Originally published on Issue 41, November 2016
Following an invitation by the Christian Muslim Forum, Dr Shomali visited Lambeth Palace to meet the President of CMF, Bishop Toby Howarth and members of the Christian Muslim Forum.
During this fruitful meeting, it was suggested that the CMF should have groups of two people at a time to speak about what we have in common and what we differ on with respect to advocating for the other on different issues in the public domain.
It was agreed upon that if in private believers of these two Abrahamic religions disagree on issues, in public the feedback would be bland. We need to find voices not so often used and say to all that this is where the leadership is. For example, on the issue of supplementary schools, one could say what supplementary schools do for the Muslim community and develop human resources so that the CMF can think about this and any future issues. Dr Shomali agreed with the idea and emphasised that it would be great for people to see Muslims and Christian together more in the public eye.
Dr Shomali discussed how we can develop our understanding of theology that paves the way for unity. He talked about the ‘Plan of God’ to have one religion. Islam is not a new religion; Abraham was the founder of Islam. We can look at each other as different branches of the same religion or tradition. Dr Shomali said that we need to recognise that people share the same tradition. There is a greater picture; we should pull our resources so that at the end we have one school of God with the Prophets Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Muslims, Christians and Jews should not be divided and should not be forced to be assimilated. We need to have a platform so that we can think together.
Reaching unity is too big a task to do it by ourselves. We need to sit together, share our resources and try our best to understand the best ways forward towards unity.
Dr Shomali continued: “We are preoccupied with differences but despite having these differences there is a great area of unity, we are united not diluted in theology. The greatness of God is not understood. When God’s light is shining everything else is small”. “Our love for God is sometimes confused. Some people love God as if they possess Him or have a monopoly over God. True love is to be possessed by God.”
We need to think of opportunities to talk. We need to have a group that meets regularly.
We should seriously think of these issues and try to shed light on Islamic and Christian traditions. We are one community; there is something greater that keeps us together. We need two floors/levels, one level with scholars which moves at a faster pace and a grassroots level which works at a slower pace.
Islam Today issue 65 (Special Issue) is dedicated to the interfaith work undertaken by the Islamic Centre of England over the past few years. Download the full pdf here: