Why Is Justice Foundational to Christianity, Islam & Judaism
Channel: Yasir Qadhi
File Size: 35.54MB
In this lecture, we witness an intense, informative and elaborate discussion by Rabbi Micah Greenstein, Reverend Dr. Stephen R. Montgomery and Shaykh Dr Yasir Qadhi on the topic of justice being foundational to all three faiths – Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
Through this lecture, we get acquainted with an in depth analysis and a clear understanding of the similarities between the three dominant faiths and their shared emphasis on Justice.
Listen intently as you would not want to miss this eye opener of a video!
In Hebrew Arif Tov in Arabic mussel shy,
why we know the guttural in Hebrew? So a Salam Alaikum on behalf of our President elkon shy and every member of Temple Israel. Welcome shalom Salaam. I want to begin by sharing something I don't take for granted. And I hope you don't either.
Whenever this Jew has a question about Muslims, Islam or Presbyterians
I don't have to Google.
I don't have to watch TV. I don't have to listen to a commentator or leave Memphis because two of the most knowledgeable individuals about Islam and Presbyterianism anywhere in the country, or the world are on the stage with me right now.
However, that's not why I feel so lucky, fortunate and truly blessed because these to whose intellectual depth and wisdom make Dr. yasir Qadhi, a world renowned Islamic scholar, and Steve Montgomery, part of a legendary chain of Presbyterian ministers, their Dear friends, it's not just that we speak in the same places on the same programs like tonight, we eat meals together, and we sign our private emails even when we disagree as brothers. So let me tell you what's on my heart and mind and why this evening is so important. Before the three of us teach how central and foundational justice is, to the religions we practice. The reason I'm heartened by this crowd, as more chairs are
being brought in, is because Christians, Muslims and Jews in recent times, have spent far too much time reading about each other, or talking about each other. Rather than actually knowing one another. It's much easier for a Jew to be a stick figure to a Muslim, or for a Muslim, to be a stick figure to a Jew, or for both Jews and Muslims to be stick figures to a Christian, when you don't mix much with people different than yourself.
So here's the key takeaway of this opening part.
Once you get to know a person of another faith, who is just as honorable as you even more decent, and more honorable than people in your own faith, when that happens, it's happened to me, you're never the same again. Because you're no longer talking about Muslims or Christians or Jews, you're talking about my friends. So for the next few minutes, I'm going to ask you to do something
and ask you to please get up if you're able, by the way, we'll be taking time for prayer for our friends in the Muslim communities, so you don't have to worry. I know between 717 and 827, we're gonna get our prayers in.
But for the next few minutes, please get up if you're able
and find at least one practitioner
of the faiths you are not. Now if you can't move someone will come to you.
And I want you to do more than Introduce yourself.
Let me be clear, please find a Muslim and Christian if you're a Jew, find a Jew and Christian if you're a Muslim, find a Jew and a Muslim if you're a Christian, and when you encounter that person of another faith. After introducing yourself, please answer just one question. Each of you you're facing. Here's the question
facing the person of the other faith.
What is it
that you admire most about the other person's religion as an outsider,
as an outsider, to the other's faith? What is it that you admire most? You have five minutes to meet two others and exchange your answer go.
Okay, ladies and gentlemen.
Ladies and gentlemen
Ah, that's the whole program. Good night. Just kidding. Please find your seat otherwise,
we are going to end on time and we are going to pray. So please thank you for beginning the introduction and hopefully,
you met someone you didn't know of another faith, if nothing else that happened tonight
as everybody finds their seats
one of the many things
I admire so much about Christians
is the way some Christians can be totally in the moment when they pray you ever noticed that? You probably don't if you're Christian, I was at a church way out where I'm not making this up. It was a mechanic named Bubba.
He only had a high school education and he was asked by the pastor of this church I won't mention to lead a prayer. And this man who barely spoke in complete sentences when I met him, he opened his mouth and he sounded like Moses, Jesus or Mohammed.
And offering the most beautiful, spontaneous prayer in the moment out of his mouth came such gratitude, sincerity and genuine love. And when it comes to Muslims, I could speak about some of the Memphis Muslim families I'm looking at. I have grown to admire and love, whether it's tonight's speaker, Dr. yasir Qadhi are having dinner down the block from here at the home of the ken Dakar family, or longtime friendships and community work with Dr. Bashar sollen bielby aqui so many others, but in studying Islam with Muslims who actually know Islam, versus outsiders who do not, I'm fascinated by their prophets story not by what some people do, in Jesus's name or Mohammed's name,
or Moses, his name, but I learned and I didn't tell my friend Yasser, this, I learned from another mom how Muhammad's father died before he's ever born. His mother died before he was six years old. He's handed over to a foster mom, who's poor. And I guess it's a Muslim midrash or teaching that her breasts were not full enough even to feed him. So he grows up essentially an orphan. And only at the age of 40, does he start to get this revelation to stand up against the enslavement of people, the people who first came to this new faith, this daughter religion of Judaism, were people who were enslaved children, women, some wealthy business folks who had made money there God, but what I've
learned is that the earliest companions of Mohammed were people who needed justice, just as I've learned from my brother, Steve Montgomery, that the message of Jesus is a foundational message of social justice. But that's me as an outsider, you're going to hear from them. I've asked Dr. Kati and Dr. Montgomery to offer 10 minute talks on how justice undergirds the teachings of Islam and Christianity, following our talks. We will take a reverent break. Let me ask no Jewish folks can answer. Just Muslims and Christians. How many times a day do Jews traditionally pray?
Very good three. Okay. Now no Muslims can answer. How many times a day do Muslims traditionally pray? very correct. So, so during our break after each of us give our talks, the carpeted area in in the back is where our Muslim brothers and sisters can fulfill their fourth of five prayers of the day. And then following that brief break, we'll open it up to questions depending on the time we'll react to each other. We'll end by 830 ish. And don't worry if you have other questions the three of us will stay after. Please show your love as we warmly welcome Steve Montgomery than Dr. kotti for 10 then meal for only seven minutes since I've already spoken too much Ladies and gentlemen, Steve
oh, wow, where else where else but in Memphis, Tennessee.
Can this group like this of Muslims and Christians and Jews get together where else in the entire nation is another temple Israel, with the kind of leadership that you've had from Rabbi wax Hara danika but also especially my good friend and brother Rob.
