Saturday, May 07, 2011

Confronting Islamophobia

Last night Carla, some friend and I went to hear Feisal Abdul Rauf (Imam of the "ground zero mosque") speak at St. Mark's Episcopal church in Seattle as part of a conference entitled Confronting Islamophobia.

It was very good. Rauf comes across as a humble, intelligent, eloquent and godly man (I found out later that he has a masters degree in Physics). One of his goals is to promote a moderate, spiritual form of Islam (he is a Sufi) which emphasizes a deep relationship with God "from the inside out instead of from the outside in." He has worked for the U.S. State Department, travelling to Muslim countries to promote moderation and democracy.

There were a few protestors across the street, holding up placards and a smattering of police officers posted in the church. How sad.

There was lots of Q&A. Some of those asking questions were rather rude, but Rauf was patient and unoffended. When, in answer to a question, he shared his own story about how he had a personal encounter with the presence of God as a young man, it was riveting (and not at all unlike many Christian testimonies--including my own).

I spoke with him briefly afterwards and when I mentioned that I am a Quaker he told me he has many Quaker friends and that he spoke recently at the Friends Meeting of Washington D.C.

Tonight's session was videotaped and hopefully St. Mark's will make the video available. If so, I will post excerpts here. For now, here is a local news report:
Controversial Muslim leader speaks about Islamophobia


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