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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Is dialogue an option with everyone?

I recently published a commentary in which I explained how Muslims share with Christians the love for Jesus. I received dozens of positive messages from Christians who appreciated this piece of information and hoped that it will get the followers of the two largest religions closer.

I also received a handful of hateful or angry messages rejecting such commonality. As always, I try to briefly respond to every message because I do believe that most people hate what they do not understand or correctly know. I try to educate them before I dismiss them as hateful. One has to wonder what else can we do to challenge extremism, on all sides. Sometimes I wonder if dialogue is a possible option with every type of person.

Here is the dead-ended dialogue that followed from one such responses from an anonymous person from New York.

________________________________

From: R M [mailto: romckri@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, January 12, 2007 6:38 AM
To: socal
Subject: Jesus and Islam


CAIR,

I hate to inform you but we as Christians (those I know) don't really care that what your thoughts are on Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Son of God more so than the son of Mary but you only speak of Mary as if we don't already know the story. He is more than the son of Mary, Muslim you need to understand that.

Jesus Christ is more than your religion will ever realize or accept and we know this so save us the friendship ads.

I don't suggest you begin this dialog if you don't plan to provide proof of your outrageous claims concerning Jesus Christ, we don't live in fantasy land in this country. And we are not as gullible as you might have been lead to believe. We know more about you and your methods and ideas that you realize.

You are in direct opposition to what Jesus teaches yet you have the audacity to state that you have something in common. Its an outright lie to be frank! And we don't appreciate being lied too...Muslim.

RM
New York

-----

On 1/15/07, Hussam Ayloush wrote:

Thank you RM.

I hate to inform you that most Christians that I know, including many of my relatives, actually really appreciate the fact that we both love and revere Jesus. You are entitled to care or not to care about this fact, it is a free country. However, while we might not agree on how we view Jesus, we should be focusing on working together on our common issues and values instead of focusing on the few differences. I would think that this would be the attitude of Jesus.

Feel free to visit my blog and learn more about our common issues.

www.hussamayloush.blogspot.com

Best regards and peace,
Hussam Ayloush

-----

From: R M [mailto:romckri@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 10:46 AM
To: Hussam Ayloush
Subject: Re: Jesus and Islam


Give me an example of our 'common issues and values'.

The differences are vitally important! Islam realizes this major difference and attempts to clouds it with a bogus claim that we are somehow similar.

Christianity is based on the FACT that Jesus not only died but rose again on the third day, Islam says no to this (without any proof whatsoever). At least be honest about it, its a Major difference -with a capital M.

You are denying the foundation of Christianity and I should focus on 'common issues', does Islam think they can fool everyone with sweet talk?

We are different and there is no common ground, for its either Jesus or Islam, you know it and I know it so lets not lie about it.

Islam and Christianity can't both be true: One is false and the other the truth. Islam is too afraid to make such a statement but we do and we will.

You can try but I find your religion to be dishonist and misleading to say the least.

-----

On 1/16/07, Hussam Ayloush wrote:

Examples of common values:

honesty, love and care for parents and children, taking care of neighbors, belief in the God of Abraham, belief in almost all Prophets, belief in a Day of Judgment, doing good, helping the poor and the sick, ...

These are enough to keep us busy.

Major theological disagreements on Jesus exist between Christians and Jews, but it does not stop them from cooperating on the common ground. Unlike Jews and all other non-Christian religions, Muslims actually believe that Jesus is the Messiah, Christ, born to a miraculous birth, and the one to have a second coming to bring peace, so I am sure there is much more in common.

It is not about whether one is true or not, it is about finding a way for billions of people to accept the differences and yet cooperate on the many agreements in a way that helps our world.

It is up to you to make such a choice or not. It is a free world.