By mica, don't take my word for it read Newsweek and sees one of the leading rabbis in the country. Where else can we get together with yasir Qadhi, don't take my word for it that he's a leading scholar look at the cover of The New York Times Magazine several years ago.
And where else can there be a Presbyterian minister who looks like a rabbi? Okay.
It's very important for me to begin, can everybody hear me back there?
It's very important for me to begin with
some of what mica might say, because it is vital for us, as Christians, to realize that the Hebrew Bible that we call the Old Testament, is fully two thirds of our scriptures.
And what he will say I think about this Jewish perspective, is also 100%. true to our faith perspective, as Christians as well. And it is my contention, that justice is not just an issue that we deal with. It's my contention that justice is integral to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to our faith. Now, I say that for several reasons. First of all, many of us Christians were raised with the idea that the God of the Old Testament is a God who is an angry God, God bent on vengeance ready to smite us. And then all of a sudden,
just like that.
Guy became gentle, and compassionate, and loving when Jesus came to earth, and we see pictures in our churches, sometimes Jesus with a sheep around his shoulder of Jesus talking with the children.
Just last week, I had someone in my office Tell me, they like the God of the New Testament, not the Old Testament. Now, there are too many problems with that, for me to get into all of them. However, let me share just a few. And make it clear that the God that we worship is the one Eternal God.
And so, the god I read about in the Hebrew Bible is a God who has a passion for justice. And that's true for us Christians as well. That passion, that yearning for justice is found on nearly every page in the Hebrew Scriptures, from the pages of the Levitical and deuteronomic deuteronomic. laws in which justice for the poor, the elderly, the widowed, the sojourner, were written into their legal codes. They institutionalized justice now if I'm wrong, the good Rabbi will correct me okay.
It's also where the prophets declared, in no uncertain terms let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream. And then there's the Psalms. Yes, there are some of the psalm provide rich inspiration and wisdom to our search for inner peace and spiritual health. Lord is my shepherd I shall not want, but we tend to neglect as Christians the cutting edge of the Psalms. Walter Brueggemann says the central theme of the largest book in the Bible is that of a God with a passion for adjust creation. Now, why is all this important to Christians? Because this is the worldview from which Jesus emerged, when we forget that the results are disastrous, even deadly.
You see, those who divorce Jesus from the scriptures that nurtured him, have a tendency to spiritualize Jesus, Jesus not concerned with things of this earth, He tells the things eternal that is a personal and spiritual concept of salvation. And there's some of that in John's gospel and elsewhere elsewhere, but eternal life for Christians takes place on both sides of the grave. In his opening sermon, in Luke, Jesus quoted Isaiah, he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to announce the acceptable year of the Lord. He is there proclaiming a kingdom of justice and liberation, to be established in favor of the poor and the
marginalized of history. That was his first sermon. Now, what happens when we spiritualize Jesus to examples? In the antebellum south, theologians and preachers, many unfortunately, Presbyterians develop what's called the spirituality of the church, which meant that the church should only concern itself with spiritual issues, and not get involved in economic, social or heaven forbid political issues. And so the church had nothing to say about slavery.
Which was an economic, a social and a political issue.
Unfortunately, many in the Christian faith still adhere to that don't bring politics into puppet I come to be spiritually nourished. And the results, like I say, are devastating, even deadly. Second example, in Germany in the 1930s, many Christian clergy followed that same doctrine, Bishop Miller, who was appointed Bishop of the Lutheran Church by the Nazis, told his flock that Christians should be concerned with the kingdom of God that is spiritual things like getting to heaven, and leave things of this earth to the experts. And so once again,
the church had nothing to say as Jews were shipped off to Auschwitz and Birkenau and Treblinka, devastating and deadly. So let's take a brief look at Jesus what he said and what he did. Jesus told stories of course, they're called parables. There are two I want to highlight was the parable of the Good Samaritan. Let me ask Jews and Christians when I talk about that the least know what I'm talking about. Muslims do unto the Good Samaritan, we have hospitals named after the Good Samaritan.
The question was posed to Jesus and who is my neighbor, and at the center of this parable is a man who has been the victim of violent attack Rob and leaving him half dead by the side of the road to religious leaders, a priest and leave I see him that passed by on the other side of the road. Now, I got this from Amy Jo Levine, a Jewish professor of New Testament Vanderbilt try to put that together, okay.
Jesus has set up his listeners to be prepared for third category precisely by an Israelite. If I say Larry, moe, you will say clearly, however,
or that show okay?
To go from priests to leave it to Samaritan
is like going from Larry to mo to Osama bin Laden.
They were the enemy back then. And Jesus outrageous decision to lift up a despised Samaritan infidel, as the moral hero leaves no doubt that the love of neighbor that Jesus has in mind is one that reaches out to people of foreign nations and foreign religions. You think you think that has justice implications for the travel ban, and the wall, the guide, I'm convinced to a deeper peace, a deeper sense of justice and a deeper security is found in that kind of neighbor love that reaches across dividing lines that provides help for the refugee and victim of violence that binds up the wounds of the suffering and works to build an encompassing community of compassion, and mutual help.
Now, there's a second parable. There's the final parable Jesus told in God's Matthew's Gospel, it's called The Last Judgement or the parable of the sheep and the goats. Long story short. In the final judgment, those who helped the least of these are brothers and sisters, are those who have a place of honor at the right hand of God in the coming Kingdom. They are the sheep of those who do not feed the hungry, who do not provide drink for the thirsty, who do not welcome the stranger who do not provide clothes for the naked, who do not take care of the sick or visit the impressive prison. They are the goats, and they will be the left hand of God.
Now I have to admit, parenthetically that I've never understood what Jesus had against left handed people.
I'm left handed, we raised goats as a kid. But that's a topic for another day. Okay.
But the point here is clear. I think here's the clincher. Those who help the suffering in all these different ways,
for Christians are ministering to Jesus Himself, just as you did it to the least of these my brothers sisters, you did it unto me. Now, it doesn't take any imagination at all to see the Justice implications for the Christian faith. It's more pointed today because this parable was addressed not simply the individuals, but to the nations. Take a look.
I'm starting politics now. Okay.
Take a look. The proposed budget that's before Congress right now hungry and you gave me food.
