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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Fair Go Forum, June 07

Some images from the Fair Go Forum, 15 June 07
K Trad thanking Pat Dodson and presenting plaque

K Trad and J Robertson

C Ho, N Burridge and S Ozdowski

B Spies-Butcher and C Gibbs

W Higgins and P Glendenning

First scarf-wearing female Muslim Surf Lifesaver in Australia M Lalaa

C Ho, A Jakubowitz, A Bartletts and S Hussein

T Brunero, A Samson and B Walters

S Trad, C Gibbs and A Samson

An announcement from the UTS website

Forum Flyer and Registration Form

The Fair Go Forum was jointly convened by the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, the Edmund Rice Centre, the Don Chipp Foundation and the UTS.

No fees were charged at this or any of the our other forums. Our Keynote Speaker was the Hihgly Respected Indigenous leader Pat Dodson.

The forum produced the following recommendations for our politicians in Canberra:

Recommendations from the Fair Go Forum

1. A Bill of Rights

This forum requests that the Federal Government enact a Bill of Rights for Australia in order to enshrine our inalienable rights within our Constitutional framework.

2. End Unjust Immigration Policies

This forum requests the Federal Government to end the unjust immigration policies such as the Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) regime and mandatory detention so that we can ensure that those seeking protection and refuge in Australia are treated justly and fairly.

3. Reconciliation

This forum requests the Federal Government to refocus the nation on the reconciliation process so that we as a Nation can work to achieve genuine and substantive reconciliation between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australians.

4. Cohesive Communities

Option a)
This forum requests the Federal government to address the need to build cohesive communities by focusing on and celebrating the things tha unite us in our diversity rather than highlighting our differences and prejudices which work to divide us.

Option b)
That the federal government must foster the cohesive bonds in our communities by celebrating what unites us; accepting our differences; take measures to halt those actions which prevent so many from full participation in that secular space where we are all citizens concerned for our common future.

The attributes of God, speech by Ms. Hanifeh El Hassan

Praise be to God; whose glory cannot be adequately praised in words. Whose bounties cannot be enumerated, the most devoted of worshippers cannot fulfil His due. His qualities are not limited by time or space and cannot be qualified by expression.

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen

Imam Ali bin Abi Taleb said: praise be to God who made the creation a sign of his omnipresence, the evolution of His creation a manifestation of His eternity, the diversity and similarity amongst His creation a proof that nothing is similar to Him.

I do not recall a moment in my life that I did not feel the presence of The Almighty God, His signs are all around me, His blessing overwhelm my world, everything I see reminds me of the Greatness of Allah.

Sheikh Sha3rawi said concerning our knowledge of the existence of God: Firstly; it is inborn and intuitive, secondly; it is intellectually attained by reason and finally; it is experiential originating in faith and perception.

I know that I always believed in God and turned to Him.

I was born to Muslim parents, I lived my childhood and teenage years in the rural areas of northern Lebanon, my town had a flutter of Muslim and Christian neighbours, Lebanon is known for its freedom of religion, as children we were taught that religion is for God and Lebanon is for all the Lebanese people.

We referred to Christians as our brothers and sisters and they referred to us as their brothers and sisters.

As there were very few Muslim schools in Lebanon when I was growing up, people had the choice to send their children to either secular or Christian schools, as such, many Muslim children used to attend Christian schools.

Before the Eighties, people in Lebanon did not feel the need to build Muslim schools, there was no more than a couple of these in each major city.

In public schools such as those I attended, religion was rarely mentioned and teachers of all faiths treated everyone equally.

My parents raised us to be well behaved and good citizens, talking about religion was rare but they prayed, fasted, gave to the poor and needy and planned to perform pilgrimage. Most of all they feared God in their actions and thanked Him for His bounties over them.

God was mentioned in all our conversations, if a person was asked: how are you? The answer was: thank God I am well.

If we were being asked about our future plans we would always add the condition: "God-willing." If we saw, heard or smelled something we liked we would say subhanallah how perfect is God or if we were amazed at anything, we would say: "This is the will of God", and if something bad happened we would say: "Everything is from God, we belong to God and to Him we shall return." If someone was to wrong us, we would say after praying to God to forgive them: God suffices us, blessed is He as our Guardian and Trustee.

At the age of 5, I felt so overwhelmed by the presence of God in my life that I felt the need to connect with Him, to talk to Him and to abide by His will. For this reason, I started to pray and fast.

I memorised some chapters of the Qur'an before even touching the Holy Book. I learned to pray from observing my grandmother; I had never been to a mosque nor had I been to a lecture about Islam. This was a time when all the reading material around me was purely secular.

I was ten when I started to read The Qur'an in my native Arabic, and it was wonderful. I knew I was reading the words of God, and there I was, a little child, reading and listening, God spoke to me through His book and awakened in me a greater understanding about His names and attributes, He taught me lessons about past nations, their course in history, their ebbs and troughs, their success and decay.

When reading the Holy Qur'an; I lived with Adam as he learned from His Lord how to ask for forgiveness and then did so, I saw the Forgiving attribute of Allah manifest very clearly. I lived with Moses as he spoke to Pharaoh, with Christ as he declared his mother's innocence and when he would heal people through prayer, with Noah as he built the Ark, with Solomon as he displayed his wisdom, with David as he slew Goliath and sang the Psalms. Through the words of Allah, I lived with Ibrahim as he chopped down the idols, as he obediently went to sacrifice his son, as he built the great mosques and as he was catapulted into the fire for his faith.

Every time I read the Qur'an, I am transported through time and space; to live with Joseph as he resisted temptation, with Job as he persevered patiently, with Jacob as he watched his children grow, and finally; I lived with all the pains and struggles of Muhammad, peace and blessings upon them all; as he made sacrifice after sacrifice to bring us this wonderful message; a message that gave a modern focus to our awareness of God; and a message that taught us how best to praise him.

The Qur`an taught me that God can be a friend to me like He was to Abraham, that God is the Healer as His Healing Grace was manifested through Christ. I learned that He chooses from His Creation, great people like Mary the mother of Christ, and raises her to a position of honour above the women of the world. I learned that God gives both those who believe in him and those who don't without discrimination. He looks into our hearts, He gives both physical and metaphysical bounties, some of us only see the material bounties, some have been blessed to see the spiritual also.

I learned that God's Will comes to pass and that true contentment comes in accepting His Grace in whatever form it comes. I learnt that God answers my prayers and I saw God as Generous, Magnanimous and above all Loving and Forgiving.

I regularly contemplate on the names of God and his attributes, the names I learned since I was young , I memorised them by heart, I sang them, and I called him with each and all, I enjoyed communicating with Him I listened to his beautiful words as I read or heard the Qur`an over and over.

I learned more about improving my relationship with God as I read about the prophets of God, about their friends, companions and loved ones; I read more and more about special people and their relation to God.

Here are some examples:

The Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessing upon him, after the death of his beloved wife and his most supportive uncle, took his call to the neighbouring city of Taef, the leaders of the city rejected him and turned their mischievous youths against him, they pelted him with stones and verbally abused him. After leaving the city, he retired next to a vineyard and made the following prayerful appeal to His Lord: "O Allah! To You alone I make complaint of my helplessness, the paucity of my resources and my insignificance before people. You are the most Merciful of those who show mercy. You are the Lord of the helpless and the weak. My Lord, to whose care do you leave me? To an unsympathetic stranger who would sullenly frown at me, or to an enemy who acts as if he had been given control over my affairs? However, if Your wrath does not fall on me, there is nothing for me to worry about. I seek protection in the light of Your countenance, which illuminates the heavens and dispels darkness, and which controls all affairs in this world as well as in the Hereafter. May it never be that I should incur Your wrath, or that You should be wrathful on me. And there is no power nor recourse, but Yours alone"

The Prophet Jonah, peace be upon him, left his town in anger over the wrongdoings of his people, he was swallowed by a whale. He made a prayer from the belly of the whale as follows: There is no god except You, Glory be to you I have wronged myself.

And Moses when he turned his face toward Midian fearful and vigilant he said: My Lord, deliver me from the people of the evil-doer. And as he reached Madian he again called on God: "I am in need of your blessings."

God gave us an example in Assia the wife of Pharoah who rejected the way of life of her tyrannical husband and followed the believers. She appealed directly to God asking Him to grant her a place near to him in heaven and to save her from Pharoah and his supporters.

There is also the example of Jacob who turned to God after a long separation from Joseph and after just losing Benjamin and prayed: I complain of my sadness and sorrow to Allah, lest my Lord bring me together with them.

In every case, God the Most Compassionate responded to their prayers.

Yes, I have experienced God in my life, He is All-Knowing, Almighty, controls everything, He is the Provider, His blessings are tremendous. As the Mufty of Australia Sh. Taj Aldin Alhilali says: "The Lord God has made this world a testing ground for me and you, the more we respect it and are measured and considerate towards its resources, the more we and our children can enjoy it. Knowing that I share this world with you, I know that I must cooperate with you in order to make this world a better place. In this sense, I must appreciate our equality, not only as people, but also in terms of our access to resources and our ability to contribute both intellectually and physically. Such contributions require the pre-condition of freedom of conscience for us all. In this sense, our equality when dealing with each other transcends our colour, language, race and choice of faith."

Yes, I have come to know a God Who is Personal who hears our prayers and always treats us with Love, Mercy and Compassion. He remedies our short-comings and rectifies many of our faults, He heals us when we fall ill and guides us when we feel lost, Perfect in every way, God's love transcends all other love and encoumpasses all in its greatness.

May God bless us all and keep His love over us.

