The following are The Ten Acknowledgements of the Hashlamah Project. Those who are familiar with the teachings of the renowned Rabbi Moses Maimon (Maimonides, or the “Rambam”), will recognize a similar approach as his “I believe” statements. The Ten Acknowledgements of the Hashlamah Project, however, are not based upon belief but upon matters that can be documented. They are therefore “Acknowledgements” rather than “beliefs,” or – more to the point – they are beliefs that are firmly established in historical and modern knowledge. These are not merely the whims and fancies of this leader or that within the Hashlamah Project, but instead are statements, which can and should be referenced and fact-checked if there is any doubt as to their veracity.
1. I acknowledge that Jews and Muslims can live together in peace and cooperation, in spite of having different boundaries of religious practice. It has happened before, throughout history, and by learning from history, we can make it happen again where it is not already occurring. Where it is, thereby we can support it, and bolster it where it is already occurring.
2. I acknowledge that Jews and Muslims can both live in the Holy Land, in the regions each call “Israel” and “Palestine,” without the necessary expulsion of either group.
3. I acknowledge that the region is holy to both faith communities because of its centrality in the Holy Scriptures and religious history of each.
4. I acknowledge that we cannot call for peace without calling for justice, as the Torah teaches that it is by doing “Justice, justice” that you will live in the Land (Deuteronomy/Devarim 16.20). Social activism, equality and justice are necessary ingredients for true and lasting change, if “peace” is to be more than just lip service.
5. I acknowledge that the God of the Torah and Judaism and the God of the Qur’an and Islam are not different entities or concepts. We know this in Judaism because of the prolific use of the name “Allah” in Judeo-Arabic writings and translations of the Torah, as well as in Judeo-Arabic art. We know this because “Al” is simply the definite article in Arabic, and “ilah” is no different than the Aramaic “elah” or the Hebrew “Eloah.” We know this from Islam because the Qur’an makes it clear that the God of the Qur’an is the God of the Torah, and of the prophets mentioned therein. We therefore reject any assertion that “Allah is a moon God,” as the Biblical and Islamic God is the God of all things: the moon, the sun, the Qur’an, the Bible, of Islam and Judaism alike.
6. I acknowledge that while both Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians have legitimate love for the Holy Land in the Levant, the Torah says that the Land belongs to God alone, stating: “The Land is Mine, says the LORD, you are merely tenants” (Leviticus/Vayiqra’ 25.23). Regardless of our feelings about the Land, borders and politics, we would all do well to remember this admonition.
7. I acknowledge that while there is no need for a Jew to accept Muhammad or Jesus, there is also no need in Judaism to denigrate either. Because of long and complicated histories of persecution and oppression under regimes that are now by and large gone, there is a reaction of some to denigrate the prophets of Abrahamic faith communities that have come after Judaism. There is no intrinsic reason to do so, whatever opinions one might hold, the Hashlamah Project Study Circles are safe places where no religious figure will be denigrated. This is all the more necessary to refrain from, when a historically-informed participant is made aware of the fact that many of such denigrations are based on statements and myths recorded in late, reactionary source material. As such, in our striving to approach the history of our faith communities with the illumination borne of a historical-critical approach, we will not default to late-date polemic and reactionary polarization. When we dig deeper, returning ever closer to the roots of each community, we find commonalities, and unity, not division.
8. As such, I acknowledge that the attitude of the Constitution of Medina, attributed to Muhammad, and formed as a contract binding between his followers from abroad, and the largely Jewish community of Medina, was one of unity between these communities, unity which saw us as an Ummatan Wahidatan, as a single religious community or nation, in spite of the different number of commandments each faith community was obliged to follow by Holy Writ.
9. In the same vein, I acknowledge that the concept of non-Jewish “God-fearers” – alternative termed muttaqin, theosebes, yirei ha’shamayim, gerei toshav, or even “Noachides” – is a tradition dating back to the Torah itself, spanning through the Second Temple Era, and well-known by the time the Qur’an was set to pen. This is the position of the Israeli Rabbinate, which thus makes it permissible for Palestinian Muslims to live in the Holy Land, even according to the strictest of Orthodox Jewish interpretations. There is therefore no room for uninformed, or misinformed statements or beliefs that “The Land of Israel is only for the Jewish People.” This is quite simply an unbiblical, and unJewish view.
10. Perhaps most importantly, I acknowledge that I am my “brother’s keeper”. As such, the work of tiqqun `olam – repairing the world – is obligatory in Judaism, as well as Islam, in which the notion is regarded as “enjoining people to what is good”. Speaking out and spreading the word about what we have acknowledged herein is necessary for peace and reconciliation to come about in any meaningful and lasting way. It is therefore not an option to passively accept these realizations, but to spread these truths like light chasing shadows away in a world of darkness. To acknowledge is to know, and to know is to do, as those who do nothing with this knowledge never truly understood with wisdom.
For more information about any of these Ten Acknowledgements, or about the Hashlamah Project Foundation, and Hashlamah Project Study Circles around the world, contact us at:
Hashlamah Project Foundation
P. O. Box 622
Yellow Springs, OH 45387