Look at the cuts to the WIC program and possibly even Meals on Wheels. stranger and you welcomed me. Did you see the colleges and universities have a 40% decrease in international applications? Sick and you took care of me.
Not if you're a poor woman needing medical care from Planned Parenthood in prison,
You visited me more prisons now are being privatized where the bottom line is in a word, Prophet.
Jesus said more about justice. But we also have to look at what he did.
While he walked the earth, Jesus levered people from paralysis, mental illness, leprosy deformity, mutinous, woundedness blindness and more without demanding any kind of religious litmus test. But again again,
in word and deed, he returned to the plight of the poor whose poverty in true prophetic fashion. He considered no historical accident, but the fruit of social injustice. He continually crossed over virtually every boundary that the legal and political and religious leaders had established. He lived with the poor and shocked respectable people by eating with social outcasts. He went through some Mariya and talked with a woman at the well and outcasts outcasts in the longest recorded conversation Jesus ever had. He acted and spoke in a manner that caused him to be experienced as a serious threat to the established order. That's what he did. We'll finally let's look at who he was.
But he said what he did, he was the route to discovering who Jesus really is, must resemble that of his first friends and followers. When we allow that we affirm as Christians,
that God has not only approached but shared their lives to the fall, they are hungry.
So is he, they are poor.
So is he tortured? So is he
killed? So see,
they are empowered to live lives of justice and peace. So is he and as Christians, so are we
Good evening. Salaam, shalom. How do you follow up with a lecture like that? Well, I'll try.
So if Christians are able to say that they're able to claim the Old Testament as theirs, Muslims have the added advantage of claiming Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Mohammed as all theirs.
as followers of those prophets, it is undeniable that one of the main missions of a Prophet's life, one of the main articles of being a prophet is we learned this from all the prophets is that those who have privilege, those who experience justice must stand up and fight on behalf of those who don't. This is the prophetic way, Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Solomon and David and Mohammed, every one of them, there are plenty of stories in their lives and their life traditions that symbolize what it means to be a prophet. And then for us in this room of follower of those prophets, in the Quran, we have so many verses about justice. In chapter four, verse 135, God addresses the
faithful Oh ye who have faith. In other words, if you have faith, follow this commandment, oh, ye who have faith, ensure that you all stand up for justice as witnesses to God, even if that means that you testify against yourselves or your parents or your relatives. In the next chapter, a very similar verse, oh, you who have faith, ensure that you stand up for the sake of God as witnesses to the truth and justice, and make sure that your animosity against a group of people does not cause you to swerve away from justice. Be just for that is the essence of piety and quote. So in the first verse that I quoted you, we are told that the Quran says to stand up for justice, stand up for
justice as witnesses to God. In the second verse, the two nouns are reversed, to stand up for God as witnesses to justice, justice and belief in God go hand in hand, you cannot stand up for God without witnessing truth to justice. And you cannot stand up for justice without witnessing for truth to God. And we are told explicitly, that at times, standing up for justice means you need to point out
Your own mistakes or even the mistakes of loved ones, which is even more difficult than pointing out your own mistakes. We are told explicitly in the Quran, that especially when it comes to those whom you don't like your enemies, and they might legitimately be your enemies either doing things that they shouldn't do, they're harming they're persecuting. Make sure when you respond to them, your animosity does not cause you to and I, quote, swerve away from justice be just even with your enemies, that is the essence of piety. The pursuit of justice is so highly regarded in the Islamic tradition, that the Quran tells us in a very explicit passage, that one of the main reasons that God
has sent prophets to Earth, one of the main reasons that God has revealed divine books is in order that justice might be established. And in our faith tradition, every one of you should know and if you don't, then you learn it here right now that Muslims believe that God has 99 perfect, beautiful, majestic names, to God belongs all perfect and all Beautiful Names. This is what the Quran says. One of those names one of those 99 is a local syllable, and moccasins, which means the one who is just the one who is infinitely just mock silt. Just if there seems to be an alliteration between mock slit and justice, listen to this bit of a linguistic point here. It is because the Arabic word, the
Quranic word for justice is actually adopted. It's an Arabic sized adoption from Latin, the same Latin word for justice, which is useless. And that same Latin root eventually made its way to Old French justice and from Old French Middle English and from an English to modern English justice. Hence, when the Quran speaks of justice, the Arabic word is this loss, justice, this loss. So when I as a Muslim say, the Quran commands us to be just enter practice justice, we don't even need to translation because quite literally the exact same word is used. Now, how is justice maintained? Again, a lot can be said time is limited in the prophetic model and all prophets in the prophetic
model. One of the primary ways of maintaining justice is that we need to take on the cause of the marginalized, the fringe, the downtrodden, the week of the earliest Quranic prohibitions, involves the prohibition against female infanticide. Little baby girls were killed because they were women. They were girls. And if the earliest Quranic messages was, what are you gonna say to this infant on Judgement Day when she demands justice from the one who killed her unjustly? In the Quran, we learned one of the earliest commandments as well. And one of the earliest prophetic teachings is that one's race and ethnicity are irrelevant when it comes to God consciousness and piety. All of
us, no matter what our skin colors are from Adam, and Adam was created from dust, one of the most dramatic incidents in the life of the Prophet and I don't have time to mention the whole incident. But every Muslim knows this because we grew up hearing these stories involves the case where a rich and powerfully privileged and elite member of the tribe of the Prophet which was the most elite tribe of the Arabs, took advantage of his point 1% status, to trample on to steal, to take the rights away from a person of a lower tribe, a lower socio economic, a person from a different tribe. And the Prophet single handedly risked his own life, to challenge that privilege person and to
secure the rights of the downtrodden person from another tribe. For the Muslims in the audience, in particular, pay attention to this fact, the person whose rights were taken away was an idolatry, he was worshipping false gods, that didn't change the fact that injustice had been done. And the Prophet didn't look at the fact that this was a person who was worshipping a false god. He looked at the fact that injustice had occurred. And that is why we firmly believe and one of our greatest scholars have been Tamia says that God and this is very pertinent for America. I believe, God blesses a nation that is just even if it's not faithful and and, and believing in Him, and takes
away blessings and power from a nation that is unjust, even if they believe in him. And quote, in other words, Justice is so blessed and so important that it even I can't use the word Trump anymore. That's the problem. Like
I was just gonna say it and then I was like, Freudian slip.
