Episode 71: Islam 101 with Omar Suleiman

If you feel behind on your fluency and understanding of the Muslim faith, start catching up today in this episode of Good God. Omar Suleiman, an imam and an activist who is very engaged in multifaith work in the Dallas area, talks about the origins of Islam, explains the nature of the Quran and how it's interpreted, and how Islam is historically closely connected with Christianity and Judaism.

Listen here, read the transcript below, or click here for the full video version.

George Mason: 00:01 We see Muslims characterized in the news and in Hollywood in certain ways. Not always flatteringly in fact, most often not. So. But what is Islam? What does it mean to be a Muslim? Where did the tradition come from? This religious faith. We're going to talk to Imam Omar Suleiman about that on Good God. Stay tuned.

George Mason: 00:30 Welcome to Good God, conversations that matter about faith and public life. I'm your host, George Mason, and I'm delighted to welcome to the program today, my friend Imam Omar Suleiman, so happy for you to be here. He is the president and actually founder of the Yaqeen Institute, which is a really an educational organization to help people deepen their understanding of Islam. And you are the resident teacher, I guess. Is that right?

Omar Suleiman: 01:04 Yes, I am. So that's been a blessing. We're almost three years old now and it's been a blessing, you know, it really covers issues that are deep with Islam and Muslim identity formation and how that interacts with the modern world.

George Mason: 01:19 Well, one of the things I love about you is that you not only care about the formation of your own community around its beliefs and deepening its understanding, which is part of what the institute does, but you also interact more broadly in the community. And that means also helping people understand better your own faith tradition. And so in this particular episode, I'd love for us to do some things Omar that I think would help people. As you know, you run up against this every day of your life. That Islam in the West is a strange sort of religion to people. There's a kind of eccentricity to it because it didn't originate in the West. And so I think it's really important, not that our faith did right. And this is something I think we need to realize. All of these faiths come out of the Middle East. But I think it would be really helpful if we went through some just really basic things and help dispel some misconceptions and gained some clarity and those sorts of things. So would you mind just like, let's just hit a few things quickly. So the Prophet Muhammad and the year was when he received this revelation and what were the circumstances of the birth of Islam?

Omar Suleiman: 02:39 So I'm actually glad you frame it that way and first of all, just a thank you for your friendship. Thank you for the incredible human being that you are and what you've done for the city of Dallas and how you've made it such a place for me and my family to settle. So, and your friendship, it's just, it's thank you I think, I think for everything that you do for us. I do want to kind of get that out of the way.

George Mason: 03:01 You're welcome. It's an honor. Thank you. It really is.

Omar Suleiman: 03:04 I'd like to also, I think sort of the framing is very appropriate because Islam is sort of looked at as foreign whereas, uh, Christianity and you know, Judaism is also antisemitism of course is on the rise again. And Judaism is of course also some somehow looked at as foreign but less so than Islam.

Omar Suleiman: 03:22 Cause Islam has a very Arab look to it, even though less than 20% of Muslims around the world are Arab.

George Mason: 03:28 Say that one more time. It's very important to hear this.

Omar Suleiman: 03:33 Yes. Less than 20% of Muslims. It's actually around 15% of Muslims are Arab worldwide. Globally. Uh, the largest, uh, the largest group of Muslims in the United States are African American. So the foreignness of Islam and the casting of Muslims as a foreign community, as sort of part of an orientalist project. And it's, we're not the only victims of that as a faith community. To be otherized. And so any Hollywood iteration, Islam is typically going to be a guy with a turban in the deserts of Yemen or, in a movie that glorifies a war on Iraq and a guy running around as a terrorist, screaming, Allahu Akbar, you know, doing something horrible and awful.

Omar Suleiman: 04:16 So that's the otherizing, it's definitely malicious. Now the framing is important from a historical perspective as well, because Islam is an Abrahamic faith, both in creed and in ritual. And I think it's important to sort of take it from there. The word Islam means peace attained through submission. So it means submission and peace. And so particularly peace on an individual level that is attained through submitting to God and submitting as a community to God and obtaining peace in the collective sense. And in our conception of creed, all of the prophets that are mentioned in the Old Testament would be considered Muslim because they submitted to God and they attained peace, not necessarily adherence of the Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him, but they certainly upheld a creed of monotheism and submitted to God's will. I think we could all agree on that part.

