As God’s world abounds with variety, so the paths of faith are numerous. “Let all peoples each walk in the name of their God and we will walk in the name of Adonai our God for ever and ever” (Micah 4:5). Jews don’t hold a monopoly on divine reward. Our ancient sources teach that “righteous people among the nations of the world have a place in the world to come.”* We should take a lesson from God in celebrating diversity. “For a man mints many coins from one mold and they are all alike, but God minted all people from the mold of Adam and yet not one is like another.”
Christians do not agree among themselves about the status and fate of the religious other. A great deal of theological argumentation has been devoted to whether “the other” is “saved.” Yet whatever the range of opinion, which varies both across and within Christian traditions, an important nugget of wisdom is often overlooked: the revelatory power of the “stranger,” and the righteousness of those who treat the stranger justly.
Matthew’s gospel provides a vivid vision of the final judgment (25: 31-46). Those judged “righteous” by the “Son of Man” for providing him with food and drink for the hungry and thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the imprisoned ask, in effect, when they did that for him. “Truly,” they are told, “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” We will be judged by how we treat others.
According to the Qur’an, God created humanity from Adam and Eve, a single pair, one male and one female. The Qur’an goes on to note that God divided the descendants of Adam and Eve into nations and tribes, not so they would despise one another, but so they would know one another (49:13). The Qur’an explains that if God had willed, He could have made people as one community (11:118). The fact that God fashioned a world with different rituals and ways of worship further reveals God’s intention to create a diverse community of people. And the Qur’an clearly warns that process of inviting others toward God should not lead to dispute (22:76). Elsewhere, the Qur’an states that God created peoples with different customs and religious practices to inspire competition among them in performing good deeds (5:48). The diversity within humanity is a blessing from God for me and I believe that we must do our best to know each other and treat one another with respect as God intended.*