The experience of trying to converse with the creator, the author of all life, is one that people of all faiths share. That conversation, in many languages and forms, was the focus of a Dec. 8 gathering at the Brookville Multifaith Forum, sponsored by the Interfaith Institute of the Islamic Center of Long Island.
The institute works to develop understanding and unity among different faith communities, in programs such as this one, an interfaith Seder, and others. Prayer can be both joyously communal or intensely private, and the panel leading the event explored many dimensions of prayer.
Demonstrating the importance of prayer in the Muslim community, the panel took a 15-minute recess at 3 p.m., so that the Muslims in attendance could spread prayer rugs and offer prayer, led by Mufti Mohammad Farhan, executive director of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury and one of the panelists.
People from both the Westbury mosque and the Muslim Reform Movement Organization at the Multifaith Campus joined in the prayer.
The pastor of Brookville Reformed Church, the Rev. Vicky Eastland, welcomed the assembly, people of many faiths, and offered her own reflections on prayer.
She introduced the moderator, Bob Keeler, a member of the Interfaith Institute board. In addition to Rev. Vicky and Mufti Farhan, the panelists included Dr. Sultan Abdulhameed, a scientist at Stony Brook University and the leader of the Muslim Reform Movement Organization, Rabbi Michael White of Temple Sinai in Roslyn, and Sister Patricia Duffy, a preacher from the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville.
This event was the second Interfaith Institute event held at the Brookville Multifaith Campus, a model of interfaith inclusivity, welcome, and friendship.
It includes Brookville Reformed Church, the Muslim Reform Movement Organization, the New Synagogue of Long Island, and the Interfaith Community: Long Island. The previous event was a showing of the film, “The Sultan and the Saint,: about the visit of St. Francis of Assisi to Sultan Malik al-Kamil, a powerful Muslim leader during the Crusades.
The movie draws much of its inspiration from a book called The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace. Its author, former Newsday journalist Paul Moses, appeared in the film, attended the event, and answered questions from the assembly.
Dr. Faroque Khan, founder of the Interfaith Institute, described the event this way: This event is an example for all that it is possible for reasonable people of faith and no faith to live in harmony and grow as a result of encountering one another.