Religions for Peace Japan held Religious Study Session

“What Is The Original Or Fundamental Value Of Humanity?
–Learning From Islam–”

On July 3, the Women’s Committee of Religions for Peace Japan held a religious study session to deepen our understanding of our daily lives from the Islamic viewpoint.

Since 1998, the Women’s Committee has been visiting WCRP’s member groups and affiliated organizations to learn about their history, tenets, peace praxis, etc, for deepening mutual understanding. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, we were not able to visit them. However, with the cooperation of the MUSLIM WORLD LEAGUE Japan Office, the online study session was able to be convened.

MUSLIM WORLD LEAGUE is a non-governmental organization based in Makkah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The organization disseminates the message of Islam with an aim of realizing peace in the world.

In 2015, in collaboration with MUSLIM WORLD LEAGUE and RfP Japan, a dialogue between Muslim and Japanese religious leaders was convened, and it succeeded in advancing the solidarity and friendship between them. Since then, we have been interacting with each other for world peace, based on the mutual understanding that transcends religious differences.

First, Rev. Naoko Kawada, Vice-Chair of the Women’s Committee, gave opening remarks and explained the purpose of the study session. Afterward, Dr.Anas Melih, the MUSLIM WORLD LEAGUE Japan Office representative, gave a lecture on the teachings of Islam and their peace praxis. He shared with us the detailed information of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which is usually only accessible to Muslims, using videos and photos.

During the interaction with the participants, Dr. Anas took each participant’s question sincerely. In response to a question about what kind of environment would be necessary for interreligious dialogue and cooperation, Dr. Anas emphasized that understanding others is most critical.

In the second session, Ms. Albandry bin Mulah Alansari, a Muslimah (Muslim woman), talked about the daily faith, practices, mission, joy and challenges of Muslims.

The teachings of Islam are not just faith or religion but a way of life. The teachings play a significant role in the way we interact and contact others, as well as in the business aspect.

Ms. Albandry emphasized that one of the essential principles of the teachings is to avoid anger and violence and choose peaceful alternatives, that we, all human beings, are created equal, and there should be no racism or discrimination among us. Her message reaffirmed the importance for each participant to respect other religions and coexist peacefully with all peoples.

How much did we know about Islam and the lives of Muslims and Muslimahs? We may only have recognized facts like the tip of the iceberg, what is usually introduced and covered by books and the media, etc.  Our understanding might also be based on stereotyped thoughts. Some people have a distorted idea that the Islamic teachings are rigorous and that their strict rules constrain women. However, in this study session, we were able to see that Muslim women are protecting their dignity and valuing their individuality through the teachings. When we look at the teachings from the proper perspective, we realized that Islam shows humanity the way of having a mind and heart that is commonly necessary for all human beings.

One of the causes of conflicts in the world is said to be a lack of understanding of other cultures and religions. How many of us have unknowingly become embedded in an individualistic society with an exclusive perspective? This study session helped us connect and deepen our understanding among people of faith and religion, also made us reaffirm that we should be based on cultural relativism, not on ethnocentrism.