-----

From: R M [mailto:romckri@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 6:32 PM
To: Hussam Ayloush
Subject: Re: Jesus and Islam


You seem so logical and friendly, its very intersting? The men from your religion during 9/11 kept anouncing that everyone on the flight; "should stay calm we are going back to the airport" all the while intended on flying the aircraft into the building. Stay calm, trust us...we are your friends... do you think some of us forgot what happened.

Some foolish American have forgotten but some of us have not forgotten.

I am trying very hard not to go off the deep end but, Islam (again) has nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity or the God of Christian regardless of any of your statements on Abraham or the Prophets you believe. And any Christian who thinks that Islam and Christianity has anything meaningful in common is ignorant of your religion or of Christianity. And I would be willing to prove it to you, because Truth is vital to Christians.

Its interesting to read that truth is not so important to you, well its all that matters to me, so again we really have nothing in common.

No proper Christian will find anything similar with Islam and Christianity, and that's a fact, so it is shocking to me that somehow you know many who see no problem whatsoever. Are they JW or Morons or Catholicts? Because we don't call then Christians for your information.

You might think we have items in common but we would never say so, do you realize that fact. We have nothing meaningful in common with Islam, seriously. Nothing!

Not love, peace, Abraham ...Jesus ...nothing. So you know some names....that is not important, its the message that is important and you have a different message that we will NEVER accept EVER!

We know what to expect from you too as well so realize that. No one is sleeping on this side any longer except for the foolish.

-----

On 1/18/07, Hussam Ayloush wrote:

Hi R.M.

I am not sure how one can respond to such language. I think the best thing for you now is not facts, logic, or counter-hate. What you need is a prayer.
I pray that God Almighty clear your heart from hatred, your mind from ignorance, your tongue from divisiveness, and your eyes from only seeing enemies and fear.

It is a horrible life indeed to be chained with such negativity, to be deprived from inner peace.

You think you know the truth? The truth can not keep someone in the prisons of anger, extremism, hatred, and arrogance. No my friend, the real truth will set you free from all of that, as our beloved Jesus (peace be upon him) said. And you, my friend, are far from being free. You are far from being a true Christian, a true Muslim, a true Jew, or a true caring and free human being.

I made my choice to be free. When you are ready, we can continue this dead-ended dialogue.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately in life there are so many people who think they are loving, caring human beings such as New York. However, their spewing of hate is completely oblivious to them and those like them.

Peggy Price said...

I think of Jesus' words, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." This man is ignorant. He does not know what he is saying and he is unwilling to learn. As a person who teaches interfaith understanding and loves Jesus and his teachings, I would be inclined to shake the dust from my feet and move on. He has a dead-end mind, and until he has an awakening experience to prove otherwise his way of thinking is "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up."

We teach those who are teachable. That is the best any of us can do. I am grateful to you, Hussam, for the good work you do to help all people learn to live together in harmony.
Sometimes one or two instruments seem to stay out of tune -- all the while the rest of us are enjoying the beauty of the music we are making together.

May God (Allah) bless you and all that you do.
Peace,
Rev. Peggy Price

David said...

Love reading the blogs! This last one to the Christian who could not spell was terrific. Something tells me that his misspelling of Mormon to "moron" was intential though… well as a (Mormon), or "moron" if you will, who considers himself a true Christian I must say that I do respect the groundwork of commonality you are trying to lay. Keep up the good work.

Sakeenah said...

Actually it's a shame that RM's response had to be dignified in such a forum.
RM might take a hint and brush up on some of the loving and tolerant teachings of Jesus Christ before venting his/her spleen and displaying such close minded hatred. The "friendship ads" they so disparagingly refer to are efforts of good hearted people to come together on common ground.
How deeply sad and pathetic that RM twists it.
What RM displays to us in this letter are in reality shadows of an unhappy person, no matter what faith they are embracing.
My prayer is that RM can leech the intolerance and sorrow out of their soul and become a better human being.

God bless you, RM, and take care! Remember, we all share the same planet and bleed the same blood. Take heed of this fact, and be guided.

