On Tuesday morning I asked God to keep me open to any opportunities to network that might come my way that day. That afternoon I was asked by Salwa/Sally Kader, President of U.S. Federation for Middle East Peace, to speak as the Christian voice in a dialogue between the three Abrahamic faiths. The dialogue was held yesterday in the North building of the UN. We simply shared our faith journeys and expressed how our faith calls us to be people of peace.
We had a wonderful time. I immediately connected with my Jewish dialogue partner, June Jacobs, CBE, who is a delightful woman. She received this honor from Queen Elizabeth for her work in human rights and inter-faith relations. She spoke of leaving London as a small child to live with relatives in Massachusetts at the beginning of WWII. Her parents feared England would go the way of the rest of Europe and so sent the children abroad. She is the former President of the International Council of Jewish Women, and sits on several boards dedicated to Jewish culture and peace.
The woman who was to speak about her Islamic faith could not attend. So, Shagufta Omar of the International Islamic University in Islamabad stepped in from the audience. She shared several texts from the Koran that address the rights of women, including the right to education, prohibition of infanticide, right to refuse a marriage, and the right of inheritance and the right to keep her possessions after marriage.
We were reminded by poet Herminia Littleton, a women from the the Philippians, that when members of his congregation asked Mohammed for guidance he often told them to “Ask Aisha”, his second wife. Aisha also taught Mohammed’s followers after his death. Ms. Littleton, whose mother was killed by the Japanese during WWII, described her own childhood journey of moving from hate to forgiveness. She reminded us to “Open the window of your heart and let the spirit go in and out.”
It has been an incredible privilege to be here and share faith and ideas with so many powerful, resourceful and peace loving women and men.