In the midst of escalating accusations and misunderstandings between Christians and Muslims it was a pleasure to attend an event with a different focus. The National Muslim-Christian Liaison Committee (NMCLC) held its awards dinner on Tuesday, September 19th, 2006 to honour two people who have contributed to Muslim-Christian dialogue and mutual understanding. Over 70 people attended the dinner hosted at the Ameer Restaurant in Toronto, representing the Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Jewish faiths. Each place at the table was marked with a napkin ring inscribed alternately with a crescent or a cross as an encouragement to sit among one another. The tide of conversations filled the room as questions of each other were exchanged and new understandings grew. Bishop Michael Bedford-Jones and Bishop George Elliott were two of the Anglicans participating in the dinner.
The speaker for the evening was Mr. Rafi Mustafa, president of the International Development & Relief Foundation (IDRF). He spoke of his optimism for people of different faiths working together for the common good. He used the example of the work of IDRF, joining with the Canadian International Peace Project, to rebuild a mosque in Afghanistan. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs as well as secular Canadians all shared in the project. Mr. Mustafa urged all to continue these efforts in spite of those who would seek to divide us.
The NMCLC recognized two individuals, Raheel Raza and Paul McKenna, for their contributions to interfaith dialogue, particularly Muslim-Christian understanding. Raheel Raza is a prominent journalist and writer who is deeply committed to furthering understanding of Islam through her writing, speaking engagements and frank responses to the questions raised by others. Paul McKenna staffs the Interfaith Office of the Scarboro Missions and is the creator of the Golden Rule Poster. This poster, in six short years, has garnered strong support from across North America for drawing attention to a core value found in all faiths, known in Western cultures as the “Golden Rule”. Paul is deeply committed to interfaith dialogue and is an enthusiastic educator of others in this effort.
The National Muslim-Christian Liaison Committee includes representatives of ten Muslim organizations and eight Christian denominations or organizations. We meet five times per year to share fellowship, learn from one another and reflect together on issues of common interest. During the dinner co-chair, Barbara Siddiqui, read a statement, agreed to by those in attendance at the committee meeting on September 18, 2006, saying that we want the dialogue to continue and we “respectfully request our membership to continue and advance the discourse”. Pray for our continued dialogue as we seek understanding and together pursue the course of peace.
Canon Linda Nicholls
Coordinator for Dialogue
Faith, Worship, and Ministry
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