A Dialogue for Muslim-Jewish Understanding
By Naushad Sarwar

L to R: Akbar Ahmed, Judea Pearl and Rusty Kennedy

Shalom, salaam, peace! In all three Abrahamic faiths - Jewish, Christian and Islamic - the pursuit of peace is fundamental to doing God’s will. Nevertheless, when it comes to find peace between the Arab states, Israel and the Palestinians, lack of interfaith cooperation and peace-oriented dialogues has been observed in the communities.

What is the root cause of all problems? Why cooperation between the two faiths doesn’t seem to work? What are the possibilities of finding peace and bring them together? What challenges are being encountered in doing so by both the two sides? Has any effort been made, if so, did we accomplish any progress? Finding peace in the Middle East is really possible? These are the questions that agitate every Jew’s and Muslim’s mind and yet it is difficult to find an answer.

Akbar Ahmed with Akhtar Mahmud Faruqui

If you are eager enough and happen to be a peace-loving person The Daniel Pearl Dialogue for Muslim–Jewish Understanding is the ideal place for you to go in search of these pressing questions.

Featuring Akbar Ahmed and Judea Pearl, Mr. Hamid Malik and Jawed Malik were the hands making it happen. The first ever gathering on the road to peace process was successfully arranged at the Crystal Cove Auditorium Student Center, UC Irvine on Monday, May 16, 2005 free and open to general public.

Respected Mr. Rusty Kennedy, Executive Director of the Orange County Human Relations Commission, witnessed the dialogue as a moderator at the full to capacity hall.

To understand the magnitude of the situation and to dispel the ongoing mutual distrust and suspicion, Dr. Akbar Ahmed and Dr. Judea Pearl purposefully engaged in the dialogue, intelligently answering questions and concerns from individuals regardless of their faith.

L to R Noor Mohammad Jadmani, Akbar Ahmed, Judea Pearl and Hamid Malik

Dr. Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldum Chair of Islamic Studies and Professor of International Studies at American University in Washington DC, is “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” according to the BBC. On the other hand, Dr. Judea Pearl, father of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002, is the President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation and Professor of Computer Science and Director of Systems Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Responding to questions regarding the landscape of Jerusalem, Judea Pearl said, “People of Jerusalem need a place to live and feel home, which is a modest and innocent call”.
“We need more dialogues on the topic, delegations from Muslim countries to discuss situations, more interactions through website,” he explained.

A section of the audience

“Dialogues, journalism, and interactions are the three pillars of all the solutions,” he claimed. Dr Pearl also asked Dr. Ahmed to have the Pakistani Government publish some newspaper columns to educate the masses on the subject.

Dr. Akbar Ahmed started his dialogue mentioned the profound poetry of Maulana Rumi that served as an important bridge between Jews and Muslims and is also found in mosques, synagogues and churches at the same time. Many would agree with the German poet Hans Meinke, who said that Rumi’s poetry is “the only hope for the dark times in which we live.”

Answering a question, Dr. Akbar Ahmed said, “Dialogues, interactions, and visiting each other are the only solutions” for removing misunderstandings, and bringing peace to the two nations. “More and more meetings of this kind are needed, especially in universities where minds are molded to shape the world”, he added.




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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