On April 6, 2016, the Rumi Forum held a discussion concerning religious freedom and minority rights with a distinguished Abrahamic panel.


April 6, 2016 6:30 PM- 8:00 PM

ATFA 3949 University Dr. Fairfax VA 22030

Rabi Kahn started off with mentioning three Turkish people that have played an important role in his lifetime. By defining the roots of the word Shalom, he introduced the importance of protecting others’ faith, religious freedom, and minority rights. He discussed a verse in the biblical book of leviticus, stating, “Love your fellow as yourself.” In addition, he followed up with multiple verses from various biblical texts concerning the general idea of religious tolerance and minority rights. One eye catching verse was, “The one who saves one person is like they have saved the world,” which is universal in the religion of Islam as well. In the holy books there are numerous verses regarding freedom of religion and minority groups, which he connected with the history of Judaism and its followers. He included the struggles that Jews faced and how they have always been a small minority group with a different set of central beliefs. He brought up the nation of Israel and its many achievements and collaborations with neighboring countries. He wrapped it up by stating the growing alliance between religious and political organizations.

Rev. Buxton began and reminisced about his times with Bilal Akkaya in Turkey and the times he visited turkish homes. Like Khan, he mentioned ethnic minority and how it isn’t very much related to Christianity due to the way it is organized. After introducing Christianity, he summarized its history. He mentioned the small 20 year time from of Christianity being a minority group and eventually breaking apart from Judaism into its own faith and later from Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox into the Protestant sect. In addition, he included the debates that questions that spur separation in Christianity, most recently the topic of whether homosexuality is acceptable. Another point he came across was that the idea that no religious group remains a minority for long, as one day they break apart. He asked a very insightful question to the audience, “How do we interpret the bible?” This question helps to explain why followers of Christianity break up and form their own smaller specific set of beliefs. He concluded with another deep question, “When is a minority asked to be a minority with humility?”

Rabia Chaudry she began with explaining how she has multiple perspectives in regard to situations, as she is an American, Pakistani, and a certified attorney. She began to delve into how America is all about religious freedom and how it compares to Europe. She connected how Islam also speaks directly towards the protection of religious minorities by touching on an instance where Muhammad (pbuh) reassured Christians on their safety, freedom, and trust in practicing their own faith. In fact, she included the words of Muhammad (pbuh) regarding the covenant that ensures that Muslims will have respect and honor towards people of the Christian faith, quoting, “Nobody of the muslim nation is to disobey this covenant which will not be broken until the day of judgment.” She also talked about her addiction in helping out people of faith in Pakistan, who don’t have nearly as many rights as in America. While mentioning the covenant, she introduced how it plays a role in American politics, where fellow Christians and Jews are debating whether having a muslim or not in the cabinet. “Muslims are the ethnic minority in America,” she said. By stating this, she continued on how the racism and hate crimes in America go unnoticed and are a real problem. She finished by saying that Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike should be able to recognize and defend each other when they are an ethnic minority and are not under protection.

Rev. Dr. Larry Buxton has been the Senior Pastor at Burke since 2007. He is a graduate of The University of Virginia, Yale Divinity School, and Wesley Theological Seminary. Larry served for years on the Virginia Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and remains active on the Alexandria District Committee on Ordained Ministry.  He teaches The Practice of Preaching at the summer Course of Study School at Wesley Theological Seminary. Larry is also a Board Certified Coach (BCC) and a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), the standard professional organization for personal and professional coaching.

Rabia Chaudry is a wife, mother, attorney, President of the Safe Nation Collaborative, National Security Fellow at the New America Foundation, and a senior CVE consultant. As a civically engaged legal practitioner, Rabia has experience in immigration law, civil liberties, and national security. Her work with the New America Foundation focuses on the empowerment and inclusion of American Muslim communities in the national security realm. Her firm Safe Nation Collaborative works on two fronts: providing CVE and cultural competency training to law enforcement, correctional, and homeland security officials, and providing national security and CVE training to Muslim communities and institutions.

Rabbi Bruce Kahn is Rabbi Emeritus at the Temple Shalom, where he served as its rabbi from 1980-88 and as its senior rabbi from 1988-2001. Ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1974, he spent the next two years on active duty as a US Navy Chaplain. He then continued his military career in the Navy’s Ready Reserve force while he accepted the pulpit of Congregation Or Ami in Richmond, Virginia before coming to Shalom in 1980. Bruce Kahn worked with Temple Shalom’s leadership to establish the Mitzvah Corps, the Madrichim program, the chavurah expansion, numerous advances in our social justice, b’nei mitzvah, confirmation, post confirmation, adult education, liturgical programs, and much more. His constant emphasis was on service to God through helping individual members, groups of members and the congregation in its entirety use our faith to move towards wholeness of being.