I wish you all peace and a joyful New Year...

Pat said...

Such letters are not worthy of a response. Keep up your confidence and your communications.

Judy said...

Hussam, I admire your efforts, but it is so true that some people are incapable of dialogue. You are so correct that fear and hate stifle reason. I hope you will continue your efforts to bridge the beliefs and feelings of all religions. I did not know that Muslims consider Jesus the Messiah. So, is it the "Jesus is God" that is the stumbling block? All I know (believe) is that God will not be boxed in; will not be made in our image and likeness; is not subject to our huge limitations; knows the heart of each man and will deal with each of us in a just manner, given all our foibles. It is a life's prayer of mine that I allow God to be God and that He will allow me to be increasingly accepting.

This is meant to be encouraging to you - after all, your writer included Catholics in the non Christian category.

Keep up the good work and I pray you do not lose heart.

Peace to you,

Akhtar Emon said...

Dear Hussam,

Thanks for sharing your most profound dialog with R.M.

You have conversed with R.M. with great Hikmah (wisdom), as the Qur'an dictates to us in these matters.

May I suggest that R.M. travel thru many lands, many nations and many countries.

The physical travel may set his mind and spirits free.

From his narrow viewpoint, I can only guess that he has never traveled far except having lived all his life within the confines of these United States of America.

R.M. needs to crawl out of his cozy shell.

Sincerely,

Amine said...

Mr RM from New York,
A first-hand look at your discourse with Mr. Ayloush in regard to the topic of Jesus Christ has invoked my curiosity as to why you would internalize so much antipathy and rancor towards others; a move that is certainly at odds with what Jesus had thought us. Jesus, and his other brothers alike, -- Ibraham, Moses, Ismael, Isiah and yes Mohamed (peace be upon all of them)-- originate from the same Creator, as we all do, and indeed staunchly carried the burden of the same holy message from the All-Mighty to humanity in different tongues.
Another thing. If I were you, I would pay little more attention to my writing skills. Perhaps, you can convey your view point in a more clear and surely in a less illusive way.
Amine,
A proud American Muslim


"In the middle of the difficulty lies the opportunity"

Cheri Montagu said...

Dear Mr. Ayloush:



I regularly receive bulletins from CAIR although I am not a Muslim and I suppose that's how I got on this "Interfaith List". I did not read the dialogue you had which reached a dead-end because I am all too familiar with that sort of dialogue and did not wish to be depressed. You are absolutely right: dialogue is not possible with everyone, because a great number of people who are hostile to Muslims are not simply ignorant: they are prejudiced, and one cannot shake prejudice by reason. I recently read about the new developments in the Fox series "24" (which I do not watch: I never watch commercial TV, only PBS) and was alarmed enough to write the following, which I will try to post on Fox's message website when I am able to-- they make one wait 24 hours-- although I doubt that they will let me even when the waiting period is up:



ARE THE PRODUCERS OF "24" "GOOD GERMANS"?



When I was growing up, in the wake of the Eichmann Trial, the term "Good German" was applied scathingly to those Germans who, although not among the Nazi leadership, had enthusiastically supported the Nazi program, including persecution of the Jews, but later protested their innocence on the grounds that they had just been acting as patriotic citizens. As someone who has studied and written on the Third Reich, I know that the majority of Germans did not originally possess a hatred of the Jews so intense that it would have driven them to countenance genocide. But during the years when Hitler was coming to power, they were frightened. They believed that their very existence was in threatened, and they sought a scapegoat. Hitler provided them with one: "It's all the fault of the Jews," he told them, and they believed.



