It's easy to be "nasty" about something you don't understand, says one Rock Hill Presbyterian.
Will Read says he’s “tired of hearing” all the negative things people believe about Muslims — or anyone who's different from them.
That's one of the reasons he helped create The Children of Abraham — a Rock Hill group that periodically brings together Muslims, Christians and Jews for conversations about their differences and similarities. The next meeting is this weekend.
Mohammad Hossain, one of the founder’s of Rock Hill’s only mosque, said there are many similarities between the three religions.
Islam is a religion — quite like Christianity and Judaism — that requires giving to the poor and taking care of your neighbors, Hossain said.
But he hears so many misunderstandings about his religion — like the false belief that Islam requires violence or animosity toward non-Muslims.
“One of the fundamental things in Islam is what you have in your book (The Bible), the 10 Commandments: love thy neighbor,” Hossain said. “It is also in our holy book.”
He said coming together as a group is a way to work against those misconceptions.
“We’re trying to eliminate the fear and misinformation basically and improve understanding, improve friendship,” Hossain said. “And that way we can eliminate the fear of not knowing each other.”
The Children of Abraham was founded four years ago, and will host a conversation on “Moses/Musa and The Burning Bush” Sunday.
Hossain, a former professor at York Technical College, said he’s been involved in the group for the last two to three years.
The group’s name, Children of Abraham, is a fitting one, and again shows the religions’ common ties. All three religions see Abraham, said to be the father of Isaac and Ishmael, as the father of their faith.
Read said the group hosts programs about every other month. He said 150 families are on the group’s mailing list, but that number should be even bigger.
“We started this group so we could get to know each other, understand each other, and get along with each other,” Read said. “And hopefully influence others to do the same.”
There are only two things the group doesn’t talk about, Read said: politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But he said there’s no shortage of conversation.
“The key success of (each program) is how many people stand around in the parking lot after it carrying on the discussion,” Read said.
And even though the group doesn’t talk about politics during their meetings, today’s politics shed light on pervasive Islamophobia and ignorance, Hossain and Read said.
“There’s so much about Islam these days in the media,” Hossain said. “In all corners of the society and you hear not good things about Islam. We’re trying to change that perception about Islam, the wrong perception. And we’re trying to eliminate that in a small way.”
Read says his goal has always been to promote conversations that foster understanding.
“I find it’s very hard to be nasty to someone that you are in conversation with,” Read said. “You may disagree with them on things, but you’ve broken down that barrier and start talking.”
Want to attend the next program?
“Moses/Musa and the Burning Bush” will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 15, at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour at 144 Caldwell Street.
For more information, visit www.thechildrenofabraham.org