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CNN LARRY KING WEEKEND

Can Three Ancient Religions Peacefully Coexist?

Aired December 1, 2001 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: the roots of hatred and the war on terror; can three ancient religions live together in peace?

From San Antonio, Texas, best-selling author of "Traveling Light," and "He Chose Nails," the senior minister of the Oak hills Church of Christ, Max Lucado.

In Chicago, the spiritual leader of the Muslim-American society, Imam Wallace Mohammed.

From Los Angeles, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Marvin Hier.

And with him, host of "The Word and the World," Father Michael Manning.

And finally in Washington, professor of theology at Georgetown University, Maysam Al-Faruqi.

It's all next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

We will start with Imam Mohammed in Chicago. What has been the effect on the Muslim community in the United States, of September 11?

IMAM WALLACE D. MOHAMMED, MUSLIM-AMERICAN SOCIETY: Well, first it sent us into shock. It took me almost a whole day -- the next day I came back to my senses, and I felt myself to be normal. And it has caused us, as Reverend Otis Moss -- a very popular and well-liked reverend of Cincinnati -- pardon me, of Cleveland, Ohio -- he said this tragedy, it deserves that we give it some deep thought, some deep thought.

And that's what we have been doing after the shock. We have been giving it deep thought, and we have been taking advantage of every opportunity to get it -- for having exposure, like you're giving us tonight, the great -- and by the way, I was on your show once with you, a radio show once with you years ago. And I watch you, and I want to say to you "hello."

KING: Hello and welcome back.

Now let me ask Maysam Al-Faruqi in Washington: A lot of people may be surprised to see a female Muslim professor of theology at Georgetown, since so much attention has been given to females and treatment in the Muslim community. And of course, they're dealing only with what we know about the Taliban. What has been the effect on you as a teacher?

MAYSAM AL-FARUQI, ISLAMIC STUDIES, GEORGETOWN: Well, actually the response in the community, in school as well as in my neighborhood, has been extremely supportive to Muslims. To me in particular, but also to all the Muslims I know. And this is exactly what I would have expected, and I'm very grateful and proud of that -- the action amongst Americans who basically have made it a stand not to discriminate against Muslims and not to make Muslims bear the guilt of a few individuals who have committed that terrible crime.

KING: Do you think, Maysam, that most Americans do feel that way?

AL-FARUQI: I believe so. I want to believe so. I believe so; and maybe there are a few exceptions. But this is certainly not my experience, and it's not the experience of most Muslims that I know. I mean, I know there have been a few hate crimes. We have to acknowledge that. But it's not been really that much. And I...

KING: Max Lucado, did you tend, when you learned the story of the religion -- the faith of the people who apparently committed these acts -- did you tend to hold it against the faith?

MAX LUCADO, SENIOR MINISTER, OAK HILLS CHURCH OF CHRIST: No, and I don't think most Christians did either. I believe that the events of September the 11th, however, stirred a lot of curiosity among Christians wanting to learn more about the Islamic faith and the Muslim people, and wanting to contrast Christianity with other world religions. And I think that's healthy for us.

KING: But you, yourself, didn't say to yourself (sic) this is a Muslim act?

LUCADO: Boy, I'm like everybody else. The first few hours I had a whirlwind of emotions. But no, I do not fault the Muslim faith for the terrorist acts.

KING: And what is the opinion, Father, of the Catholic Church?

FATHER MICHAEL MANNING, HOST, "THE WORD IN THE WORLD": Well, the Catholic Church is filled with tears. The many, many funerals of the Catholics -- I was visiting a parish in New Jersey, and they had 70 people that were killed in that. So the whole sense was reaching out with great sorrow and great empathy, while at the same time a great sense of respect for Islam and making sure that we're not equating all of that with Islam.

KING: Were you concerned that we were?

MANNING: No. Actually, you know what I thought of first? I thought of how dangerous it is when you can get ahold of God and believe that God is on your side. That as a Catholic we could do the Inquisition, and we could do the Crusades, also. And I said, oh, we've got to get away from that. KING: As the Pope recently apologized for...

MANNING: Yes, we've got to get away from that kind of mentality.

KING: What were your thoughts, Rabbi?

