A group of Islamic leaders and educators from six cities in Indonesia completed an eight day mission of dialogue, study and mutual learning in Israel and the Palestinian Authority in January 2017. The visit honoured the vision and wisdom of former Indonesian President and religious leader Abdurrahman Wahid (“Gus Dur”), who was a member of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders.
Accompanied by Jeremy Jones of The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, who organised the visit, the men and women mixed formal meetings, briefings, travelling and dialogue with informal discussions with Jews, Muslims and Christians in a number of cities and towns. Wahid worked closely with Rabbi David Rosen, another member of Elijah’s Board, and Rabbi Rosen addressed the first session of the mission.
“Many Jewish people will know of Rabbi Rosen’s exemplary knowledge of, and passion for, Judaism and Jewish history, but at this meeting he demonstrated an impressive knowledge of Islam and the way Jews and Muslims understand our religious identities”, Jones said.
The eight days concluded with a workshop on “Praying for Peace in Jerusalem”, organised by the Elijah Institute, drawing on our partners from Praying Together in Jerusalem and hosted by the Ecce Homo Convent.
To ensure that the event allowed Muslims to pray at the correct hour, we began with prayers in three groups, Muslims facing Mecca, Jews towards the Western Wall just below us, and Christians in a circle.
“To see Jews, Muslims and Christians, at the points of a triangle on a rooftop overlooking the major religious sites of Jerusalem, each involved in afternoon prayer, then coming together for Jewish and Muslim-led songs celebrating peace, before the three-faiths text study, conducted in English, Arabic, Hebrew and Bahasa Indonesian, was to witness something indescribably inspiring”, Jones emphasised.
The study-circles were led by scholars and Praying Together participants from the three faiths. When Alon Goshen-Gottstein asked all present whether praying side-by-side highlighted difference or minimized it, the Indonesian guests were unequivocal – praying side-by-side enhances prayer and emphasizes our common humanity under the One Divine.