Omar Suleiman: 05:09 You know, so, the way that Islam comes about in the world is the Prophet Mohammad was born in the year 570. He receives revelation in the year 610 from the Angel Gabriel with a new revelation. Now, Christianity and Judaism as faith communities, Christians and Jews are not far from where that's happening in Mecca. There was no Saudi Arabia in the year 610, that Saudi Arabia is a new nation state. That's named after a family and named after a tribe. And so it didn't exist at that time. It was just the Gulf, the Arabian Gulf. And there's a lot of debate happening with the person of Jesus. Peace be upon him as well. You know, the council of Nicea is in the fourth century. The first bibles there was in fact no Arabic Bible at the time that existed in the early seventh century or in the late sixth century.

Omar Suleiman: 06:06 And so there's a lot that's happening in that region at the time, right. There's the Jewish community and of course Christianity as a faith community coming into its own, the Council of Nicea, the eastern and western Christian split and now you have this new faith community. Now, geographically speaking, everything that was taking place in that region was framed in the Roman and Persian conflict. And the Romans identify with Christianity brought in the broad sense of their monotheists, right. And in the specific sense of their Christian faith community and the political sense of the Roman, the Persians identify with Zoroastrianism. Yes. And they are politically of course, you know, an empire that is up against the Roman empire. And the Arabs were kind of observers in this whole thing. So they're watching the Romans, they're watching the Persians and everyone is either a client state, a client kingdom, or is an observer of this.

Omar Suleiman: 07:04 Now, the Arabs at that time, they worshiped multiple idols. So they had idols that they would set up for different tribes. And in fact, the holy Kaaba, which we believe was built by Abraham, peace be upon him, as a place of monotheism, was surrounded by idols and it was turned into a place of many idols. The Arabs allied themselves, both politically and religiously with the Persians. So I'm giving you this history because it gets really interesting here. Because then when the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, makes his call, he calls as an extension of the Abrahamic way. So he's calling to the original way of Abraham peace be upon him. So they said this house was built by Abraham for the worship of one God. Yes, he's calling as an extension of the message of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him.

Omar Suleiman: 07:50 So of course, Islam looks at Jesus, peace be upon him, as a prophet and a messenger of God. But within the, you know, from a creedal sense, Islam and Judaism are very similar.

George Mason: 08:01 More strict monotheists than you would say Christians are because of our notion of the Trinity.

Omar Suleiman: 08:08 Yes. Right. But here's where it gets interesting now. So the Prophet, peace be upon him, calls to monotheism. He calls to the return to the Abrahamic way. Christianity was not as known to the Arabs in Mecca as Judaism was because there was a Jewish community in the nearby town of Yathrib. There were Jewish tribes that settled there. Now when he makes this call before the oneness of God, he also calls for a lot of the things that made Jesus, peace be upon him, unpopular in the political and social realm.

Omar Suleiman: 08:38 So he calls for an anticorruption, he calls for an end to, at that time, the Arabs specifically practice female infanticide. They practice all sorts of horrific tribal corruption. And the religion that was accommodated, it was a very loose way of thinking that accommodated the idols was really to entrench certain tribes with their superiority over others. So we have this idol because we belong here. We get this proximity to the house of God. So a lot of the, the social equity and the political equity that Jesus, peace be upon him, called for, along with his divine call, was similar in what the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, calls for. So that made him very unpopular, immediately faced persecution. I think that's the case for all of these people of God that when they initially come with their calls, they're not just talking about a challenge to the theology, but they're talking about really a challenge to the entire way of life as exists in that society.

Omar Suleiman: 09:32 So what do the Muslims do? The early Muslims, do they ally themselves with the Christians? The very first, um, the very first migration of Muslims fleeing persecution was to Abyssinia to a Christian King, modern day Ethiopia. And the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, sons, including his daughter, I mean his closest companions, his daughter. And he says there's a just Christian King there, named Najashi. In Arabic it's Najashi, in English, the Negus. And his name is Ashama in Arabic, and that the Ashama King, he said he's a just king. He didn't know him personally, but he said he's a just man, and he will not turn you away. So he sends his followers to Abyssinia and Abyssinia was known as an island of monotheism in a sea of polytheism because it's surrounded by Persian territory, right? But it's a small Christian kingdom. And Najashi accepts these Muslims.