RABBI MARVIN HIER, FOUNDER, SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER: Well, first of all, I think this was an epic event in human history. I was completely shocked, unprepared. And I think it taught me, and I'm sure many other people, an important lesson; and that is, while normal people go about the business of their normal lives, these terrorists and the sinister, evil organizations behind them are plotting to destroy all goodness. And if we sit in the bleachers, they might get away with it.

KING: Did you know, though, that terrorism is not exclusive to Muslims?

HIER: Oh, of course. I don't fault any religion. I think that all of us have evil as an equal depositor (ph), and we can't claim, you know, in Judaism that there are no bad Jews. That would be preposterous. But I do think that there's an important lesson here for those in the moderate camp. The lesson is very simple: If you let the extremists run with the football, they'll take down the goal post. And moderate people can't just sit by and do nothing.

KING: Let's discuss this among -- for all of you; we'll start with Imam. How come, if I read my history with right, every war that's ever been fought, God was on both sides. How does religion deal with this fact, that it might well be called -- it brings together people, it causes people great peace, it is also the perpetrator of great wars. Imam?

MOHAMMED: Yes, yes. I have to agree with that, because my experience as an African-American. We suffered a lot during slavery and after slavery in a Christian land. So I'm aware of that.

But I think that it depends ultimately on the position we take as human beings. I believe nothing can help us until we first want to be good human beings. And religion is supposed to awaken that need in us to just be the best human being we can be.

I have looked at -- back at history of the Muslim world, and I have talked with many leaders of Islam -- scholars and some pious leaders who lead congregations in prayers on Fridays, and I'm convinced that the psyche of the Muslim world leadership has been seriously damaged. There's a need for us to feel that we are still great people. But when we look at what has happened -- the Crusades firstly, and then after the Crusades, colonial domination of a great portion of the Muslim world. And now the situation for the Palestinians and the Israelis.

All of this has, I think, had serious -- had the power and effect of damaging the psyche of the Muslim world leadership. And now...

KING: Hold it, let me get a break right there, Imam. We'll come back with all of our panel and find out the question I did ask, which is: Why does God seem to be on everybody's side in every war. We'll be right back. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. these terrorists...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Maysam Al-Faruqi in Washington, you teach theology. Why does God seem to be involved in every war, and everybody -- he's on everybody's side?

AL-FARUQI: The temptation is to say he's universal, and therefore he can be claimed by everybody at the same time, but I'm not going to go into that.

Actually, what I mean to say is that religion does not motivate such acts. The acts -- those people who have committed such atrocities have grievances; and they've talked about them. Namely the killings of the -- the death of the children in Iraq because of the sanctions, the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, the presence, and the problems of the Palestinians being dispossessed and killed. These are political issues; these are not religious issues.

And you use religion to justify a certain position that you take in politics, basically to justify your actions, sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly. So it is not religion that motivates you to do something evil, it is a political matter. It's a social problem. it's a social issue or a political issue that has to be addressed...

KING: But it's hard to -- it's hard not to interchange the two, isn't it?

AL-FARUQI: Oh, yes, it's actually easy to interchange the two because, well, I would say that in Islam, because religion is very important to Muslims and because Islam is such that -- the whole of Islam is about serving God, serving His will and being here on earth to realize a moral order, an economic moral order, a social moral order, a political moral order; and therefore you have to constantly justify your acts. It's not enough to believe, you have to act in such a way so as to earn paradise. And so Muslims are going to try to just their acts constantly in relationship to...

KING: Such as -- yes. Such as people who take a plane into a building and think they're going to paradise. That's religious?

AL-FARUQI: See, they would say -- no, that's not religious at all. What they will say, however, is that the United States, in its foreign policies, has done all kinds of evil against the Muslim world and that, in their view, makes the United States evil, and... KING: That's what they say. All right, let me ask -- I got you.

Let me ask Max Lucado. The other day Christian leader Franklin Graham, a frequent guest on this show, son of Billy Graham, said, quote: "I don't believe this is a wonderful, peaceful religion" -- concerning Islam. "When you read the Koran it instructs the killing of the infidel for those who are non-Muslim." He asks members to pray and fast that God will -- or another gentleman, the head of the Southern Baptist Church -- asked his Christians to pray and fast that "God will miraculously reveal himself through Jesus Christ to Muslims." Is that your view?

