SHAFAQNA – Reverend Laurence Hillel is the Co-Director of the London InterFaith Centre. He is also an Assistant Priest at St Anne’s, Brondesbury, and Willesden Area Inter Faith Adviser for the Church of England.
Shafaqna had a short interview with him regarding the moral and human values in Islam and Christianity
At Christmas Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christians believe that in the ancient Hebrew scriptures (The Old Testament) God promised to send a “messiah” or “king” to bring God’s rule to earth. Christians celebrate this at Christmas and believe that in this event God took flesh and became one of us. Jesus taught almost exclusively among his fellow Jews. His central message was that “the kingdom of God has come,” declaring that the hope of the reign of God had begun to be fulfilled. Jesus showed what this was like by healing the sick, casting out demons, declaring sinners forgiven, welcoming outcasts and challenging the rich and powerful. He claimed that in all this he was fulfilling the Scriptures. Opposition to him led to his arrest, trial and death by crucifixion, but Christians believe that on the third day after his death and burial Christ was raised bodily from the dead. They believe that through this, his radical path of uncompromising love amid misunderstanding and rejection was vindicated. By his death and resurrection, life overcomes death, good defeats evil, and human beings are able to have their relationship with God fully restored.
SHAFAQNA – What are the moral values and human values common between Islam and Christianity?
Christians and Muslims share together a belief that we are called to a relationship with God which governs our whole lives. Jesus in summarising the Law said firstly “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” For Christians God is a God of love who desires human beings to live their lives as a reflection of his love. This is summarised in Jesus’ second call for human beings “to love your neighbour as yourself.”
The Christian vision is of a world which is governed by justice and mercy, where human beings are compassionate, forgiving, peaceful and generous in their dealings with one another. Jesus also places an emphasis on making the needs of the vulnerable and the poor a priority. My belief and experience in meeting Muslims is that we have at the heart of our faiths a desire for the common good of all humanity and all creation which reflects these values.
SHAFAQNA – How important is inter-religious dialogue in the current situation and what problems it can solve?
Inter-religious dialogue is important to me because I am enriched by the vision and insight of the “other” in understanding the nature of God and our purpose as human beings in relationship to God. Building strong relationships where we may trust one another, and appreciate the richness of our diversity, a diversity created by God, helps to build a peaceful world. It also encourages us to work together for the common good of all human beings, especially in the local context.