Al Starzeera: Aga Khan Museum showcases best in Islam

Liberals in all three monotheistic religions are at the forefront of bridge-building, both with other faith communities and with the secular world

At a time when we often read reports of horrendous atrocities in different parts of the world committed by Muslims against “infidels” and other Muslims, it behooves us to recognize that such murderous excesses are aberrations of Islam, not its true manifestations.

The new Aga Khan Museum in Toronto provides ample opportunities to see Islam at its best…

…Ismailis are liberal Muslims and thus only a small minority. The majority is usually in the hands of powerful people, almost invariably men, who confuse and control their adherents by assuring them that they and they alone are the true heirs of their religious tradition. To deviate from it is regarded as infidelity and punished in countless, sometimes cruel, ways.

The phenomenon exists in all three monotheistic religions. If it’s less in evidence in Judaism outside Israel, where Orthodox parties have political clout, it’s because there are relatively few Jews in the world, roughly the same number as Ismailis. But as a liberal Jew I’m persona non grata in virtually all Jewish Orthodox circles. I know of Orthodox Jews in this city who are forbidden to step inside the synagogue I had the honour to serve for many years.

Yet it’s we liberals who are at the forefront of bridge-building, both with other faith communities and with the secular world. It’s also we liberal Jews who usually take the initiative of seeking common cause with Orthodox Jews who may despise what we stand for even when they share our objectives…

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