Ryan Carter

Ryan Carter

December 15, 2014

Catholics and Muslims have a similar mission. Both faiths want to bring people to God and both want to enrich human culture with their values.

That's one conclusion drawn by leaders of the two faiths at the first annual Interfaith Gathering at the Matrix Hotel Nov. 25.

Julien Hammond, ecumenical and interreligious officer for the Edmonton Archdiocese, and Ryan Carter, a Muslim chaplain with the Canadian Armed Forces Edmonton, addressed the topic Living as Neighbours in the Global Community of Edmonton.

The Intercultural Dialogue Institute of Edmonton hosted the event. A local Jewish leader was invited but could not attend.

"The purpose of our religions is to bring people to God," Hammond said in a question period following the formal presentation. "The faith might be different but the mission is one and the same."

Carter said God created each person different. "The test for us is how we work together with those differences and how we maintain unity in purpose and in cause."

Hammond recounted the story of the Good Samaritan to illustrate the Christian concept of neighbourliness. Jesus, he said, turns the story away from the external actions of the Good Samaritan and into a reflection on the internal motives that led him to act in a loving manner toward the injured man -

compassion, pity and mercy.

The good neighbour identified in the parable is not the poor man left for dead but "the person who sees a situation of need and responds to this need, without any consideration for what he or she might get out of it," explained Hammond.


"The parable challenges us to cultivate an inner disposition that looks out upon the place where we are living and says, 'There are situations out there that need my help; I can and I want to make a difference in the lives of those around me, whatever the cost.'

"This is a lesson that I'm sure that we can all share as Christians, Muslims and Jews, and all people of good will."

Julien Hammond

Julien Hammond

To Hammond, the parable's message is clear: If we are to live as good neighbours in Edmonton or anywhere in the world, we must be prepared to look at the world with compassion and love.

We must "take action individually or collectively, with the persons of our own faith community or with persons of other faith communities or with persons of no faith community, and we must do so no matter the cost and no matter the return."

Carter said good neighbours maintain good, healthy and peaceful relationships with each other. "We have to consider the idea of the common good and the greater good."

The Prophet Mohammed once said, "There should be no harm inflicted or harm reciprocated."

This means that "it is impermissible of neighbours, for example, to erect a wall which prevents your neighbour from benefitting from the breeze or sunlight," Carter said. "If you and your neighbour share a piece of land, one neighbour can't have exclusive rights over the water."


Moreover, the wronged neighbour can't reciprocate by throwing garbage into the stream. "That is equally bad because you are continuing the harm."

The idea behind the maxim is that "what's good for me can't come at the expense of harming you," Carter said. "We must aim and go towards what is good for everyone, not just for me."

The idea of coexistence amidst diversity is rooted in the Koran, the Muslim leader said. "(It says) we are all from Adam and that we share in this single origin and that God created ethnic, cultural and religious diversity as his plan.

"It reminds us that as Muslims we are not the only ones who are recipients of revelation; that before us there were communities that had their prophets. We are part of a broader family."


God commands us not to erect barriers "separating me and you," Carter said. "The minute I erect a barrier, I begin to think of myself only. The minute we put our self-interest above others, we get corruption, injustice and vice."

The Koranic and other prophetic traditions "aim to remedy this tendency of people to think about ourselves only," he said. They seek to help us understand "that our differences are in fact part of God's plan."