Larry Nesper is a Sunday Assembly member and serves on the Sunday Assembly Council. Larry is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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In the fall of 2010, Al Majkrzak gave a homily that included a call for people in Sunday Assembly to respond to the attacks on Muslim people, for proposing that a Muslim community center and mosque be established near the site of the attack on the World Trade Center. Sunday Assembly Council took up the call and we contacted the president of the Islamic Center of Madison. They welcomed our interest in their community and invited us to a conversation about common hopes and concerns, as well as the different ways in which our respective faiths inform our daily lives. Several members of the council as well as Sisters Mary David Walgenbach and Lynne Smith met for the first time in October and had the opportunity to witness the last prayer of the day before we all joined in a light repast of delicious Middle Eastern food.
Since that first meeting in October, this Christian-Muslim dialogue group of about half a dozen people from each faith have gotten together several times at both the Islamic center and at Holy Wisdom Monastery. We had two sessions in which we discussed Adil Nizamuddin Imran’s Christ Jesus Son of Mary: A Muslim Perspective that offers a great deal on Islam generally and its own tolerance and appreciation for its ancestor faiths of Christianity and Judaism, a point that is often largely lost on most non-Muslims. Readers of this blog will be interested to learn that Mary, the mother of Jesus, gets more attention in the Qur’an than does any other woman and far more attention than she does in our own scriptures!
At least two of us on the Christian side will attend the interfaith retreat at the Christine Center in mid-August entitled “A Longing in Our Hearts: Celebrating the Holy Resonance in the Mystic Traditions of Islam and St. Francis of Assisi.” We expect to share what we learn with the Christian-Muslim dialogue group in the near future.