Abraham’s Table on Religion and Violence: An Evening of Hope and Collaboration

Peace Islands Institute organized an Abraham’s Table panel on ‘Violence in the Name of Religion’ in collaboration with Interfaith Works of Central New York. Representatives from the three Abrahamic religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism) discussed the theme, searching for answers to some of the key questions taken up during the panel discussion: What should be a multifaith response to killing in the name of religion? What should be a religious person’s stance toward violent acts conducted in the name of religion?

The event featured three panelists. Dr. Miriam Elman, Father Linus DeSantis, and Tanweer Haq.

Dr. Elman is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University. She approached the issue from the Judaic perspective. In her remarks, Elman underlined the need “to develop a culture of dialog in families, schools, and temples.” She also stressed that money and power, rather than religion, are driving people to committing acts of violence. She added that lack of formal education in certain parts of the world was also a major cause of youth falling into cycles of violence.

Father Linus DeSantis, Catholic Chaplain at Syracuse University, began his remarks with reference to Christianity’s universal message for mercy and love. He further emphasized the role of money and power as one of the driving forces behind violence committed in name of religion.

Islamic perspective, relayed by Tanweer Haq, Director of Muslim Student Life at Syracuse University, pointed to the overarching message of Islam embodied in Al-Fatihah, the first surah of the Holy Quran. Haq noted that the Quran emphasizes there the unity of humanity and God’s mercy for all. Focusing on Islam’s strong emphasis on compassion and justice, Mr. Haq underscored the senselessness of violence in the name of religion.

Panelists’ remarks were followed by a vibrant question and answer session. The panel discussion highlighted the importance of interfaith collaboration to address violence and extremism. The event came to a close with a reception where event participants carried the discussion further.


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