A number of decades ago, the "Abrahamic" identity was created to expand Christian-Jewish dialogue to include Muslims. This was a positive development that has since established a shared platform for dialogue and engagement. At the same time, it is a constructed identity that does not fully encompass the theological ethics and identity of each of us or all of us. Anything we build will necessarily be limited in space and perspective, and we must be mindful that enclosures, as much as they unite people in a space, also restrict that space. I am particularly concerned that the "Abrahamic" appellation reinforces a patriarchal lineage that I believe Islam came to reform. The elder men of the community have no preferential claim on religious leadership and authority in Islam, as much as that might be the cultural preference and social reality of many Muslims. As we work together to build a more peaceful world, we must embrace language and appellations that do not replicate or reinstate unjust power relations.
Islam also recognizes that God's guidance is not limited to the scriptural traditions. The Quran states that "messengers" have been sent by God to every community. While it could be argued that communities without a written scripture have a tendency to drift further from prophetic teachings over time, they still can preserve some authentic teachings. This means that teachings of Islam in the literal sense of "submission to God" can be found among the non-scripturalists. In the Americas, New Zealand, Australia, Scandinavia and the Baltic countries, there are Aboriginal people, some of whom belong to our scriptural faiths and others who try to follow a traditional path left by their ancestors. In most of our countries, there is a terrible history of injustice towards the original people of the land. Our interfaith engagement should not only address these injustices, but also open a spiritual appreciation for those who might retain some of the wisdom received from the Messengers.
"Of Fences and Neighbors: An Islamic Perspective on Interfaith Engagement for Peace" - Ingrid Mattson