Prepared by Hanifeh El Hassan

The attributes of God, speech by Dr. Gerard Kelly

Gerard Kelly, Catholic Institute of Sydney

I would like to begin this short reflection on the attributes of God by referring to two texts from what Christians call the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures. The first is the account of Moses at the burning bush in the Book of Exodus; the second is the Shema Prayer in the Book of Deuteronomy. These take us to the very core of belief in God, and will enable us to move to the New Testament and the Christian era, and consider the attributes of God as elaborated by Christians.
The Burning Bush
I’m sure we all know the incident of Moses before the burning bush. He is walking along, sees a bush that is burning, but notices that it is not consumed. As he approaches to get a closer look God calls out to him, announcing that God is the God of his fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We know there is something sacred going on here; the scene is filled with awe. Moses is told to take his shoes off, because the ground is holy ground, and we hear that he is afraid to look. Then God announces that he has seen the misery of his people in Egypt and that he is going to come down, deliver them from their bondage, and bring them into the promised land. Moses is to have a special place in God’s plan, and is told to visit Pharaoh. As the story unfolds Moses seems to become a little bolder, and asks God ‘What is your name?’ He needs to be able to tell the people who it is that gives him this command. God replies with that very strange phrase, difficult to translate, but which usually appears in our bibles as ‘I am who I am’.
In this ancient and captivating incident we have the attributes of God placed before us in all their subtlety and brevity. In the first place we can speak of the holiness of God or the otherness of God. This is clear from the sense of awe created by the scene, as well as the reaction of Moses. Here is a transcendent God who is beyond what Moses can see, and beyond this world.
But at the same time we can say that God is close. God speaks a word to Moses and communicates to Moses; God reveals himself to Moses. This suggests the immanence of God. This is a God who is close to his people and has entered into a relationship with them. This God is a personal God. Of course, we have already had a glimpse of this in the accounts of creation where God speaks with Adam in the cool of the evening.
The immanence of God and the personal relationship God sets up with the people whom he has created is seen even more intensely when God is moved by the misery the people suffer. Here we see another important attribute of God, namely that this is a God who saves. While at this stage the saving will of God seems to be focused on the people he has chosen as his own, as the knowledge of God develops among this people (and we see this in the pages of the Bible) it is apparent that God’s saving will is universal. Thus we can say that another attribute of God is his desire for all people to be saved.
The God Moses met at the burning bush was not an abstract notion, but a personal God, known through his speech and his action. Christian doctrine has emphasised that God is revealed in the unfolding of history, the history of salvation. People have encounter God through that mysterious inter-connection of God’s word and God’s deeds. Let me quote a passage from the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, in its Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, promulgated at the Second Vatican Council in 1965:
The pattern of revelation unfolds through deeds and words bound together by an inner dynamism, in such a way that God’s works, effected during the course of the history of salvation, show forth and confirm the doctrine and the realities signified by the words, while the words in turn proclaim the works and throw light on the meaning hidden in them (n.2).[1]
Now this doctrine tells us something more about God. If God speaks and acts in such a way that speech and act are bound together in an inner dynamism, then we must say that God acts with reason. This is something that Christian theology has taken very seriously. It is evident in the way Christian faith has made ample use of Greek philosophical thought to speak about God, in such a way that there is no incompatibility between, on the one hand, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and on the other hand, the God of the philosophers. The notion that holds together these apparently different views of God is found in the Greek word Logos, which we usually translate as ‘Word’. When used in relation to God, it highlights that God is reasonable. But it is also a word that is used in our New Testament to affirm the word and action of God in salvation history, stressing a personal God as well as both the immanence and transcendence of God. I shall return to this later on.
There is one final point we need to make in relation to the incident of the burning bush, and it concerns the name of God. It is true that God is without name; that no one can utter the name of God and live. But God utters a name, which in fact is probably not a name, to Moses. This ‘name’ asserts being. Here we have the foundation for the biblical revelation that God is eternal and different from all other gods. As the psalmist says, ‘The Lord is great and worthy of all praise, to be feared above all gods; the gods of the heathens are naught’ (Ps 96:4-5). Later Christian theology will speak of God as Esse (using the Latin verb ‘to be’). God is pure being. This means that God is not a creature, that God is distinct from the world and that there was never a time when God was not.
The Shema Prayer
The second text I indicated that I want to look at is the Shema Prayer: ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord alone’ (Deut 6:4). Pope Benedict appeals to this text in his encyclical letter, Deus caritas est. He says (n.9) that there are two significant facts about this statement. The first is that all other gods are not God. This means that the universe has its source in God. God is creator. We can correlate this with the opening pages of our Bible and the account of creation in the book of Genesis. There we hear that constant refrain, ‘God said…’, uttered at each moment of the creation. ‘The whole world, then, comes into existence by God’s creative Word’ (n.9). Here let me recall my earlier statement about God’s revelation unfolding through God’s word and God’s deeds, which are bound together by an inner dynamism. Our God creates by speaking a Word, a logos.
The second fact that Pope Benedict draws our attention to is a consequence of this, namely that God loves humankind, who is his creation. This, of course, is the theme of Benedict’s encyclical: that God is love. For Benedict, this is the primary attribute of God, and the others are related to it. This attribute is characterised both by eros, which is God’s passion for the people, and by agape, which indicates that it is a love that is bestowed gratuitously and without any merit on the part of human beings.
There is an important consequence arising from this. Because God is love, and this is a love that reaches out to human beings, they are drawn into that love and into life with God. In other words, they are made in the image and likeness of God. Now, I believe that following this insight we should be able to show that any of the attributes of God can help us understand human beings. The Christian writer, Irenaeus, in the second century, explored this in his reflection on God the creator. Using the biblical and philosophical concepts of his day he affirmed that God alone is, and that human beings are becoming. (Note the contrast between being and becoming). The goal of God’s creative activity is that we might ‘become’ according to the image and likeness of God. This idea is particularly strong in the theology of the East, and is referred to as the divinisation of the human person. Far from undermining the uniqueness and oneness of God, it reaffirms that God is Being – as the Biblical text says, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone – and concludes that creatures are dependent on God, that they are always changing, and that they have the capacity to change according to the image and likeness of God.
Jesus and the New Testament
This seems the right moment to speak about Jesus, the Christ. Benedict XVI makes an important point, that the revelation of God in the New Testament continues the revelation we have just been speaking about, given in the Old Testament. It does not overturn it or contradict it. He wrote in his encyclical: ‘the real novelty of the New Testament lies not so much in new ideas as in the figure of Christ himself, who gives flesh and blood to those concepts – an unprecedented realism’ (n.12). This takes us to the core Christian belief about God, namely the Incarnation. We need to consider step by step what this tells us about the attributes of God.
In the first instance we can consider the words and deeds of Jesus. Through his words and deeds – be it in parables or his miracles – he revealed God to those whom he encountered. We see re-affirmed for us the love of God, the mercy of God, and the saving will of God. We need think only, for example, of Jesus’ encounter with a leper early in Mark’s Gospel (Mk 1:40ff). The leper says, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean’. To which Jesus, moved with pity, replies, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Notice here the echo of God’s words to Moses, ‘I have seen the misery of my people’. Or we can think of the parable referred to as the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11ff). It is a story of a young son who takes his inheritance and moves away from his father, to a strange land where he squanders the inheritance and ends up lost and no better than a slave. He decides to return to his father and request permission to enter the property as one of the servants. But the father reacts with great generosity by welcoming him back as a son. He puts on a feast because the son who was lost is found; the son who was dead has come to life. The point of the parable is that it reveals that God is a God of mercy. Furthermore, it is a mercy that extends far beyond the normal bounds of human mercy.
The words and deeds of Jesus reveal God in a concrete way. They remind us that the fundamental image Jesus gives of God is ‘Father’. But we are also being told something about Jesus. Christians speak of Jesus as the self-revelation of God, and the completion of the revelation of God (in the sense of the fullness of revelation). Let me quote once again from the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on Divine Revelation. You will recall from my earlier quote that it was speaking about the revelation of God taking place in the unfolding of the history of salvation. It goes on to say: ‘By this revelation the truth, both about God and about the salvation of humankind, inwardly dawns on us in Christ, who is in himself both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation’ (n.2). Even in the Gospels we see the tension that this causes, as when the healing of a leper or the forgiveness of sins raises questions. The religious leaders ask: ‘Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ (Lk 5:21). The very question tells us the meaning of incarnation, namely that God is revealed not just in a particular historical situation, but most especially in the flesh of Jesus.
The meaning of incarnation becomes even clearer as Jesus approaches his death. The love of God, which is manifest in God’s universal salvific will, is witnessed in the concrete act of Jesus who goes to his death. This is the ultimate revelation of God’s love – a selfless love, which has seen the misery of his people and wants to save them, a love that seeks the good of all creation.
The first Christians very quickly came to recognise that in Jesus they encounter God, and that God has become flesh and lives among them. In the New Testament we see various ways of expressing this. One of the earliest expressions is found in the Pauline letters:
He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominations or rulers or powers – all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. … For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Col 1:15-17, 19-20)
This text affirms the attributes of God that I identified earlier when looking at the texts from the Old Testament. It speaks of God as transcendent, as eternal, as creator, as immanent, and as saviour.
Another expression, but a different one, is found in the Gospel accounts of the conception and birth of Jesus. We are told that the angel Gabriel addresses Mary, who is to be the mother of Jesus and says, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God’ (Lk 1:35). This child will be like us, but also unlike us. The imagery suggests a child who is both human and divine. Later Christian faith will affirm the uniqueness of Jesus.
The opening chapter of St John’s gospel takes this to an even deeper level. Echoing the opening chapter of the Book of Genesis, it speaks about the beginning: ‘In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things came into being with him, and without him not one thing came into being’ (Jn 1:1-3). As we hear these words we are hearing nothing that is at odds with those attributes of God that we identified from the Old Testament. But St John goes on to write: ‘And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth’ (Jn 1:14).
It is important to note that for Christian faith this declaration does not contradict the oneness of God. In fact it is consistent with what I have said often this evening, that God is revealed in his word and his deeds. We need to consider the logic of this. Perhaps an analogy will help: the words I am speaking here and now do not have being or existence apart from me. Similarly, the Word of God does not have a separate being from God. As Christians reflected on God and the nature of God in the centuries after the resurrection of Jesus they eventually found a way to express this in a formulation that is now used in our Creed or Profession of Faith – a profession that is used each week in our worship. They spoke of Jesus as ‘of one being with the Father’. There were also other images to convey the unity of God, for example, ‘light from light’.
The Trinity
You will notice now that I have begun to use images to speak of God. There is nothing new in this – indeed, the burning bush was an image to speak about God. This practice reminds us that any language we use about God is limited. Christian theology has tended to use analogy when speaking about God. I raise this point now because it will help us approach the next thing I must speak about, namely that God is a Trinity. This is very important for our discussion of the attributes of God. In the first place, nothing we say about the Trinity should contradict these attributes. But secondly, Christian reflection on the Trinity should also help us to be even more precise about the attributes of God.
Up to this point I have spoken about God, and have noted that Jesus referred to God as Father. I have also identified Jesus as the Word of God, one in being with the Father. I have only made passing reference to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. There was one reference in the infancy narrative, where the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and she conceived. Our Creed puts it this way: ‘Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary’. But later in the gospel Jesus breathes on his disciples and says, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’. If we had time we could look more closely at the Old Testament and identify the breath of God, the Spirit of God, who comes to renew the earth.
But let me return to the idea of analogy, for that is the way that Christian theology has tried to comprehend the mystery of God. A very early analogy was to speak of the Son as the Word of God and the Spirit as the breath of God. St Augustine, in the fifth century, used a couple of analogies.[2] One was the analogy of mutual love. Various thinkers over the centuries have developed this. A fairly mature expression of it is found in the twelfth century theologian, Richard of St Victor. The analogy goes like this. God is the fullness and perfection of all goodness. Because charity or love is the perfection of all goodness, God must possess charity to the highest degree. Now charity, by its very nature, involves another. In other words, the greatest charity is the self-transcending love for another. Therefore, within the Godhead there must be self-transcending love for another co-equal person. Furthermore, because mutual love, if it is to be perfect, must be shared, the lover and the beloved share their love. Now, with this analogy we have the Father and the Son understood as the lover and the beloved, and the Holy Spirit as the fruit of their love. The distinction of persons only exists within the Godhead while the unity of God is maintained.
The second type of analogy, again going back to Augustine, is called the psychological analogy, because it is based on the process of human knowing and loving. This analogy was also developed in subsequent centuries and reached a high degree of maturity in St Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. His starting point is that God is Esse or pure ‘Being’. He argues that in God, to be, to know and to love perfectly coincide. Within God, the act of self-understanding (or knowing) issues in the Verbum or what I have referred to earlier as the logos. Further, the intellect delights in its understanding. This delight or joy, is expressed as love – God’s self-love. This is the Holy Spirit.
Now, I appreciate that I have presented this in a very summary form, and rather quickly. It is necessary to mention it, however, because Christians believe that God is a Trinity. This belief can be misunderstood in a variety of ways, including, quite dangerously, as tri-theism. I hope that the analogies I have just presented indicate, in the first place, that the understanding of God as Trinity continues to affirm the oneness of God. Secondly, I want to make a further claim, and it is that a proper understanding of the Trinity safeguards the attributes of God.
Safeguarding the attributes of God
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity intends to safeguard both the transcendence and the immanence of God.[3] In those cases where the divine immanence is denied – and this would include both the denial of the Incarnation or a misunderstanding of it – God ends up being remote and distant. The classic expression of this is what is referred to as Deism.
In other instances, where the transcendence of God is denied, God ends up being either just one being among others, or else an impersonal force. You either end up with a creature who is not God, or you end up with a notional god, sometimes referred to as the ‘god of the gaps’. In other words, when there is no other answer to the mysteries of the created order, you appeal to a notion of god.
In other forms of the denial of the transcendence of God you end up with pantheism, where the whole created order is identified with God. This, too denies the attribute of God as Creator, and thus distinct from creation. The Incarnation, properly understood, will guard against this.
Let me conclude by saying that I don’t think we should pretend that the Christian doctrine of God is always easy to comprehend. The attributes of God are like a series of checks and balances. There is always one attribute that needs to be balanced with another. The task of theologians is to study these and to find ways of speaking about God that respects them. We should note, however, that even before there is theological language to speak about God, people use the language of worship to pray to God. In an almost instinctive way the prayer of the Christian people respects the various attributes of God. In a real sense their religious experience and their faith in God coincide.
Ultimately, of course, we all stand humbly before the mystery of God. Let me finish with the words of St Paul:
O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor? Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen. (Rom 11:33-36)

