Dr. Eboo Patel was the main speaker who spoke eloquently on the great utility of Interfaith understanding, particularly among the youth.
“Because people have different views, their interpretation of religion and its influence on society is subjective, leading to stereotyping and clash of civilizations,” said Dr. Hisham Altalib speaking at the “Understanding Interfaith Conference” organized by the Center of Interfaith Study and Dialogue (CISD) at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, on April 11 – 13, 2010.
Speaking about the influence of religion, Dr. Altalib observed that “no one knows if God is on his or her side, even though they claim to be on the side of God.” He added that “two observers examining history may conclude that religion is the best influence or it is the worst influence. Each can claim to be right because of how they interpret religion through a narrow prism, stereotyping and clash of civilizations.”Dr. Altalib emphasized IIIT’s continuing partnership with Nazareth College and presented the President with the IIIT’s gift of support for CISD’s fruitful endeavors. “There is no doubt that CISD is unique in the sense that it achieved a lot in the area of Academia, as well as outreaching to the communities, thus combining Academia with community dialogue,” Dr. Altalib said.
Interfaith Perspectives on Earth-Friendly living was the third subject of preserving and sustaining the environment (the Air, Water, and Earth). The discussants recognized that Mankind was only a trustee on earth. We don’t own it and it is not only for us; it is for animals, plants, and birds also. We need to keep it pure for ourselves and the many generations to come after us. We are made from earth, to it we return, and from it we will be resurrected as the Qur’an emphasizes.
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, gave the last address on Tuesday morning. He narrated how he separated himself from an environment of violence and counter-violence as a young man, and spoke of his continuing work to improve understanding among people of different faiths.
The Conference was well attended by the peoples of Abrahamic faiths, as well as Hindus and Buddhists. Dr. Mohammad Shafiq, the Executive Director of the Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue, ended the Conference thanking the participants and praying for success and peace for everyone in the interfaith endeavor.