An Open Letter to Chicago/American Muslims On behalf of the Chicago Coalition for InterReligious Learning (CCIRL)
Holiness, according to the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions, always appears through an act of sharing. Throughout our lives, G-d is present in the acts of kindness which we do for others, and which others do for us. We learn from our faiths that we must all seek out holiness in the most ordinary and mundane things, since we live in the world of the Infinite One, after all. In the case of our holy books themselves, we even find the Almighty, Omnipresent One sharing with us.
Our faiths, while diverse in structure and design, share many commonalities, but in response to unspeakable persecutions of our Muslim sisters and brothers, whether recent or long-standing, we choose to focus this letter to you on holiness. Contributions by Muslims to our wonderful city, country, and the world writ large cannot be understated. You have shared with us, and we acknowledge and revere your holy peoples.
At this point in history, all religious groups have, unfortunately, been both the victims of and perpetrators of various persecutions. It is a sad but undeniable fact that those who have not learned from others have denied themselves, and the world, an opportunity for holiness. We, the members of the Chicago Coalition for InterReligious Learning (CCIRL), believe that through sharing with each other in times of crisis we can endure the unendurable, and we hope that through shared learning experiences, we may even prevent such persecutions in the future. We find the teachings of Islamic scholars, histories, and holy writings equally as invaluable to our community as those of any other faith tradition.
We believe that ignorance begets violence, hatred, and intolerance, but also that sharing begets mutual understanding and holiness. In this time of unprecedented interconnectivity and sharing of ideas, we are all responsible for bringing holiness into the world. And we are now, as we have always been, responsible for one another. All of our Holy Scriptures and histories tell of the “Golden Rule,” of loving and doing unto one’s neighbor as one would want done unto oneself, and of the great importance to which we ascribe this rule. As the sublime Qur’an states, “For each among you We have made a divine law and an open road. And had G-d willed, He would have made you one community to try you with what He gave you so be forward in good deeds.”
Let us all heed these words, and may we continue to learn from one another. May we bring the day, speedily in our time, when the holiness of sharing prevails in our community, our world, and our lives.
The Members of the CCIRL
 Bakhtiar, Laleh. "Chapter 5:49." The Sublime Quran: Original Arabic and English Translation. [S.I.]: Library of Islam, 2009. Print. (Author’s emphasis.)
We the members of the Chicago Coalition for InterReligious Learning stand with religious and world leaders opposing the proposed ‘Koran Burning Day’ on 9/11. We are adamantly opposed to any violent desecration of texts considered to be sacred by Islam or other religions. The public burning of an effigy – holy book, national flag, human images – are acts of violence intending to evoke a violent response. Violence in the name of religion is an abuse of religion. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are centered on the values of human dignity and peace. Let us pray with our brothers and sisters around the world to end global violence in all its forms. Let us teach our students that humanity is called to live in peace for the common good of all.
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