Najeeba Syeed, El-Hibri Endowed Chair and executive director of the Interfaith Institute at Augsburg University, was a recent guest on the Interfaith America Podcast with I’m Eboo Patel. The conversation explored the ethics and future of interfaith work amid deep divides across religious communities, the impact of global wars and crises on religious communities, and the role of institutions in promoting interfaith understanding through open-mindedness and deep listening.
Towards the end of the podcast, Professor Syeed reflected on fostering constructive interfaith conversations in the classroom and on campus:
“To me, the confidence that I have in being Muslim and the teachings and the capacity is not impinged upon by being present for people of other faiths,” she said. “I can walk into a space and I have a deep belief that I’m there because of the calling of being a Muslim. It isn’t a threat to me to show up and exhibit rahma or which is compassion. It comes from the root word Rahmah, the same in Hebrew around the idea of the womb to express compassion for others because it isn’t a threat to my own interpretation of who I am. … It’s a position of strength and not a position of deficiency.”
“That to me is a spiritual lesson that interfaith can bring to so many of the dialogues that we’re trying to have on our campus, is that maybe the position of strength is actually doing this humble listening.”
“The position of strength doesn’t mean that we move to a diluted, common understanding of the world where we all accept one interpretation, a universal theology, or one diluted version. Maybe the strength is that we listen to each other.”