Now history is repeating itself. The attacks of September 11, 2001, may or may not have been the work of Muslim fanatics, but at first the majority of Americans did not assume that all Muslims were fanatics and terrorists. It is the U.S. government which planted that idea in their heads, so that in 2005-- four years after the attacks-- according to the Committee on American-Islamic Relations, complaints of anti-Muslim discrimination had risen by 30% over the previous years. This is the result of a campaign of vilification directed by our government, which is aiming for nothing less than the establishment of a totalitarian state. On October 17 of last year, President Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act, which for the first time permits American citizens to be arrested, labeled "unlawful enemy combatants", kept in prison and tortured without any opportunity to prove their innocence. As the law strips prisoners of all contact with the outside world, it would even make possible a secret program of mass murder. It is the counterpart of Hitler's Enabling Act and Reichstag Fire Decree, and will, it not struck down by the US Supreme Court, undermine our entire system of government under law. Its obvious purpose is to facilitate the systematic persecution of American Muslims, as well as anyone who sympathizes with their plight or opposes the Administration's genodical policies abroad. By going along with this alarming trend, the producers of the Fox series "24" are revealing themselves to be the counterparts of the "Good Germans" we so despised when I was growing up.



The judges at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg privately believed, although they could not prosecute them all, that these "Good Germans" were just as guilty as the 21 Nazi leaders they sentenced to various punishments. It does not matter that the motivation of the producers of "24" may be merely to make money. By engaging in such scapegoating at a time when genocide against Muslims has become a definite possibility, these individuals have already put themselves in the dock. And what will they plead when they are tried for crimes against humanity? That they were merely being "good Americans"?

Michael D. said...

Dear Hussam,

Peace be with you. This is Michael; we met at Mater Dolorosa retreat house about a year and a half ago. You introduced me to Omar J. and I had a wonderful experience of the "real" Muslim world in '05 during Ramadan (thanks to Omar, and by extension, thanks to you) when I observerd the fast, and prayed and broke fast often with the Muslim community near Camarillo.

I have never really responded to the group e-mails you send out, though I am never disappointed when I read them. You occupy a crucial place (and often probably a thankless one) for Islam in our country, and for the dialogue which without we'd all be in a much worse place, or at least a much more deprived one.

I am a Catholic, and while you know enough "good" Christians to know what I am about to tell you, I tell you anyway: the person involved in the so-called "dialogue" with you that you linked to in your e-mail in no way represents Christianity or the Christ that we Christians strive to know and to love. Your integrity was so strong in that dialogue, Hussam, and I really commend you for it. Above all, the recourse to prayer at the end is what we all need, for ourselves and for one another.

Please continue to do what you do, to be who you are. And know that I and many people- Christian, Muslim, and of many other "designations", I'm sure- hold you and those like you in heart and prayer daily.

I will remember you and CAIR during tomorrow's Mass. A dear priest friend of mine has a sort of mantra that he uses for life, ministry, and prayer- "We're all in this together." We are, Hussam. May you be continually strengthened, renewed, edified and empowered in your journey.

In Peace and Solidarity,

R.M. said...

HA

Don't get personal, I have not spoken to you in a personal manner. My comments are towards your religion and not you personally, hopefully you can make that distinction in the future as I have.

I don't know you and you don't know me. By you making personal statements about me shows your lack of common sense.

My problem is not with you but with your religion, attempt to appreciate that distinction as well.

Islam has major issues, major issues to put it nicely. The logic portrayed here is a function of one of the Islamic issues I have noticed over the many years I have actually studied Islam. I know much about your religion as shocking as that might be to learn.

Your comment that you pray to 'God Almighty' is very interesting because you should have said you pray to 'Allah' and not God Almighty, there is a difference which Islam fails to see or appreciate. That is a very smart way to stress what you see as simular between the religions, but we actually cought on to it and reject it as a ploy. Please contine to use the term your relgion as coined 'Allah' we actually like the distinction.

What is truth? Do you think is a man made concept that is a function of perception or belief?

Jesus Christ is the Truth, and we have Jesus Christ..."The Way the 'Truth' and the Life no man comes to God but by me" Do you have Jesus Christ competly or just his name? Then you don't have the truth! He said He is the Truth, not me , not you or your religion or my religion for that matter, its Jesus Christ and him alone!