Omar Suleiman: 10:26 And then you have the second migration, which is to Yathrib, which becomes now Medina, the city of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the Muslims and Jews form what is known to many historians as the first constitution in the world. They formed the charter of Medina where the faith communities come together and they form an agreement amongst themselves about how they will protect one another, how they will embrace the pluralism that now exists in the city of the Prophet Muhammad. Peace be upon him. And there is a chapter in the Koran called Rome. And the chapter of Rome talks about the Romans and the Persians, and the Arab polytheists were taunting the Arab Muslims and saying that just as the Persian polytheists are destroying the Roman monotheists, we too will destroy you. And so there is a turn in the same year that the Muslims flee persecution from Mecca to Yathrib where they're welcomed. And it becomes the city of the Prophet, Medina. That same year where the Muslims attain their victory, the Roman Empire sort of rebounds against the Persian Empire. Now that's not to say the Roman empire was great. It's not great. That's to say that there was a natural inclination. The Muslims sort of connected themselves naturally to the monotheists that they knew. And the Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him, framed his call as an extension of the Abrahamic call.

George Mason: 11:48 So let's, let's just pause there for a moment and, and reflect the idea that we have three major religions that trace their lineage to Abraham. We call them the Abrahamic religions, but in each case, the birth of these religions springs forth from a sense of a moral and cultural and political crisis of some sort. So in every case, what we have is a kind of a sense of inbreaking of God. The world is not as God has intended it to be. There is oppression of one people over another, one culture over another. There is a kind of spiritual, um, misplaced values with multiple gods. And an enfranchising of one tribe over another and these sorts of things. And so each of these in-breakings is a kind of reformation, of kind of a purification, an anticorruption movement. Each of these cases is a kind of democratizing of faith, if you will too, because it creates a kind of equality among people. So before we sort of indict Christianity or Islam as creating more oppression, we should recognize that initially at least, the actual point of the birth of these religions was to address that very problem and to correct it.

Omar Suleiman: 13:35 So it's really interesting, you know, as you were saying that the, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. When I say any name of any prophet, as a Muslim, it's tradition to say peace be upon him. So if I say Jesus' name, we say peace be upon him, if I say Abraham's name, we say peace be upon him. It's required for us to say it the first time and it's liked for us to say it every other time in the conversation. So that's sort of our jurisprudence.

George Mason: 13:56 Thank you for clarifying.

Omar Suleiman: 13:58 Sometimes people feel like, I got to tell you a funny story, but I don't want to lose my point on that. You know, he said, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said that God looked at the world before he sends him. And he was displeased with the state of the world, the Arabs and the Non Arabs, except for a small portion of the people of the book.

Omar Suleiman: 14:16 The people of the book are the Jews and the Christians in Islamic tradition. That's actually the name given to Jews and Christians. In the Koran it's the people of the book. So God was displeased with what he saw in the world except for what a small group of Jews and Christians were practicing of pure monotheism with its implications of a pure society or pure practice. And so the idea of removing the other, you know, Islam is a monotheistic faith, right? And it's, and definitely the idea is that all of these prophets call to the oneness of God. But the implications of the oneness of God had major ramifications and that naturally made them prone to being persecuted because that threatened the elite classes' hold on society and what they were able to do with the idols. And so when the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, started his call, what the ruling tribes said to him was, listen, they said, we'll come to a compromise.

Omar Suleiman: 15:06 They said, how about you know, you worship your God one day, we'll all worship your God one day, and worship our idols one day. And he said, no. And he was in a state of weakness. They said, well we'll worship your God, the one God for six days. You worship our idols for one. And he said, no. And then they finally got to, we'll worship your God the whole year. But you just got to worship the idols for one day. Their idea was not, they didn't really have a care for the idols themselves. That was what the idols gave them access to do and the power that it gave them to take advantage of people and to oppress.

Omar Suleiman: 15:42 And my funny story, I just have to share it. I was in a...

George Mason: 15:45 Hold that story. We're going to come back from a break, and we'll let you tell it. And then I also want us to, I also want us to move into some understanding of scripture and tradition and how it's interpreted within Islam as well. So let's take a break.

George Mason: 16:05 Thank you for continuing to tune in to Good God. These conversations are part of a larger program that is called Faith Commons, the umbrella organization you might say of Good God. Good God is the first project of Faith Commons, which is a nonprofit organization that is intended to do public theology. You might say it's multifaith not just Christian, Jewish, Muslim, other faiths, but all of them becoming involved in the question of how do we promote the common good together. There are so many areas of need and concern in our community. And Faith Commons is trying to help bridge the gaps between religions and peoples in our community so that we can have a more just and peaceful society. Thanks for continuing to support us.

George Mason: 17:02 We're back with Omar Suleiman and he was just about to tell something funny.

Omar Suleiman: 17:07 So my funny story is that I wrote a paper on Jesus, peace be upon him, in Islam and Christianity in high school,

George Mason: 17:15 Which was in New Orleans by the way. I think we should all stop and say, Omar, that you are an American born in this country and Palestinian parents. But they had immigrated to the U.S. And so you're born in New Orleans and this is a paper in high school.

Omar Suleiman: 17:35 Absolutely. So, I'm in Louisiana. I am at that time actually, I was in Baton Rouge at that point. Now it's still in Louisiana. And I was writing this paper on Jesus, peace be upon him, in Islam and Christianity. Now, Muslims will typically put PBUH behind the name of any prophet, right. Peace be upon him. I made the assumption that my teacher would know what that means. So I wrote Jesus in Christianity and Islam and I kinda just compared and contrasted. And I wrote PBUH and she came up to me with her face, extremely red. She said, you can't do that. I said, what? She said, you can't say "Jesus pbbt" [or the "raspberry" sound].

George Mason: 18:11 Oh no! As if you were scorning Jesus. Okay, but see, this is exactly to the point of why we need these conversations, right? Why we need the interaction. Because misunderstandings come from ignorance. And ignorance is not always willful. So there are many people who really do want to understand that. And so that's, that's what we're after here.

Omar Suleiman: 18:36 So if you follow me on Facebook though now, or on social media, and you saw me write PBUH, you know, I'm not scorning, I'm...

George Mason: 18:42 Well, we also know you and we know you wouldn't be scorning. So very good. Well, let's, let's talk about scripture because obviously Jews have the Hebrew Bible and Christians have the New Testament scriptures and the Hebrew Bible that we call the Old Testament. And so that's, those are our scriptures. Islam actually respects those scriptures as well. But the Koran is your holy text.

Omar Suleiman: 19:09 Correct. So to kind of give you the underlying, so there are... The easiest way to know Islam, if I could give you Islam in a minute, it's, there are six pillars of faith: belief in God, belief in the angels, Gabriel, Michael and some of the other angels that are very familiar, a belief in the prophets and messengers, belief in the messages, so the divine scriptures that came to those prophets and messengers. So pretty much any prophet you mentioned from the Old Testament, Moses, peace be upon him, is actually the most spoken about prophet in the Koran. Abraham, peace be upon him, is looked at as our, as the father, if you will. Noah, peace be upon him. All of them are mentioned, and Jesus, peace be upon him, is mentioned by name. Even more than Muhammad, peace be upon him, in the Koran. Mentioned 25 times. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, his name is mentioned five times in the Koran. And then so you've got God, the angels, the messangers, the messages they received, the Day of Judgment and you know, paradise and hellfire, and divine decree--predestination--divine decree as the sixth. So those are six pillars, kind of underlines the creed.

Omar Suleiman: 20:15 So these prophets and messengers all received divine scripture, divine revelation. Now obviously there are historical changes, there are versions, there are languages that are translations. So the idea is that the originals were entirely from God. And then over time, what exists in all divine scripture and the Islamic conception is partly there could be parts and there are parts that are from God. So there's that respect that should be given to religious tradition in general. So even if there is a faith community or religious scripture that we don't acknowledge within the Abrahamic framework at all, we would still treat it with respect. And we treat the people with respect because they should be respected and they're people of faith and their books should be respected and treated that way. What makes the Bible very interesting is that we do believe that there is some of God's word that exists in it.