This is the text of a presentation made at St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish Hall, at the invitation of Bishop Kevin Manning, as part of a dialogue between Christian and Muslim friends, on 26 April 2007.
[1] English translation from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, edited by Norman P. Tanner (London: Washington: Sheed & Ward/Georgetown University Press, 1990), vol II.
[2] For this discussion on analogy in Richard of St Victor and Thomas Aquinas I am relying on Anne Hunt, Trinity (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2005), 17-26.
[3] In this discussion on misunderstandings of God I am relying on John H. Wright, “God” in The New Dictionary of Theology, Joseph A. Komonchak, Mary Collins & Dermot Lane, eds (Wilmington: Glazier, 1988), 430.

The Attributes of God, speech by Rev. Helen Richmond

"The Attributes of God: How we experience God" 26 April 2007
How do we experience God? Each person’s story in its own way is unique and wonderful. Thank you for inviting me tonight to share a little of my own experience and also to reflect on this in the context of the attributes of God.

My spirit was nurtured in a number of ways from childhood. Growing up in beautiful bush land – I had an affinity with all creepy crawlies, lizards specially and frogs, caterpillars, and cicadas! In this way I was responding to the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. Today still I find that going walking in the bush renews my spirit and my favourite sound is the sound of the wind in gum trees.

I grew up as the 4th girl in my family. Perhaps you don’t expect too much by the time you get to the 4th. But I never doubted I was very much loved. My mother has been a model of faith for me. She was a great woman of prayer. My mother died just over a year ago after living with dementia for a number of years. Much of her memory was stripped from her but she never lost her love for others and her deep love for God. She was not able to put many sentences together by the end but in the last weeks of her life she was still able to say the Lord’s Prayer word for word and sing with great gusto her favorite Methodist hymns that had meant so much to her. Her faith has inspired me.

I grew up in the church and always felt welcomed as part of a loving family. I think that catching faith is a bit like catching the cold- we are affected and infected by the environment we are in!

I have a memorable experience as an almost teenager. I heard, really heard and responded with joy to the good news of God’s love that included me. I was drawn into God’s heart of love and compassion which I saw most clearly in Jesus. This experience set my feet on a spiritual path, following Jesus. A sense of closeness to God has been with me ever since and a sense of finding in Christ, my Companion who has sustained me all my life. I began to read the Scriptures with eagerness and found myself inhabiting the stories. The Bible remains for me Bread that feeds me and it is able to plum the depths of our human experience revealing in a myriad of ways how God is with us.

I have had a number of significant spiritual experiences in my life – one occurred when I was a young adult in Indonesia. I was on my own travelling on the bus in South Sulawesi. As I looked out the bus at men and women and children I had an overwhelming sense of experiencing God’s love for each person. I was connected to everyone else and somehow God was present within each one. On that bus I had a taste of knowing this with every fibre of my being and I felt a sense of call to love God’s creation and share God’s love for this world and all people, findomg ways to build bridges with others.

Believe it or not I was a very shy person, growing up, so shy I found it hard even to stand on stage in the school choir. Somehow though, through my experience of encountering God, I found courage to do things which otherwise would not have been possible.

Of the many attributes of God that we could talk about – one that means a great deal to me is God’s hospitality, God’s welcome.
One story from the Gospels that reflects God’s hospitality familiar to most of us is the parable Jesus told about the Prodigal Son another title could be “A Father and His Boys” because essentially the parable is about two sons who were both lost – one in a far country and the other one right at home. But most of all it about a father’s compassion and forgiveness.
A man has two sons, the younger demands his share of his father’s property. His father gave it to him and he went and lived a wild life and spent all his money. The land suffered a famine and with no money left, the younger son faces hardship. He finds a job looking after pigs for a local farmer- we can not imagine a worst plight for a good Jewish boy. Finally he comes to his senses and realised that his father’s servants were better off than he was. He plans to return home, admit all that he has done wrong and ask his father to take him on as a servant. After a long journey, he approaches the house, only to find that his father has been waiting for him. When he sees him he ran down the road to meet him. A feast was prepared so that everyone could share in the father’s joy. He gave his son a robe, a ring and sandals. But his other son who had been working on the farm hears the news and hears all the singing and celebration. He does not want to go inside.
Jesus told this story at a time when he was being criticised for associating with the wrong kind of people- ‘This man welcomes ‘sinners’ and eats with them’. Some people were genuinely troubled by Jesus actions and were murmuring against him. Jesus then tells this parable- a story about what God is like and in the process he invited people to rethink their attitudes towards others and be caught up in the grace, forgiveness and generosity of God whose love reaches out to include all of us.
So one of the key attributes of God in the Christian tradition is the welcoming God, the God who runs to meet us. I love this rather undignified image of God. This God searches for us until we are found, like the woman who has lost a coin and sweeps the house until she finds it. The God we meet in Jesus is a God who takes on our humanity to redeem it; who makes crossing journeys, entering our human life to show the divinity that is in all of us. This God invites us to eat at his table though we do not deserve to be there.
In the story the elder brother, when his brother returns? He is unable to enter into the joyous occasion. He hangs back and is full of bitterness and anger. He judges his brother’s actions as reprehensible and he finds his fathers’ actions, incomprehensible. “I’ve been working for you for years and I have obeyed everything you have said and you never ever threw a party for me.” He would have preferred his father to have been judging and punishing ..not this.
We are left not knowing the outcome of the story. We don’t know if the two brothers be reconciled but the parable leaves us in no doubt that God’s compassionate love is boundless. Who are we to deny God’s grace and forgiveness to others.
Jesus made God’s hospitality the hallmark of His inclusive community. He converses with outcastes, a Samaritan woman, a Roman centurian. He risks making himself unclean when he touches the sick and associates with sinners.

Later Paul writing to the church in Roman would say “Welcome one another therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” Romans 15: 7
And one of the NT words for hospitality is the Greek term philoxenia. It combines the word for ‘phileo’(kinship love) and ‘xenos’(stranger). Sadly we are probably more familiar with the term “xenophobia” –fear of strangers than philoxenia. The biblical meaning of hospitality means much more than inviting our relatives and friends over for a meal! It is about extending ourselves to make space in our hearts for the stranger. And it this is only possible when we have first experienced the generous hospitality of God.

At God’s table, we are all invited guests, so we are to make room for others in our lives, becoming communities that actively extend the hospitality of God to one another. One New Testament image for the Kingdom of God is people from all nations sitting together at a banquet feast. (Luke 13: 9) ‘People will come from north, south, east and west and feast together in the kingdom.’ The vision of heaven is of the gathering of people from every tribe, people and language. (Rev 7: 9)

In my understanding God’s Holy Spirit is present wherever we see signs of hospitality- philoxenia, love of the stranger. In some cultures hospitality, in the biblical sense, is highly valued, something that Western culture has been in danger of losing. I know I learnt a great deal from one another. I know it was during my time in Indonesia that was I experienced hospitality, and it was often in the homes of Muslim friends.

Later next month Christians around the world celebrate Pentecost. The third great feast day in the Christian calendar alongside Christmas and Easter. In different ways each of these three festivals invite us to welcome the ‘Divine Stranger’ who comes into our lives in ways we least expect, disturbing us, turning our life upside down, challenging us and bringing a blessing.

God comes as a divine stranger waiting for us to invite him into our lives, asking us to discover in the face of each other, a family resemblance not based on colour, language, ethnicity or race.

Pentecost is the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit. On the first Pentecost a miracle happened -everyone present was able to hear the Apostle’s message each in their own language.

The God who sends the Holy Spirit is a God who affirms and celebrates our different languages and cultural identities.

It was because of the gift of the Holy Spirit that the early church was able to transform itself into a community that could embrace cultural and ethnic diversity and say- with God there is no in so doing was witnessing to the reconciling power of the Gospel. It was a great challenge for the early Christians to live together Jewish and Gentile Christians. This meant rethinking many things including some aspects of their Jewish traditions such as their purity code. Some things they laid aside.

Jesus also challenged aspects of his Jewish tradition. This shows me that whilst it is important to cherish our sacred traditions- there may be times when God leads us in some new directions, so that God’s love and compassion can more truly be experienced by others and for that reason we need to be constantly open to the Spirit who is the wind of God blowing us in the new direction we need to take. I believe our commitment to interfaith dialogue is one such direction that the Spirit is blowing us.

