Wisdom July 2010 Issue
Elijah Mourns the Death of Sheikh Abdulaziz Bukhari
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari passed away June 3 at age 61. Sheikh Bukhari participated in many Elijah sponsored activities, over the years.
Bukhari was a direct descendent of Imam Muhammad Ismail al-Bukhari of Bukhara, the ninth-century author of the Hadith al-Bukhari. Sheikh Bukhari led a colony of Palestinians of Uzbek descent, mostly now in Gaza, who have maintained their Uzbek identity for generations.
He died shortly before
a scheduled meeting with Turkish PM Erdogan to discuss reaction to the Gaza Flotilla attack. He devoted much of his life to seeking, through working with like-minded Jewish religious leaders, to use religion as a force for peace and agreement, rather than hatred and division.
This often placed him in a difficult position. For example, he led a delegation to Sderot, to show sympathy for the population there but at the same time to explain to them the sufferings of his own relatives in Gaza. This attempt to promote understanding drew criticism from all sides.
He is featured most recently in our August 2009 newsletter.
The Jerusalem Post carried the following obituary for him, http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=177302
The following words of memory were sent to his family by Elijah director, Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein:
Abdul Aziz was the only person in Jerusalem on whom you could always count for the cause of peace and spirituality. Rising above the changes of politics, he was firm in his spiritual vision, always eager to reach out to others and to make a differenceI recall in 2000, just as the intifada broke out, we started a small meditation group, one Jew, one Christian and one Muslim. We met once a week, I think, at the Dormition abbey, and just sat together and prayed for peace. A small gesture of three men of faith. This small and intimate meditation group had a lasting impression on me.
I followed Aziz’s work with Eliyahu closely, and recall with joy his warm and wonderful contribution at Eliyahu’s wedding. As always, he was a beacon of fatih, optimisim and hope for a new life.
The last time we did an official program together was a few months ago, when one of the heads of the Brahma Kumaris was in Israel and we did[held] a meeting at Yakar discussing the deeper motivations that inform our spiritual and our peace work. Again, Aziz was the natural choice of someone to turn to for such a discussion.
The longest time we spent together was the 10 hour flight to Bangkok we took together, on our way to the Parliament of World Religions in Australia. There I learned of some of the hardships and challenges he was facing, and my heart was somewhat broken for all the difficulties, financial and communal, that he had to face. And yet, he faced them with so much cheer and hope. He did not know where he was going upon arrival in Australia, but that was of no concern to him. He would go to the mosque and everything else would resolve itself. A man of faith.
Jerusalem has lost one of its great citizens. Peace work has lost one of its most important partners. We have all lost a friend.
May the memory of who this wonderful man was be a continuing source of consolation for his family and his community.
Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders Endorses Anti Terrorism Statement
In a tribute to the memory of former Indonesian Prime Minister Abdurrahman Wahid, a founding member of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders, members of the EBWRL signed a statement against terrorism, composed originally for a summit meeting between President Wahid and Chief Rabbi Bakshi Doron. The statement and its signatories are copied below. We ask for your help in further disseminating this statement.
We the undersigned, religious leaders who believe in a creator God, guide of the universe, firmly express our conviction that our religious traditions categorically oppose the use of terrorism. Terrorism is an abomination in
the eyes of God and opposed to a proper understanding of our respective scriptures. It is also opposed to every principle of humanitarian concern. In all our religions God is affirmed as merciful and compassionate and calls on us to be compassionate and merciful accordingly. Causing suffering in God’s name is opposed to the will of God. We affirm the highest religious value to be the sanctity of human life. We condemn those expressions of our religions that speak in the name of our religions and that endorse the use of terrorist means, such as suicide homicides, to achieve political or other goals. While we recognize the value of deep belief in our faiths, to the point of offering our lives for them, this must never be confused with harming innocents in the name of a cause. We also believe that one of the consequences of terrorism is the creation of immense suffering not only for the victims of terror, but also for those who seek to benefit from it, or through it. We encourage religious leaders of all traditions to firmly express their religious conviction against terrorism, thereby helping to purify our religions from a contemporary cancerous growth that threatens to destroy our human face.
Dr. Abdurrahman Wahid, Rector of Darul Ulum Univeristy in East Java, President of the Non Violence Peace Movement, Indonesia
Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, President of the Israeli Sephardic Community Committee, Israel
New Statement Signatories:
Zenkei Blanche Hartman, Abbess Emerita, San Francisco Zen Center
Ven. Bhikkuni Kusuma, Ayya Khema International Buddhist Mandir, Sri Lanka
Ven. Jinwol Lee, President of United Religions Initiative of Korea
Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena, Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, India
Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Museum of World Religions, Taiwan
Bishop Frank Griswold, Episcopal Church, USA
Bishop Lennart Koskinen, Church of Sweden
Metropolitan Nikitas Lulias, Orthodox Church, USA
Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia, Former Secretary of the College of Cardinals and Vatican Chief Librarian and Archivist
Archbishop Boutros Mouallem, Catholic Bishop Emeritus, Haifa and Galilee, Israel
Abbot Primate Notker Wolf O.S.B., Titular head and first representative of the Benedictine Order
Religions of India Leaders
Swami Agnivesh, India
Swami Amarananda, Centre Védantique, Switzerland
Swami Atmapriyananda, Ramakrishna Mission, India
H.H. Chandra Swami, India
Guruji Sri Rishi Prabhakar, India
Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Chairperson of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, UK
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Art of Living Foundation, India
Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Israel
Chief Rabbi Menachem Hacohen, Romania
Rabbi Richard Marker, USA
Rabbi Michael Melchior, Chief Rabbi Emeritus Norway, Former MK, Israel
Rabbi David Rosen, Chief Rabbi Emeritus Ireland, President, International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC)
Rabbi René-Samuel Sirat, Chief Rabbi Emeritus France
His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal, Jordan
Dr. Wahiduddin Khan, Center for Peace and Spirituality, India
Imam Plemon T. El-Amin, Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, USA
Dr. Yihya Mossa Basha, Chairman of the Muslim American Coalition, USA
Sayyed Jawad Al-Khoei, Assistant Secretary-General of the Al-Khoei Foundation, UK
Dr. Adamou Ndam Njoya, President of the Cameroon Democratic Union (CDU), Cameroon
Chief Kadi Ahmed Natour, President of Israel’s High Shari’a Court of Appeal (Chief Kadi), Israel
Moulana Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, President of the All-India Association of Imams and Mosques, India
On Dec. 28-29, 2011 the Elijah Intefaith Institute, with the Lassalle Haus will hold, in Jerusalem, a conference titled “Pilgrims of Peace to Jerusalem”. The conference will follow a six month pilgrimage by foot from Lasalle Haus in Switzerland to Jerusalem. It will provide an opportunity for participants and for those who dwell in Jerusalem and seek her wellbeing to reflect on the spiritual meaning of peace in Jerusalem and on what a pilgrimage of peace to a city that still has no earthly peace might mean.
We invite thinkers and scholars of different religions to take part in this conference. The conference seeks to develop a robust notion of peace as pilgrimage. The importance of pilgrimage is that it is a process that has value in and of itself. While it seeks to arrive somewhere, every step of the way is informed by the goal of the pilgrimage and has value, even if the pilgrimage is not fully realized and even if one does not arrive at the physical destination of the pilgrimage, as intended. What does it mean to be a pilgrim of peace? If Jerusalem is a city of peace and if pilgrimage to Jerusalem is a recognized virtue, in the different Abrahamic traditions, what does it mean to be a pilgrim to Jerusalem as a city of Peace? To meet these goals, we seek to develop a series of inspiring reflections, preferably based upon Scriptural resources, that might allow us to add depth to existing pilgrimages and to gain an important dimension of reflection on the quest for peace, as a spiritual process, rather than a concrete social and political outcome. The contributions of such a discussion will not be a political pact, nor even a motivating call for peace in the region. Rather, the contribution will be a way of enriching religious language and reflection by developing an idea not commonly stated in religious reflection, and doing so from an interreligious perspective and in the concrete historical setting of Jerusalem.
For a fuller presentation of the conference, its goals and method, click here.
If you wish to propose a presentation for this confernce, kindly send a proposal to Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein, email@example.com
We hope that pilgrims from afar will join the inhabitants of Jerusalem in reflecting on Jerusalem as a city of peace.
This issue’s Sharing Wisdom section features some wisdom quotes from Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari, highlighting his work in the area of non violence and anger transformation.
Respect is Like a Mirror
Respect is like a mirror, if you show respect, you receive respect, and if we respect each other, then we can receive the same respect. Now if you meet somebody from a different religion, you have to respect him, to show respect, so he will have to respect you in return. But if you disgrace a religious person, it will come back to you too. We are living in the holy land, the land of G-d, and we have to show respect for each other. We have to respect each other’s holy places, respect the places where people worship, respect the people who worship G-d, and work on building the respect between each other. That’s the best way to find a solution to this problem here, by showing respect to the others. When you respect the others the others respect you too.
Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right
I always say two wrongs don’t make a right. If somebody did something wrong and you do the same, it will never come to right. You can’t correct something by doing the same bad, wrong, mistake that he does. If somebody does something wrong, you have to show how to change him, with a smile, with accepting his wrong, and showing him what’s right. Mahatma Gandhi, in India, with nonviolence, was able to change many things. Nelson Mandela, in South Africa, Martin Luther King Jr. These are the model words, we are talking about something that people can read and know about them. Always, wrong can bring another wrong, but when you stick with that wrong by showing goodness and kindness, you can change it. Now if somebody hit me, and I told him thank you and I walk away, I wouldn’t add to the violence, but if I hit him back, he is going to hit me again, I am going to hit him again and it’s going to go on until we kill one another. I think the stronger one is the one who can absorb the violence and the anger from the other, and change it to love and understanding. And it’s not easy, it’s not easy, it will take a lot of energy, it will take a lot of power and this is the real jihad, how to fight the wrong with good, how to transform hate to love. Somebody hit you the first time, and you said it’s alright and you walked away, I know exactly inside of him he is going to feel guilty. His conscience is going to tell him, “he was right and you were wrong, because he walked away.” And Gandhi said, an eye for an eye will make everybody blind. That’s how we can transform the wrong with right, and change things, because if we are all going to kill one another, who is going to remain in this world? We have to put an end to the violence by showing love, and that is the real power.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari
The following transcript is taken from a video with Sheikh Bukhari:
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