Islam – August 21, 2016 Faiths of Abraham- Islam  by Rev. June Fothergill Genesis 12: 1-3; Genesis 16: 1-16; 21: 8-21; 25: 9, 12-18 Earlier this year I attended a gathering at the local Islamic Center.  It was an interfaith celebration hosted by the Center.  It was my first time to be at such a gathering.  In Boise, I had invited some Muslim students to come to talk at a youth group meeting but I have had little real contact with Muslim people.  So, I was in hopes to make some connections at this event in Eugene.  I made a few tentative ones.  After the meal I had an interesting conversation with a young woman from Indonesia.   She wore a hijaab, or head scarf.  I told her about my time in Indonesia 30 years ago when I don’t remember seeing women wearing the hijaab.  Her response surprised me, “Oh,” she said, “That was back in the dark times. “     I think what she meant was times when it wasn’t acceptable to be an outwardly devote Muslim. Our short conversation reminded me that Muslim, Christian conversations and dialogues are operating in a cross cultural reality.  I have much to learn about Islam and what it means to the people who practice and believe.    So, once again, I am not speaking as any kind of expert and this is a topic much too big and complex for a sermon.  I will simply share with you some of what I have learned in my study. I want to recognize up front the truth of what Pim  Valkenberg, a professor of religion and culture wrote in  Christian Century in July,  “ It’s easier for Christians to recognize their elder sister Judaism than it is to recognize their younger sister Islam. “  (p. 29 “Sibling rivalry among three faiths God(s) of Abraham” in Christian Century, July 6, 2016) This was especially true as I explored some of the Quran in English translation.    Compared to my love for the Hebrew Bible, I had trouble appreciating the Quran.  Yet, I realize that it is a text meant to be experienced in its original language.  I have heard that the Quran recited in Arabic is quite beautiful.  And of course it comes from a whole different culture and time period than my own.  In other words, just like with the Bible, it needs interpretation. The Quran is important because it is the principle revelation for Muslims.  It provides the basis for the whole fabric of the world religion we know as Islam.  In the 600’s c e in the Arabic peninsula (Saudi Arabia today)   Mohammad, an illiterate trader who was well regarded...

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