Justice is so important that it actually has a higher rank in the eyes of God.
when it comes to justice, and I conclude here, given the current climate that we find ourselves in an all of us are followers of Abraham, it is imperative that those who wish to be faithful to the message of the prophets that we stand up and assert the rights of the downtrodden, that we speak on behalf of those who might be too intimidated to speak that we address the pharaohs of our nations. And we challenge them to let our people go free so that they may worship God as they see fit. And in particular, when it comes to our context, I particularly speak of two cases that we really do need to stand up for those that are called quote, unquote, illegal aliens, even the term honestly
disgusts me. Those that are called illegal aliens, or undocumented workers, they are just as human as the many hundreds of millions of quote unquote, illegal aliens who came to this country without the permission of those who used to be on this land. They're just as human as them.
and also, when it comes to speaking up on behalf of those that choose to practice their faith or their religion, however they see fit, even if we don't agree with their personal religiosity, but that's between them and God, and they have the right the God given right to practice their religion, as they see fit and come closer to God, as they see fit to conclude a bit of an eschatological note, and how else to end theological talks other than on eschatological modes, a bit of a quirky joke here for the theologians here.
Mainstream Muslims believe and I'm not sure about
all Jews, believe me this, but I know many do. And I know many Christians do that the Messiah is going to return at the end of times. This is a mainstream belief amongst Muslims. I know segments of Jews believe this. And I know many Christians believe this, whether it's the same Messiah that used to be here or not, let's not go down that awkward route. That's another discussion. But we do believe that the Messiah is going to come back, believe it or not, that's our belief as well. Why do we do it, just FYI, we do believe with Christians that he shall come back, it's not going to be somebody different. But nonetheless, that's really not the point. The point I finished this talk off
with is in our faith tradition. And with this, I conclude, one of the main reasons for the return of the Messiah, and it is Jesus for the Islamic and Muslim tradition, for one of the main reasons for the return of the Messiah. And I quote, The Prophet Muhammad himself is so that justice may be established before Judgment Day, that is the purpose of coming back of the Messiah. So if you want to walk in the footsteps of the prophets, let us all try our best to establish justice, and whatever we can. Thank you very much. Good evening.
See what I mean New York, LA,
Mecca in Jerusalem they have, or bethlem have nothing on Memphis with these two. And before I get my seven minute talk, you'll tell me what Dr. Kati just said, reminds me that the only difference between our three faiths eschatological is that, you know, Christians already believed the Messiah is common. And they're waiting for him to come back. And Muslims and Jews are still waiting for the Messiah to come. So the only question to ask when the Messiah does come back is, have you been here before?
And I'm not sure whether it was a minister or an Imam, not a rabbi, who whispered in his ear, say I can't remember.
So it is 742. And
I have to this is the only part of the night after my talk that at first I thought kind of it would be awkward, because I once went to a church and they're like, show me what you praise. And I felt like I was like, it was a petting zoo, and they were watching me.
But one of the problems is that most Jews and Christians in America have watched each other pray,
but never experienced prayer with Muslims. And so we need to get this fourth prayer done before 815. And so following my seven minutes immediately after, led by an Imam, if you would like to experience reverential Muslim prayer in its original way, authentically, genuinely, with our Memphis brothers and sisters in the back area that will take place and I've only asked following my seven minutes, if you don't want to experience that or if you want to check your phone or go to the bathroom, out that door, and then we will reconvene for a closing 30 minutes. So here we go. Judaism is not the religion of the Old Testament.
Let me explain.
Judaism without the Hebrew Bible is unthinkable. But Judaism with only the Bible is in Judaism. So let's
Begin with the Bible with a phrase from the Torah. Deuteronomy 1620. Justice, Justice shalt thou pursue, set etc. to your dove. The most important question for Jews is not what the text says. But rather what does it mean?
Justice justice, shall you pursue the term pursue carry strong connotations of effort, eagerness, this implies more than merely respecting or even following justice, we must actively pursue it. Then there is the redundancy of the phrase you notice that since the sentence still works if the Torah had said, Justice schaltbau pursue why justice justice shoutout pursue.
This means that we must pursue justice justly,
for just goals can never be achieved by unjust means. The worthiest of goals will be rendered less worthy if we have to compromise justice to achieve it. So inspired by a justice verse like this, and the tour's vision of adjust society and a 3000 year history living as a mistreated minority. Until about the last 100 years or so. Jews repeatedly have been in the forefront of struggles for justice. It's no accident, that even though Jews comprise not even 2% of the American citizenry today, 50% of the Freedom Riders in Mississippi during the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s were Jewish. It's no accident that the first clergyman in the city of Memphis to speak out against the Ku Klux Klan
was not a Christian minister, but the Rabbi of this congregation, from 1915. To 1924. Williams fine Schreiber. In Judaism, it's not enough to be concerned for the life to come. As my colleagues have said, our immediate concern must be with justice and compassion in the here and now with human dignity, welfare and security. Justice essential to Torah which doesn't mean law, but it's the same Hebrew word for a parent hora or a teacher Maura the Torah does refer to the scrolls in the ark, the Pentateuch, but it falls refers to all Jewish teaching. Torah is what God has revealed to us what we discern of God ideas, ideals, laws, commandments, opportunities for holiness, our religious
heritage, it's the quest for meaning our way of life, a path for our souls, and tonight's topic, Torah is said to be the design for a better world, grounded in justice and peace. God, I thought we had a lot of names for God, we only have 70, they have 99.
One of our 70 is also the just one. Perhaps Judaism noblest teaching is that great summary of all religion from the prophet Micah, what does the Lord require the only to do justly, to love mercy to walk humbly before God? Most people don't notice, think about this, that in this exalted summation of religions purpose, doing justly precedes even the command to walk humbly before God. So a passionate belief in and a concern for justice for all people is inherent in Judaism stems not only from the biblical prophets, but from the fundamental nature of the Jewish faith, one God in Deuteronomy six four means one humanity and transforming human society from a jungle of fear, hate
and violence, into what we call we all call the kingdom of God on earth, is Judaism's Justice Mission. Just as there is a giving of the Torah that was active and involved God and our ancestors. So to there is a receiving of Torah that is active, current, and involves every child of Israel, hopefully every child of God, to restore this world to wholeness and peace for all people requires an ongoing dialogue with the most important word or to the other. You can't have justice unless there is in other whether the other is Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or as Dr. kadhi said, secular, what I'm saying is that otherness is a prerequisite for justice, including empathy and
aspiring to walk in other people's shoes. holiness occurs when power and justice and goodness coexist in perfect harmony. Power without justice and goodness, is not holiness. We sanctify God's name by being wholly ourselves, and how do we accomplish this? Through actions that promote justice, harmony, and peace in the end?
And I'm not sure whether it was a Muslim or Christian teacher who taught me this, but it's very Jewish.
In the end,
God is the person you're talking to
the one right beside you, the one right in front of you.
And so, if our Muslim brothers and sisters now lead by Dr. kotti, would lead us in their prayer, whether the prayer that in the fourth prayer, do you want to give us an overview do we mention what that that name or mockery, the sunset prayer The sun has set. So as we all say, in our houses of worship, please rise. we'll resume in 10 minutes. But please, we'll keep it reverential in the back. And then we'll resume at eight o'clock.
So ladies and gentlemen,
I think the two most unforgettable parts of this evening already other than my two colleagues talks for me, with the first five minutes when we met the other, the others who aren't just as godly, and yet we finally are facing the godly rather than talking about the godly. And I think the second most beautiful after these two talks we heard
was that prayer circle, and the beautiful prayers led by Dr. Kati, thank you for letting us pray with you.
Michael, one thing I learned from that at the very end, you notice that they were turning to one another. And I asked Dr. Cuddy, what does that mean they start with prayers to God and at the end, they share Salaam peace with one another.
That's a powerful symbol. It's something we do in the Christian church as well a lot but that was something I noticed I hadn't noticed before. Thank you. Yes, salam, alaikum and Shalom. I left him and then you say Peace be with you. But you know if you're Muslim or Jewish, you don't know you're supposed to say and also with you. So people just sit there.
Okay, so we just we're gonna mix it up. We're not going to do what we thought that's why we're friends. Oh, very important. I want to quote another Muslim here who just pointed out something really incredible doctrine ability actually pointed out to me after prayer, he said, You do realize this is the last event in Memphis for the Muslims in Memphis month. That's what March is first two or three M's and other forums. Muslims in Memphis month is March. The first event
was it. Dr. David Breck enriches church First Baptist Church. David, are you here?
There he is. Thank you, David. So
I know you y'all are thinking I can't believe it's April on Saturday. But when March started the first event was a Dr. David brecker First Baptist Church, the last event is at Temple Israel.
And it's not built by achlys said and all of you would agree. Only in Memphis, can that happen? Right? It's true.
So instead of are reacting to each other, we would love to open it up to questions now. So if you'll raise your hand, a microphone will be brought to you. Please in the back?
Who's Um, I'll come out. I'll come out. And hopefully it's to our panelists.
Here you are.
I just wanted to open by saying that. I was born and raised in St. Louis, and my family's buried in the cemetery there. That was desecrated. And they asked for $20,000 and thanks to the Muslim community. by one by five o'clock they had raised $130,000. And the Muslims came out with their scrub brushes as well as us to struggle.
There are some amazing Thank you so much. There's some amazing things that have happened like that. Here at Temple is Israel.
Rabbi, just drew blank, assistant rabbi, Rabbi Bowman, Katie, Katie, help provide sponsorship for Syrian refugees who are Muslim. Where else in Memphis, thank you so much for that story.
where do we
rabbis in Memphis get their best ideas from their minister and eemaan. Friends, I'm going to come up and join you too. And I'm going to hand it over to a source of many, many good ideas. It's time to bring them out. Scott, would you please? Reverend Dr. Scott Morris, our Methodist minister for
rights, right. So I will handle asking the questions, right. And the question, So raise your hand and I'll come to you. So.
Questions. You got a question? Raise your hand, please. If you have a question, and Scott will bring you the microphone. Yeah.
There's one up front.
Okay, down here, yes.
There's justice, like, an eye for an eye and and cutting off the hands of thieves. And then there's there's justice that's more merciful. And justice. Why is that distinction? And is that distinction? true in all three faiths?
I'm gonna sit down while I answer that one.
And would you explain the Sharia law in 30 seconds to since all the Jews and Christians, you know, they they read the wrong thing?
where does one begin? Well,
so there's no, there's no denying that you cannot have justice, without meeting out some form of punishment to those who deserve it. I mean, that is a part and parcel of any judiciary system in the world. And, in fact, there's a verse in the Quran that I actually had it in my notes, so I wasn't hiding it from you. But because of time, honestly, because of time. It didn't, I wasn't able to do it, but I'll mention it now. So remember, I said that God explicitly said, I revealed the prophets and I revealed the books in order to establish justice. In the same verse, God also says, and I blessed you with Iran. Now this is really bizarre. The books the prophets, and Irin.
And our theologians, and exegetes have extracted from this, the meaning of Iran here is the strong arm of justice, like there are people that through the fear of God will act justly. And there are those who need the iron or the steel, or the prison or the bars to act justly. And so God is essentially saying that for those who require God and their profits, and that's good enough, great, but for those who don't have that level of faith, I've blessed you with a technique or a tactic. Now, I don't know the Jewish tradition in the Islamic tradition. David, the prophet David is credited with the discovery, quote, unquote, of how to make Iran malleable is that in the Jewish
tradition, I don't know. It's not okay. It's an Islamic tradition. It's very explicitly Islamic tradition.
It's very explicit in the Islamic tradition that God blessed David with the wherewithal to figure out no matter how strong IRA is, and if you put it in a furnace, you're able to make weapons out of it. And that was one of the main blessings God gave David over his enemies. Now, the point is, I'm not going to sugarcoat this at all, because I don't I don't I'm not an apologist I call a spade a spade. There's no question. There are elements of perhaps even biblical law. And I'm not an expert, but definitely Islamic law, that are pretty strict. But there are also elements that mitigate that talk about mercy and forgiveness. And in Islamic law, it's not constitution. It's not like the the
American system where the judge has a very narrow window that he or she must give a punishment according to this window. In the Islamic law, the judge actually has quite a lot of leeway. And there are a lot of mitigating circumstances that could effectively abrogate or know, the harsh penalties. And that's why, for example, so yes, everybody quotes the verse about, you know, cutting off the hand of the thief. But the reality is in Islamic history, that punishment was rarely meted out. It's really there as a scare tactic as a fear factor, that, oh, be careful, don't do that. Or else, you know, the Islamic court system will do that. In actual reality, this was rarely practiced.
