Religious leaders focus on similarities on World Peace Day
Religious leaders at a prayer service Sunday involving followers of several different faiths did not set out to change the world in one sitting. But they say cooperation and friendship among the faiths could help solve some of the world's biggest problems.
"We seem to have a tendency of keeping away from others to not lose our own culture," said Anees Rahman, a member of the Islamic Center of Naperville. "But it will help to learn other cultures and religions and understand our differences."
Rahman gave one of four presentations at the sixth annual World Peace Day Inter-Faith Prayer Service, an event held in Naperville's United Church of Christ. The day focused around each religion's interpretation of showing compassion.
After Bernie Newman of Congregation Beth Shalom in Naperville implored those in attendance to comfort those in need, Rahman said the event's goal was the promotion of mutual respect and tolerance for other religions.
"In order to have mutual respect and tolerance, we must know a little bit about each other," Rahman said. "Remember what we teach our kids, 'Stranger Danger'? We need to get away from that (in religion)."
Rahman also went on to condemn the New Year's Day suicide bombing in Egypt that killed 21 Christians.
"In every faith there is good and bad," he said after the service. "It's important to separate from the bad people. It's very important to speak out against that."
Although he agreed that the negative headlines tend to dominate, he also said it was important for the Muslim community to speak out.
"They do concentrate on the negatives," he said. "But we need to do more positive." He said that was one reason the Islamic Center became one of the event's sponsors.
The one-hour service also included members of the Chicago chapter of Buddha's Light International Association and the Bahai Community of Naperville.
The Rev. Bob Bossie of the 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago told the crowd of about 100 that they should emphasize the common themes that hold true in all religions, including adherence to the "Golden Rule."
"It exists in one form or another in just about every religion that exists today," he said. "Our children desperately need and want this from us. They are trusting us to create a better world."
Newman and his congregation take students to services of different faiths to emphasize just how many similarities there are between them.
"The things that are important to us, how we celebrate the holidays, what we feel is the point of life, things like that, that will help us overcome our differences," he said.