Speaker brings Christianity, Judaism and Islam together during Stop the Hate Week

A look at the shared roots of Islam, Christianity and Judaism was one highlight of Stop the Hate Week October 1-5 at Fresno Pacific University.

Ghassane Habib, member of Fresno’s Muslim Public affairs Council and the Interfaith Alliance, gave a presentation titled “Misconceptions About Islam” to a classroom packed with about 85 students, faculty and staff. Without downplaying what he called the big difference—that Christians believe Jesus is the son of God while Muslims call him one of the prophets of God and that Christians believe in the trinity—Habib noted the many beliefs that should bring the faiths together:

  • that there is one God
  • that angels exist and act for God
  • that God bought scripture to mankind in words
  • that Mary was a virgin
  • that Jesus performed miracles
  • the importance of Abraham, Moses, Isaac and Ishmael
  • that there will be a day of judgment

Not only do Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in one God, they all worship the same God, according to Habib. “Allah” means “the God” in Arabic, he said, “God is God is God.”

Muslims around the world, and in America particularly, were revulsed by the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Habib said. The perpetrators represent nether neither a religion nor a nation.  “They are basically people who have hate in them,” he said.

During the hour-long talk, Habib read several passages from the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, to show Islam is a religion of peace, allowing only necessary force in self defense. Those who use it to justify terror misuse their religion, just as followers of other religions have sometimes misused theirs, he said. The word “Jihad,” for example, does not mean “holy war,” as it is commonly translated, he said. “It refers to an inner spiritual struggle.”

This was the second annual observance of “Stop the Hate—Build a Culture of Peace” at FPU. The event was begun at California State University, Fresno, in 1997 after the racially motivated assault of a CSUF student. FPU efforts were organized by a group of students, faculty and staff headed by Donna Callahan, social work faculty. Other events included prayer and worship services, a candlelight vigil in downtown Fresno, a drama, a birthday party for Mohandas Gandhi, chapel presentations, forums and videos.