It is not clear why God made the world which such diversity. Maybe there is a purpose of God still not fully clear to us, for making different human communities to stretch our compassion, so we learn ways of relating to one another based on mutuality, trust and respect, so we can always be open to receive the Divine Stranger who comes in ways we don’t always expect.

When we welcome into our hearts the stranger, in a mysterious way, we truly welcome God. So the attribute of God most important to me when we come to interfaith dialogue is a sense of recognizing that God is bigger than we can fully understand or imagine, God’s love can not be limited, and whilst there is much we might see differently, God’s Spirit is the one who is the ‘Go Between’- who links hearts towards a common vision, a common purpose, a common song, to love God with our whole being and to love one another.

صفات الله وكيف عرفت ربي: كلمة الدكتور إبراهيم أبو محمد

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
عبد يتحدث عن سيده ومولاه
الله ربى إن ربى رحيم ودود
عندما سئل الحسن بن على ما الدليل على وجود الله فأشاح بوجهه عن السائل وقال:
سبحانك ربى متى غبت حتى تحتاج إلى دليل يدل عليك ؟ ومتى كنت بعيدا حتى تكونالأشياء هي المظهرة لك ، عميت عين لاتراك عليها رقيبا ، وخسرت صفقة عبد لم تجعل له من حبك نصيبا ،
وعندما سئل ابو بكر الصديق كيف عرفت ربك يا أبا بكر فقال بربي عرفت ربي ولولا ربي ماعرفت ربي، قالوا فكيف عرفته قال : العجز عن الإدراك إدراك ، والبحث في ذات الله إشراك .
وعندما سئل الإمام على وقيل له أرأيت ربك يا إمام ؟ أجاب وكيف أعبد ما لا أرى ، قالوا فكيف رأيته؟ قال: إن كانت العيون لا تراه بمشاهدة العيان فالقلوب تراه بحقيقة الإيمان،
وعقولنا يا سادة كأجهزة الكهرباء ،مضبوطة على طاقة معينة إذا وضعت تحت ضغط أعلى تعطلت وربما تفجرت.
ومن ثم فإن الحديث عن الله لا يتم إلا بالطريقة التى اختارها الله ليعرفنا بذاته عن طريقها.
§ ولفظ الجلالة(الله) علم على الذات لم يسم بهذا الاسم غيره
الله أول بلا بداية وآخر بلا نهاية.
الله بالبر معروف وبالإحسان موصوف.
الله واحد لا من قلة ، موجود لا من علة .
هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ وَالظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنُ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ" الحديد (3)
لا يسأل عنه بأين لأنه خالق المكان ، ولا يسأل عنه بمتى لأنه خالق الزمان .
كان الله ولا شي ، وهو على ما كان، لم يتغير عما كان ، علم ما كان، وعلم ما هو كائن وعلم ما سيكون ، وعلم مالا يكون لو كان كيف كان يكون.
الله يرى كل شي، ويسمع كل شي ، علمه أحاط بكل شئ، ولا تشغله رؤية شئ عن شئ كما لا يشغله سمع شئ عن شئ فهو الذي خلق كل شئ ، وليس كمثله شئ،
وهو السميع البصير.
" اللَّهُ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَكِيلٌ. لَهُ مَقَالِيدُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ الزمر(62) (63)
وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لاَ يَعْلَمُهَا إِلاَّ هُوَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِن وَرَقَةٍ إِلاَّ يَعْلَمُهَا وَلاَ حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الأَرْضِ وَلاَ رَطْبٍ وَلاَ يَابِسٍ إِلاَّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ" الأنعام (59)
لا يدرك بالحواس ولا يقاس بالناس "لا تدركه الأبصار وهو يدرك الأبصار وهو اللطيف الخبير".الأنعام (103)
§ تفرد وحده بكل صفات الجلال والكمال والجمال ، فكل شئ مقهور لقدرته، خاضع له، راجع إليه وبيده وحده مقاليد كل الأمور، الأرض جميعا قبضته يوم القيامة والسموات مطويات بيمينه سبحانه وتعالى عما يشركون يقول عن ذاته " إنا نحن نحي ونميت وإلينا المصير، يوم تشقق الأرض عنهم سراعا ذلك حشر علينا يسير" ق (43) (44)
وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُم مِّن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ جَعَلَكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا وَمَا تَحْمِلُ مِنْ أُنثَى وَلَا تَضَعُ إِلَّا بِعِلْمِهِ وَمَا يُعَمَّرُ مِن مُّعَمَّرٍ وَلَا يُنقَصُ مِنْ عُمُرِهِ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ إِنَّ ذَلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ فاطر(11)
اللّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَحْمِلُ كُلُّ أُنثَى وَمَا تَغِيضُ الأَرْحَامُ وَمَا تَزْدَادُ وَكُلُّ شَيْءٍ عِندَهُ بِمِقْدَارٍ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ الْكَبِيرُ الْمُتَعَالِ. سَوَاء مِّنكُم مَّنْ أَسَرَّ الْقَوْلَ وَمَن جَهَرَ بِهِ وَمَنْ هُوَ مُسْتَخْفٍ بِاللَّيْلِ وَسَارِبٌ بِالنَّهَارِ الرعد (8) (9) (10)
لاَّ تُدْرِكُهُ الأَبْصَارُ وَهُوَ يُدْرِكُ الأَبْصَارَ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ الأنعام (103)
فَاطِرُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ جَعَلَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا وَمِنَ الْأَنْعَامِ أَزْوَاجًا يَذْرَؤُكُمْ فِيهِ لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ البَصِيرُ. لَهُ مَقَالِيدُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاء وَيَقْدِرُ إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ" الشورى (11)(12)

