via Aamir Hussain’s Huffington Post Blog featuring collaborator Murali Bajali
The United States is truly exceptional in the fact that it “peacefully combines a high degree of religious devotion with tremendous religious diversity” (Putnam and Campbell, American Grace). Interfaith understanding is a central part of our nation’s history, from George Washington’s letter to the Newport, Rhode Island synagogue to the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893, to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement led by diverse faith leaders.
The challenge for our millennial generation is to continue translating America’s religious diversity into social action. The vast majority of interfaith efforts in the United States currently focus on the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. While such efforts are important, it is also necessary to engage with the growing numbers of Americans who identify with a diversity of other faith and spiritual traditions. In particular, we see great potential for interfaith initiatives between Hindus and Muslims, two groups that share similar experiences in the United States.
For starters, Hindus and Muslims share similar demographics. Each comprise roughly one to two percent of the American population, with large proportions of both communities coming from first or second-generation immigrant families with South Asian heritage. As a result, xenophobia is often a major issue for both communities, with both group facing allegations that they are “not American enough.” At the heart of the interfaith engagement between Hindus and Muslims should be a fundamental acknowledgment that both groups are small minorities in the United States, and that a coalition of voices is the best way to achieve pluralistic outcomes. Such an approach doesn’t mean that we have to gloss over our philosophical differences (or agree on various social, theological, or ethical issues), but instead maximizes our embrace of religious and cultural diversity.
Continue reading on The Huffington Post
Aamir Hussein is a Muslim Interfaith Activist/Ambassador of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and Murali Balaji is Director of Education and Curriculum Reform, Hindu American Foundation.
Featured Image courtesy of Jews Down Under
Above Right: Aamir Hussain is a Muslim Interfaith Activist and recent graduate of Georgetown University. Recently, Hussain joined the Parliament of the World’s Religions as a new Ambassador.