LUCADO: There's a big difference between the Islamic view of salvation and the Christian view of salvation. The Christian view of salvation is that we are sinners, and we're in need of a savior, and that savior is Jesus Christ; and he, himself, said that he is the only way. That fervor, then, reflected by -- in Franklin's comments, I think, is a deep-held conviction that Christ is the way to salvation.

KING: But do you hold a conviction that the Koran is not a peaceful way?

LUCADO: There are roots of violence, I think, in the Islamic faith that I don't understand, that I question, that caused me to choose the teachings of Jesus over Mohammed, yes.

KING: Did Mohammed -- can you quote Mohammed anywhere teaching violence?

LUCADO: Can I quote? I'm sorry, I didn't hear the question.

KING: Did Mohammed ever preach violence?

LUCADO: My understanding is that in the lifetime of Mohammed, the religion was born out of some violent activities -- some raidings, some attacks. And that -- and again, this is just my opinion; everybody has to make their own choice. As I compare his life and what I understand of it -- I may be wrong -- with the lifestyle and the life of Jesus Christ, I chose Christ.

KING: Father Manning -- and you studied both? You studied both, Max?

LUCADO: Oh yes, I have. I'm sorry, I thought you were talking to...

KING: So you made the decision after studying both?

LUCADO: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: Now Father, if don't believe in Christ when you die, you are going to hell?

MANNING: No, not at all. It's the Catholic belief that Jesus is the source of salvation, Jesus is God; we believe that. But what we say to the millions and billions of people who don't even know about Jesus, are they just thrown into hell? Or what about a Rabbi who really follows the Lord as best he can? As a Catholic, I'm very comfortable that he attains salvation by doing this.

Christ...

KING: So he achieves it without believing in Christ?

MANNING: Correct. Without...

KING: Many in the Christian fraternity and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) do not believe that, right?

MANNING: As a Catholic, I can believe that Christ is God and he loves people, and it's not the goal of Christ to try to throw people into hell.

KING: And as a Catholic, how do you view Mohammed?

MANNING: As a very wise man. I see the beauty of Islam in a very strong way. A simple approach to God, a simple approach to prayer and devotion. I'm very touched by fives times a day praying; I'm very touched by the Ramadan, by the fasting; the beautiful presence of God and the power of God. And as a Catholic, I need to learn from that.

KING: Rabbi, do you see the violence in the Koran that Max Lucado sees?

HIER: There are direct references in the Koran to violence. I'll read one from the Koran: "O you who believe, take not the Jews and Christians for friends. He among you who taketh them for friends is one of them." And that's a quote from the Koran.

KING: It doesn't say kill them.

HIER: No, but it infers, of course, that there is a difference. And there are other quotes, as well. So if someone asks me straight: Are there any extremist views in the Koran? I would say yes.

KING: Are there in the Old Testament?

HIER: There would be. There are references, for example, that I do not understand...

KING: So we could prove anything out of anything.

HIER: Absolutely. But I will say one thing; and that is that life -- people are judged not on what they declare verbally. Anybody can find God. Eichmann -- a minister wanted to go to Eichmann, and just before he was hanged he will say that he has faith in Jesus and go heaven. In my view, that's preposterous.

Life is judged on deeds. If people have good deeds, it matters not what train they're on -- whether they took the Independent, the IRT, they're going to get off at the same station if they have deeds.

KING: Maysam, do you read the Koran that way too?

AL-FARUQI: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I'm sorry.

No, actually, there's the problem of reading the Koran in translation and not understanding what it says. The verse that the Rabbi actually quoted is not at all what he says. It is: "Do not take Christians and Jews as auglia (ph)," which does mean friends, it means as overlords. In other words, people who will dictate to you your behavior. In fact, the verse that deals with friendship is that one that says: "As for such as those who do not fight you on account of your faith and neither drive you forth from your homeland, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and equity, he only forbids you to turn in friendship to those who fight you because of your faith."

And in fact, Islam, like Christianity, like Catholic Christianity, recognizes salvation for all people -- I'm sorry, those who believe. The Muslims, the Jews, the Christians, the Sabayans (ph) -- anyone who believes in God and does the good deeds, they shall find the rewards from the Lord. They shall have nothing to fear, nor shall they come to grief.