§ خلقنى تفضلا، وجعل الحياة لى محل اختبار وامتحان ليحقق إحسانه إلىًّ وعدله فيًّ
§ لاتنفعه طاعتى ولا تضره معصيتى ومع ذلك كلفنى تشريفا فأمرنى ونهانى أمرنى بكل خير ليسعدنى ونهانى عن كل شرليحمينى
§ بعث إلي رسولا هو رحمة للعالمين فشرح لى كل شئ، فصل لى كل مجمل ووضح لى كل غامض، واشترط على في الإيمان به أن أومن بكل إخوانه من الأنبياء السابقين ، وطالبنى بأن لا أفرق بين أحد منهم ، لأنه هو أيضا صلى الله عليه وسلم لا يفرق بين أحد منهم ولذلك يطلب من أتباعه أن يؤمنوا بكل الرسل والأنبياء ولا يفضلوه على أحد منهم ولا يفرقوا بينهم ،
§ عرفنى من أنا ومن أين جئت ، ولماذا جئت، وإلى أين أصير، حدد لى هدفى ودورى ورسالتى في هذه الدنيا.
§ أنزل لى شريعة تكمل كل الشرائع السماوية السابقة وقال لى في كتابه الذي أنزله "شَرَعَ لَكُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّى بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَى وَعِيسَى أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ كَبُرَ عَلَى الْمُشْرِكِينَ مَا تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَيْهِ اللَّهُ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهِ مَن يَشَاء وَيَهْدِي إِلَيْهِ مَن يُنِيبُ" الشورى (13)
وهي شريعة تحمينى وتحمي الحياة كلها من حولى بيئة وبشرا ومكانا،
§ علمنى من خلالها أن الحياة للكائنات كلها مقدسة فلا يجوز العدوان عليها،وأن الإنسان بنيان الله ملعون من هدمه، وأنه من قتل نفسا بغيرنفس أو فساد في الأرض فكأنما قتل الناس جميعا، ومن أحياها فكأنما أحيا الناس جميعا"
§ علمنى من خلال تلك الشريعة أن أضيف إلى عناصر الجمال في الوجود والكون جمالا جديدا ، وأن أحاصر دوافع القبح والشر في الناس والأشياء قدرما أستطيع وطالبنى بالكف عن فعل الفساد فقال لى "ولا تفسدوا في الأرض بعد إصلاحها"، وعلمنى أيضا أن حماية البئة ونظافة الشارع والمحافظة على النظام العام جزء من الإيمان وطالبنى أن ألقى الناس بوجه طلق وأن اتعاون معهم في إذالة الأذى وأن القلب الكبير هو الذي يشارك الآخرين أفراحهم حين يكون حزينا ويشركهم أحزانهم حين يكون مسرورا، فقال لى " تبسمك في وجه أخيك صدقة، وإماطة الأذى والشوك عن الطريق صدقة،وإرشادك الرجل في أرض الضلال صدقة، وإفراغك من دلوك في دلو أخيك صدقة،
§ علمنى أنه خلق الأرض للناس جميعا، فقال " والأرض وضعها للأنام"
§ وان الإيمان بالتعددية في الدين والجنس واللغة والتعايش معها ليس خيارا إنسانيا يفعله من يشاء او يتخلى عنه متى شاء، وإنما هو سنة من سنن الله في الوجود، وأن أعلى الناس قدرا ومكانة وكرامة عند الله هو من يترفع فوق الضغائن والأحقاد ويتسامح مع الاخرين، ويضم ملكاته وخبراته للآخرين فيساهم في تقدم الإنسانية وترقية الحياة وفق القاعدة الإسلامية العظيمة خير الناس أنفعهم للناس ، والخلق كلهم عيال الله وأحب الناس إلى الله أنفعهم لعياله.
§ تعلمت من تجارب الناس أن الحرية معنى لا يصلح في الحياة إلا مقيدا. وعلمنى دينى أن الحرية معنى لا يصلح في الحياة إلا محددا ، وفرق بين أن تتحدث عن قيود تكبل وتعوق، وبين أن تتحدث عن حدود للنشاط والحيوية والحركة، فقال لى "لا ضرر ولا ضرار" وعلمنى أن "درء المفاسد مقدم على جلب المنافع" ، ومن ثم فالحرية تنطلق في داخلها من بواعث الاستقامة الأخلاقية التى تستهدف منافع البشرلا مصالح السوق.
§ علمنى أن فساد البيئة يبدأ بفساد النفوس، وأن التلوث الأخلاقي المتمثل في الحقد والكراهية والعنصرية وازدواج المعاييرهو الذي يدفع إلى التلوث المادي ، وأن اختراق قيم الصدق والأمانة والوفاء هو الذي أدى إلى اختراق طبقة الأوزون، لأن النفس الفاسدة تشيع عدوى الفساد في كل ما حولها،
§ علمنى دينى أن الحضارة الحقيقية تبدأ بعمارة القلوب وطهارة النفوس، قبل أن تملأ الدنيا بغابات من الحديد والأسمنت المسلح يسميها البعض بناطحات السحاب، وأنه من الخير للبشر أن يعيشوا على الأرض وهم أطهار من أن يطيروا في الفضاء وهم لصوص.
خاطبنى ربي في الحديث القدسي معاتبا " إنى والإنس والجن في نبأ عظيم ، أخلق ويعبد غيرى ، أرزق ويشكر سواي ، خيرى إلى العباد نازل وشرهم إلى صاعد ، أتودد إليهم بنعمى وانا الغني عنهم ، فيبتعدون عنى بالمعاصى وهم أحوج شئ إلىًّ ، إن تابوا إلى فأنا حبيبهم أستقبلهم من بعيد مرحبا بالتائبين ، وإن لم يتوبوا إليًّ فانا طبيبهم، أبتليهم بالمصائب لأطهرهم من الذنوب والمعايب ، أهل ذكرى أهل مجالستى، أهل شكرى أهل زيادتى، أهل معصيتى لا أقنطهم من رحمتى،، إن تابوا إلىًّ فأنا حبيبهم أستقبلهم من بعيد مرحبا بالتائبين فإنى أحب التوابين وأحب المتطهرين، وإن لم يتوبوا إليًّ فانا طبيبهم، أبتليهم بالمصائب لأطهرهم من الذنوب والمعايب ، الحسنة عندى بعشر أمثالها وقد أزيد ، والسيئة عنى بواحدة وقد أعفو، رحمتى سبقت غضبى وحلمى سبق مؤاخذتى .
علمنى أنه لا يأس من رحمته أبدا ولا قنوط من غفرانه على الإطلاق فخاطبنى في الحديث القدسي قائلا "لو يعلم الدمبرون عنى كيف انتظارى لهم ورفقى بهم وشوقى إلى ترك معاصيهم لأقبلوا ، هذا بالمدبرين عنى، فكيف بالمقبلين عليًّ ؟"
علمنى أن دقيقة واحدة باقية في العمر إنما هي أمل كبير في رحمة الله فخاطب كل بنى جنسي جميعا قائلا:"ابن آدم أمرتك فتوليت، ونهيتك فتماريت وسترت عليك فتجرأت، وأعرضت عنك فما باليت. يامن إذا دعاه العبيد غدا ولبى، وإذا دعاه الجليل أعرض ونأى، إن سألتنى أعطيتك، وإذا دعوتنى أجبتك، وإن مرضتَ شفيتك، وإن سلمتَ رزقتك، وإن أقبلتَ قبلتك، وإن تبتَ غفرت لك وأنا التواب الرحيم"
فتح لى كل أبواب الرجاء مهما كانت حجم معصيتى ونبهنى إلى سعة رحمته حتى لا أقع فريسة للشيطان أو أسيرا لليأس فقال لى " إذا تبت إلينا ثم نقضت فارجع إلينا ثانية ، فإذا نقضت ثانية فلا يمنعك الحياء أن ترجع إلينا ثالثة، فأنا الحليم الذي لا أعجل، وأنا التواب الذي لا أبخل ، من ذا الذي وقف ببابنا فطردناه، من ذا الذي استقال من ذنبه فما غفرناه ، أنا الذي أغفر الذنوب وأستر العيوب وأغيث المكروب وأرحم الباكى الندوب وأنا علام الغيوب، ياعبدى قف ببابى أكتبك من أحبابى ولذ بحضرة جنابي أسقك من لذيذ شرابى"
علمنى أن كماله يحبر نقصنا وأن قوته ترحم ضعفنا وأن انكسارنا أمامه واعترافنا بضعفنا وإسائتنا باب إلى عفوه وغفرانه فقال " إن العبد العاصى إذا بكى من ذنوبه واعترف بعيوبه أمام سيد ومحبوبه وقال يا إلهى انا أسأت فيقول الله تعالى وأنا سترت، فيقول العبد ياإلهى وانا ندمت فيقول الله تعالى وانا علمت، فيقول العبد يا إلهى أنا رجعت فيقول الله تعالى وأنا غفرت "
عبدى لاتقنط من رحمتى ، إن كنت بالغدر موصوفا فأنا بالجود معروف. وإن كنت ذا خطايا فانا ذو عطايا ، وإن كنت ذا إساءة فإنا ذو إحسان ، وإن كنت ذا جفاء فأنا ذو وفاء ، وإن كنت ذا غفلة فأنا ذو رحمة ، وإن كنت ذا خشية وإنابة ، فأنا ذو قبول وإجابة"
وروي أن الأرض والبحر تآمرتاعلى ابن آدم فقالت الأرض يارب هذا عبدك خلقته بيدك ومهدتنى له بقدرتك فأكل رزقك وعبد غيرك فاذن لىأن أنخسف فأكون له قبرا ، وقال البحر يارب هذا عبدك خلقته بيدك وسخرتنى له بقدرتك فأكل رزقك وعبد غيرك فاذن لى أن أغرقه في معينى، فيقول الله تعالى يا أرضى ويا بحرى من الذي خلق عبدى؟ فتقول الأرض والبحر أن الذى خلقته ، فيقول الله تعالى أنا الذي خلقته ومن رزقى أطعمته، ومن روحى أحييته، وفوق ارضى حملته، وتحت سمائى ظللته، فإن عرفنى عرفته وإن ذكرنى ذكرته ، وإن نسينى ذكرته ، وغن خاصمنى صالحته وإن تباعد عنى ناديته فمن أين تجدون ربا مثلى وأنا الغفور الرحيم"
هذا هو سيدى الذي أحبه وأعبده ، اتذلل إليه فيعزنى ، أطيعه فيسعدنى، أعصيه واعترف بذنبى وأعود إليه فيراعى ضعفى ويقبلنى ويقبل علىَّ ويرضينى.
"إنه ربى" "إنه هو يبدئ ويعيد، وهو الغفور الودود، ذو العرش المجيد ، فعال لما يريد
إنه ربى "إن ربى رحيم ودود"

The attributes of God, Speech by Dr. Ibrahim Abu Mohammad

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful
A devotee speaks about his Master and Lord
Allah is My Lord, My Lord is Most Merciful Most Loving

When Al-Hassan, son of Ali, was asked about the evidence for the existence of God, he turned his face away from the person asking the question and said: Glory to you My Lord, when did You become absent to need evidence to point to You? When did You become distant to need things to manifest Your presence, an eye that does not see Your Observing presence is indeed blind and a deal that does not have a share of your love is indeed a losing deal.

When Abu Bakr the Truthful was asked how he came to know His Lord, he said: I knew my Lord through my Lord, had it not been for my Lord, I would not have known my Lord. He was asked again: how did you know Him? He said: the inability to comprehend is comprehension and to search into the nature of God can lead to polytheism.

When Imam Ali was asked: Did you see your Lord, O Imam? He responded: How do I worship what I do not see. They asked: how have you seen Him? He said: If the eyes are incapable of seeing Him with their ability of sight, the hearts will see Him through the truth of faith.

Our human minds dear friends have their limits, just like electrical goods, if these goods were to be given a higher voltage, they may be ruined or they may even explode. In this sense, talking about God is only perfected if the speech follows the manner that God had chosen to introduce us to Himself. Further, the name Allah points to God, it is a name that had never been given to anyone else.
Allah is the first without beginning and the Last without Ending.
Allah is known through kindness and is described through perfection.
Allah is One, not from shortness of numbers, He exists without deficiency.
"He is the First and the Last, the Manifest and the Concealed, And He is the Knower of all things." (57:3)
It would not be right to enquire about Him with "where", because He created all place and space, it would not be right to ask about Him with "when" because He created time. Allah was when there was nothing, He is as He was, unchanged from what He was, He knows what was, knows what is, knows what will be, and knows what would not happen, if it were to happen, how it would have happened.

Allah sees all things, hears all things, His omniscience encoumpasses all things, He would not be distracted with seeing something from seeing another, He is not distracted with hearing something from hearing another, He is the Creator of all things, there is nothing like unto Him, He is the All-Hearing, All-Seeing.

"Allah is the Creator of all things, He is the Guardian and Disposer of all affairs. To Him belong the Keys of the heavens and the earth: and those who reject the signs of Allah, it is they who will be in loss." (39:62-63)
"With Him are the keys of the unknown, none know them except Him, He knows what is in the land and in the sea, there is not a leaf that falls except with His knowledge, nor a grain in the dark (depths) of the earth, nor something green or withered, except that it is in a clear record." (6:59)
He is not reached with the five senses, nor comparable to His creation: "No eyes can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all eyes, He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things." (6:103)
He is singularly unique with all the attributes of majesty, perfection and beauty, everything is subdued before His Might, submitting to Him, returning to Him, in His hand alone are the keys for all affairs, the entire earth is his grasp on the day of resurrection and the heavens are folded in his right hand, glory to Him and Elevated High is He above all that they associate with Him. He says concerning Himself: "We indeed give life and cause to die and to Us is the return. The day that the earth will be rent asunder, from (people) hurrying out; that will be a bringing together that is quite easy for Us." (50:43-44)
"Allah is He Who created you from dust, then from a sperm drop, then made you into male and female, no female conceives or lays down (her load) except with His knowledge, nor is a long lived person granted length of days nor is a part of his life cut off except that it is in a book, that is all easy for your Lord." (35:11)
"Allah knows what every female carries and what the wombs may fall short in or exceed (the duration of pregnancy), every single thing is before His sight in due proportion. He knows the unseen and that which is open, He is the Great, the Most High. It is the same (to Him) whether one of you keeps his speech secret or makes it openly, or one who hides at night or walks forth freely by day." (13:8-10)
"No eyes can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all eyes, He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things." (6:103)
"He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, He made for you spouses from your own kind and made pairs from among cattle, by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him, He is the One that hears and sees all things. To Him belong the keys of the heaven and earth, He increases and restricts the sustenance to whom He wills, for He knows full well all things." (42:11-12)

