“Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world; it is appeased by love. This is an eternal Law. “
The Buddha (Dhammapada, 5)
“When you see the misfortune of your brother, do not rejoice, for Allah may save him and afflict you with the same misfortune.”
The Prophet Muhammad (as reported by Wa’silah bin al-Asqa’a)
The tragic events of Sept. 11, along with the ongoing war on terrorism and the subsequent backlash against Muslims in this country, have brought home to us as no event in recent history the extreme cost of religious ignorance and intolerance. Osama bin Laden and his Al Queda and Taliban storm troopers were able to exploit the ignorance of young Muslims — not only about Christianity and Judaism, but also about the true nature of Islam itself — and turn that ignorance into a weapon of war. And in the U.S., despite statements and actions by the administration in support of tolerance for Muslims and other religious minorities, religious hate crimes against people of Middle Eastern descent, born out of ignorance, have proliferated.
The purpose for creating this new area of myss.com is to combat ignorance and spread knowledge of the world’s religions in three principal ways:
- To make people aware of the similarities and distinctions among the world’s many spiritual traditions.
- To increase communication among members of different traditions and belief systems.
- To inspire the discussion of news, information, and ideas directly related to religious traditions and religious tolerance.
To facilitate our first goal, I am creating a database of information on the world’s major religious traditions, and many of the smaller ones as well. The database will contain brief accounts of the history and beliefs of each tradition, including some of their most prominent divisions and sects, along with information on key figures and sacred scriptures. This information is drawn from my years of research and writing about the world’s religious traditions, including three books and many articles, my discussions with teachers and practitioners of these religions, my own experience of their teachings and rituals, updated by recent developments in scholarship.
I will also post stories or links of special significance in the struggle for religious understanding. And I will answer your questions on specific issues regarding religious beliefs and practices. Eventually, we will initiate a forum for ongoing discussions of religious issues.
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Peter Occhiogrosso is the author or co-author of over a dozen books on world religion and spirituality, including a series of five books on prayer and healing with Ron Roth, Ph.D. His popular guide to World Religions, The Joy of Sects, is a favorite on college campuses and Web sites around the world. To purchase a copy, please visit Amazon.com.