U.S and Russia reaching an agreement on Syrian chemical weapons is welcome news. Like most Americans, I also believe that the international community needs to do something to protect more civilians from getting hurt but, as we have seen from the recent past, a military action in Syria cannot guarantee a stop to the loss of innocent life.
Whether we talk about the Syrian conflict, the unrest in Egypt or 9/11, the concern for innocent loss of life is the essence of the human psyche. The news of a new bride pushing husband off the cliff, shootings at malls, schools and places of worship, suicides as a result of cyber bullying and hate crimes based on race, religion and color all make one wonder- have we lost the kernel of compassion that defines us as human?
No, all is not lost.
Although faith may seem to divide us in many ways the common values that promote the sanctity of life, love, tolerance and compassion unite us as one. Even though the tragedy of 9/11 attacks gave rise to Islamophobia in this country, it also brought a three times jump in interfaith community service activities in the decade following 9/11.
Many faith leaders have rightfully realized that using the commonalities between different traditions as bridges of understanding could move us toward attaining a common goal- peace.
I am blessed to be a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community that bears the motto “Love for All, Hatred for None”. The Community’s Khalifa, (Worldwide spiritual leader) His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad has not only been insisting world leaders to settle conflicts in peaceful ways but also urging Muslim countries to come back from their deviant ways to the real essence of Islam.
Sikh temple shooting, man pushed off to death at the New York subway station, “No Muslim Parking” signs, anti-Muslim ad campaigns on buses and train stations, resistance to building of mosques, reports of vandalism and burning of mosques have not stopped my community from its efforts to spread the true teachings of Islam.
We have made efforts to reach out to our neighbors through campaigns such as, “Muslims for Life,” “Muslims for Peace,” and “Muslims for Loyalty” to highlight the fact that Islam values life, denounces terrorism, and teaches its followers to be loyal to their country of residence.
The Quran states, ‘…And help one another in righteousness and piety…’(5:3).
Therefore, in keeping with the Quranic injunction we also took part in the first Compassion Games Atlanta sponsored by Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta and Neshama Interfaith Center. This program was initiated by the Compassionate Action Network International, a worldwide network founded on the Charter of Compassion that “transcends religious, ideological and national differences.”
Back in March, when Pastor Rhea Posey of Joseph’s Network and Carissa Hattich from the American Red Cross reached out to the Georgia Chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to join their efforts to organize “First 72, Disaster Relief Preparedness Summit for Gwinnett County Faith Leaders,” it was a no brainer. Pastor Rhea’s Joseph's Network is a shining star for giving local faith leaders a platform where they have been working together for months to organize this event.
The target of this summit is to train and educate local faith groups with the help of American Red Cross and local disaster relief government agencies so that if and when a disaster strikes, they may be in a better position to help not only members of their own congregations but also those belonging to other faith communities who may be less resourceful, informed or equipped than them.
The initiative is bound to succeed due to the very energy of goodwill and cooperation it brings within the community. Please visit www.josephsnetwork.com for more information.