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Parliament of the World’s Religions seeks understanding and action

August 11, 2023
Originally published by NPR on August 11 by 

Anila Ali traces her interest in the interfaith movement to scripture.

“God says in the Koran to Muslims,” she says, “I have created you into tribes—different tribes—so that you may get to know each other.”

Ali says getting to know other religions needs to go beyond the superficial, which is why she left her job as a public school teacher in Southern California and is now president of the American Muslim and Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council.

She says not enough people hear the real story of Islam, which leaves them relying on stereotypes rather than real knowledge.

“Islam came at a point in Arabia where girls were being buried alive,” she says. “Islam came to liberate women. It was a modern, progressive religion. And a lot of the teachings have been stolen.”

Stolen, she says, by religious radicals.

“And I feel that it’s time we set the record straight,” Ali says.

Part of setting the record straight is her participation in this year’s Parliament of the World’s Religions, which begins Sunday in Chicago. This year marks Ali’s first time at the gathering, where she’s slated to speak on women and Islam.

People of many faiths gather around curiosity and hope

The Parliament is one of the world’s largest inter-faith gatherings and comes at a time when belief is often seen as a force that divides. But its progressive organizers want to send a different message.

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