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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
News Editor

I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Tolerance is key in interfaith harmony

Although I knew the thoughts I wanted to express when I began writing this were all there, I had no clue how to organize them or what to use as a title when I was done. This was not surprising, for the bafflement was predictable. In fact, the subject I am addressing today is perplexing by its very nature to those who welcome deep thoughts if, and when, they take the necessary leap and contemplate it. What I would like to share are my thoughts about interfaith harmony and religious pluralism.

My experience of living in predominantly Muslim country (Egypt) until my early 20s in a relatively tolerant family was not exactly common, but it was not exactly rare either. Sadly, starting in the mid-50’s this milieu began to change as religious fundamentalism began to rise, for whatever reasons.

Perhaps it is my personal experience that leads me to blame fundamentalism (in any faith) for hideously negative crops of consequences. French scholar and analyst of the Islamic and Arab world, Gilles Kepel, described in his book “The Revenge of God” a global resurgence of “religiosity” dating back to the early 70s. Kepel’s thesis is that this “phenomena” was not confined to one faith.

One cannot escape the realities we currently live in. All we see is fundamentalism in its most extreme forms belonging only to Muslims committing destruction, proudly claiming that they are doing so in the name of their faith.

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I am referring to the hateful bigotry committed by those who claim that their savagery, against anyone they label as an “infidel,” is their very ticket to receive God by blowing themselves up amongst populations of innocent, non-combative, vulnerable civilians. This is certainly not all that new to humanity. But having dark ages that preceded us does not offer cognitive or emotional respite, nor will it ever earn the rank of an excuse, let alone a reason. The tragic, common, and consistent thread in the fabric of this madness has been, is and can continue to be religious bigotry.

This leads me to a pressing, timely and desperate need for interfaith harmony and religious pluralism. We are so privileged to be living in a country and a culture that, even with its flaws, continues to be a beacon for democracy, respect of human rights and enlightened tolerance.

It is my belief that while we are not perfect, we are more advanced than some who have no respect for human rights, or even life. For that I am viscerally grateful, but I like to do more than enjoy my feelings of gratefulness alone.

A major tenet of Islam is Sadaqua (tiding), which means a sharing of whatever one feels most grateful about, and a major tenet for a teacher (which is what I am) is to help others learn. Now, a casual reader may hastily think that I am promoting an Islamic principle, but the truth is I am promoting a good principle which is in the core of the teachings of any faith, including Islam.
What I want to encourage is an environment of mutual respect, appreciation and understanding of one another, irrespective of what faith we follow or not follow. I truly believe that the paradigm of “my faith is better than yours,” or worse, “my God is bigger than yours” is the surest way to lose all that we hold dear.

I am inviting you, the reader, to examine why Ebbo Patel was selected as one of America’s best leaders of 2009. Who is Ebbo, you ask? He is the author of “Acts of Faith” and the founder of America’s Interfaith Youth Core. If by any chance you find a bubble of interest and/or curiosity about how we might promote such harmony and pluralism, without getting mired in theological debates, feel free to contact me in my role as the academic advisor of NMU’s Student Interfaith Club.

Editors note : Mohey Mowafy is a professor of health and nutrition at NMU in the HPER department. The Professor’s Corner is a weekly column written by various faculty. Any professor interested in writing should contact the opinions editor at [email protected].

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