He created me as an act of Grace from Him, He made worldly life the place of my testing to bring to reality His kindness towards me and His justice in relation to me.
He is not benefited from my acts of obedience nor harmed through my disobedience, despite that, He charges me with obligations as a point of honour, He commanded me and forbade me. Commanded me towards goodness to make me happy and forbade me from evil to protect me.
He sent me a messenger who was a "mercy to the worlds", so he explained all things to me, he elaborated on things that needed elaboration and clarified everything that was mysterious. His condition to believe in him (as Muhammad, the messenger of God, peace and blessings upon him) was to also believe in all his brothers, the prophets who preceded him, he asked me not to distinguish between them because he himself, peace and blessings upon him, never discriminated against any of them. This is why his followers are asked to believe in all the prophets and messengers and not to give him preference over them nor discriminate against any of them.
He knew who I was, from where I came, why I came and to where I will go. He defined clearly for me my goal, my role and my message in this world.
He sent for me a way of life (Sharia) that complements, completes and perfects all the preceding divine teachings. He told me in His revealed book: "The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah – that which We have sent by revelation to thee – and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses and Jesus: namely that you should remain steadfast in religion; and make no divisions therein: As to the polytheists, they see this as a difficult path to which you are calling them. Allah chooses to Himself whom He chooses and guides towards Himself those who turn to Him." (42:13). This Sharia protects me and protects all life around me; the environment, the people and the place.
He has taught me through this Sharia that life is sacred for all things, so it is not permissible to transgress against it, and that the human being is a construct from God, cursed is the one who demolishes it, and that whoever kills a soul other than in the course of justice or for spreading corruption on the earth, then it is as if he had killed all humanity and whoever saves a life, it is as if he saved all humanity.
He taught me through this way of life to add to the elements of beauty in life and to bring new beauty to this universe. He also taught me to confine the catalysts of ugliness and evil in others to the best of my ability. He also commanded me not to cause corruption saying: "Do not cause corruption in the earth after it had been set right". He taught me to protect the environment and the cleanliness of the street and to protect public order as being instrumental parts of my faith. He also commanded me to greet people with a cheerful face and to cooperate with them in removing harm. He taught me that the great heart is the one that shares others in their joys even when it is sad and their sorrows even when it is happy. He told me that my smile to the face of my brother is an act of charity, and providing guidance to a lost person is an act of charity and to take some of my property out of my bucket and put it in my brother's bucket is also an act of charity.
He taught me that He created the earth for all people, saying: "And the Earth, he placed for all people."
He taught me to champion the right to plurality in faith, race, language and that living with such plurality is not just a matter of choice made by people at their whims, but rather is a law made by God in relation to existence and that the person who will hold the highest honour with Allah is the one who rises above personal grudges and is forgiving with others and employs his skills and resources to help take humanity forward and improve their standard of life in accordance with the great Islamic principle that the best person is the one who is most beneficial to others, and that all people are dependent on God, the most beloved person to God is the one who is most beneficial to His dependents.
I learned from the human experience that freedom is a term that can only work with certain restrictions, my faith taught me that freedom is a term that must be defined and it distinguished between restrictive conditions and those that limit activity, livelihood and movement, it taught me the principle of "no harm" and that "avoiding harm takes priority over achieving a benefit." In this regard, freedom springs from catalysts that are based on moral uprightness which seeks to benefit humanity, not merely the benefit of the market.
My God taught me that pollution and corruption of the environment begins with a corruption in the soul and that moral pollution which is found in grudges, hatred, racism and duplicity in standards leads to physical pollution. He taught me that a breach in the values of truth, trustworthiness and loyalty leads to the breach in the Ozone layer because a corrupt soul will spread the ugliness of corruption throughout its surroundings.
My faith taught me that true civilisation begins with keeping the hearts alive and the souls pure, it does not with filling the world with concrete jungles and sky-scrapers. And that it is better for people to live on the ground whilst honest and pure than to soar into the horizon as thieves.

My Lord reproved me through His prophet, peace and blessings upon him, saying: "I and the Humans and Jinn have a great issue, I create, yet something else is worshipped, I provide but something else is thanked, My goodness descends upon them whilst their evil ascends to Me. I come to them with My blessings borne through My love for them whilst I have no need for them, yet they distance themselves from Me through acts of disobedience despite being the most dependent on Me. If they repent to Me, I am their beloved, I welcome them from a distance: welcome O penitent ones, if they do not repent to Me, I am their Doctor, I may afflict them with tribulations to cleanse them from sins and deficiencies. Those who remember Me are those who sit with Me, those who thank Me are they who receive more from Me, those who disobey Me, I will never forsake them of My mercy. A good deed is treated by Me like ten and I may increase whilst a bad deed is treated as one and I may forgive, My Mercy precedes My wrath and My forbearance precedes My bringing to account."

My Lord taught me never to despair of His Mercy or forgiveness. He stated to me through his prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him: "Had those who turn away from Me known how I wait for them and how gentle I am with them and how much I long for them to cease from their acts of disobedience, they would come. This is for those who turn away from me, what do you think of those who come to Me?" He has taught me that even a minute of life left is long enough to have great hope in the Mercy of Allah, He has addressed my kind saying: "Son of Adam, I commanded you but you turned away, I forbade you but you did anyway, I concealed your faults but you became daring, I turned from you but you did not care. O you who when called by slaves responds but when called by the Majestic turns away and goes far, if you ask of Me, I will give you, if you pray to Me, I will respond to you, if you fall ill, I will cure you, if you submit, when cured, I provide for you, if you come to me, I accept you, if you repent, I forgive you for I am the Oft-forgiving Most Merciful."

God opened for me all the gates of hope regardless of the scale of my sin, he alerted me to the breadth of His mercy so that I do not fall prey to Satan or a prisoner of despair, He said to me: "If you repent to Us, then break your repentance, return to Us again, if you break it a second time, do not let your shame prevent you from returning a third time, I am the Forbearing who is not hasty, I am the Forgiving without holding back, who has ever stood in Our door and was repelled, who has ever resigned from his sin and did not find forgiveness? I indeed forgive the sins and conceal the faults and provide relief to the one with an affliction, I show mercy to the weeping penitent, I am the knower of the unknown, my slave, stand in my door, I will record your name on the list of those I love, enjoy nearness to me, I will give you to drink from my very delicious drink."

Allah has taught me that His perfection fixes our deficiency, that His power shows compassion to our weakness and that being humble before Him, acknowledging our weakness and shortcoming and sinfulness is the way to His forgiveness, He said: "When the disobedient slave weeps for his sins and acknowledges his faults before His Master and Beloved and says: My God, I have done wrong. Allah Most High will say: I will overlook (and cover your sins). The slave will say: I am regretful, Allah Most High will say: I know. The slave will say: My God, I have returned. Allah Most High will say: and I have forgiven."

"My slave, do not despair of My Mercy, if you have the trait of treachery because I am known for My Generosity, if you have mistakes, I am One that always gives, if you have committed wrong, I make right, if you are dry and distant, I have Loyalty, if you are oblivious, I am Merciful, if you are fearful and penitent, I am Accepting and Responsive."

It has been said that the earth and the oceans conspired against the son of Adam, the earth said: "O Lord, this slave of Yours, You created him with your own hand, you made me servile to him through your Power, he ate from Your provisions and worshipped others, permit me to crack under him and become his grave? The oceans said: O Lord, this slave of Yours, You created him with Your own hand, and made me servile to him through Your power, he eats from your provisions and worshipped other than you. Permit me to drown him inside me. Allah Most High asks: My earth and my oceans, who created my slave? The earth and the oceans will say: You are the One who created him. Allah Most High says: I am the One Who created Him and from My provisions fed him, from my very soul I have given him life, I carry him on my earth and under my heaven I provide him shade. If he gets to know me, I will know him, if he mentions me I will mention him, if he forgets me, I will remember him, if he was to show animosity towards Me, I will make peace with him, if he was to distance himself from Me, I will call him, where would you find a Lord like Me, I am the Most Forgiving Most Merciful."

This is my Master whom I love and worship, I humble myself to Him so he gives me honour, I obey him and He gives me joy. I disobey him, acknowledge my mistake and return to him, He considers my weakness, accepts me and comes to me and consoles me. "He is my Lord," "He initiates and brings back, He is the Forgiving the Loving, with the Glorious throne, He does as He chooses."

He is my Lord, "indeed My Lord is Most Compassionate, Most Merciful."

Prepared by Dr. Ibrahim Abu Mohammad
Translated by Keysar Trad
Delivered by Elsayed Kandil

صفات الله حسب التعاليم الاسلامية والتعاليم المسيحية

صفات الله تعالى وكيف عرفت ربي
أمسية تعارف بين الاسلام والمسيحية بعنوان: صفات الله تعالى وكيف عرفت ربي
جمعية الصداقة الاسلامية الاسترالية
برنامج رعته الأبرشية الكاثوليكية في باراماتا بالتعاون والتنسيق مع رئيس جمعية الصداقة الاسلامية الاسترالية الحاج قيصر طراد والسيد دايفد ميلز من جمعية مبادرات للتغيير وبحضور مدعي استراليا العام معالي الوزير فيليب رادوك وقنصل مصر العام في سيدني السيد طارق ابو سنة.

كانت هناك عروض بحث من أربعة متكلمين ينتمون إلى كلا الديانتين وعرف البرنامج السيد ديفيد ميلز.

فتقدم صاحب الغبطة سيادة المطران كيفن مانينغ ورحب بالحضور وعبر عن أهمية مثل هذه اللقاءات، وقال أنه شخصياً يفضل أن يقول أن أعرف مسلماً، على أن يدعي أنه يعرف كل شي ء عن الإسلام.

تكلمت السيدة حنيفة الحسن عن جمعية الصداقة الاسلامية الاسترالية . بعد أن حمدت الله وأثنت عليه وذكرت قول الإمام علي رضي الله عنه: الحمدلله الدال على وجوده بخلقه, وبمحدث خلقه على أزليته, وباشتباههم على أن لا شبيه له.
وقول الشيخ الشعراوي رحمه الله إن معرفتنا بوجود الخالق سبحانه وتعالي:
هي أولاً وقبل كل شيء أمر فطري غريزي
وهي ثانياً شيء عقلي، يدرك بالعقل،
وهي ثالثاً شيء تجريبي, يكمن أصله في الحس والإدراك.
وقالت أنها عرفت الله منذ طفولتها ورأته عظمته في كل ما حولها وأحبت أن تعبده فبدأت الصلاة والصيام في عمر خمس سنوات،. وبدأت تواظب على قراءة القرآن من عمر عشر سنوات. وكيف تأثرت بكلام الله، واستمعت خطابه من خلال القرآن الكريم وتجلت لها صفاته وأسماءه وعاشت قصص أنبياء ومعاناتهم ليوصلوا إلى الناس الرسالات التي حملّها الله إياهم.
علمني القرآن أن الله اتخذ إبراهيم عليه السلام خليلا، وأن بإمكانه عز وجل أن ينجيني من الغم والكرب كما نجا يونس عليه السلام، علمني أنه بالدعاء بإمكاني أن أساعد المريض على الشفاء عندما أراني كيف تجلت قدرته في عيسى عليه السلام. علمت أن لله من اصطفاهم أمثال مريم عليها السلام التي فضلها على نساء العالمين.
نعم لقد عرفت ان العزة له والملك وانه يعلم كل شيء، ويقدر كل شيء، ونعمه أكبر من أن تحصى وذكرت باختصار قول سماحة مفتي استراليا الشيخ تاج الدين الهلالي: أن الله عز وجل جعل الكون حقل لنا لنعمره ويختبرنا فيه، وبقدر ما نحترم مقدراته وموارده، بقدر ما نتنعم نحن وأولادنا من بعدنا به، وحيث أن أعيش معكم في هذا العالم، وجب علي أن أتعاون معكم، ليس على السبيل الشخصي فحسب بل لنتشارك بالموارد ونقدم مايمكن تقديمه على الصعيدين المادي والمعنوي. وهكذا نحتاج إلى حرية الضمير. وهكذا يتخطى هذا التعاون اختلاف الألوان واللغات والأديان".
لقد عرفت إلهاً يسمع دعاءنا ويعاملنا بود ورحمة. وهو كامل في كل شيء وتتجلى رحمته في عظمته.