KING: What, Maysam, does Islam teach of Christ? In the Islam world, Christ is what?

AL-FARUQI: Christ is a prophet; Jesus is a prophet. And a great prophet, that is one of the greatest prophets, according to the Koran. But only a prophet, like all other prophets. There have been hundreds of prophets, according to the Koran, sent to every people of the earth, because if God is going send messages to people, he's not going to choose himself one or the other and provide some with salvation, and not the others...

KING: All right, let me get -- hold on right there. All right, hold right there. We'll come right back with more of our distinguished panel right after this. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Imam Mohammed in Chicago, how do you, as an American Muslim, view Osama bin Laden?

MOHAMMED: As a sick man. I was given some background for my reply to your question. As a sick man, affected by what I explained in the first part of my question -- in the first part of my reply to you. Because of them having this hurt in them, they can't see clearly. Their eyes can't see clearly, even their own religion. I know individuals who read the same many holy book I read, the Koran, but they look for what satisfies their hurt, what satisfies their need for revenge, et cetera.

So if you're looking for these things, I can read the Bible. If I'm looking for something to hurt somebody with, I can find it there. I'm a student of the Bible, as well as a student of the Koran.

KING: So Max, how then -- what do you say to Osama bin Laden, who believes as fiercely as you do? Obviously he does, and his followers who are willing to die for what they believe in. Are they any less than you?

LUCADO: I believe we have two entirely different interpretations of who God is and what salvation means. As a Christian, I don't believe I'm saved by my deeds, where I would believe that a fundamentalist like Osama bin Laden would believe that he is saved according to what he does. That drives him, then, to do more things in the hope of being saved.

Historical Christianity teaches we're saved by what Christ did for us. Hence, we can discover the joy and the security of salvation without it creating the anxiety and the fear that comes out of a fundamentalist legalism that apparently is similar to the one that bin Laden experiences.

KING: But aren't deeds important, Max?

LUCADO: I'm sorry?

KING: Aren't deeds important?

LUCADO: Deeds are important to show that -- in the Christian tradition, deeds are important to show that we're saved, but they do not contribute to our salvation.

KING: All right. The difference between a fanatic, Father, and a believer is?

MANNING: A very fine line sometimes. I think, again -- I think, as Max said very well, we've got to make sure we know who God is. Is a God a person who loves just me, or does he love other people also? And a fanatic can pretty much get into a thing of saying, only me; you know, God is on my side. This is the side, and this is where I'm coming.

That's the problem. It's a basic misunderstanding of who God is. God loves the Rabbi, God loves me, God loves the Muslems.

KING: And he loves bin Laden?

MANNING: And he loves bin Laden. And he longs for bin Laden to change; he longs for him to change, and he's going to do everything he can to bring about a change.

Now that doesn't mean that we don't restrain him, that we don't try to stop him by all means, and even punish him by all means. But God loves him, and longs for him to come to him.

KING: Isn't it hard, Rabbi Hier, when you deal with the kamikaze pilot in life: a man who is willing to die for his causes, belief, whatever, when we're not willing to do that?

HIER: Right. I mean, it shows their commitment, their fanaticism. But we should remember that every human being knows what evil is and what good is. And we shouldn't try to interpret that, you know, maybe Osama bin Laden has a good cause, because after all he's trying to do something for his people... KING: But he has a reason, right? As Imam said, he has a -- anyone can have a reason.

HIER: Absolutely. But most people can recognize the difference between evil and good. And I think that God doesn't want to be take over what human beings do. If God is basically telling Larry King what to say on the air, then it's not the Larry King show, it's God show.

The point is, God is not involved in those decisions. He has -- we're created here on earth to see what we can do. And we can't bring God into the picture by telling us that God, as a result, cause Auschwitz; God caused, therefore, the planes to crash into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That's -- in my view, that is rather simplistic.

KING: If he's omnipotent, he could have prevented it though, couldn't he?

HIER: Yes, but the purpose is -- you know, look, a teacher knows the answers to an exam; gives the exam anyway. The point is: We were created in God's image to live here on the planet earth and to see what we could do. All evil here on this planet is mainly caused by man. It's not caused by God.

KING: Maysam, the conflict between Christianity and the Muslim faith goes back to the seventh century, does it not?

