Interfaith Program

1 March 2012
Rafidia (Nablus)

Al-Liqa’ and Sabeel Centers held a study day in the city of Rafidia (Nablus). More than sixty Christian and Muslim clerics attended, in addition to lay people from the Governorates of Bethlehem, Nablus, and Ramallah.
His Excellency Bishop Atallah Hanna welcomed conferees and emphasized the need to hold such study days and encounters, as they contribute greatly to knowing each other, the other’s belief, and spiritual legacy. Furthermore, events like this strengthen the unity of the Palestinian people.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Geries S. Khoury expresed his happiness that the study day was held despite the very bad weather, which had caused many people to send their regrets and not attend. Needless to say, rain for Palestine is a blessing from God.
Dr. Khoury mentioned that Al-Liqa’ and Sabeel Centers anticipate hosting a series of encounters and study days in 2012. Those interested in this joint program can get more details on the Al-Liqa’ Center’s website.
Dr. Khoury emphasized the importance of these gatherings for everyone. They yield religious and academic benefits and lead to friendship and necessary conversation between Christian and Muslim religious leaders and lay people throughout the Palestinian cities and villages where they live. This deepens national unity. Dr. Khoury thanked Dr. ‘Abd Al-Rahman ‘Abbad and Fr. Joseph Saghbini for their willingness to be the main speakers for the study day, whose theme revolved around the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Bible. The topics and speakers built bridges between the followers of the two religions.
The first lecture was delivered by Dr. ‘Abbad and Fr. Saghbini. Rev. Ibrahim Nirouz moderated. It was Rev. Nirouz who made available his church’s hall for the study day. He mentioned that the doors of his church will always be open to those who want to further national unity and shared living.
Dr. ‘Abbad began his lecture by emphasizing that Islam is the religion of love which calls for dialogue with people of the Book. He read and explained some verses of the Qur’an and gave examples how Islam respects human life and in the process he quoted the following Qur’anic verse: “On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people” (Al-Ma’ida,32). Dr. ‘Abbad, in addition, explained the differences between a pagan (- مشركMushrik) and those who go astray ( ضال- dhal) and between disbelief (كفر) and unbeliever(كافر) in the Qur’an.
Dr. ‘Abbad’s lecture was followed by Fr. Joseph Saghbini who focused in his speech on the Christian teachings saying that it encourages faithful to love one another and to love all other humans. He mentioned also that the message of the church is to encourage the faithful to respect one another and to treat others as brothers and sisters since all were created in the image of God.
Following a Lunch break attendees were divided into three discussion groups that examined the issue of common moral and ethical values to Christians and Muslims. Then each of the three discussion groups presented their findings. This was followed with general discussion concerning the study day and future horizons.
In conclusion, Islamic propagator (Da’iyah) Zuheir al-Dibi’ summarized the study day and expressed the dire need of such days in order to strengthen relations between Christians and Muslims. The concluding remarks were by Rev. Dr. Na’im ‘Ateeq, Director of Sabeel. He thanked all those present, as well as Al-Liqa’ Center for its cooperation with the Sabeel Center. He commented in a beautiful way on the term “God is Great,” in the hope that these encounters and meetings would continue, grateful to everyone who attended.

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