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Interfaith connections, discussion spark worldwide dialogue at Abu Dhabi conference

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, near downtown Abu Dhabi Photo: Rabbi Andrew M. Paley

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, near downtown Abu Dhabi
Photo: Rabbi Andrew M. Paley

Temple Shalom’s Paley attends event to promote interaction

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

Rabbi Andrew Paley traveled to the other side of the world to help promote, and learn a bit more about, interfaith relationships around the world.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah (center) with Pastor Bob Roberts (left) at a gathering at the Sheikh’s home

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah (center) with Pastor Bob Roberts (left) at a gathering at the Sheikh’s home

Paley, from Temple Shalom, was among a group of more than 30 religious leaders that were part of An American Caravan for Peace, Faith, Trust and the Common Good: Working from the Marrakesh Declaration, which was held in Abu Dhabi.

Evangelical ministers, rabbis, and imams from 10 American cities made the trip for the three-day conference and to promote interfaith relations.
“The goal was that we would be able to create a working plan of interaction between the Evangelical, Jewish and Muslim communities,” Paley said, “whereby we would have educational and relational kinds of opportunities for our communities to come together. We were not solving world peace, we weren’t talking about any regional issues; this was really about building bridges within our communities.”
It turned into a thoughtful and thorough discussion.
“We spent the day discussing the obstacles to bringing us together in our religious communities and our communities in general,” Paley said. “We wanted to find and discuss ways we could come together and see what ideas and thoughts we could draw from the Marrakesh Declaration.”
Paley said there were already some interfaith connections in the Dallas area, but he worked on more specifics and looked at examples from others during the event.

The Banner of the Conference sponsored by the Forum For Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies

The Banner of the Conference sponsored by the Forum For Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies

“We talked about really specific dialogues among our communities here in Texas,” Paley said. “The idea was that faith leaders would come together a little bit better and create a trust, not just a working relationship but help to create a friendship. And then, work to create real programmatic opportunities for the congregations to come together, not just for a meal, but for some sort of social action program,” Paley continued, “where we could work side-by-side with each other. That’s one of the big things we discussed in Abu Dhabi.”
The conference was organized and hosted by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, who has been one of the foremost Islamic leaders in promoting interfaith peace.

In January 2016, Bin Bayyah was amongst the leaders who presented the Marrakesh Declaration in Morocco. The declaration, which represented more than 250 Islamic leaders, addressed and championed the rights of religious minorities in predominantly Islamic countries.

The goal of the declaration was to help create better understanding and dialogue between various faiths worldwide. That was the goal when Paley traveled to Abu Dhabi.

All the participants in front of the Grand Mosque

All the participants in front of the Grand Mosque

“I wasn’t very familiar with Sheikh Bin Bayyah up until the phone call (about going),” Paley said. “I quickly realized that this was going to be a potentially very powerful moment to bring people together. I had no idea what to expect. I knew some of the rabbis who went, but most of the others I didn’t know.”
Paley said he also enjoyed sightseeing in Abu Dhabi, and he left the conference particularly impressed with Sheikh Bin Bayyah.

Paley at the start of the opening session of the conference

Paley at the start of the opening session of the conference

“To see the Sheikh and what he’s working on over there, and to be part of that hopefulness and work for healing over here (in Texas), was very powerful,” Rabbi Paley said. “He’s in his 80s and he’s doing his part to make his world a better place, and it was very special to be a part of.”

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