AL-FARUQI: No, that's the conflict between Muslims and Christians; that's not the same as conflict between Islam and Christianity. There is no conflict between Islam and Christianity. Christianity is a revealed religion -- a religion if the book, and it is a peaceful religion. And we expected for a long time (UNINTELLIGIBLE) would happen and state what it has stated. That is the essence of Christianity.

So -- but there are -- there have been problems between Christians and Muslims, that's true -- battles due to political matters, really. Well, some religious matters as well as the Inquisition, for instance, in Spain. But it's not really the essence of the religion. The religions can come together and cooperate on their mandate, which is to have a moral, proper, just order in society.

And incidentally, it's true, Islam will say the same thing as what the Rabbi has said: everybody is responsible for his own acts -- to fly a plane full of innocent people into a building full of innocent people is an evil act. And I can't see how God could possibly accept that as a justifiable act. It's an immoral act. And it is basically the responsibility of those who have committed it. Everyone is for his own acts -- is responsible for his own acts.

KING: But the person committing it doesn't look in the mirror and says "I am immoral," does he.

AL-FARUQI: I guess they put themselves -- the way you have to understand them, I guess -- if one can understand them -- the act itself is un-understandable -- but they think that they are basically fighting such a great evil. An evil -- for 50 years Palestinians have been in refugee camps, have been unable to regain their land, their rights, which are confirmed in international law. And so when it is so constant, so continuous; when the United States' foreign policy backs governments that help that situation, some people are driven to despair. They want to fight back.

Now, the majority of the Muslims are going to say, while we agree with those ends, that we should fight back for a just order, we don't accept the concept that means -- the end justifies the means...

KING: Right.

AL-FARUQI: Whereas those people have crossed that line and have become monsters, really.

KING: We'll take a -- let me get a break and come back. We'll reintroduce our panel, with more questions to come on this edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING WEEKEND. Let's reintroduce our panel. In Chicago is Imam Wallace D. Mohammed, he is the spiritual leader of the Muslim American Society. In San Antonio is Max Lucado, the best selling author of "Traveling Light" and "He Chose the Nails." He is the senior minister of the Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, as we said. Here in Los Angeles is Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Also in Los Angeles, Father Michael Manning, host of "The Word in the World." And in Washington is Maysam al-Faruqi, she's professor of theology at Georgetown University.

Imam, what does the American Muslim or yourself -- how do you look at the Taliban?

MOHAMMED: As a group that perhaps began as a sincere group to help spread the message of Islam and to educate Muslims so that they will have the right ideas, as followers of Islam, but there's a mix -- now, it's a mixed group that have extremists in it, and I think perhaps it is not to be seen by Muslims as legitimate group of Muslim students, Muslims who are being educated to help Islam in the world, the image and message of Islam in the world.

KING: Max, how do you regard or react to the fact that it is the fastest growing religion in the world?

LUCADO: I think that there's two or three reasons for that. The Islamic faith has a lot to offer, a monotheistic view of God, creationist view of beginnings, a decisive end to history -- those are things that the Islamic faith has in common with Christianity.

It's a simple faith, it can be articulated clearly. I believe that the five pillars of the faith are very attractive and appealing to people. I do believe, however, that when you compare the Islamic view of salvation to the Christian view of salvation, you really part company. Both religions cannot be right. That does not mean we cannot view each other with respect, and I appreciate very much opportunities like this to dialogue, but when it comes to salvation you really have two different views of what God offers in the path to heaven.

KING: Father, did God, as you see him, set up religions? Did he say, there will be Judaism and there will be Hinduism and there will be Mohammedism and there will be Christianity?

MANNING: I don't think so.

KING: So, man formed them.

MANNING: I think that there was a Jesus experience of wanting to draw people together as a group.

KING: But he died a Jew.

MANNING: He died a Jew, of course, and he died with the followers of Jesus very closely tied to Judaism. And then it started to move...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: So he didn't form a faith?

MANNING: No, it wasn't that strong, there wasn't -- what we see today certainly wasn't the similar thing to what we find in Christ. There is a continual tension in Christianity to get back to the roots.

KING: Why can't there all just be just one belief in a higher supreme being?

MANNING: I think there is, in many ways. I think with Jews and Muslims and Catholics and Christians, we can have that, we can say that. But we do find that there is a difference, because there are...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: So the differences are all man-made differences?

MANNING: No, not at all.

KING: No?

MANNING: No, I mean, as a Christian, I believe in the revelation that God has given that Jesus is God, and that there is a Trinitarian experience of God, the one God in three persons.

KING: And Rabbi Hier, do you believe that you are the chosen people?

HIER: Oh, absolutely. I believe...

KING: You are? HIER: I believe the Jews...

KING: That has hurt you over the years.

HIER: Absolutely, but chosen...

KING: To what?

HIER: ... to the task to present the word of God, the revelation of the Ten Commandments, monotheism, democracy to the world. Social justice as practiced by the great prophets, that was introduced by Judaism to the world, so of course I believe in that.

But I will say that -- and also, in the Jewish tradition, we accept the fact that there will be many religions. There's a verse in the prophet which says: "Let all the nations walk with their Gods and we shall walk with ours," which is a clear recognition that there isn't going to be a monolithic approach to the way to get to heaven.

But I think one thing that was referred to before, Larry, that should be clarified, this thing about Osama bin Laden and people who believe in him, that, you know, they had great misgivings about what was going on in Israel and et cetera, this is the reason for their vent-up behavior.

The fact is at the time that Osama bin Laden launched this operation, which was almost two years before it was realized, Israel and the Palestinians almost had concluded a peace treaty. They were at the White House, at Camp David, while Osama bin Laden had sent his cells into the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

HIER: So of course Israel is not the issue. It's a complete excuse.

KING: He's more anti-Saudi Arabia.

HIER: He hates America.

KING: And he hates the West.

HIER: And he hates everything the West stands for. And that was the reason for it.

KING: Maysam al-Faruqi, do you think sometimes from tragedy like this we can get closer?

AL-FARUQI: Yes, definitely, but can I answer this, go back to the both questions that you have asked the other members, and answer that? In Islamic tradition, there's one God who reveals the same message, which eventually is changed over time and distorted over time. And if that God allows this to happen, God has willed for different religions, actually, to happen, and the Koran addresses this. And it says, for each of you, we have appointed a specific religious path and a specific religious law. And if God had so willed, he would have made all of you but one community, but he did not do so, in order that he may try all of you in what he has given you. Therefore, compete with one another in good deeds and show that you can tolerate other people, as another verse in the Koran says: "God, if he had so willed, he would have made all the people to believe, but he did not. Will you then please compel people to believe?" And tolerance, real tolerance is accepting that somebody who defines himself or herself in a completely different way than someone else, and has a different concept of God.

Now, however, there is a similarity in all these traditions, namely the moral law, and this is exactly what the Koran asks all traditions to come together. And so it asks the Muslim to say to all people of the book, let us come together on a common platform that we shall worship none but God and serve only his will, that is we will agree on serving his moral will on the moral issues.

It's not a matter of convincing someone else of whether salvation can be attained only through this or that, but let's agree on having a real moral structure where the rights of people are not taken away from them, where justice reins in the world.

And I think that it will help us to come together on this kind of thing, because I think it's religion really and really understanding of religion that can help solve the problem. Things like nationalism, tribalism, racism basically only exclude other people. Religions speak in absolute values. You're serving God the absolute, and you have to justify yourself in absolute terms, in moral terms to him.

And so, it is a matter of holding the moral law. If for instance, Jews were to hold up the moral law in Israel, that is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Jews, and allow the wretched refugees to go back to their homes and to go back to their lands, which belongs to them...

KING: Then we would also...

AL-FARUQI: ... according to the international law, then they would have lived up to chosen -- the concept of chosenness, and they will become a light unto the nations.

KING: You also would have agreed that maybe 20, 30 years ago the Palestinians might have said Israel can be a state and live in peace, and not threaten them?

AL-FARUQI: I think they should have said so, and the Palestinians, however, should not have been thrown out of the their land, and people who have -- most of the Palestinians were thrown out of their lands, like 75 percent, more than 75 percent of them. And that was basically on the -- they were never allowed to return to their homes.

KING: All right, let me get a break. We're wandering. Let me get a break, and we'll come back with our remaining moments, some final thoughts from everyone on this discussion of religion and matters of inter-faith. This is LARRY KING WEEKEND. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Rabbi, there have been great periods of tolerance between the two faiths. May Manatee (ph) is one of the great Jewish philosophers, they name hospitals after him, spoke Arabic during the golden age of Spain, but when extreme groups of Muslims, the Al-Manid (ph), overran Spain, Jews had to flee. So we've always had this along come extremists on all sides to cause problems and confusion. Why didn't God, do you think, make it a little easier? He could have prevented a lot of killings by giving free will, 82 percent.

HIER: Because in a sense, Larry, life is more than a game, and a human being is asked to make a contribution here on earth. And if God interferes, then basically God's doing all the work. If God makes peace, then it's not man that made peace.

KING: But it can prevent children from dying.

HIER: Yes, but if prevents -- if he does all of that, then man no longer has freedom of choice, because every time we get into a pickle the first thing we'll do is we pick up, on our cell phone we call God that he should interfere. So it's not man anymore.

And the other thing I can't resist, Larry, with your permission, just to say the comments by my colleague, I couldn't disagree more. The Palestinians, they had 50 years to choose peace, even last year at the Camp David accords, when Barak offered them almost everything, they simply walked away from it, showing the world that they're not interested in that.

KING: I don't want to get into that. That's another show we'll do on that. Maysam took us that route, but I've tried to bring us back.

Max Lucado, do you ever question your God? Do you ever get angry at your God?

LUCADO: I tell you, I stand amazed that God doesn't get more angry at me. I think this is a wonderful dialogue, and I think it's exactly this kind of dialogue that can in future years prevent such atrocities. I think we need to be careful and not blur the differences, though, between these faiths. I mean, we are really talking apples and oranges when we compare these religions.

KING: Yeah.

LUCADO: And I wonder, I can't but help ask a question if some of the anger that came out of the Taliban was born out of their isolationism, being restricted and not perhaps exposed, like we are doing here, exposing ourselves to one another's convictions. I think this is helping, and I think it has to take place in Afghanistan and other countries for unity and harmony to exist.

KING: Excellent point. Imam, don't you think the Taliban was an isolated kind of community?

MOHAMMED: Yes, I would agree, but if I may, I want to give the -- something -- from -- quote from the Koran that says everything for me almost. In the Koran it says, an invitation from God to the soul of man. "The man that hath found peace." Says: "All souls at peace, satisfying and satisfied, enter you among my workers, enter you my paradise."

So what this says to me is that man's desire is to be at peace, all men, all human beings want peace. And the way to find that peace is not only to satisfy God, but to satisfy God by satisfying the best nature that God has given you. And when you satisfy that best nature, you satisfy God, and you enter paradise pleasing before God, you're pleasing God but you're also pleased. You're pleased with yourself.

KING: You would agree with that, Father, would you not? Father? Or not? You call it heaven, they call it paradise?

MANNING: Yes, yes, we are looking for that.

KING: But you're talking in the same terms, aren't you?

MANNING: Yes.

KING: Now, God gave laws, right, didn't he?

MANNING: Yes, he did.

KING: But those laws were changed by other religions which shows to change them. There were original dietary laws.

MANNING: Yes.

KING: Catholics don't follow the dietary laws. Why not?

MANNING: Well, because the basic law, Christ was you've got to love God...

KING: So Christ changed the law.

MANNING: Well, Christ changed the law and said that isn't -- not changing the law, but coming and saying what really is the law about.

KING: And then Mohammed changed it.

MANNING: Well, not changing -- you're saying changing it. What I'm saying Christ came in...

KING: Refined it.

MANNING: ... and he said the law is, the law is you love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and you love your neighbor as yourself. And that was so easily said, and yet so difficult to live out. That's the challenge of what we have got here. Can I love a Muslim? Can I love a Jew as myself?

KING: Maysam, if you believe in heaven and paradise, then dying is good?

AL-FARUQI: Absolutely. And dying is perfectly natural, it's the end of things.

KING: Why do we treated it tragically?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Why not?

AL-FARUQI: Well, there is the pain...

KING: If you're unhappy on earth, and you want to go somewhere to paradise or heaven, and you want to get there sooner, why not?