One who is separated from God is 'dead' so you might be correct in stating this is a 'dead-ended' dialogue. Were you expecting me to convert to Islam, that is just about impossible, fact is my intent is to convert you. You can keep trying and so will I.

Don't feel sorry for me, I interact with Muslims all the time and I know your teaching better than most. And unfortunately the more I discover the more I am dismayed.

I see arrogance in some Muslims and I don't understand why, its not as of one cannot find fault in the religion so why the arrogance. I am glad your org is attempting to reach out but reach out for the right reason, not for conversion but maybe for coexistence and respect. Don't attempt to teach us about Jesus or what we believe, that is insulting and makes us extremely defensive (that was the main impetus for my initial behavior)

We see major differences and your side need to respect that fact, your side sees similarities, but again we disagree with that intensely. We are sorry for stating the truth but this is our motto.

I made this statement to a Muslim once before and I am interested in your response to the same statement: We accept the entire Bible word for word, Muslims do not. How does the Muslim think the Bible will make sense to him/her if they pick and choose which verses to believe, its really all or nothing. The Muslim must either accept the entire Bible or reject the entire Bible. (I can state categorically that we reject the Koran entirely). Why then cannot the Muslim do the same for the Bible?

Hussam Ayloush said...

RM,



You still can't get it. This is not about conversion or debate. It is not a race; there are over 1.3 billion Muslims and a huge number of converts every year. I am more interested in cooperation and dialogue.

Don't worry, there are a lot of people of all sides who want to be part of the dialogue. No one is going to force you to be part of it. If you want to practice your interpretation of the teachings of Jesus by attacking others, be my guest. But in all honesty, I have not seen anything of Jesus in you so far. I think you were able to read the words but not understand and follow the spirit. Keep working on yourself.

As for your question regarding the Bible, you ask why can't Muslim state that they reject the Bible. They can't because Muslims obey what God says. In the Quran, God tells us that the Bible contains some of the original revelations from Him and some other commentaries by scholars and others. Therefore we have to respect it, even if we don't consider it to be complete. God also says that the final revelation from Him is the Quran which was sent to all mankind.

As for the of the word God or Allah, Allah is the name of the god of Abraham used by Arabs who are Christian or Jewish too, and not only Muslims. I invite you to visit an Arabic church in your area and read the Arabic Bible or listen to the sermon and you will be surprised to read and hear the prayers made to Allah.

RM, you have a long way to learn.

Just for your information, I studied Christian theology at a Protestant school so I am familiar with Christianity. By the way, I find it ironic that you would label Catholic as non-Christian. I have dealt with Catholics and I can safely say that they practice more of Christ's teachings and manners than I have ever seen in you.

R.M. said...

HA

Again you make personal attacks!

"You don't see Jesus in me" You cant see Jesus in me because you don't know Jesus, your Jesus and my Jesus are very different persons as I have said before.

When I read the thoughts and ideas of those in Islam I become speechless... I find it shocking and revealing that the Word of God is so true by stating 'many false prophets will arise'

Your religions somehow thinks that they can just make outrageous claims and no one will question it or challenge it and because its written in some book you revere that makes it so. This type of behavior is actually called delusional.

Let me make sure I understand this, because something is written in your book it must therefore be true and accurate, regardless. If it contradicts what is already written on the topic, any other book then the other book must therefore be wrong. Plain and simple. That logic is Shockingly delusional!

Not only is it not so, as stated in your book but your book is so far off center it points to the a more menacing origin. I a word the statements found in your book are 'imposable' simply imposable!

