Parliament World Religions Day 5

An environmental protester, a performance artist, greets us as we enter the PWR – photograph and brief ABC article at environmental protest

I attended an early morning observance led by a Sufi Imam on, “So that you may know one another”: the call for social cohesion in the Quran”. Sufism, mystical Islam, emphasizes experience of God. An illustration: it is only possible to describe eating an apple by saying, for example, that it is sweet. But to know what an apple tastes like you must eat an apple – experiential knowledge. The whirling dirvishes dance from last night’s program is a form of entering into a trance to deepen spiritual experience.

The verse, “So that you may know one another” comes from Sura (Quran chapter) 49:13 which our presenter said was the most famous verse in the Quran. It speaks of Enjoining goodness; Personal transformations; and Inter-personal principles. Social cohesion is the result of human joining with the attributes of God. Thus a sufi practises: Dedication to God; Acts of mercy; Remembrance of God and his attributes; Take our worship into privacy; and strip ourselves of all desires.

In conversation the Sufi Imam said there is no Islamic country in the world: Saudi Arabia is Muslim majority populated but not Islamic. On the role of women he stated that in the West women have been reduced to an economic dollar value. He supported this from Anne Summers, ‘The End of Equality’ which he stated demonstrates the decline of the status of women in Australia. By way of contrast the high value of women in Islam is shown by the fact that a woman’s prayer at home is the value of a man’s prayer at the mosque. This is also why women do not have to go to the mosque.

Participants speak on Social Cohesion, a PWR theme, at ABC video re Social Cohesion.

 I have struggled through a number of the theological tomes of German theologian Hans Kung and it was good to see and hear him in the flesh. He presented ‘A New Ethical Manifesto for the Global Economy’ at the first session and then a further round table conversation. Felicitously, I was joined here by Ian Harper and we were able to chat a bit over lunch. Roland Ashby from The Melbourne Anglican seized the opportunity and we are each to write for the February edition! Ian on the Kung manifesto and myself on the collectivity of sin. The Ethics’ manifesto is a well researched appeal to the moral basis of our life together. The Manifesto is here.

”Laws are not enough,” Dr Kung told the Parliament of the World’s Religions. ”You need the political will to fight corruption, greed and aggrandisement. But the political will is often weak because it is not accompanied by ethical will.” See Barney Zwartz Creed v greed: an ethical charter.

The role of the followers of Jesus to live and engage in the moral basis of our personal and collective life is as imperative as when Jesus asked us to be salt and light in society. (Matthew 5:13-16)

 Also by Barney Zwartz re different religions in Australia catholic church bolstered by immigrants to Australia

 Further posts can be found at: Parliament of Religions – It’s coming!, and at Multi-faith society – an oxymoron? and also at Parliament World Religions Day-1 and at Parliament World Religions Day 1 and Parliament World Religions Day 2 and Parliament World Religions Day 3 and Parliament World Religions Day 4.

Further videos, photos and news available at 2009 Parliament Coverage.

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