Arab Emirates ‘Uniting’ World Religions In Complex
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
ABU DHABI (Worthy News) – The United Arab Emirates has inaugurated a massive complex to unite the world’s religions in the desert state. Backed by the Vatican, the Abrahamic Family House contains a mosque, synagogue, and church in the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi.
Beside each one stands a tall pillar illuminating an Islamic crescent, a Jewish menorah, and a Christian cross shining “a hopeful light for interfaith tolerance and understanding,” officials say.
The road to Thursday’s opening began with Pope Francis’ February 2019 trip to the UAE, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Francis met with the grand imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, leader of the oldest Islamic educational institute in the world.
The meeting ended with their signing of the Document on Human Fraternity, which set goals to foster interfaith understanding.
Four years later, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, called the center a “beacon of mutual understanding.”
The cardinal said, “each has a command to live with brothers and sisters whatever their religion,” suggesting that all religions lead to God. His words seemed at odds with the Bible, which notes in John 14:6 that “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
SYNAGOGUE SHABBAT SERVICE
The Abrahamic Family House joins other regional initiatives, including a special ministry of tolerance and the Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace.
Also, the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue held its first Shabbat services inside the complex, which opens to the public on March 1.
The UAE’s President, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed credited the opening of the first purpose-built synagogue in the UAE to “the country’s history of diversity.”
Knox Thames, a former U.S. State Department special advisor for religious minorities in the Middle East and South/Central Asia, shares the sheik’s enthusiasm.
However, “the UAE has also demonstrated a commitment to promoting tolerance outside its borders,” he noted. Thames said the UAE “supported [UN agency] UNESCO’s effort to reconstruct a historic mosque and two nearby churches in Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, after they were destroyed by ISIS,” also known as the Islamic State group.
Soon a new Hindu temple will open in Abu Dhabi, “further diversifying the religious landscape,” Thames added in a statement.
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