|Do different faiths worship same God?|
|Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Religion Editor|
|Friday, 07 September 2012 08:59|
Christians, for the most part, readily believe in one, and only one God. For those believers God created humanity, the Earth and every other living creature, known and unknown on this planet. That also applies beyond Earth in every other place, known and unknown, or as a famous fictional space ranger says, "to infinity and beyond."
God does reach to infinity and beyond ... beyond all human comprehension or conception.
Our one God, however, is celebrated and worshiped through countless religions and faith beliefs.
One local religious leader summarized the concept succinctly stating, "There are many religions, but only one God."
He stressed the need to focus on one God, because as God's children we are all belong to one human family.
What may be a surprise to many readers is that religious leader is Imam Farooq S. Aboelzahab, the spiritual leader of The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, located in Perrysburg.
Though Judaism, Christianity and Islam differ widely in many fundamental ways, they all have the same foundation.
Aboelzahab gave an analogy of a large tree with good solid roots.
"The roots of all the religions are the same God. The trunk and its roots form one base. All the branches go back to the same trunk and the same roots," he said.
"There are different leaders, but it is the same religion," the imam said. "God revealed himself to Moses, Jesus and Mohammed."
Some Christians will disagree with that statement, noting the belief Jesus is part of a triune God. Jesus was also fully human and the statement could be accurate in that context.
Aboelzahab spoke of how the different holy books of the three faiths, the Torah, the Bible and the Quran, all speak of one God.
"They all are there to guide people in life," he said.
"Religion should connect you with God and connect you with other human beings," he added. "That is the mission of religion."
He explained Islam literally mean one for all. "To be a Muslim is to be a servant to God."
The Bible speaks of diversity at various places. It seems possible, the one God desires for his children to learn to get along and share our similarities while setting aside the differences.
As written, "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands," (Revelation 7:9)
An Islamic leader concurs, "Infuse your heart with mercy, love and kindness for your subjects ... either they are your brothers in religion or your equals in creation." (Excerpt from a letter by the Muslim Caliph Ali b. Abi Talib (d. 661) to Malik al-Ashtar on the latter's appointment as governor of Egypt)
This view is not offered to equivocate various faith systems, nor is it done to elevate one belief over another. Rather, it is the hope of this writer to open the reader's mind to possibilities within their belief system. God might have something more waiting beyond our earthly views.
Deacon Clif Perryman has served the Catholic Church for 25 years. His ministry as taken him from the Dioceses of Cincinnati and Milwaukee to Toledo.
During a message delivered during a service he focused on how God loves everyone the same.
"We are all children of God," he said. "God loves each and every one of us as much as our neighbor."
He noted that neither educational background, social or economic status, nor our family make-up matters.
"I am not anything special," Perryman said. "But I am uniquely special in God's eyes."
Many religious people agree with that logic, but can we take that to the level of our faith communities. The people who comprise the various denominations within Christianity share numerous beliefs, and despite the differences, most would agree, each group is loved by God. Not one of the denomination has exclusive rights to join in God's kingdom.
Similarly, God created the people who have adopted other faith traditions over the ages, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Various faith traditions had their roots firmly established centuries before Christ was born.
The human population is small and insignificant before the almighty power of God. Yet, people of great faith believe God takes ultimate interest in each of us.
We each are energized by God and through God's gifts to us.
(Editor's note: The topic of one God will be continued in a future column.)
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