What is "AbrahamiA?”
There are these terms, Abrahamia, and Abrahamic religion without the "s" very commonly in the Middle East and India. It seems like that term arose after the UAE made ties with Israel. It normalized ties with Israel. That sort of relationship or that sort of normalization was called the Abrahamic accord.
As a result, the UAE's building a center, which will house a church, a synagogue, and a mosque. Are these religions going to be unified in some ways? Are Islam, Christianity, and Judaism going to be unified? The Imam of Al Azhar has issued a statement condemning that whole idea. Can these religions be unified? Are they going to be unified? How would that work?
There’s a world full of religions. People of religions conflict with each other, sometimes over mosques, synagogues, and churches. Was this a Hindu temple? Was it a mosque in the first place? Was it a church or should it be a mosque?
The masses are just fed up with religious leaders who are so dogmatic and exclusivist, and people on the ground are thinking, “We all believe in God." "We're all good people." "Why can't we just get along?"
Let's have one global religion for all people, wouldn't that be a nice thing? To have a global religion today, that will be as inspiring to people as the world's religions are to their individual followers would be very hard to come by in practice. For example, Islam goes back to the preaching of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Currently, Muslims might be asked, " Why do you follow this religion?" Muslim will say, "Because that's the man." "The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) didn't make it up himself." "He got it as a revelation from the Almighty God." "If he made it up himself, why should we follow him?"
However, the same question will come back to us today. If we decide to make up a religion today, no matter how we gathered the components, whether they are components from existing religions, or we make up new ones. The fact that one is making it up today would deprive it of all authority. Since it will go back to human authority, rather than to a revelation from the Almighty God.
Reaching into the world with the divine revelation that says, "We should all have this new one unified world religion." It seems hard to conceive of this really taking effect and bringing people together, inspired by this new faith. It could be a new ideology that could be inspiring to people, but some will accept it, and some will reject it. Some will say, "Why do we have to follow your ideology?"
According to Muslims, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have the same God. If one wanted to create a religion, there is a fit. There was a better chance of having a unification between these three religions.
One would notice that there were a lot of similarities that we should continue to celebrate. However, there are some crucial differences. Over time, with dialogue, people are understanding each other better. They're understanding the other religions more. There is more appreciation for perspectives that people might have looked at with scorn at one time.
For example, they're some Christians will object to the Quran thinking the Quran is a scripture that was just made up by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He's not a genuine prophet of God. Why should we follow him? Why should we follow his made-up book?
Yet, the United Church of Canada is one of the largest denominations in Canada. Perhaps the largest has declared in a document that could be found on their website, a document entitled, “That You May Know Each Other.” The words of that title came from the 49th Surah of the Quran. It stated, “People, we created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you may know each other.” Quran [49:13].
They published that document to show their appreciation for some things Islamic. They declared that a Christian could believe that the Quran is the word of God, and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is a prophet of God. Yet, not to that extent will cause either the Quran or the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to overshadow the teachings, person, and work of Jesus Christ.
Consequently, they want to maintain the uniqueness of their religion and its claim to truth. While at the same time, extending an olive branch to Muslims and saying, "We can accept as much of your faith as possible, so long as we still hold to the idea of Jesus as being supreme.” There are other sorts of efforts like this. One can think of two extremes. On the one hand, there is the extreme that says, "We don't want to know about other religions." "Our religion is the right one." "We're just going follow that, and everything else must be wrong, and everyone is going to hell but us." If there is a hell because not all religions believe in hell.
The other extreme is, " Let's have one unified religion." That other extreme has been tried and has often been resisted. Sometimes, just reaching for that extreme is counterproductive, given our past experiences. In India, there has been one very well-known attempt to unify religions that gave birth to Sikhism. The founder, Guru Nanak, had the idea that Muslims and Hindus are fighting against each other, and why don't we have one religion that unifies them both?
He's famous for saying, "Neither Muslim nor Hindu." He wanted to have this neutral ground. Truly, Sikhism emerged as a distinct religion within the mix. We have not only difficulties between Muslims and Hindus. Yet, there are difficulties between Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. It’s not that these difficulties should remain but it's part of human nature.
It seems that the unification idea does not really work from that experience.
In India, there was a famous king by the name of Akbar, a Muslim king, who had the idea of having a unified religion. He called it Din-i Ilahi, the religion of God. Meaning, "Everybody believes in God. We all just need to have the one religion, the religion of God."
However, that was fiercely resisted by Muslim scholars. It did not get off the ground. Yet, if one talks about a middle ground. On the one extreme, no dialogue. On the other extreme, a total unification, one can have a middle ground where one has dialogue. One can have shared spaces. In the North American situation, one has shared spaces.
Many Muslim Friday prayers because of the large gathering are held in churches for the lack of other suitable spaces. Our Christian neighbors are so generous in offering us these worship spaces because they use the church on a Sunday, not on a Friday. We can use it on a Friday. Even if one pays rent for the facility, and it's used on a Friday. This still is a way in which one is sharing space and getting closer to each other, getting a better understanding of each other, and our respective traditions.
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