Wednesday, October 31, 2018


By Lily Hikam*)

"History may have divided us, but faith brings us together.” (Rabbi James Gibson)

These are the words of Rabbi James Gibson, said in the
aftermath of the atrocity committed by a deranged and hateful
gunman at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA on Saturday 25 October that took the lives of 11 Jews on their Holy Day of Shabbat. History will record that moment as the most horrific violent act perpetrated against the Jewish people in American soil.

However, as the old adage say: “every cloud has a silver lining”
in just 24 hours, the Muslim community of Pittsburgh, under the
coordination of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, managed to
raise more than $190,000 (or around IDR 3 billion) to aid the
victims and their families. In this video, Rabbi Gibson, of the Temple Sinai Synagogue stood side by side with Wasi Mohamed, the Executive Director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, giving an interview with the CNN,

In trying times like these, seeing people of different faiths working together and comforting groups of a different faith was inspirational, touching and encourages us to move past the sadness and grief. A senseless tragedy like this one oftentimes bring out the best of humanity. It shows that compassion and empathy are at the core of our beings, and differences in the way of worship are not an obstacle to show our compassion and to help people.

But perhaps the reason why this video has garnered so much attention was because of the sight of a Jewish man and a Muslim man standing side by side, sharing a great friendship among them and taking comfort in the each other’s presence. For some people, this is a peculiar sight since many of them have been accustomed or even raised with the notion that the other side is to be feared or even avoided.

The Rabbi’s words remind us that we have more things in
common with each other than things that sets us apart. While
there are things that differentiate Jews from Muslims from
Christians, underneath it all we are children of God who believe
in a God of Compassion (Al-Rahim). Adding to that, our basic
sense of humanity, one that we were told was shaped in the
image of God, calls on us to do the right thing and embrace our
fellow human beings with understanding and compassion.

Religion, no matter the form it takes, calls on us to spread
kindness to our fellow human being. What the Muslims of
Pittsburgh showed us today in offering a helping hand to their
fellow human beings, who just happened to be followers of the
Jewish faith, is a perfect illustration of rising above the artificial
differences that the arc of history bestowed upon us and
choosing to see each other as what we truly are inside: humans
made in the image of a compassionate God.

*) PhD candidate
Zaragoza Lab,
UCI Cardiogenomics Clinical and Research Program
Department of Biological Chemistry
The University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine

Please watch the video below:


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