You don't go around in Islamic societies, and every third person has his hand cut off, even though a lot of people steal. I mean, people steal, right. And if you study Islamic law, there are 1,000,001 ways to get out. You know, and the judge is trying to I studied Islamic law for 10 years at one of the most advanced and most prestigious and yes, ultra conservative seminaries in Islamic world in Saudi Arabia and the holy city, you have to be a Muslim to enter the city, the city of Medina, the holy city, so I speak from personal knowledge that, yes, there are these harsh punishments, and they're meant to be publicized to an audience at the same time, once you get inside the system. Once
you're a judge, you are taught ways out loopholes basically. And you're taught this because
God wants to have this this tactic of Yes, there is this harsh punishment. But in the end of the day, the majority of people who get to that level, there are ways out. And it's just something that you know, both both sides are there. I mean, I hope that kind of answers your question. I mean, before the Christian Peacemaker speaks, I'm sure you always have the you always have the Christian speak after the Muslim and the Jew because it's Blessed are the peacemakers.
Were very close. So I wouldn't do that another form.
You know, Yasser. What's, what's fascinating, as you were answering his question is most Jews. Well, all of us share the Old Testament. And if you read it, there are actually four types of capital punishment, strangling, stoning, this fixation, and one other that grosses me out. By the way, hanging.
crucifixion is not one of them. By the way, that was a form of Roman capital punishment. That's how we know where it said on the cross, King of the Jews, it was the Romans crucified, that was their form, but and when you just said, Yes, sir, that while those verses exist, they were rarely applied. That's the whole thrust of Jewish law, like most Jews don't even know about those in the State of Israel, for instance, they're the only there's no capital punishment except for genocide. Because the Jewish lawmakers, the Holocaust, the jurists
always found a loophole. They said, for instance, that
you have to have two witnesses who actually saw it happening. And there has to be a court of 70, not just circumstantial and evidential. But it was they even said in the Talmud that a Sanhedrin that executes one person in like 70 years is a bloody Sanhedrin.
So while there is permission, so the question is, how come so many Americans who are not Muslim?
Know this thing about the cutting of the arm and not the lack of its application in the world that you know, how come there's such a misunderstanding? Like, because Jews are gonna say after me, I didn't know that we had capital punishment, because it was never applied. What what why is it so misunderstood? I mean, I've always given this analogy, I gave it to a recent church talk I gave as well imagine if a person had never visited America, and for a decade or so the only information they ever had about America, was by watching the Jerry Springer Show.
I'm actually being um, this isn't this isn't facetious, I'm being dead serious. I actually, when you go home, please just imagine somebody like that. And imagine what their perception would be of America. Right?
All I can say is honestly, the Islam that is shown on fox news or other types of channels, is in Islam, that the Muslims here don't recognize, really, it's not. It's not the Islam of my parents or my community. I've lived in Saudi Arabia, which is considered to be one of the most puritanical countries, I can assure you. And I know judges in the system of the legal, you know, courts, they don't implement these laws, except like once every, you know, century or so that something happens and Okay, this is a clear cut case and what etc, these are really issues that are meant, as I said, to fear to cause some people to not steal when they should when they shouldn't steal. So,
essentially, we see a sensationalization of fetishization really, of some obscure Islamic region such as the Taliban Islamic trends like the Taliban and the Taliban, or again the the so called ISIS or the caliphate about that. All you need to do is look at what they're doing. So for example, the the, the attitudes that they have towards the Aziz a small sect in Iraq, for example, and they believe this easy these are pagan, they should be enslaved, there's raping going on, etc. The irony of ironies is that the actual Caliphate of Islam under which Maimonides flourished, under which so many rabbis Sadia Golan and others actually lived the ambassade Caliphate was based in Basel that
for 700 years, and they you see these lived in that same region during that time.
The Aziz are Manichaean slash gnostic sect of ancient times, and they're still around, they're like, maybe a million or actually less than a million, maybe 100 200,000 people, small groups of people. And the perception is that they worship the devil. They're called devil worshippers because they believe that, you know, they have their theology and whatnot. So they're a small sect, or a small gnostic, and they're being slaughtered by this
So called Islamic State. Now the irony of ironies, this so called Islamic State when an actual Islamic State existed ie the caliphate of Bo dad, right? 1000 years ago, the Aziz lived in flourish there. Right. This is the irony so to take these fetishization of these extremes and then to normalize them, and consider them to be the mainstream, hence the analogy of you know, Jerry Springer, I'm sure you know, some of the guests are speaking the truth. I know many of his, you know, you know, are sensationalized, but some of them they actually their stories are real, and they're being portrayed, but that's why they're on Jerry Springer to sensationalize. Similarly,
those issues of Islam are meant to sensationalize the religion to fascist fetishize it, you know, simple point, you want to learn about Islam, walk into your local mosque and meet your Muslim friends and neighbors. That's where you learn about Islam.
There's really not a lot I can add, I think it's just a challenge for all of us, Christian Jewish Islam, to take our scriptures seriously, but not literally.
There's a tendency
for us to find anything we want in scriptures that will enforce reinforce our own prejudices. That's why we as Christians, look at the entire context of scriptures and interpret Old and New Testaments in the light of Jesus Christ and His love and mercy. There are some hard sayings in the New Testament as well. But the question some of Paul's letter, for example, such as about women, women shall be silent in church.
Well, it said, but there are three things that we as Christians look at when we interpret scripture context and context context of what was going on, at that time, context, what was going on when was written maybe 60 years later, and context of what is going on now. And so for example, so yes, there are certain texts that we can find about an eye for an eye and tooth and we can pull those out. If they reinforce our own prejudices, the challenge for us is to go the next step. And for Christians,
for example, for women, Jesus surrounded himself with women, Jesus lift up women, the earliest, the earliest pictures of the of the Last Supper, you know, the Leonardo da Vinci's picture, there are 12 men, they're the earliest pictures of the Last Supper found in the catacombs from first century Rome, have women around that table? Okay, so we take a look at context and see that women and men have equal status in everything that same goes with all sorts of things as well. Any Jew who quotes an iPhone AI to justify the death penalty doesn't know Judaism, because the way Remember I said it's not what the text says. It's what it means. And the Jewish interpretation of that verse is
the establishment of judicial courts because from what I see you wearing glasses, and I have them but your vision is different. So how can you say your eyes are equivalent? What if you needed your eyes to work and I needed my feet they give the case and the dominance of if someone who says Smith and the X goes flying off and blind someone,
you don't take his eye out. In fact, hevea I'll end on a Broadway note with Fiddler on the Roof.
