To the Desk of President Philip Graham Rykem: December 16th, 2015
As Chair of the Board of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, I am disappointed with Wheaton’s decision to suspend Dr. Larycia Hawkins for her recent comments posted on social media.
As a Muslim and a leader of the oldest and largest interfaith organization in the world, I commend Dr. Hawkins’ actions as being a tangible act of love and solidarity with her American and global neighbors, at a time when peaceful Muslims are experiencing rising levels of hate, denouncement, and violence.
Her act took bravery and humility. In her exposition, Dr. Hawkins continually emphasized her opening line:”I don't love my Muslim neighbor because s/he is American. I love my Muslim neighbor because s/he deserves love by virtue of her/his human dignity.” This is an incredibly concise summary of the goal of the interfaith movement; not a conflation of beautiful, unique faiths, but a celebration of the common heart of our humanity.
To fixate on one sentence which, in the narrative of her larger statement, clearly is not meant to be a theological treatise but a cry of unity with Muslim and Jewish neighbors, is unfair and counterproductive to a peaceful, global society. Christians who stand with the oppressed are demonstrating the most basic tenets of their faith; to discourage your students from doing so is unfortunate.
On behalf of this organization - an organization comprised of devout Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Pagans, and Buddhists, to name a few - I, with great conviction, ask you to restore Dr. Larycia Hawkins’ position with an apology. My hope is that Wheaton College made this decision in haste and under immense pressure, and that you have the opportunity to rectify it.
I, along with a delegation of Chicago religious leaders, would love a chance to meet with you. A school as well-respected, faithful, and academically rigorous as Wheaton College has the power to make news that inspires both Christians and non-Christians alike to take action against hate; we want to hear your thoughts on how to advance a movement of peace that transcends religious boundaries without diluting them.
If this is something you would be willing to engage in, please do contact my office.
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid
Board Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions