In the backdrop of Muslim
organisations issuing fatwa against terrorism, a prominent Catholic Christian group, the Wise-Folks Fellowship Forum of the St. Louis Church, Gandhinagar, Adyar, Chennai, organised a lecture on June 20, 2008 on Islam by A. Faizur Rahman, a peace activist and a student of comparative religion who writes on Muslim theological issues. At a time when Muslims are being targeted for all the wrong reasons across the globe, the Church’s invitation to a Muslim peace activist to understand Islam is indeed a bold move.
Calling it a “broad-minded gesture” and “a great step towards breaking inter-religious barriers” . Faizur Rahman said that all religions including Islam and Christianity originated from the same source, that is, the Creator of the universe. He said that the word “Allah” does not denote a Muslim God as it is only the Arabic term for an abstract form of the “all knowing, all powerful, genderless and a formless Creator. Quoting from the Quran (17:110) which says all beautiful names belong to God, Rahman said that so long as the name does not have idolatrous connotations, a person is free to address God by any name of his choice. He defined Islam as recognition of the Creator and the peace that results from submitting to His universal Law.
Drawing parallels between Islam and the teachings of Christ, Rahman said that Islam, more than anything else, emphasized the oneness of God and service to humanity just as Jesus declared in Gospels that loving God and your neighbor are the greatest of all commandments. He said that Islam believed in the brotherhood of mankind and we as Indians living in multi-religious societies must strive to bring about inter-faith harmony.
The lecture was presided over by Dr. Philomena, former Vice Chancellor of the Tirupati University and presently the President of the Wise Folks Forum. The audience comprised of eminent Christian intellectuals including Dr. S.J. Anthonysamy, Professor of New Testament and the Parish Priest of the St. Louis Church. The one and half hour lecture was followed by an interactive session with the audience which lasted for more than an hour and which left the audience asking for more.