In "Voices of Faith," religious leaders answer readers' questions.
Unity's spiritual philosophy resonates
A.M. Bhattacharyya, an active member of the Hindu community: In 1996, I visited the Unity Church in Unity Village, Mo., on an invitation to talk about my faith, Hinduism, to a congregation who gathered for the "Honoring the Paths to God" retreat. At the end, Michael and Faith Moran, the organizers of the retreat, presented me with a book titled "Unity: A Quest f or Truth ," written b y Eric Butterworth. As a member of the Kansas City Interfaith Council for many years, I have had the opportunity to read religious publications of many faiths, which helped me to understand and, as a result, to revere different faiths as different paths to the summit.
I found Butterworth's book especially appealing as I found connectedness with my own belief system.
Here are some of the salient points of the spiritual philosophy from the book:
God is spirit, infinite mind, the principle of absolute good expressed in all creations.
We need to look at religion with an open mind.
Religion is "firsthand experience with God." The essence of religion is the consciousness of God.
True religion is bigger than its organization, better than its adherents and more vital than its creeds and rituals.
God's spirit is within us. By conscious direction of will, we can open ourselves to and receive its power.
The book reminded me what Hindu scripture, Rig Veda, says: "Truth is one; wise persons say it in many ways."
Bible and Qur'an share many messages
Syed E. Hasan, Ph.D., Midland Islamic Center: I have studied the Bible, and I am amazed at both the similarity and differences when comparing it with the Muslims' holy book, the Qur'an. As it turned out, I was struck with the near-perfect match between the stories of Joseph and of Mary (referred to as Maryam in the Qur'an).
Passages like "Cried one of the brothers, 'Slay not Joseph, but if you must do something, throw him down to the bottom of the well; he will be picked up by a caravan of travelers ' " and "Mary asked: 'How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me and I am not unchaste?' The angel replied: 'So it will be. Thy Lord says this is easy for Me.' So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place " are remarkably similar.
Overall, I found that both books carry the same messages of compassion, peace and justice toward humanity, along with beliefs in accountability, Day of Judgment and life in the hereafter.
One major difference, though, relates to the concept of Trinity in the Bible, which the Qur'an does not subscribe to as explained in many places and most succinctly in Chapter 112: "Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is he begotten; And there is none like unto him."