You remember what happened in Tana vana TEPCO when the Cossacks came through and they pillage the town, by the way, was a great play. But if you think it was so wonderful over there in Eastern Europe come to me and Jews came to Ellis Island to get out of there. It was that the humanity amidst in humanity was wonderful. But anyway, after one of those raids, riots called a pogrom,
a guy stands up and he says, and that's the Good Book says to get them back, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. And teviot says, if we act that way, the whole world would be blind and toothless.
But that's that's a very Jewish response. Even though we do have permission.
In ancient Babylon, when someone had their slate wiped clean, their debts forgiven, they would proclaim a Lulu, which is the root of our word hallelujah. And in the Lord's Prayer, we have forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And we have the Jubilee concept in Judaism and then the usury bank system in Islam. Many modern economists are speaking of harking back to the Jubilee concept. So where are the faith traditions in handling this concept of inequality and debt that's so prevalent today.
sabbaticals of seven years after 49 years, the 50th year you left, you left the line. The jubilee year, the yeoville Muslim
I think we'll move on just gonna
do a move to talk about the Jubilee there in Bishop Stipe. And it's amazing what the Catholic Church has done. The Jubilee Year is one of the few laws in the Jewish tradition that actually fell into disuse. And now it's been revived and re imaged, thank God for its ideas. And I think our Christian friend may have more to say, well, that's what I have to say, I think that I have heard of a number of communities, there might be called the Jubilee community, whatever, and are looking towards that kind of that kind of system. Now, whether or not we get back to it as is originally planned, who knows. But nonetheless, what you're dealing with there is economic inequality, you're dealing with
restoring rights to those who didn't have before Walter Brueggemann calls justice determining
who belongs to what or what belongs to who and helping to restore that. And that's a challenge for us as well. It By the way, it also goes with the whole just creation thing, you land, the land, the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. Even though I'm not a Baptist, I can quote some scripture every now and then David, you know,
Psalm 24. One, but nonetheless, what does that do? What are we doing to our land? If it's in the vested interest, and the powers that be in that kind of thing? We've got to find a way to in a sense, you know, reclaim that, in a sense, I don't have the answers. But there are a lot of really good things like going on, like that are going on in small communities around this country and all three of our traditions, and that's when we need to follow.
Yes, I'd like to ask question, that is that I see a lot of conflict between the
different sects of the Muslims
to killing each other, actually. So I my question is, what is causing so much conflict between the various sects of Muslims?
So there are two primary sects of Islam, Islam, Sunni Islam and Judaism. And the Sunni is around 80 to 85%. She has around 10 to 15%. Believe it or not, some of the differences between Catholics and Protestants are essentially the same as between Sunnis and Shiites. So Shiites believe in one divine figure, who's actually more powerful than the pope than forgotten, because he's appointed by God. And he's a descendant of the Prophet and he has supernatural powers. So he's called the Imam with a capital I, he is the one figure. And for Sudanese, it's very Protestant and that there's no one finger people come together and make decisions, etc. So I have actually given a number of talks
there online, there's this is a very detailed topic, and I would not mind at all talking to you. But that's a whole different tangent. In a nutshell, it is important to understand history and politics. Historically speaking, these two communities have had tensions, there's no denying that. But there has never been an all out war on all without bloodshed between them, except in the last 30 years.
And so one needs to take a step back and ask what's going on? Why, even though these sects go back 1200 years, they've never actually been at each other's throats, the way that they have been for the last three decades, ie, you know, in my lifetime, you know, and in our own lifetimes, you go back even 50 years, you know, to the 15th to the 30th. It there was no such thing going on. So this leads to my second point, that's politics. And obviously, we don't want to start that tangent, but I will, I will.
It really deals with it really deals with political anger and sectarian disenfranchisement. Let me give you a simple example of Iraq and Saddam Hussein's simple example. Okay. And the reason why it's awkward is because
I know this from experience, because I talk about this all the time, where ISIS and the rise of radical Islam and whatnot, it's really awkward to say this, because our audiences are simply unaware of the history and the baggage, but the brutal fact of the matter is, we wouldn't have this radicalism and the sectarian warfare is had it not been because of our own meddling in the region. Had it not been because of our own policies and what we've been doing for the last 40 years. Now, most of us in this audience have no clue. They really and they are they are blissfully ignorant, that's fine. But then the problem comes is easy to create a scapegoat those Muslims, their religious
texts, it's very easy to create a bogeyman. And when we look at the mirror and we take a long and hard and difficult look about why has there never been one suicide bomber in the history of Iraq, 1400 years
Islam never won suicide bomber until 2004. After the American quote unquote invasion, one needs to think about that. Right. And again, this is really awkward, but the very person we deposed was our ally and friend and henchmen. Our supporter, we sold him the very weapons we claimed he had. And again, this is really awkward. And I don't want to go down this tangent, Google my name, Google, ISIS, radical Islam on YouTube and my name and I've given plenty of lectures, where Yes, indeed, I criticize my co religionists, ISIS are a bunch of free, you know, fringe lunatics. They're mad men, but they wouldn't exist, had it not been for political circumstances, much of which we bear the
blame to So to answer your question, Saddam Hussein was our ally. We supported him in the 80s against Iran. We sold him weapons of mass destruction. We sold him chemical weapons that he used against his own people. And when he was doing what he wanted to do, that was fine and great. And he wrote and Saddam was a shrewd, Machiavellian politician. He really was a very evil man, I don't have any sympathy for him. He used sectarianism to buttress his own standing. Iraq was around 55%, Sunni, 45% Shiite, so Iraq had a huge percentage of Shia, he was worried about the Shiites. So what he did was, he used sectarianism, he fomented sectarianism for a solid 15 or 20 years, right, so that when
he was deposed, now the other side wants revenge.
