Representatives from Islamic Center come to build bridges

Over forty people gathered in Puddicombe Hall for our concluding session on Islam. Two representatives from the Islamic Center of Tacoma, both born and raised in this country and nurtured in Christian households, who converted to Islam, reminded us of the many beliefs that Jews, Christians, and Muslims hold in common, even as they stressed on multiple occasions their commitment to peace and loving their neighbors and their rejection of violence.

They expressed their sincere gratitude to people of Tacoma and to many institutions around the South Sound who have sent messages of support for the Islamic Center, and who affirm their constitutional right to practice their faith.

At the end of a lively 80 minutes, they issued a personal invitation to visit the Islamic Center of Tacoma on Saturday, March 4 from 12:00 noon to 5:00 PM for an open house and thank-you reception for the community. All are welcome.

At our second session, over 40 parishioners and guests joined Dr. Erica L. Martin, Professor of Hebrew Bible, New Testament and the Qur’an at the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University.

In this latest session, Dr. Martin took us back to early Christianity to remind us of the diversity of views regarding the nature of Christ. This helped us gain perspective on the incredible breadth of beliefs and approaches that characterize modern Islam. The focus was on on Muslim beliefs and practices.

In her introductory session, Dr. Martin had begun by establishing the most promising basis for interfaith dialogue and learning: We should ask adherents of the faith in question, not its enemies; and, when comparing our faith to theirs, we should compare what is best about one with what is best about the other before comparing what is worst about one with what is worst about the other. Participants were introduced to the Qur’an by means of differing portraits of figures like Abraham, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary, who appear in the sacred texts of both religions. Dr. Martin also made reference to parallels in the Hebrew Scriptures. She has studied all of these texts in the original. Dr. Martin also spoke about the roots of Islam in monotheism and social justice.

With attendance for the three sessions reaching 120 people, this was one of our most popular adult education series in recent years. Thanks to Pam Tinsley and to Fr. Martin for securing such knowledgeable and engaging presenters!