Building a Diverse Faith Community
By: Amy Spohr
December 2, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, my Catholic Bible study group sat in on a Muslim Halaqa, a Muslim discussion group. I was both nervous because I did not know what to expect and excited for this new experience. When my group arrived at the Muslim group's gathering place, we were greeted with smiles and ice cream. After introductions and moving to the Musallah, we sat down and started a discussion on forgetfulness. It was odd for me to hear Qu'ran and Allah mentioned in their readings, as I had only heard these terms in class when talking about Muslims; I had never heard someone who was actually Muslim use the terms. The Muslim group started the talks, and after a little while I started to realize that what they were talking about was no different than what my group had talked about just the week before. We discussed finding time to pray and how we sometimes forget God or Allah even while in prayer. The discussion quickly became one that I thoroughly enjoyed and one that gave me a lot of insight.
Besides the discussion itself being beneficial, I benefited also from learning that the Muslim community was not so different from my Catholic community. We face the same issues in our faith life on campus and have similar views on the importance of prayer and God/Allah. Though our faiths are different in some aspects of worship and scripture, the basis of faith is basically the same: there is one God and we must live the best lives possible in order to live with Him in eternity. We pray in petition and we pray in worship and we pray in thanksgiving. We do good deeds to help our fellow man. Only the little things are different. I truly found this experience enlightening, and I could not wait for the Muslim group to sit in on my Catholic Bible study, which was another incredible experience. I believe that interfaith discussion benefits all, both in everyone's own faith and in building a more accepting and diverse faith community.