أما بالنسبة للدكتور جيرارد كيلي الذي مثل الطائفة الكاثوليكية في هذه الامسية والذي عمل ككاهن في أبرشية سيدني منذ عام 1980. وهو عضو في اتحاد الكنائس في أستراليا وشارك في مؤتمرات عديدة منها تدعو إلى توحيد الكنائس, ومؤتمرات تقارب بين الأديان.

فبدأ كلامه بحديثه عن موسى ولقاء ربه والشجرة المحترقة. وكيف أعلن الله أنه إلهه واله آبائه إبراهيم واسحق ويعقوب. وكيف سأله موسى عن اسمه ليخبر الناس عن ما رأى فقال له: "أنا من أنا" . وهكذا تتجلى صفات الله. فهو مقدس ويمكننا التكلم عن عظمته وهو قريب يمكننا أن نتكلم إليه. وهو إله شخصي وقد عرفنا أنه تحدث إلى آدم.
وعرفناه إلهاً شخصياً وللناس العاديين علاقات مباشرة به فهو ينجي العباد .
وإذا نظرنا إلى حادثة الشجرة نجد أن الله لم يعط لموسى اسماً له فهل هذا يعني أنه ليس له اسم؟ يقول داوود في المزامير: الإله عظيم ويستحق كل حمد، ويستحق أن يُخشى وهو فوق كل الآلهة. الله قدوس وهذا يعني أنه غير مخلوق وهذا ما يميزه عن العالم وما يدل أنه لم يمر وقت لم يكن فيه الله.
والنص الثاني هو صلاة شيما: اسمع يا إسرائيل الله هو إلهنا لوحده يقول البابا بنيدكت إن هذا يعني أمرين هامين: الأول هو ان هذه الآلهة ليست بآلهة ويعني أن العالم أصله من الله وهو الذي خلقه. والعالم كله أوجده الله وهو خالق كل شيء. والثاني ان الله يحب الناس فالله محبة.
وقال إن: صفات الله مثل مجموعة يدل بعضها على بعض، وصلاة المسيحيين تقدر وتجل هذه الصفات.

وتكلمت السيدة هيلين ريتشمند من اتحاد الكنائس فقالت:
إن شعورها بوجود الخالق بدأ عند اهتمامها بمراقبة مخلوقاته الصغيرة في الغابة، والأن ما زالت تجد راحة حسية في مشاهدة وسماع هذه المخلوقات . لقد رحبت الكنيسة بها منذ كانت طفلة، وقالت إن التقاط الدين كالتقاط البرد لا يمكن التهرب منه، وان لديها ذكريات رائعة عندما استمعت الأنباء الرائعة عن أنها في قلب الرب ما رأته في يسوع. هذه التجربة جعلتها تتبع خطاه، وتتحسس قربه فرافقها طيلة أيام حياتها. وبدأت في قراءة النصوص فكان الإنجيل الخبز الذي يغذي حياتها الروحية.
فرأت أجمل صفات الله في يسوع تتجلى في حسن الضيافة والترحيب. الإله الذي يسرع لاستقبالنا. هذا الإله يبحث عنا حتى يجدنا. والإله الذي نجد في يسوع يأخذ إنسانيتنا فيعتقها، يقوم برحلات, يدخلا حياتنا ليرينا قدرة الرب فينا، وهو يدعو لنأكل على طاولته حتى لو كنا لا نستحق ذلك. والكلمة الإنجيلية للضيافة هي حب الغرباء. فهي تشمل أكثر من معارفنا وأقربائنا.
عندما نستقبل الغريب في قلوبنابطريقة خفية فإننا نستقبل الله. . فصفة الخالق بالنسبة لي عندما نلتقي في لقاء تقارب بين الأديان هي أنه أكبر من ما يدركه تصورنا ووصفنا، فليس لحبه حدود، وحيث أن هناك كثير من الأشياء التي نراها بطريقة مختلفة فروح الله هي القاسم المشترك بيننا وهو الذي يجمع القلوب لنظرة واحدة وهدف واحد وأغنية واحدة وهي حب الله من كل قلوبنا وأن نحب بعضنا بعضاً.

القى الشيخ السيد قنديل كلمة الدكتور إبراهيم أبو محمد التي ترجمها له الحاج قيصر طراد الى اللغة الإنكليزية، وكانت بعنوان:
عبد يتحدث عن سيده ومولاه
الله ربى إن ربى رحيم ودود
عندما سئل الحسن بن على ما الدليل على وجود الله فأشاح بوجهه عن السائل وقال:
سبحانك ربى متى غبت حتى تحتاج إلى دليل يدل عليك ؟ ومتى كنت بعيدا حتى تكونالأشياء هي المظهرة لك ، عميت عين لاتراك عليها رقيبا ، وخسرت صفقة عبد لم تجعل له من حبك نصيبا ،
وعندما سئل ابو بكر الصديق كيف عرفت ربك يا أبا بكر فقال بربي عرفت ربي ولولا ربي ماعرفت ربي، قالوا فكيف عرفته قال : العجز عن الإدراك إدراك ، والبحث في ذات الله إشراك .
وعندما سئل الإمام على وقيل له أرأيت ربك يا إمام ؟ أجاب وكيف أعبد ما لا أرى ، قالوا فكيف رأيته؟ قال: إن كانت العيون لا تراه بمشاهدة العيان فالقلوب تراه بحقيقة الإيمان،
§ وقال إن الحديث عن الله لا يتم إلا بالطريقة التى اختارها الله ليعرفنا بذاته عن طريقها. ولفظ الجلالة(الله) علم على الذات لم يسم بهذا الاسم غيره
الله أول بلا بداية وآخر بلا نهاية.
الله بالبر معروف وبالإحسان موصوف.
الله واحد لا من قلة ، موجود لا من علة .
§ هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ وَالظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنُ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ" الحديد
§ خلقنى تفضلا، وجعل الحياة لى محل اختبار وامتحان ليحقق إحسانه إلىًّ وعدله فيًّ
§ لاتنفعه طاعتى ولا تضره معصيتى ومع ذلك كلفنى تشريفا فأمرنى ونهانى أمرنى بكل خير ليسعدنى ونهانى عن كل شر ليحمينى

واختتم الأمسية بعد أن أجاب المتكلمين عن أسئلة الحضور الحاج قيصر طراد بشكر المتكلمين والحضور وهذه الابيات من الشعر:

صفاته الجمال والكمال وليس له شريك بأي حال
هو الغني نتوكل عليه والمخلوقات عليه عيال
العزير والعزة له ومنه العز ينال
الرحمن بالحق والرحمة من عنده تنال
الرحيم الودود الرزاق للخلق دون سؤال
لا يعرف الحب إلا به وكل شيء من دونه شهوة وهواء
طاعته تملأ الحياة جمالاً ومعصيته للعاصي وحشة وجفاء
الله الجبار القوي الرحمن صفات إله واحد كلها عند المؤمنين سواء
هو إلهنا ورازقنا الرب العزيز نحمده على كل ضراء وسراء
الله محور كلامنا في مجالسنا ومواقفنا ومسيرنا سواء
السلام الودود الخالق المصور خلق الإنسان
بشرا يزلنا النسيان وذكر الله يرفعنا لدرجة الإحسان
كمال الحب بالله وحبه يفوق كل حب وليس من حب وحب الله سيان
ينظر إلينا فيكافئ المحسن ويغفر للمسيء برحمته وهي للمؤمنين برهان
الهنا ربنا سيدنا كل شيء لنا إغفر لنا فإنا في بشريتنا قصران
نعم نحبه حباً لا يضير بنا المستهزئينا ولو نشروه بيان
حتى تعرفوه يعني أن كل حب ليس فيه ضياع وهوان

Interfaith Forum, the Attributes of God from a Muslim and a Christian Perspective

April 07, a program was jointly convened by the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta and Initiatives of Change to discuss the Attributes of God from a Muslim and Christian Perspectives, this program was invitation only for community and religious leaders.
K Trad thanking the speakers, to his right are David Mills from Initiatives of Change and Ms. Hahifeh El Hassan who spoke from a Muslim perspective.

The speakers from right to left, K Trad who gave the word of thanks, Rev. Helen Richmond speaking from a Uniting Church perspective, Sh. Elsayed Kandil who translated for speaker Dr. Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, Dr. Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, Bishop Kevin Manning who opened the program, Dr. Gerard Kelly, Ms. Hanifeh El Hassan

Malenie Interfaith Festival March 07

The Islamic Friendship Association of Australia Inc was a proud supporter and participant in the Malenie Interfaith Festival on the Sunshine Coast in march 07

Towards a Cohesive Australia, word of thanks by K Trad

Towards a Cohesive Australia, word of thanks by K Trad
My word of thanks, notesThanked Helen, Jane Favoto, Chris Murray, David and his wife and expressed my profound respect for Bishop Manning without whom we wouldn't have even got the first program off the ground and thanked him for his help now that we are in the fifth program.I thanked all the speakers and presented them with plaques/trophies, the ladies were also presented with flowers.
I thanked Dooleys for their generosity and indicated the extent in terms of the free dinner for which the numbers kept growing.

I thanked Cardinal Cassidy and nominated him for the position of pope and said:

Their eminences as men of faith spoke about love.
The politician spoke tough
The author spoke personal experience.

I thanked Sr. Libby Rogerson for chairing the program.

I thanked the Mufty for going outside his comfort zone and making the attempt to present his speech in English and made the point that in the present public debate on speaking English, that the audience understood the Mufty more during question time becaue he used a translator and understood less during the speech because he did not use a translator, so the public debate where some insist that eloquent speakers speak broken English without a translator is an injustice to the audience and to the public.

I made the point that this gathering that brings people together with respect, love and understanding is one that makes God pleased with us, hence He has blessed us, especially with all the different organisations such as Dooleys refusing to take our money and giving us the hall, the dinner and the refreshments motivated by love and goodness. This pleases God and upsets Satan. It was not just Dooleys, but also, the florist refused to take money for the flowers, someone brought me $200 worth of stamps for the invitations and both the Bishop and David insisted on paying for the printing.

I noted and responded to some of Tony Abbott's comments:In relation to Terrorism: I said: Terrorism is borne of fear, the terrorist tries to frighten those he or she believes to be persecuting him/her. We cannot stop young people from falling victim to this with isolation, exclusion, hatred or division. The fire that may deceive a recruit into terrorism can only be combated with the cool water of love, inclusion, respect, understanding and friendship.

