As people of faith in Tarrant County, we were alarmed by the strong anti-Muslim sentiment expressed earlier in the year in our county and our state, including the Dallas shooting of a Muslim man who was out taking photographs of snow.
These events, along with the global rise of terrorism associated with the Muslim faith, have moved some of us who are Jewish, Christian and Muslim to counter violent misrepresentations of Islam with accurate information.
We want to look together at mandates in each of our traditions to do good and to stand against evil.
Jews, Christians and Muslims are “People of the Book.” We share a belief in the God of Abraham, whose name is translated as “Allah” in Arabic. Our faiths are rooted in the writings of the books of the Old Testament — the Hebrew Scriptures.
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Though we each have numbers of what might be called sects or denominations that vary widely in the aspects of our faiths they emphasize, we all recognize a call to work for the good of our neighbor and the world and to stand against evil.
Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger
Early rabbinic sages whose wisdom we still affirm wrote, “The righteous of all nations have a share in the world to come.”
This does not mean that we all believe the same thing, but that we are all called to love our neighbors as ourselves, as it is written in Leviticus 19:18.
But who is our neighbor? Only those of the same faith and/or nationality? No!
Later in the same chapter, God commands that “the stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:34)
Akiba, a classic rabbi, said that Leviticus 19:18 expressed the most fundamental principle of Scripture.
Another Talmudic authority, Ben Azzai, suggested that there was one verse even more fundamental. Genesis 1:27 declares that humankind is created in the image of God.
We are all God’s children. Disrespecting others is disrespecting God.
Rev. Melinda Veatch
At the heart of the Christian faith is Jesus’ Great Commandment to love God and love neighbor as self.
“On this hangs all the law and the prophets,” Jesus instructs his listeners in Mark 12:31.
He is echoing Leviticus 19:18, but he is also recalling multiple texts in the Hebrew Scriptures that instruct Jesus’ followers to work for the good of those around them.
Parables like the Good Samaritan remind me that Jesus’ view of neighbor highlights compassion rather than shared ideology.
The Samaritan who became the symbol of mercy was from a group thought in Jesus’ day to be outside God’s realm of grace.
This reminds me that, as a Christian, I am committed to acting in ways that build up others and to oppose those ways that would tear them down.
As a Muslim, God in the Qur’an prescribed for my earthly and spiritual welfare a path of peace, both internal and external, that can spark only through fellowship.
He commands me to do the common good and abstain from evil in my everyday life within my community at large.
By Divine will, God created humanity through diversity for a purpose, as the Qur’an beautifully illustrates in Chapter 49, Verse 13: “O mankind, indeed We have created you from a male and a female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”
Indeed, righteousness, an act of the heart, is what binds us, fellow humans, in the larger community, under God.
Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger is from Beth El Congregation in Fort Worth; the Rev. Melinda Veatch, Tarrant Churches Together; Dina Malki, the Muslim Community Center in Arlington.