And that revenge was given also, because we appointed the next person neutral Maliki, who was a fanatic Shiite, we appointed we appointed him the Prime Minister. So again, you can see I can go down this tangent, and it's a whole different tangent, Google.
Let me let me just quickly say that that's a great question before and thank you for that. Before we Christians get a little too smug. And believe Franklin Graham, who says that Islam is a violent religion, have them read the history of Christianity, okay.
I believe but I want to go down this path that you don't want to go down on the politics, and ask the rabbi and the minister, something that happened to me yesterday, so I'm going to church yesterday. Yeah. And after it's over, do people I care deeply about come up to me and say, my wife and I are Republicans, and I am having trouble continuing going to this church? Because they're all left wing liberal sermons, just like the two of y'all preach? And how is it that we can be a part of this congregation? Well, first of all, David kustoff, is an honorable member of this congregation. And so Steve Cohen.
So we don't religion. I think the church has it right in Washington, DC. The reason why the National Cathedral is the highest point in the city of DC, is because religion is supposed to transcend politics, not issues and not policies, the Republicans who are as offended with the dropping of wastewater into Oklahoma causing 907 earthquakes, as there are Democrats who do so.
I think you lose people. When you start with the small pneus of politics is about interests.
I hope justice is a larger interest than than a party. So is your what I want to know. You know, from you, Scott, I was gonna ask you privately, in front of Aaron, how many doctors work at Churchill? We have 1000. who volunteer? How many are from Muslim countries? Would you say or countries abroad? How do you feel? Forget it's not about republican democrat or the president? Who was who some didn't like or the president who is? What's your experience with this issue? and doctors? Are their doctors on h1 b visas? Or do I have it wrong? Dr. conda cards here, he and I are working right now. I'm trying to figure out a way where at cross town, you know, how can we make
this a welcoming place for especially Muslim doctors to come and pray five times a day? I think it makes a lot of sense. You know, how do we engage in that? So yeah, we have of those 1000 doctors, several 100 or so I want to quote you know, I'm gonna call you I'm not passing the buck and they can answer it but when you dedicated Church Health, I read the quote, I was praying here was the Sabbath. Sorry, we couldn't go.
But you said we, in God's imagination. We can't solve healthcare in Washington, but we sure can address it here in Memphis. And you know or Steve right the the Jewish comedian said It's a small world but I wouldn't want to paint it
I I really think you know, he a lot of people don't know in
osers quick, 85%, Sunni, 15% Shia, they're how many mosques in Memphis? Eight, how many are Sunni? How many? And then how many churches? Let's see, well, you're more. You're the one who said they're more churches and gas stations. Is that true? There are 2000 churches in Memphis. So please go. So how do you deal with it? Isn't bill Gibbons a member of your church? And he's a saint if there ever was one. Yes, yes. And he's a republican. So a couple of things? Several?
That's a great question. And one of the joys I have is serving on walls that we don't all think alike. My spiritual and intellectual growth has always come from people who differ from me who have different experiences, who have different religions, different cultures, the LGBT community, Republicans, Democrats, or whatever, that has been my growing hair too. So I'm thankful for those that that might differ from me. Several months ago, the lectionary was on Micah six, eight was Lord required to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. I think that was the week after the band. So I, I was pretty forthright about where I felt Christians should be. And I opened the door
to those who might disagree. And sure enough, several, because I said I need to learn from you. And so we began a very small conversation about so are we talking about our own interests? Are we talking about the or something much bigger, like the gospel? But I think we can all the other thing? How's it going? How's that going? How's it conversation? Well, I still have a job. I mean, you know,
the, the other thing, I think, and guess what I started here a little to talk about was that you cannot,
you cannot talk about justice without talking something about the public arena of the political arena, you simply can't do it. The Prophet did not say, let charity roll down like waters and righteousness, like an ever flowing stream, we need charitable acts is let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness, like an ever flowing stream. And I just don't think there's any way for people of the Christian faith, to avoid somehow wrestling with that. They have some good response, they have some good things that I can learn from. But I'm hoping that we aren't talking about something less than the gospel.
I would replace the word tour, I don't know how you cannot be obsessed with justice, no matter what your path to God, unless you're the last word. But here we are approaching the assassination of kings, the commemoration of 49th, year at 601. Next week, and what most people forget about him is he wasn't poor. He came from a fairly well off family. He was just obsessed with justice. He was obsessed with poor people. And I think it's more incumbent on those of us who are privileged. I don't mean that just materially but with freedoms, to be obsessed with this, it's our issue. It shouldn't be their issue. But yes, sir.
Well, I mean, there's not much to add. That's exactly the theme of my talk here. And that is, if you want to walk in the footsteps of the prophets, those of us that have a little bit more freedoms, must speak on behalf of those that don't. And one of the ways we're going to have to do that is to get to know the other, rather than to make assumptions about the other.
You need to go and interact with the very people that maybe even some of us marginalized, maybe even our understandings are incorrect. How can we stand up and defend them when we don't even know who they are? Right. And I mean, I don't mind mentioning this. We have somebody that comes in helps our, my wife works, I work and we have some worker, I mean, helper that comes in cleans and whatnot. And I were very close to her. And we I asked her point blank, I said, and she's very she knows me as a cleric and whatnot. I said, How are you guys finding that, you know, you can understand her ethnicity and background, right? How are you finding the Trump, you know, Ban and whatnot. And I
could see her face change. She was genuinely scared.
And I told her, if anything happens, I will protect you can come to this house, bring your kids here, she has two daughters are going to school. Her husband's a hard worker, you know, she toils her, you know, all day long and she gets underpaid whatnot. I mean, these are people that have dreams aspirations, without humanizing them and we just take their facts from from from TV or from sensationalist news or from you know, oh, one immigrant did such a crime. Well, okay, how about the 99.999% or better than us, more honest than us more hard working than us more ethical than us? Right? It's, it's just, it's so sad that we don't realize how blinded we are with our own privilege.
And we just make these assumptions about the other, how are you going to stand up and defend them when we don't even know who they are so really interesting.
Conclusion, just interact with people that are outside of your little niche, my little niche. And then when you realize something's going wrong, something's not right. If you and I truly believe in the profits, we truly believe that there is a God out there who wants us to do something. Well then our faith is composed, not just a theology, not just of abstract issues, but of action, and you're not a man of God, if you're not acting upon the message of God.