Archive for the ‘tarunjit singh butalia’ tag
by Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia
from Huffington Post
In the interreligious movement, Oct. 27, 1986 stands out as a landmark moment when Pope John Paul II convened representatives of the world’s religions to gather at the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italy to pray together for the first time in history.
25 years ago at the closing of the Assisi World Day of Prayer, Pope John Paul II remarked:
“For the first time in history, we have come together from every where, Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and World Religions, in this sacred place dedicated to Saint Francis, to witness before the world, each according to his own conviction, about the transcendent quality of peace. The form and content of our prayers are very different, as we have seen, and there can be no question of reducing them to a kind of common denominator. Yes, in this very difference we have perhaps discovered anew that, regarding the problem of peace and its relation to religious commitment, there is something which binds us together.”
Two and a half decades later, Pope Benedict XVI invited nearly three hundred representatives of the religions of the world as well as a few non-believers to participate in the 25th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace: A Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Justice and Peace in the World, on the theme Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace.
by Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia
While growing up as a kid in northern India in the early 1980s, I fondly remember one of my best friends in high school, Sher Ali Khan. He was a devout Muslim.
While in 9th grade, Sher Ali called me over to his home for the Islamic festival of Eid. The food at the table was overflowing and beautifully decorated. But a dilemma faced me soon. All the meat on the table was halal – a special religious technique of preparation of meat in the Islamic faith that I as a Sikh was forbidden to eat, due to the Sikh Rehat Maryada (Principles of Sikh Living). So I chose to stay a silent vegetarian that day partaking only of vegetables and sweets.
A couple of months later, he was over at our home for dinner and we had cooked meat without any religious preparation. Since the meat was not halal, Sher Ali became a vegetarian for that meal.
At that time I thought that our religions were getting in the way of our friendship. But as I reflect on it now, it seems that we were learning how to negotiate our religious differences.
In 1989, I came to the United States to pursue my Ph.D. degree at The Ohio State University. I was at least an ocean and continent away from my parents and family.
The first question I asked myself was “do I even want to continue being religious?” After significant introspection, the answer became clear: yes, I wanted to be religious. But this was followed by another question: “what religious tradition should I be a part of?”
I remember approaching a local member of the Catholic clergy asking for his advice on what religious path to consider pursuing. His response surprised me. He asked me to look deeply into the faith I had grown up in and asked me to come back to him after giving my faith one more chance.
As you may have guessed by now, I never went back to that priest. But I am indebted to him for his advice. Here was someone from another religious tradition that helped me to grow in my own religious tradition. His advice on spirituality transcended the boundaries of religion.
Today, as I reflect on my friendship with my Muslim high school friend and the Catholic spiritual adviser, it is clear to me that the many diverse religions of the world are complimentary to each other and not in competition with each other. These are values upon which the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions is built upon.
Mutual respect and understanding across religious boundaries is a fundamental need of humanity today. The interfaith and inter-religious movements are at a critical juncture. How do we expand the circle of those engaged in this work, and how do we deepen the engagement of those already involved? These are the issues that the Parliament helps to address so we can make this world a safer and more just place for our children and grandchildren.
Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia is the Secretary General of the World Sikh Council – America Region, Moderator of Religions for Peace – USA, board member of North American Interfaith Network, member of Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, member of Board of Trustees of the National Religious Coalition Against Torture, and a member of the Board of Scholars and Practitioners of The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue. He also serves as the President of the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio.