MJC, on many levels, was an eye opening experience for me. It was intense, poignant and enlightening. The conference provided a comfortable platform to interact with people coming from a diverse range of cultural and religious backgrounds. This friendly forum allowed for open and honest dialogue, which was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. I met some wonderful people, made great friends, and had the opportunity to learn about the Jewish community, as well as about the practice of Islam across different cultures, in a way that no amount of reading material could have conveyed.
In retrospect I feel I was very lucky to be part of the Women In Religion committee. The role of women in Muslim communities, is a topic that is very close to my heart since I myself am a woman from a third world Muslim country. The personal stories that were shared by fellow delegates during the committee sessions, and the exchange of Muslim versus Jewish religious teachings about the role of women, in comparison with their execution across countries, was a discussion that not only taught me a great deal but also altered some of my preconceived notions.
My interaction with people from the Jewish community allowed me to ponder over some Islamic concepts that I had not studied thoroughly previously – I did not just learn about Judaism but also about Islam. The most important thing I learnt during the course of the conference was how important it is to criticize oneself instead of criticizing others. Being human naturally makes us all irrational and biased.
This conference played a very positive role in making us put aside our biases to thinking rationally, and be able to listen to each other, absorb differences and appreciate them. Ethnocentrism is common to all mankind regardless of religion, race or culture. It is how not to let that get in the way of anything great, is what I believe this conference managed to achieve successfully.
– Ifrah, Lahore