On Sunday 12 October the MEFF Eid-ul-Adha Festival was held at Fairfield Showground, Sydney. Included in the festivities was an interfaith forum where three eminent speakers discussed the qualities of our forefather, Abraham/Ibrahim. The measure of this man’s wisdom and belief system was interestingly displayed by the three speakers who are followers of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Faiths.
At the outset Jeremy points out that a lot of the Hebrew Torah (Jewish bible) begins when Abraham is 75 years old. And within his family he showed vision, principle and leadership which culminated in the overall growth of his community. In the Torah it is recorded how welcoming he and his wife Sara were to the world leading by example, vision and principle. Abraham demonstrated that dialogue, with respect for others, can show positive ways to lead better lives all round. He displayed a strength that encouraged people to maintain faith in their belief system without denigrating others.
And so Jeremy epitomises the qualities of Abraham, our father and patriarch, with these words: “Here we have somebody who said ‘if you see something which is wrong, don’t just be quiet. If people are living lives that you think can be made better, give them an indication of a way to do it, not by threatening them with force, but by your own positive example’”. He concluded by saying that all people are very much part of God’s creation and humanity, and through dialogue we can grow as an individuals. “All these lessons we learn from the life of Abraham.”
Father Brian Vale:
In his comments, Father Brian points out that faith must have grown within Abraham’s family and says “we see Abraham as the father of faith and a man who was drawn to God. He found God to be very generous who called him forth and who blessed him.”
Father Vale professed that Abraham’s life was totally dedicated to God whom he found to be very generous. And he related how Abraham was tested as God invited him to leave his homeland to go to an unknown land, so it was a tremendous journey of faith. And that the Christian bible relates how, although human sacrifices were common, God directed Abraham to sacrifice an animal instead of his son, to which Abraham obeyed. And thus Abraham also accepted God’s direction of ‘Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.’
In looking at Australia as one nation of many people, Maha questioned “How are we going to be drawn in some lessons from our Prophet and the father of all traditions and all faiths?” But she then remarked how Abraham spoke to all nations with a sense of submission “with trust, hope and fear, and a sense of balance.” And she emphasised that we should have respect for our parents and our elders, as well as having patience in these difficult times. And talking about having faith, perhaps we should be reminded that we regard Abraham as the father of faith, as distinguished in the Quran with the title of khalil-ul-Allah (the intimate friend of Allah). And Maha points out that we must be responsible for the consequences of our actions “as each action has a reaction”. And she rhetorically asks: “How will my actions affect my children?”
Maha claimed that Allah’s power and love encompasses all humankind, including Muslims, Christians and Jews. “Abraham and his household have been guiding mankind throughout all the ages, with the help of his sons, Prophets Ismail and Isaac, then Jacob and Joseph, and then others, including Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon, John the Baptist, Jesus and finally Mohammed.”
It is clear to understand that Abraham himself is embodied in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions. And furthermore that he is the founding member of these religions. So, that being the case, it is clear that all Jews, Christians and Muslims are related by history. Surely that therefore makes us all cousins.
And believing that we are all good and caring spirits, it is no wonder that I have personally experienced this relationship in working for my project on ‘Music for Refugees’ of getting our mixed Australian public to donate music instruments to the unfortunate human beings locked up in detention centres throughout the country. It is wonderful to see Jews, Christians and Muslims all making sacrifices to help improve the lives of these unfortunate people. I hope that this cooperation continues in many more projects that mutually benefit us all.