Dr. Mattson urges joint action by religious communities to face the challenges of the 21st century
By Onder Uluyol, Ph.D., Engage Minnesota
Dr. Ingrid Mattson spoke at the Islamic Center of Minnesota (ICM) on February 2, 2009. The topic of her speech was “Religious Co-existence and the Challenges of the 21st Century.” Dr. Mattson was in town at the invitation of the ICM and was also scheduled to speak at the JRLC event at the State Capitol on February 3. The sold out event at the ICM was attended by a large number of Muslims and people of other faith traditions including several religious leaders from the Christian, and Jewish communities.
The dinner was catered by the Big Marina Grill and featured Kosher and Halal food items to cater to the needs of the diverse gathering.
Dr. Mattson spoke about her election as the first woman president of ISNA (www.isna.net), the largest Muslim organization in North America. Addressing an audience of over 300, she made the case for joint action by religious communities to face the challenges of the 21st century.
She stated that religion has an unique responsibility to preserve the dignity of children of Adam and promote compassion among each other. She emphasized three concepts that religion provides: transcendence, ethics, and community. While keeping their own unique particulars and traditions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism can produce a common language. A language that gives meaning to life through connection to God and enrich our communities by promoting care for the neighbor. She alluded to the Common Word initiative undertaken by a majority of mainstream Muslim scholars worldwide to find common ground with Judaism and Christianity.
She focused on the fact that, in the age of instant gratification and distant communities, religion is the only vehicle that is best equipped to articulate the common and long lasting good and bring people together. Isolated and monotonic activities within the confines of our respective faith communities will not satisfy the next generation. It is our duty to expand the space for the young generation for respectful engagement within and across faith communities and with the rest of God’s creation.
The event ended with a brief question and answer session.