I have worked over the years with building Jewish-Muslim relations in Chicago by co-chairing the Jewish Muslim Community Building Initiative of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, a social justice organization. Our shul has hosted every year an Iftar meal for Muslims to break their Ramadan fast and to come together – after Jews davening Mincha and Ma’ariv and the Muslims praying their Salat (in the JCC) – in camaraderie and friendship. We learn during the year, frequently with a rabbi and an imam presenting their own respective religion’s take on a biblical/Q’ur’anic story or an issue such as health care. The letter below is from the head of the largest Muslim organization in Chicago, which includes the diversity of the Muslim community – Arabs and non-Arabs – and even the controversial CAIR-Chicago. I think the letter speaks for itself:
(CHICAGO- OCTOBER 29, 2010) – The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago stands with our faith partners and the Jewish community in condemning the recent terrorist act to send explosives through cargo airlines to Jewish organizations in Chicago.
President Barack Obama declared today that authorities had uncovered a “credible terrorist threat” against the United States following the overseas discovery of U.S.-bound packages containing explosives aboard cargo jets. President Obama said both had been addressed to Jewish organizations in the Chicago area.
“We are thankful to our law enforcement agencies to uncover this plot before it could cause any harm,” said Dr. Zaher Sahloul, chairperson of the Council. “Illinois Muslims stand united with our Jewish partners and organizations in condemning this terrorist and heinous act. There is no place in Islam for terrorizing innocent people or spreading mayhem.”
“We urge our fellow citizens to stay alert and cooperate with law enforcement agencies,” said Mohamad Nasir, executive director of the Council. “This is our duty. One of the best ways to fight the perverted message of terrorists and protect our homeland is to affirm our patriotism through civic work, interfaith action and voting in large numbers on November 2nd.”
Peace has not broken out in the world, and Jews and Israel still have our enemies who wish to destroy us at any opportunity. But at least we have come to the point where the local Jewish and Muslim communities can work together as “faith partners”. Words do mean something, and the words are sweet.