Interfaith Encounters - General Study Sessions

Significant Women - IEA's Reut-Sadaqa Group on 20th July 2009:

IEA's Reut-Sadaqa group in Jerusalem met, with 16 members and guests participating, on July 20th to share about significant women in their religious traditions. This encounter was hosted by the American Cultural Center and we are grateful to them for their hospitality.

Rafiqa started, focusing on Fatima who was Mohammad's small and most beloved daughter. She married Ali, the son of Abu Taleb who was especially loved by Mohammad as the first one who accepted him. Only from her Mohammed had grandchildren and all of her sons were important leaders. She is very important in the Shiite Islam and there only her descendants can be Khalifs. Many girls are called after her as her name, meaning a rose, is considered holy.

Abdallah added that there are many important women in Islam: Sarah, Hadija (mother of Fatima), wife of Pharaoh who raised Moses (in the Bible it was his daughter), Hagar, the wife of Jacob who is the mother of Joseph (in Islam Rachel's name is not mentioned), Elizabeth mother of John the Baptist etc.

Ester focused her sharing on the five daughters of Salofhad who approached Moses claiming that they should receive their father's share in the Holy Land, even though he had no sons. And God said they were right.

For Hadassa it was Eve and the wife of Lot, who crossed the line due to their curiosity and were punished for that.

Joy said that her sister was for her an inspirational example of a righteous woman who accepts everyone and manifests in her life the depth of her studies and teaching as an Interfaith Minoster.

Katherine said she chose the easy answer: Mother Teresa. But included in that example every woman who manages to raise beyond the everyday reality, which at least in Serbia where she comes from puts her in a lower position.

Louis told us that in the Catholic Church the most important woman is Marie, the mother of Jesus. This is so also in the Orthodox Church and less so in the Protestant Church. This seems to compensate for the situation in which women are less important in the Catholic Church in which decisions are taken by men. People say that in the 60's, when there was more openness to women, the emphasis on Marie was weaker.

The Reut-Sadaqa group will meet again on Monday, August 17th, in the Swedish Theological Institute. The encounter will focus on the theme of transitions.

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