Life in the Desert

Did you know that over a billion people from all races, nationalities, and cultures are Muslims. Only 18% of Muslims live in the Arab world; a fifth are found in Sub-Saharan Africa; and the world’s largest Muslim community is in Indonesia. Substantial parts of Asia are Muslim, while significant minorities live in India, China, Russia, North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe. (source Discover Islam The Reader)

It is clear that Islam has made a great and good impact upon the world community from its infancy in Mahhah, Saudi Arabia. Islamic influence can be thought of as a university of learning. Wherever Islam is practiced all academic disciplines have been advanced. The world is clearly a better place because of our Muslim communities around the globe. Which of course, includes our own Tampa Bay community. We are fortunate to have such a large Muslim community as neighbors. Much good can from our common heritage as Muslims, Jews, and Christians. All three religions trace their origins to the Patriarch Abraham. His sons are the descendants for each religion. Islam from Ishmael and Judaism and Christianity from Isaac. The three great Prophets that bind each religion to the other are for Muslims, Muhammad, for Jews, Moses, and for Christians, Jesus.

With such profound oneness for our origins, we three have always been a force for the betterment of humanity. Beside our origins, we share another commonality. All three, of us have suffered much hate and persecution. When people see the manifestation of differences. They sometimes become frightened and defensive. The defensiveness becomes aggressive and all to often leads to violence. Not wanting to be targets of such hate occasionally Muslims, Jews, and Christians have retreated into the inner sanctuaries of our respective religions. Seeking to be left alone to worship our God in peace. If history, has fought us anything. We all know, that approach does not work. Our enemies never leave us alone. This reminds me of one of the Fables of Aesop. “Traveling through a desert a man saw a women standing all alone with her eyes bent on the ground. Who are you? he asked. I am truth, she answered. And why have you left the town to live in the desert? Because times have changed, she said. In days gone by, lying was confined to a few. But now days, whenever you converse with people you find that they are liars. HUMAN LIFE IS VILE AND A WRETCHED THING, WHEN FALSEHOOD IS HONORED ABOVE TRUTH.” Each of us through the greatness of our respective religions have always found the strength to forgive our oppressors when we journey from the desert back to the city.

Our commonality of strength is in our respective approach to God that makes us one. Together we can defeat our modern day enemies who would vilify us separately in order to divide us. Together we are strong. Our combined strength makes us invincible to our enemies. Such strength allows us to advance the cause of God for the enrichment of society. Society must be shown that the manifestation of differences they observe are differences in culture, dress and custom. We must help society see the oneness of God that binds the Creator to humans through Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. That the falsehoods are created by liars. We are not returning to the desert. We will tell our truth together from our cities.

As a Christian clergyman, this writer is available to meet with Jews, Muslims, and Christians to advance an agenda of harmony and strength.