An Imam and a Rabbi Speaking Out Together on the War in Gaza

We are meditating on our species’ capacity for compassion. Meister Eckhart says, “What happens to another, whether it be a joy or a sorrow, happens to me.”  That is a fine working understanding of compassion.  

Imam Muhamed Herbert, resident scholar at the Islamic Center of Johnson County, Kansas.

In Matthew 25, Jesus says that in his own way: Feed the hungry and you feed me; visit the prisoner and you visit me…shelter the homeless and you shelter me.  An invitation to see the Christ in all peoples, especially those who suffer.

On a recent program of All Things Considered, host Ari Shapiro invited two persons to interact, Imam Mohamed Herbert of the Islamic Center of Johnson County, Kansas and Sharon Brous, a senior rabbi and founder of IKAR, a Jewish congregation in Los Angeles. 

Each was asked how they are guiding their congregations, and this is how they replied:

Imam Herbert talked about how he prepared a sermon for the Friday service that was a reflection piece, taking an opportunity to reflect on our lives internally and then to think about how it is that we will respond externally….Faith without action is absolutely useless, and action without faith is misguided…..One of the key things that I hope for my community to step away from the sermon with is understanding that there is pain on both sides, right?

Sharon Brous, founding rabbi of the nondenominational Los Angeles synagogue IKAR

Rabbi Brous spoke thus: 

I see the pastor’s task as offering some kind of moral clarity, which in this case means both repeating again and again that there is no justification for crimes against humanity…And I also need to remind my community that Palestinians are suffering terribly also now and will continue to in the days ahead.  And so just as we ask the world to see our pain and stand with us in our sorrow, it’s our moral and spiritual obligation to do the same, to expand our lens of care and concern to also encompass the Palestinian people.  

To be continued.

See Matthew Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion

And Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Times.

Banner Image: “Reconciliation Sculpture.” Image by 12138562 from Pixabay

Queries for Contemplation

What does it mean to you to listen to this Imam and Rabbi listening to each other at this time of war and violence?  And the message each is bringing forth?

Recommended Reading

A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice

In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
“Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register

Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time

While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward

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6 thoughts on “An Imam and a Rabbi Speaking Out Together on the War in Gaza”

  1. Avatar

    Compassion knows no separation… it isnt given based on conditions… for all are equally worthy in the eyes of the Creator, of receiving this… regardless of anything that tempts one to believe otherwise… even the so called perceived enemy.

    Walking the talk of this, is the challenge of a true spiritual warrior. Its easy to reactively retaliate violently, however it takes great self-mastery to choose to respond to that little spark of the Divine presence and essence of God within and kindle this Spirit of compassion. Often we would prefer this cup pass us by, rather than drink from it; and often it feels as if we sweat drops of blood, inwardly wrestling, fervently praying, to surrender to what God passionately desires to offer, through each one of us.

  2. Avatar

    I really do love reading these messages expressing compassion and understanding for ALL who are suffering in our world. They are a much needed antidote to the high volume range of some who prefer to ramp up the anger and aggression . The ‘negative bias factor’, which research indicates we humans are vulnerable to operating from, can be muted …. When more and more we can action ourselves to operate from ‘a bias’ that love, compassion, and understanding is THE way forward. The Rabbis and the Imams sharing their common values are doing this. I am grateful!

  3. Avatar

    I pray that other religious leaders will join these two brave souls and speak out for real peace, which ever and always must begin with our inner spiritual work to put aside the temptation to “take sides”. Christians have the model of Jesus to follow, and should be leading in the work of the spiritual warrior and prophet, instead of fanning the flames of hatred.

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