Naz Qureshi

Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter


"If you have a sapling in your hand and the End of Times arrives upon you – continue planting it."

This saying, attributed to the Prophet of Islam, is one that inspires me greatly. This statement begs the question, why go to all the effort for a tree that will not bear fruit in that moment when the world is ending? This hadith teaches that no matter what the circumstances may be, or how futile your efforts may seem, it is one's responsibility to continue contributing.

I am not a scholar of religious study, nor am I a religious leader. My career is entirely in the secular realm of Government. My education, apart from personal religious education or religion electives taken in University, consists of undergraduate degrees in Science and Business, and a Master's in Business Administration. Despite having a secular, corporate background, the unique heritage and sacred teachings of Islam and Judaism, especially the points where they converge, has always been of great interest to me. I am involved in interfaith work in my city and educating myself of the complexities and challenges of the relationship between Jews and Muslims. I was able to bring aspects of my work, primarily Relationship Management, to the world of interfaith relations. Trips to Israel/Palestine, friendships with Jews and Muslims, and my penchant for the Abrahamic faiths has further heightened my interest in the two faiths that are viewed as being eternally at odds with one another.

I enrolled in the online course Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter (BGD) to further my understanding of Jewish-Muslim relations. This course truly represents the academic efforts in addressing the complexity of issues underlying the relationship. The variety of topics covered in BGD reflected both commonalities and challenges between adherents of both faiths.

Perhaps it is not the politicians, the academics, or the religious leaders who will invariably bring peace. From my involvement in interfaith work, I think perhaps it is the grassroots initiatives, the extraordinary, yet ordinary people who will turn out to be the Gideon's of the Bible. BGD lays the groundwork that interfaith dialogue can lead to effective collaboration on contemporary issues. I recommend this course to anyone involved in interfaith work.

The online course Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter equips one with tools to ensure these two communities come together in the spirit of humanity, where differences can be respected, irrespective of political aims or aspirations. In other words, to contribute, regardless of whatever the outcome will be.

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