Interfaith Scholars Explore Role of Religious Law in Protecting Religious Freedom
(Nov 4, 2011) The bigoted campaign in America that spreads fear and lies about Islam would like the world to believe that Muslims are naturally violent, that Islam teaches violence, and that Shariah law not only makes that violence legal but also requires every Muslim to practice it. Conversely, there are many in the Muslim community who believe that any person of the Jewish faith is naturally opposed to freedom of religion for Muslims.
The reality is quite the opposite; that is why ISNA leaders regularly engage with interfaith leaders to de-bunk common myths about Islam and Shariah law and to work with them to promote tolerance in our local communities.
Last weekend, ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid gathered with Jewish and Muslim scholars, representing an incredibly diverse range of theological perspectives, to openly discuss both the Islamic and Jewish legal systems, Shariah and Halacha, and de-bunk common myths about the faith groups that can feed both Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism.
The diverse range of scholars from the faith communities shared how they interpret religious texts, particularly religious law, and allowed for very candid dialogue between the two faiths and between the various leaders within each faith. Marshall Breger, professor of international law, stated, “Anyone hearing Imam Magid’s forceful and impassioned call for mutual compassion and tolerance would be hard pressed to stick to the old canard that there are no Muslim partners for dialogue.”
One of the greatest misconceptions spread by Islamophobes about Islam is that Muslims want to impose their beliefs on people of other faiths. This is just not true, and continued outreach and education, such as last weekend’s conference, breaks down this stereotype to show that Muslims, like people of all faiths, just want the ability to practice their religion freely.
“We appreciate the understanding from Jewish scholars today that the attacks on religious laws, such as Shariah, which are practiced in private and not imposed on others, is a violation of religious freedom. It is an attack on the freedom of all faiths to practice their religion freely, and we look forward to continued work with the Jewish community to promote tolerance and protect religious freedom together,” stated Imam Magid.