Allah (I know who uses it and why) is a misleading term. Allah or the term Allah has a historical context that we know all too well the Muslims would prefer to ignore. I guess because truth is meaningless to the Muslims, truth is relative. Truth is absolute Muslim, no matter how hard you try you cant change what has been reveled or what is the truth. But you can keep trying, we are not buying into you erroneous logic or beliefs especially if its written in that book of yours, which I stated we reject completely not 98% but 100%. You might find items in the Word of God you don't have a problem with but unfortunately we cant say the same for your book.

Jesus Christ died on the Cross and rose on the third day Muslim and its a testimony to the god you serve that you choose not to acknowledge that.

The Jews don't believe in Jesus Christ as God (til this day) nor that He rose from the dead, Muslim long before you came along and they could not stop the spreading of the Gospel. All the Jews had to do was go get the other 12 disciples and kill them too, why did that not happen Muslim? Because you cant fight against God Muslim. The Jews are still waiting for the Messiah??? Jesus was the Messiah but the Jews said impossible! Well they are still waiting, lets see if one shows up! Its been over 2000 years coming, still no Messiah. Jesus was the Messiah, they missed it and you have no clue whatsoever to whats going on and you don't even realize it. You don't even understand the story yet you say so much, you don't understand the message the purpose, the reasons yet you say so much, you don't understand the history the persons the places the times and the seasons, yet you say so much.

When Jesus was captured by the Romans in the garden the disciples that were with him 'ran for their lives' because they were afraid for their lives! Actually afraid, for they were not "absolutely" sure who He was really despite all that he did said, what they saw and what he did. YET Muslim after those same disciples (eye witnesses, Muslim understand that these men saw with their own eyes!) saw this same Jesus Christ "risen from the dead" RISEN FROM THE DEAD they became BOLD MEN OF GOD once scared but now willing to DIE (and so they EACH did) for their LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ and because of them and the letters they wrote we have the Bible today and no one can stop it, NO ONE CAN CORRUPT IT. These ONCE scared men became BOLD for the LORD Jesus because NOW they knew without question that Jesus is in FACT GOD! NOW THEY KNOW THEY HAVE A PLACE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD DESPITE DISBELIEVING WICKED EVIL MEN WHO LIE AND LEAD MEN FROM THE WORSHIP OF GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. (WHICH MEANS YOU MUSLIM, DO YOU REALIZE THIS)

Know this Jesus Christ was not liked nor will I be liked or understood, its a given. Yet he is still the unstoppable God to whom every knee will bow and every tongue will confess; That Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of the Father! Like it or not! It does not matter what your book says some 600+ years later about a subject and topic you know nothing of then nor now. It it written that you will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord when you die, like it or not. Not Allah, Jesus Christ!

(I pray to Jesus Christ not Mary, the Word of God does not teach that we should pary to Mary or Saints or to the Pope, anyone who teaches this cannot be of God)

Anonymous said...

Dear Hussam,

The only thing left to say to this RM guy is O.K. buddy; he obviously doesn't believe in the greater good of hummanity and wants to prove the point that his beliefs are coorect and everyone else is wrong. You just have to let these people live in their misery and hope or pray they recieve guidence from whatever higher being they believe in.

Anonymous said...

Either RM is a hoot and a haller away from the funny farm...

OR

Just some dude/ette with a keyboard super glued to his/her fingertips at all times...

OR
??? Who knows?

His/her statements are not based on facts regarding Islam but on emotion.

Which is his/her hope in side stepping the issues by RM's stating your comments, HA, are a personal attack.

Clever boy/girl, that, RM!!

Faithlady said...

Hussam - RM chooses to be mired in his ignorance and to be obtuse. It's so much fun! Otherwise he'd have to read a little of the Qur'an, a little history, and a little contemporary value. If he's looking for hate within religion, he doesn't have to go very far from home. We Christians have some who've honed that to an art form! Peggy Price, Anonymous, and others have spoken well of this dialogue. Let it continue. We need one another together to counteract the negativity. You and I know each other a bit - you stand very large in my estimation of what a good person is and should be. Please keep the dialogue alive among us.