By Anson Burlingame
Special to The Globe
JOPLIN, Mo. —
As publicized by The Joplin Globe, the Islamic Society of Joplin is holding periodic public meetings to explain in simple terms the Islamic faith. I offer this letter to encourage folks in Joplin to take advantage of this opportunity, a wonderful one to expand all of our horizons.
After about a 45-minute presentation by a practicing Muslim and then in private conversations with other Muslims for about an hour, I left with a deeper understanding of how Christianity and Islam have many, many things in common.
Sure, there are differences between to two faiths, particularly in trying hard to understand God’s will and how he has demonstrated that will to humans down through the centuries, millennia perhaps. Christians have their Bible and Muslims the Quran.
However, whatever the differences in the written words in both books, I found some distinct and very similar beliefs shared by both Muslims and Christians. God is love, forgiveness is key, compassion for all humans, and the list of similarities goes on and on. If both Muslims and Christians focus their energies on finding and agreeing upon such similarities, to me the remaining differences are diminished to a great degree, at least in terms of fundamental faith in God and ways to understand and follow his will.
These meetings are not intended as a platform to argue one religion against another, evangelize for new members in any religion or to show in any way why one religion is better than another. Instead local Muslims and members of the non-Muslim public in Joplin are invited to learn from one another.
I encourage participation by anyone interested in learning more about the complex world around us and how God may interact within that complex world.