Christian-Muslim Ramadan Reflections
- Created on Wednesday, 02 July 2014
BISMILLAH and ISA
During Ramadan 2012 I wrote a series of Christian-Muslim reflections. These reflections were not an apologetic for one religion against another - of Christianity over against Islam or Islam over against Christianity. Rather this series of reflections were by a Christian in conversation with Muslim friends seeking to explore the significance of the spirituality of compassion represented in the Bismillah, the simple yet profound invocation which translates as “In the name of God, the most Gracious, the most Compassionate”.
I shared a single reflection each day on the Bismillah with my friends on my Facebook page. And I had so many Muslims, Christians and Jews respond positively and appreciatively to my reflections that Radio National decided to broadcast my “Ramadan Diary” on “The Spirit of Things” on September 2, 2012. You can listen to the broadcast of these reflections on the Bismillah with Rachael Kohn on The Spirit of Things: here
A collection of these reflections, with an introductions and conclusion written by my friends Nora Amath, of AMARAH, Australian Muslim Advocates for the Rights of All Humanity and Halim Rane, Deputy Director, Griffith Islamic Research Unit and Senior Lecturer, National Centre of Excellence in Islamic Studies, was published by Mosaic Press as ‘BISMILLAH – Christian-Muslim Ramadan Reflections’
It was my hope - indeed, my deepest, heartfelt prayer - that Muslims would give this book to Christians, Christians would give this book to Muslims, and Christians and Muslims would come together, read and reflect on what we can learn from each other about the spirituality of compassion represented in the Bismillah, which so beautifully celebrates the most amazing Grace and most amazing Compassion that is at the heart of God.
Since then I have had many conversations with Muslim friends about Isa (Jesus) as an embodiment of the Grace and Compassion of God exemplified in the Bismillah.
Unfortunately so many conversations between Christians and Muslims about Jesus deteriorate from dialogue into debate and debate into dispute generating more heat than light on the subject. Often this occurs because both sides want to impose their own particular view of Isa or Jesus on the other and are unwilling to respect the other person’s particular point of view. In order to avoid unnecessary and unproductive disputes, my Muslim friends and I have conducted our conversations based on those views of Isa or Jesus that the Qur’an and the Injil - as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – have in common.
This year I am fasting again with my Muslim friends. For this Ramadan I am fasting and praying and posting daily reflections on Isa or Jesus on my Dave Andrews Facebook page.
While I acknowledge the significant differences Christians and Muslims have, I am focusing on those beliefs about Isa or Jesus that Christians and Muslims have in common as the place for us to start our conversations, treating common ground as sacred ground on which we can stand, understand and speak to one another.
It is my hope Christians would find Muslim friends, and Muslim would find Christian friends, so we can fast and pray and reflect on the life of Isa or Jesus during Ramadan together.
In order to facilitate more meaningful conversations based on these reflections, at the end of the theme I will write about each week, I will suggest some questions at the end of each week that Christians may want to think about, some questions that Muslims may want to think about and then some questions that Christians and Muslims may want to talk about with each other.
A collection of these reflections, with introductions by a Christian and Muslim Scholars is published by Mosaic Press under the title ‘ISA – Christian-Muslim Ramadan Reflections’.
It is my prayer that these reflections will create more light - and less heat - in our conversations about ‘Isa, the son of Maryam, the Messenger of God.’ (4.171)
Dave Andrews, Brisbane Ramadan 2014
‘My good friend, Dave Andrews, (embodies) that “Australian soul” (that) will better facilitate harmonious coexistence and understanding in our multi-religious, multi-cultural society.’ Nora Amath – AMARAH - Australian Muslim Advocates for the Rights of All Humanity
‘Dave Andrews is a man whose life reflects consciousness of God. His personal piety, kindnesses to others and service to the needy are manifestations of Dave’s God-consciousness. Dave’s reflections demonstrate that Muslims and Christians have much to teach to and learn from each other in respect to navigating a path towards God and living according to God’s will.’ Halim Rane – GIRU - Griffith Islamic Studies Research Unit
‘Dave is already known for his positive work with both (Muslim and Christian) communities. Dave’s concern undoubtedly stems from compassion, that which the Qur’ān refers to when it declares: ‘… After those [messengers] We sent Jesus the son of Mary: We gave him the Gospel and put compassion and mercy into the hearts of his followers…’ (57:27). There is no doubt in my heart that the best way of building bridges of understanding is through respectful dialogue. Meeting people and allowing for genuine and respectful engagement helps us to grow and nurture our humanness. Dave’s approach will surely help us get closer to this noble end.’ Mohamad Abdalla - NCEIS - National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies.
‘I honestly believe (Dave) has the character that we should be embodying – (better than a majority of Muslims) - and I think that's why he has this affect on us (not being Christian). Surely refinement of character only comes with purifying one's understanding of religion. I've always been perceived by some as 'conservative', but throughout his reflections (on the Bismillah) I was in awe, because it was as if he was either reading my mind or taking the words off my tongue. May Allah grant him eternal happiness. Ameen.’ Riffat Gurdezi - Northside Da’wah Revival
‘Dave Andrews (is) enigmatic, paradoxical, yet disarmingly honest, an authentic, radical Christian, whose integrity and lived, costly commitment to the God of transforming love, both inspires and disturbs someone like me, who comes across him from time to time and regards him with deep respect. (Dave) takes seriously what it is to be truly human - and tries harder than most to live it.’ David Busch – National Australian Radio Broadcaster
‘When I met Dave Andrews, I could feel the fire burning in him. Then I heard him speak. Then I read his books. Ever since, he has been and continues to be a major inspiration for my life and work.’ Brian McLaren, Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?
'Dave Andrews (is) one of the leading prophetic voices of our time.' Mike Riddell - AltSpirit