Inspired by Fethullah Gulen, Bay Area Turkish Muslims Host an Important Interfaith Gathering in San Francisco

Last night I had the privilege of joining a group of over 200 people attending a dinner hosted by Bay Area Cultural Connections, a Turkish group dedicated to  "promote cross-cultural awareness and inter-religious tolerance through multicultural and interfaith programs."  The gathering brought together Muslims, Christians, and Jews, men and women of faith and education, formally to discuss "respect for the sacred" in each others cultures and informally to simply meet and get to know "the other". 

This was the most significant event of its kind that I have ever attended, if only because the room was full of moderate people who have found their voice and can show mutual respect for each other’s beliefs and traditions through social interaction.  Some men wore jacket and tie, others were in collared open shirts.  Some Islamic women wore hijab, others were in Western attire.  Many of the people I met were from Silicon Valley and engaged in technology businesses.

Five speakers (both clergy and business people) representing Muslim, Christian, and Jewish viewpoints addressed the guests and commented on topics ranging from the need to acknowledge our common heritage to advocacy of interfaith dialogue and the deliberate nature of diversity in our world.

The efforts of the BACC take root from the teachings of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamic scholar who currently lives in Philadelphia and has helped to establish 500 Islamic schools and universities in 90 countries that are open to interfaith dialogue. Gulen is also profiled in Wikipedia.

I applaud the organizers of this event at the BACC and hope that many more such gatherings take place in the U.S.  I met some interesting people and hope to keep in touch with them. Bravo!

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