Faith leaders from three major world religions came together to speak about prayer Tuesday, April 30, at the Islamic Center of NWA.
Phil Butin, a reverend at the First United Presbyterian Church, represented Christians in the “Abrahamic Faiths Panel,” which also featured Muslim and Jewish teachers.
While negative events have caused these religions to seem opposed, Butin and his fellow panelists explained many similarities between the Middle East-originated beliefs.
The Abrahamic Faiths Panel meets three times a year: In a church, in a synagogue, and in a mosque.
Instead of focusing on the major religions’ differences, the purpose is to find similarities.
“Well, there’s been too much conflict between the Abrahamic faiths, and we really have a lot of heritage,” Butin says.
“Most of Christianity and Islam have a lot of the same thing,” Riyaza Abdeen says.
This mosque is Riyaza Abdeen’s place of worship.
She goes to these panels to connect with people of separate beliefs.
“I learned in a Catholic school in Sri Lanka, so I know some, but, you know, I want to expand my knowledge and everything,” Abdeen says.
Butin agrees that you’ll learn more from an atypical chat than you ever could from talking to someone just like you.
“That builds respect, and that builds trust, and that builds friendship,” Butin says.
So he teaches, asks questions and sometimes just sits back and watches because these panels show him why the key to understanding begins with a simple conversation.