speakers from the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Titled One God to Bind us All, the symposium was opened by Master of Ceremony Mrs Mehar Ahmad, former President of MEFF in which she stressed the commonality of the three religions.
This was followed by Rabbi Nicole Roberts, of North Shore Temple Emanuel, who focussed on the legacy of Abraham in Judaism. She stressed that in knowing about Abraham we also learn about God particularly His mercy.
Jeremy Jones, founder and co-chair of the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews, spoke of how Abraham was an inspirational model in how we should relate to other people: Abraham saw the angel in every person and the importance of dialogue between peoples.
The symposium also featured poetry by Nav K Samir and Stephanie Kurlow.
Sr Elizabeth Delaney, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia, conveyed the Christian images of the One God which include Creator, Strength, Nourisher, Shepherd and the Truth. It was noted by the MC that Islam also has the concept of attributes of God.
The Very Reverend Fr Shenouda Mansour, General Secretary of the NSW Ecumenical Council relayed God’s promise to Abraham and how to deal with one another – to celebrate diversity, live a life of legacy and live in love.
Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, Director of CISAC at the Charles Sturt University challenged whether we believe in One God. He concluded that we do have one God but we relate to Him in different ways. Whilst we can dwell on differences forever the reality is that there are many more similarities and that is what we need to focus on.
Dr Q Ashfaq Ahmad, author of Words that Moved the World and self professed lifelong student of the Qur’an, spoke of the difference between the faith (Deen) and the practice (Shariah). The faith between the three religions is the same but how we practice is dependent on when, where and by whom God’s message was brought to Earth.
Dr Jamil Farooqui, Professor of Sociology at International Islamic University, Malaysia urged the adherents of monotheistic religions to join hands to establish righteousness, virtues, peace and tranquility on earth in accordance with the commandments of God.
The speeches were followed by a question and answer session between the audience and the speakers and wrapped by a concluding poem by Nav K Samir.
Videos of the speeches, poetry and the question and answer session can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCASycKm4KzMhSbvb0bqscvyPu52LHtmm