In relation to his reply to the question on the Cronulla Riots, Mr. Abbott said that this was a law and order matter and that the police should arrest the people involved. I replied to this by saying: I agree that the riots were a law and order matter, however, I do not agree that they were a police matter, it was a political matter in that the decision not to caution the shock jocks who share the responsibility for inciting the violence is made at a much higher political level.

I thanked Tony for his support of multiculturalism at a time when some politicians were criticising it as mushy.

I also thanked Tony for quoting the comments from the Afghan Student who was happy to be able to rebut the Prime Minister in Australia. I said that it would seem that the Afghan finally found True Islam in Australia and that his case reminded me of the old woman who stood up during a speech by the Caliph and corrected him and how a man stood up, waved his sword and said to the Caliph: If you deviate from justice, I will correct you with my sword. The Caliph turned to God and thanked God that his constituency had the courage to speak out to him. He did not introduce counter terrorism laws, he did not persecute him, he did not threaten or in any way hinder this constituent.

A special word of thanks to Elkheir Florist and to translator Sh. Elsayed Kandil.

Towards a Cohesive Australia, Speech by Mufti Alhilali

Towards a cohesive Australia

Brothers and sister, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening and Peace be with you.

Permit me to address you as an old man who is trying to make up for his poor English with a heart that overflows with faith in and love and respect for others. I want my words to flow my heart to yours.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is a principle that all rational beings celebrate:

Harmonious diversity is one of the secrets of beauty.

Just look at any flower garden or any bouquet of flowers, their beauty is in the combination of different colours and different types of flowers. It is similar with us, the secret of our beauty as a human race is to be found in our diversity of colours and voices. Likewise, the appeal of music lies in its reliance on the seven different notes: Do Re Mi, Fa So La Ti.

Allah created humanity and distinguished it over all created beings by giving it reason, through this reason, we can construct, beautify and ornament this world. It is through this reason that we can understand and believe in one another. It is through reason that we see that the beautiful nation we share was not created to be the exclusive property of any individual, rather, it is for cohabitation with others whom we must offer love, support and cooperation.

We must look at our neighbours like our own brothers and at our nation as the home that we all share, we can be successful when our hearts are compassionate towards one another and we cooperate with our skills, this will transform this beautiful home, this beautiful nation into a paradise. However, if there is an escalation of clashes, enmity and isolation, this home will feel straitened and the brothers will feel miserable and tired.

Islam presents the comprehensive conclusion of the Divine revelations from God Almighty stressing the importance of harmony amongst our diverse humanity.

1 – No Muslim is a true Muslim until he or she believes in all the prophets and messengers of God and in all the books sent by God.

2 – The Muslim must respect the belief system of others, The Holy Qur`an states:
a – Let there be no compulsion in religion.
b – Say: The truth is from your Lord, whoever wishes, let him believe and whoever wishes, let him disbelieve.
3 – The mercy and grace of God only come to those who are merciful and gracious towards others. Hadith: Those who are merciful will find mercy with Allah. And, the one who does not show mercy will not receive mercy.
4 – The love of God will be granted to those who love others.
5 – A person’s status with God depends on the goodness that this person offers to fellow human beings. God loves us all, He does not prefer any race over another.

Every Australian who is fortunate to live in this beautiful nation must understand the following:

1 – All Australians go back to one father, this is Adam and one mother, this is Eve. We all have the same colour blood and we all have the same limbs.
2 – Australia can grow and rejoice and become a paradise through love and understanding.
3 – Australia is the home that provides us shelter and protection, its security is the responsibility of each and every one of us.
4 – Australians are like a football team, we can only win through cooperation and support of one another.
5 – As Australians, we are all traveling on the same boat, if the boat is safe, we are all safe, if she is threatened, we all threatened.
6 – Every Australian who is proud of his or her faith can confirm and show the nature of the teachings and values of this faith through the benefit and constructive effort that he or she will offer to their society.

The faith of Islam in constructive cohesion was evident from the onset, Islam was quick to put an end to any notion of superiority based on colour, race or wealth. The famous words of the messenger Muhammad peace and blessings upon him are in the heart of every Muslim: No Arab is superior to a non Arab, nor is white over black except through piety. Islam transformed races into brothers and made all people equal with respect to their rights and duties.

This harmony did not stop with humans, it in fact extends to all creatures that share this world with us, this includes the animal kingdom, vegetation and the environment in general. Islam has provided us with teachings that protect the environment, teachings that guarantee the rights and comfort of not only people, but also of animals and even the rights of trees, emphasizing their importance, something that we cannot live without.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasise that Australian society is beautified through our diversity, this diversity allows the reaslisation of the most ambitious constructive goals because it is a microcosm of the whole world in which we live. This society is strengthened through our cohesion and will greatly progress through mutual cooperation.

We should all work together to build a beautiful, strong and free Australia, to make it a nation whose luminance will brighten the whole world.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen

Towards a Cohesive Australia, Speech by the Hon Tony Abbott

Minister for Health and Ageing
Leader of the House of Representatives
Tony Abbott MHR


At a student leadership forum in Canberra last week, one of the participants was haranguing the Prime Minister for allegedly exploiting community fears about Islam. Another participant, a former Tampa boatperson who had spent time in immigration detention, intervened. He said how proud he was to have become an Australian and to be able to engage in dialogue with the Prime Minister because nothing like it would ever have happened in his native Afghanistan.

To me, this story helps to illustrate how certain fundamentals, such as respect for persons, belief in a framework of rules, and a degree of political classlessness, are not cultural constructs but part of the universal aspiration of mankind. Still, it must be accepted, in the week of the fifth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Centre, that the world is threatened by perverted versions of the quest for grace.

The War on Terror is not a figment of George Bush’s imagination. It is indeed a war against people who are determined to do us harm; as Bali, Madrid, and London, on top of September 11, clearly illustrate. It is a war against terrorism, not a war against Islam. It is a war against terrorists, not against Muslims. As events in Iraq have made crystal clear, the vast majority of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim.

As Tony Blair has said, this is not a battle between civilisations but a battle for civilisation. The problem is not Islam. The problem is a tiny minority of Muslims who believe it is their religious duty to kill those who do not share their particular version of Islam. Hence the War on Terror does not pit Islam against the world, still less the West against the rest, but a misguided minority of Muslims against their fellow Muslims and everyone else.

The War on Terror has already changed the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq. It has changed the law and is changing attitudes in much of the world. Much that is precious is at risk, sometimes from overreaction to the threat. Still, it is hard to overestimate the gravity of the challenge. Does anyone really think that people who would fly civilian aircraft into office buildings would not use nuclear weapons against cities if they could? Does anyone really think that people who regard Western civilisation as a satanic excrescence would desist from their attacks because of a different policy on Iraq or Israel?

Islamic terrorism poses a challenge quite unlike anything ever faced before. It cannot be ended by concessions because its objective appears to be the establishment of a particularly ferocious type of universal caliphate. It cannot be quarantined to particular battle zones because of the range and destructive power of modern technology. Everyone is a potential combatant. Everywhere is a potential war zone.

The War on Terror doesn’t mean that we can ignore the ordinary challenges of creating a strong economy and building a just society. Neither do the obvious imperfections of Western societies mean that we can or should ignore this challenge to their very existence.

Combating terrorism means facing up to all the ways in which Western societies fall short of their professed ideals. How can alienated Muslim males be expected to respect women, for instance, when this city’s bookstands, billboards and TV shows proclaim that women are sex objects? How can devout Muslims be expected to regard Western societies as the flowering of civilisation when so much of modern music, art and writing is obsessed with the banal and the degrading? How can people be expected to take our professed respect for human life seriously, when they constantly see footage of the innocent victims of Anglo-American and Israeli air strikes?

Not for a moment should the deliberate killing of civilians be equated with the unintended consequences of attacks on military targets but it’s important to acknowledge the horrific costs of even the most just war. Regardless of how much people and nations may have been wronged, if we want reconciliation, we must avoid sanctimony and sermonising.

It’s also important to avoid excessive politeness lest we obscure essential issues. It’s important to avoid giving unnecessary offence but not if means tip-toeing around the truth.

As everyone can see, there is no shortage of Western critics of the West. If I may say so, there is a serious shortage of Muslim critics of Islam. If Western societies have been improved because every perceived truth has been subjected to critical scrutiny and every problem has been constantly re-examined for better potential solutions, it’s worth asking whether Muslim societies and communities might not benefit from similar critical self-examination.

To an outsider, Islam lacks a well-developed concept of pluralism or a clear distinction between what belongs to God and what belongs to Caesar. I respectfully put it to Muslims that some practices they dislike might be considered sins rather than crimes. Other practices they dislike might be regarded as tasteless or indulgent rather than against the moral law.

It would be easier for Australians to respect Islam if Islamic leaders seemed readier to condemn terrorism rather than explain how the West has contributed to it, important though that may be. As a non-Muslim, I’d be relieved to hear more often from Islamic leaders that it is never right to kill in the name of God; that sometimes force might be necessary to resist aggression, to end injustice, or to defend the vulnerable but never to assert the superiority of one religion over another. Religion is something we should argue about, not fight over. I accept that it took the West at least 1500 years to learn these lessons but fear for the future of the world if they are not now accepted by everyone.

These are legitimate questions for Muslims to answer given that the September 11 terrorists and those wreaking such havoc in the Middle East and elsewhere profess to kill in the name of Islam. For our part, non-Muslims can try to build even more cohesive societies and create a better security environment but we can’t purge Islam of its extremists nor of justifications for extremism. Only Muslims can do that.

This is the great challenge facing Muslims everywhere but especially Muslims in the West. Muslims in countries like Australia are in a unique position to assess the strengths as well as the weaknesses of Western civilisation. They have the legal right as well as the physical safety (often denied to them elsewhere) to ask the hard questions about their own faith as well as about the faiths and beliefs of others.

We know that it’s possible to be an Australian and a Muslim (rather than an Australian or a Muslim) because that’s been the practical experience of hundreds of thousands of people. What seems to be lacking – and what I hope Australian Muslims might urgently try to formulate – is a philosophy to validate what most people instinctively want.

For its part, the Australian Government will never seek to disqualify anyone from becoming an Australian on the ground of colour, culture, or creed. The Government merely wants to encourage people to acquire the skills necessary to make the most of their new life in their new home. The Government expects people to accept the principle of equal treatment for all and demands only that everyone resident in Australia obey Australian law.

I’m encouraged that discussions such as this are taking place. I’m confident that Australia can only benefit from intensive dialogue between Australian Muslims and people of other faiths. I expect that true Islam has nothing to fear from this kind of questioning. My own faith gives me confidence that that if something is of God it will ultimately prevail but if not it will eventually pass.