November 22, 2016

Experts explore religious similarities, differences

Religious experts Swami Tyaganada (Hinduism), Rabbi Jordana Chernow-Reader (Judaism), the Rev.Stephen Rowan (Christian-Baptist) and Shaykh Musa Sugapong (Islam) provided key points about each of their religions and described similarities and differences among them in a dialogue about belief systems Nov. 10 at Cleveland State University.

According to the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement, which sponsored the event, the discussion would allow guests to learn more about these faiths to increase their understanding of how the diversity of belief systems shapes values, behavior and interactions with others.

After learning about each religion, students, faculty and other guests received four questions regarding what they learned from the speakers. They then had to discuss the questions together as a group.

The questions asked explored what the guests learned about belief systems they didn’t know, their similarities and how people can work together even if systems differ. The questions also addressed if people have one belief system with sub-systems or many different ones.

Jack Logue, a sophomore general business major, said he found the dialogue to be very informative. He said he was already very interested in this subject, and he even brought his family along.
Logue said that in his group discussion one comment from an unidentified professor resonated with his group:

“These different belief systems are like a buffet, but in the end, you see and take in so many different religions and realize they’re really all the same.”

Allyson L. Robichaud, Ph.D., professor and director of the bioethics program at Cleveland State, was the moderator of the event. She also had thoughts on the dialogue as a whole.

“It’s important that not only students are educated on diversity, but everyone in all communities,” Robichaud said. “Events like these can form peace, love and respect for one another.”
Shaykh Musa Sugapong, an Islamic Studies professor at the Darul Quasim Institute Muslim College in Parma, Ohio, said that an event like this where people can discuss their differences goes a long way.

“Establishing dialogues and learning about religions to eventually have love for people that are different is what is event is all about,” Sugapong said. “We need to have trust and alliance in God and with our differences…that is what will bring us together.”

Sugapong said he believes that many people still think what they want about Muslims and a majority do not know much about them. He said that the media play a big part in how others perceive their people’s culture and religion.

“After teaching a diversity course for mental health professions at John Carroll University it was brought to my attention that few students have personally met an Islamic person,” Sugapong said. “Not many know about other religions than theirs, and it’s very important that people take advantage of events like these so they can have a better understanding.”


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