Interfaith Leader Guides Group Dialogue

November 24, 2008

Author: Katherine Meduski

Source: Columbia Spectator

At a time when some associate Islam with violence, Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of Interfaith Youth Core, stressed the importance of pluralism and faith at a Common Meal in Earl Hall.

Patel, who is also the author of “Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation,” spoke on Monday night at an event sponsored by the Office of the University Chaplain.

Patel stressed the importance of interfaith dialogue in a society in which “religious diversity, devotion, and division” is both a strength and a weakness. As an interfaith leader himself, he addressed the need to respect religious and secular identities, build relationships between communities, and promote a sense of commitment to uphold the common good.

Patel referenced issues of extremism, and how events such as September 11, 2001 have led some people to blame terrorism on a single religion. “Terrorists of all traditions belong to a tradition of terrorism”, he said.

The audience included a mix of people of varying studies, ages, cultures, and religions. Among these was Jason Anthony, associate director of the Office of Student Group Advising, who praised Columbia’s Interfaith Collective for promoting pluralism. Tamara Fish, assistant director of the Office of the University Chaplain, agreed, lauding Jewelnel Davis, chaplain and associate provost, for expanding the Collective and promoting the “experiential, rather than dogmatic” approach to bringing people together. The Collective meets weekly to confer on faith, tradition, and respect for individual perspective.