In New York, speaking out for freedom and diversity might mean joining a vigil at 7:15 pm Friday evening September 10 at 51 Park Place [near the Park Place stop of the #2 or #3 subway], the location of the Muslim-rooted community/ cultural center that has been the object of both attack and warm support. That date/time has been chosen by the support group New York Neighbors for American Values. (See their website here. )
Some religious folk have urged that gatherings in synagogues, churches, and/ or public places on September 11 or 12 read together from the Quran, Torah and Talmud, the Christian Gospels, and other sacred texts.
Since many American Jewish and Christian households may not have a Quran at hand, we have selected just three passages that lend themselves to the message of peace, dialogue, and compassion.
"There shall be no coercion in matters of faith." (2:257 [Asad])
"Behold, we have created you all from a single male and female, and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to deeply know one another [not to hate and despise each other]. Truly, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of God. Behold, God is all-knowing, all aware." (49:13 [Asad])
"True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west -- but truly pious is he who believes in God, and the Last Day; and the angels, and revelation, and the prophets; and spends his substance -- however much he himself may cherish -- it -- upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues; and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God." (2:177 [Asad])
These translations come from Muhammad Asad's The Message of the Qur'an: The Full Account of the Revealed Arabic Text Accompanied by Parallel Transliteration (publ by The Book Foundation, England, 2003). This edition includes many many notes citing authoritative Muslim scholars explaining the texts.
Some texts that seem much more violent also appear in the Quran. So do such texts in the Torah, the Gospels, the Upanishads, etc. But the great teachers of all our traditions have insisted that “all their paths are peace.” All teach that some version of “Love your neighbor as yourself” is the central wisdom.
Ah-meyn, ah-min, amen!