AL-FARUQI: Yeah, why not wish, for instance, your dinner guests to meet God very soon? That wouldn't be very nice, would it? Well, there is no fear of death in Islam, and I think there shouldn't be. Life is a great, great possibility for existence to happen for men to be like God to take responsibility for his own acts, and that is the dignity that the Koran talks about when it says we confer dignity onto mankind to be able to create himself, to create a life that is worthy of God, of the moral law that was created to fulfill, and that is the normal end of that. So it isn't to be feared, it's just a natural end.

KING: All right, rabbi, why isn't dying good?

HIER: No, dying is something that every human being -- we pay taxes and we die. But the other thing is, Larry, that there's a quote in the Talmud which says: "Better one hour on this world than all of the next world."

KING: Because?

HIER: Because that's an affirmation. Right now, we were given a charge to live on the planet earth. We all -- religious people believe in heaven, but right now our responsibility is to make the affairs of mankind here on earth honorable, and not to speculate what's in heaven, what is the soul going to be? None of us were there, and the speculation really is just really a waste of time.

But what is not a waste of time is to make our earthly existence dignified and honorable.

KING: But if you do believe it's better, what's wrong with going sooner? If you really believe it's better?

HIER: Because the earth, living here on earth, is so wonderful that we ought to be...

KING: It's wonderful? It's wonderful to people in poverty? It's wonderful to people treated poorly?

HIER: Well you know, Larry, there are no mass suicides. There are billions of people living here on earth. And we do not find in tomorrow's newspaper a report that 2 billion people commit suicide, because most people love life on earth. And we shouldn't exit -- it's sometimes a convenient way to foreclose our responsibilities here on earth by concentrating on heaven. Let heaven be heaven, but right now we live on earth.

KING: Max, do you think the reason that occurs is because most people are not sure there's a heaven?

LUCADO: I think you're right; I think so. And I think they don't have security about where they're going to go after they die. They live in fear, they live in anxiety.

That's the danger of trusting salvation according to your deeds, because you never know if you've done enough. And so if you're hoping to save yourself by what you do, well, where is it written down what I do? And, again, this is the unique offering of the Christian faith -- and that is that what Christ did on the cross was enough, and so you can be secure and actually look forward to your departure from earth.

KING: If you the totally believe.

LUCADO: If you believe, exactly.

KING: The pope has called an interfaith conference, I believe, for Rome in January. He's asking people of all faiths -- hierarchy of all faiths to come. This has happened, I guess, before...

MANNING: In Assissi. He did it in Assissi before.

KING: Can it work?

MANNING: Of course it can, because we've got to have faith that God can change the world. And we, as people who love the Lord, have got to be able to come together and talk like we're doing now, and find our common ground, and find the faith that we have that we can come together.

The evil that happened on September 11 is secondary, and is nothing to the power of the love and the faith that can move people coming together and changing the world. You're doing it. You're doing it on television.

KING: Maysam, do you think can happen?

AL-FARUQI: It must happen. This is the task of mankind, and it will happen. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that's what man is here to do.

Muslims, Christians, Jews and other religions are here to create the -- to fulfill the moral law of God. And I have -- there is no other task for mankind. And mankind has no other choice. It must be -- they must be successful in this task.

KING: That's right, or we are all doomed. And I think you all very much: Max Lucado in San Antonio, Imam Wallace Mohammed in Chicago, Rabbi Marvin Hier in Los Angeles, Father Michael Manning in Los Angeles, and Maysam Al-Faruqi in Washington, D.C.

Tomorrow night on LARRY KING WEEKEND we're going to replay some highlights of the past week, including our interview with Colin Powell. And we've got some great guests coming next week, including three nights back in Washington.

We'll tell you about our close of this program. It's going to be orchestrated and sung by Mahalia Jackson. We'll tell you about that right after these words.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Every night we close our program on an upbeat note musically. Tonight's show ends with "We Shall Overcome," sung by the great Mahalia Jackson from the Columbia Record's "God Bless America" album. A substantial portion of the money made from this special album goes to the Twin Towers Fund.

Tomorrow on LARRY KING WEEKEND: a look back at our interviews with Secretary of State Colin Powell, plus those two recently freed American aid workers. Until then, here's Mahalia. Good night.

(Mahalia Jackson, "We Shall Overcome")

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


 
 
 
 


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