Omar Suleiman: 21:06 And so as Muslims, it's upheld to it, to that standard. Now the Koran, there's a hyper sense of preservation. So the Quran is God's word. It's not, it's not inspired by God. It's not written by someone else. And those people were inspired by God. It is God's word. It's God's direct revelation to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, through the Angel Gabriel. So God speaking in the Quran, right? And so there's this hyper, you know, and hyper could obviously give a negative connotation, but it's actually quite beautiful that there's a due diligence or added level of preservation. The idea of preserving the Quran. And in both recitation and meaning, cause it's gotta be exactly the same.

George Mason: 21:52 Which is also why to really read the Quran, you need to learn Arabic. Because that's how it was delivered. And there's quite a tradition of people learning to recite the Qur'an by heart. Which is really quite a challenge too.

Omar Suleiman: 22:10 Is a great challenge. So the Quran, so 1400 years, it's the only one version of it. There are no versions of it. It's recited in Arabic everywhere around the world. The beauty of that is if you walk into a mosque in Dallas, Texas, the Imam, the person leading who memorized the entire Koran, about 600 pages by heart, could be from Somalia and be corrected in his recitation by someone from China. And we see it happen all the time. It's just beautiful to see people from all over the world. All reciting it in the exact same way. And they could correct every ou and, ah sound. Not just the word, if it's missed.

Omar Suleiman: 22:49 But it's difficult, I had the blessing of memorizing it myself and it was, it was an incredible task. I mean, it's not easy to memorize it. Most people memorize it as children. And then to practice that and to continuously recite it so that you don't lose any of it is really something else.

George Mason: 23:05 So let's talk about the, there's obviously a difference between Islam, Judaism and Christianity in this respect, because you hold that the Quran is the actual words of God, whereas both Judaism and Christianity somewhat different ways, but nonetheless speak of these as inspired but human words. When we say the Bible is the word of God, it is understood differently from the way the Koran is the word of God.

George Mason: 23:46 Yet my guess is that we have a similar challenge and that is, it's very easy to say something about the authority of our scripture. It's another thing to realize that when you are reading and interpreting it, you are trying not to get caught in the letter of it, but to find the spirit of it, the meaning of it so that it lives today because here it's delivered 1400 years ago or in our case, 2000 or 3000 years ago, whatever. And so, it still needs to have relevance today and therefore there have to be interpreters of this. We're finding the spirit of this text. So how does that work similarly or differently because of the difference in understanding?

Omar Suleiman: 24:42 So, you know, to your point, Islam was very much so about guarding not just the text itself, but the context as much as possible. Because if you, if you take texts without context, you could turn Harry Potter into a violent book. You could turn, you could do all sorts of horrific things. And then do it in the name of God.

George Mason: 25:01 Which we've seen from all of our faiths.

Omar Suleiman: 25:05 We've seen people have not, unfortunately, been restricted by those original contexts. Happily take verses out of context and do what they do. And of course this idea of, you know, I should say from the onset, this idea of an association with the Koran with violence or Islam with violence, statistically speaking, the verses about violence. Now we would say that the Qur'an, the New testament and the Old Testament, um, you know, framed in context, they should be understood in a certain way.

Omar Suleiman: 25:33 But statistically speaking, the Quran has the least mentions of violence of any holy book. But the idea, the association is very strong, of course. And so there's this verse, for example, which is in response to the persecution of those Muslims when they fled to Yathrib, which became Medina, the city of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, where they did not take up the sword. They did not fight for 13 years under persecution. They asked, they said, listen, we'll go out at night. We'll, we'll take these people by surprise. And, uh, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said in Arabic, he said, "I was not sent to kill people. I was not sent to hurt people." He said, "But I was sent as a mercy." That was his response. They get to Medina, they're chased, they're killed even in travel and their things are taken, their belongings are taken in Mecca. And then even in Medina, the Muslims are saying, can we fight back now? Is there a concept of defense? Do we fight back?

Omar Suleiman: 26:31 And that's where the verse came down. The very first verses about fighting was giving permission. God has given you permission to fight while it is disliked to you. So it actually starts that way. Then it says, so kill them wherever you find them. Now the way that an Islamophobe would take that is they take that verse and they say, the Koran says, kill them wherever you find them, i.e. in parentheses, Jews, Christians, just throw everything in there, right? And then you continue with the verse and it says that if they incline towards peace, then incline towards peace. God does not love the aggressors. And the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, commented on that.

