Where the Love of God is Felt
Written by Fatima Abdullahi & Rebecca CE Brown, friends trying to live out what they learn from Jesus about peacemaking.
While our relationship may be non-traditional, we are friends, co-constructors of peace, and servants of God. Muslim and Christian. Fatima and Rebecca. Matriarchs of the faith. Somali and American.
Together we attended a most interesting gathering, the Abrahamic Traditions Dinner organized by the Niagara Foundation and the Turkish American Society of Ohio (TASO). Both Niagara and TASO are Muslim-originated organizations that work to build bridges of peace through relationships and community care, and while we are confident about our call to peacemaking, our current close circles are mostly Christian, so we ultimately went to the event to meet likeminded Muslim friends.
We snuck in late on that particular winter evening. Kind Muslim women welcomed us, and a host showed us to the only open seats—at the very front table with the wife and guests of the event organizers. The room was lively, children scurried about near the stage, and people of the Abrahamic traditions overcame language and cultural barriers to share conversation.
Some are under the impression that an Imam should not mix with a Pastor or a Rabbi and vice versa, but as is tradition at these kinds of events, three speakers were invited to represent all three respective Abrahamic religions. These leaders were not strict or intolerant, as the general public might expect of religious leaders, but they were wise and gentle—and pretty hilarious!
Our table host, Fatma, said, “travel encourages me because it helps me see how other people give themselves to God.” She shared with us about the time when she went home to Turkey and told her cab driver that her family had visited a church: “He couldn’t believe it! Just the thought of entering a church terrified him, but we told him we experienced nothing but hospitality and kindness.” Truly, we felt privileged to be in that room filled with people not unified by a common religion but by common work to change the way humans feel about each other, by common desire to end religious hate, and by a common pursuit of the will of God.
That evening the window of hope opened a little wider. Hope for a better future for us and for the people we would meet one day. It was a unique feeling, a one of a kind feeling. While we didn’t deserve such gracious hospitality and warmth, we lived into it. We left that evening with new friends and co-laborers for the cause, as our Jewish brother articulated it, of “making the world a place where the love of God is felt.”