In 2002, Bruce Feiler wrote Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths. It became a New York Times booklist bestseller.
In the book, Feiler goes to great lengths to show the common origin of the three major religious faiths—Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—by examining the defining role that Abraham plays in the lives of half the world's believers. The recount of Abraham's life is central in the Bible, the Koran, and the Torah.
There is a compelling visual image as Feiler describes the scene in the city of Jerusalem, beginning at dawn on a Friday in December as hundreds of thousands make this annual pilgrimage. He describes how at a point of convergence, how members in the crowd turn in different directions: "Christians turn north. Today is the last Friday before Christmas ... Jews turn south. Today is the last Friday of Hanukkah…. Muslims turn east. Today is the last day of Ramadan ...
Each major faith lays historical claim to this piece of land as they recount their faith's history and evolution. "Adam was buried here. Solomon built here. Jesus prayed here. Muhammad ascended here." Does it leave you scratching your head when you think of how that part of that same piece of geography is so engulfed in turmoil, violence and war?
But never underestimate the strength, or resilience of goodwill of people in all religious faith, and it shows as we come together with a common mission in our own little piece of the world. A great example of this will occur in Kansas City, MO on May 6, 2009, when the local Habitat for Humanity will host a Clergy Build Day.
According to the press release, pastors, priests, rabbis and imams will gather to work together to build a home for a single mother, as a part of "The House that Abraham Builds" project. The project is being used to promote unity, diversity and interfaith fellowship while providing a quality home for a family in need.
"Although this group comes from all different ethnic, cultural and racial backgrounds as well as a variety of faiths, we all share the teachings of Abraham as a common foundation. And from this foundation, we have built an interfaith network of congregations who believe more in the power of unity and peace than in bedlam and confrontation," says Geofrey Kigenyi, Habitat Kansas City Faith Relations Coordinator and Abraham Build project leader. "The positive energy of this group is both infectious and uplifting."
Let us hope it spreads over the land and across the seas to all people of every ethnic, cultural and racial group.