Omar Suleiman: 27:07 And he said, "I do never wish to meet your enemy." Never wish for fighting, never wish for battle. But then there are some times and then he said, but if you do, then you know, then show courage and sincerity and great zeal as you fight back. And you know, you fight under a noble cause rather than in terrorizing. And in the vigilantism that we see today in the bigotry and all these things that are done in the name of sacred text. So the Hadith here is where this comes into play. How did Islam try to preserve the original meaning of the Koran? There was great care given to the words of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, himself describing the verses of the Koran.

George Mason: 27:46 And this is the Hadith, the words of the prophet.

Omar Suleiman: 27:48 The words of the Prophet. And scrutinizing every, if someone claims that I heard the prophet say there's scrutiny of that person's character, and whether it's corroborated by other people, the context of it.

Omar Suleiman: 28:00 Because if I say I heard it in a sermon, well who else was in the sermon? Yes. And so that has to be corroborated. It's gotta be, you know, there's gotta be a trustworthiness, a character, a test of the person that's relaying the words. So there's chains of narration. So preserving the Hadith was the first guard and then comes scholarly authority.

George Mason: 28:18 Which is a Sunnah.

Omar Suleiman: 28:20 So the after, after the Hadith and then the Sunnah, the person of the Prophet peace be upon him, you get to these scholars that study jurists, that study the original intent and then try to prescribe based upon that, with modern context. And this is where it gets interesting. Someone asked the other day, does Islam have a pope? Did it ever have an authority like the pope?

Omar Suleiman: 28:42 And I was once asked, I was once on a panel about the Protestant reformation and this we just marked the 500 year anniversary. These trends did not have similar trends within the Muslim world because there is a very different understanding of religious authority historically in the Muslim world. So did we ever have an authority that was similar to the Pope and to us it's, uh, you know, a friend of mine said his name is Pope Consensus.

George Mason: 29:07 Pope Consensus. It's very Baptist.

Omar Suleiman: 29:11 So that's actually something we can, we can agree upon on that in that regard too. So the idea of consensus, the majority, the consensus and then, you know, minority context should be, you should listen to the scholars that are familiar with that minority context. And then prescribe based upon that. But there's great care given to retaining the original text, the original context of the word, and then practice of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and then scholarly authority over time. And if there was consensus on the understanding of that. So it gives us a way of trying to access the original intent without being disconnected from modern context and losing the spirit of the original intent and misunderstanding or wrongly prescribing that original letter and that original intent.

George Mason: 29:57 So what you're talking about is still a living community that is in interacting with the scripture and is trying to discern the mind of God over and over again the way each of our traditions is seeking to do. So we may have slightly different understandings of the origin or nature of the text itself, but we have similar processes whereby we go about trying to discern how the people of God are supposed to live. Correct?

Omar Suleiman: 30:30 Yes.

George Mason: 30:31 Very good. Well, Omar, we could do this all day and I know the people who are listening in would like us to do it all day. In the last minute that we have together, at this time, is there something you would like to say to people who are less familiar with Islam or who hear only in its characterizations by media, Hollywood, people who are not eager to embrace it. What are some things that you would like to say? One or two things that maybe you could help us.

Omar Suleiman: 31:07 Ask a Muslim. Yeah. You know, representation is not simply symbolism or tokenism, right? You've got to go and have, you know, muster up the courage to ask a Muslim what their faith says as opposed to let someone else characterize.

George Mason: 31:20 Very good, very good.

Omar Suleiman: 31:21 And the second thing, there's a great book called the Abrahamic Faiths by Dr Gerald Dirks and he does a fantastic job of.. He recently passed and a wonderful man, a Harvard professor, and does just a great job of sort of tracing the line between Judaism, Christianity, Islam. So I think deepening your understanding of the origins is just as important as being more open to broadening your scope and what's happening today and the friction, the seeming friction between the East and the West and Muslims and Christians. And everything that stems from that.

George Mason: 31:58 Well, you and I are working on a project of living in a community with one another and our faith traditions. Not only making space for each other, but finding friendship and common cause. Thank you for all of that and we look forward to the future together. Thank you.

Jim White: 32:21 Good God is created by Dr. George Mason, produced and directed by Jim White, guest coordination and social media by Upward Strategy Group. Good God, conversations with George Mason, is the podcast devoted to bringing you ideas about God and faith and the common good. All material copyright 2019 by Faith Commons.

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