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A prominent rabbi and imam, each raised in orthodoxy, overcome the temptations of bigotry and work to bridge the chasm between Muslims and Jews
Rabbi Marc Schneier, the eighteenth generation of a distinguished rabbinical dynasty, grew up deeply suspicious of Muslims, believing them all to be anti-Semitic. Imam Shamsi Ali, who grew up in a small Indonesian village and studied in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, believed that all Jews wanted to destroy Muslims. Coming from positions of mutual mistrust, it seems unthinkable that these orthodox religious leaders would ever see eye to eye. Yet in the aftermath of 9/11, amid increasing acrimony between Jews and Muslims, the two men overcame their prejudices and bonded over a shared belief in the importance of opening up a dialogue and finding mutual respect. In doing so, they became not only friends but also defenders of each other’s religion, denouncing the twin threats of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and promoting interfaith cooperation.
In Sons of Abraham, Rabbi Schneier and Imam Ali offer a candid look at the contentious theological and political issues that frequently divide Jews and Muslims, clarifying erroneous ideas that extremists in each religion use to justify harmful behavior. Rabbi Schneier dispels misconceptions about chosenness in Judaism, while Imam Ali explains the truth behind concepts like jihad and Shari’a. And on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the two speak forthrightly on the importance of having a civil discussion and the urgency of reaching a peaceful solution.
“Sons of Abraham represents the culmination of years of work by Rabbi Schneier, my partner at the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Imam Ali, and myself to bring Muslims and Jews together all across the world. Few people thought that these orthodox religious leaders could be friends, and even fewer believed their work would succeed, but Sons of Abraham shows how their friendship has created a model for a worldwide Muslim-Jewish reconciliation.”
–Russell Simmons, Chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and co-founder of Def Jam Records
“Through a robust discussion of the history and mindsets that define both Judaism and Islam, Imam Shamsi Ali and Rabbi Marc Schneier offer that the truest illustration of faith lies not in traditions or a myopic approach to piety, but rather in a deeply held belief in one God, a concern for human dignity, and a commitment to mutual respect. The authors–in their friendship and in their service–offer a rare example of cooperation and provide a beacon of hope as we pursue peace between peoples torn apart by millennia of misunderstanding and mistrust. Sons of Abraham is a work of political, social, and religious significance and a roadmap for how we should and can move forward.”
–Congressman André Carson
“In this book my friends Rabbi Marc Schneier and Imam Shamsi Ali show us that Muslims and Jews are not enemies, but friends who are united by our belief in a monotheistic god and our lineage to our forefather Abraham. The Rabbi and Imam’s friendship is a reminder that peace and friendship are possible between our peoples.”
–S. Daniel Abraham, Chairman, Center for Middle East Peace