Building Bridges of Hope
Adnan Durrani, American Halal Company, Inc
Pontifical Gregorian University
Vatican City State
Rome, Italy
October 12, 2010
My Religion Commands Me To Build
Bridges With The Abrahamic Faiths
“Allah commands you to sit down peacefully with the People of the
Book (Al-Kitab) and follow the good example of earlier Prophets of the
Kitab (Bible, Torah)”
Koran, Surah 3:84
“I and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens,
and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them… No
one is to destroy a Christian house or church, to at all damage it…
should anyone do any of this, he would spoil God’s covenant and
disobey His prophet… No Muslim is to disobey this covenant till the
Last Day of Judgment…”
Prophet Mohammad, 628 CE
Successful Tenants of Interfaith Bridges
 Don’t gloss over differences, celebrate and understand them.
Less about Political Correctness, more about Peaceful Co-Existence.
Avoid dogmatic scriptures
 Look for Common Ground and Establish Framework of Shared Values:
Caring for Creation & Humankind
Charity / Service – mercy, care for the needy / disenfranchised
Social, Economic, Racial Justice
Family Values
Environmental Responsibility
 Don’t focus purely on formal religious or political views – must open up
each other’s hearts with compassion, empathy for the “Other”
Three Guiding Lights (“Noor”) ‫نور‬
Engaging Islamic Communities with Interfaith Dialogue & Collaboration
TAARUF: Come To Know Each Other – Creating Alliances with each other
“He created us as Nations and Tribes so that we may know each other”
Koran, 49:13
“Enemy is One Whose Story you haven’t yet heard” …. Imam Ali
TAALUF: Building Alliances
“And He hath put affection between their hearts…” Koran, 8:63
Need to Bond with Brothers / Sisters in Faith to a shared enterprise for a
common higher purpose, ethics, values
TAKAMUL: Complement Each Other, make whole, i.e.:
Sum of the Parts >> Whole
Principles of Islamic Economics
 Western Economics – Profit Motive solely in material & mortal dimension
(“Benefit for the few at the expense of the majority”)
“There is one and only one social responsibility of business - to use its resources and engage in activities
designed to increase its profits… and engage in open and free competition. The corporation is an
instrument of the stockholders who own it.”
Milton Friedman 1970
Islamic Economic Principles:
Based On Social & Economic Justice
 Many Christian and Jewish leaders / philanthropists also had the same view:
Cadburys, Roundtrees, Cannon, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine, Maimonides,
Catholic Charities
All of them, like Islam/Shariah’s tenants, stressed:
Egalitarianism, Wellbeing of Community, Social Justice, Advocacy for the Poor
Summary of Socially Responsible And Shariah Business Ethics
Shariah/Islamic Principles And SRB Values IDENTICAL
Justice: Both Economic and Social to Communities & Society
(Diversity, Empowerment, Transparency)
Equity: to stakeholders (employees, communities, globally) – not just
shareholders, i.e., Equitable & Living Wages (not minimum wages) or full
healthcare to employees
Responsibility: (Environment, Society, Employees, Consumers)
New Breed of “Values Based” Enterprises – Led by Social Entrepreneurs
Devoted to More Dynamic, Spiritual, Sustainable Faith-Based Values
Socially Responsible Business As An Ethical Bridge Builder
“Business IS the most powerful force on earth. Unlike governments, which are bound
by politics, bureaucracy, conventions, businesses in America are free to lead.
Unlike Churches, Community Groups, and non profits, business has serious resources
to back up its ideas. Business acts quickly, can get rules changed for its interests, and
overcomes others special interests.”
Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farms
2007-2008 Financial Crisis
Calling for More Ethical & Equitable Business/ Finance:
Shariah Finance, CSR, Micro-finance try to nurture SUSTAINABLE, JUST ENTERPRISES
“If I were to ask for a billion dollars for a good global cause, there
would be a lot of uproar – but a TRILLION dollars down the
drain, everyone is off still playing golf, and not a word spoken.”
“Usually, most businesses have someone in charge of CSR
(Corporate Social Responsibility), who sponsors a cricket match
or exhibition, “ said Yunus, “But if you create a social business
out of CSR, then everyone can benefit.”
Dr. Mohammed Yunus
International Islamic Finance Forum
Dubai, 4/13/2010
As in Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea:
And Connect…
With the “Other”
READ Global
Rural Education and Development
Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation Funded
Clinton Global Initiative and Bill Clinton endorsed
READ Global’s
Success in Conflict Zones Due to
 Contract Directly with Communities – NOT via government, political, or
religious institutions
 Communities Come to READ and have to become committed
Stakeholders (must contribute 15%-20%)
 All religious, political power groups in community must sign a contract
 Build an Interfaith NGO within each village that belongs to the
 Sustaining Project  income, jobs, empowerment, education
 Collaboration  health services, microcredit, literacy, etc
 READ serves as a safe, Interfaith “CONNECTOR,” linking diverse religious ,
faith-centered communities, diverse cultures & languages to much
needed services
“Extremists might bomb a school, but they never targeted a library. The
school belonged to the government, the library to the village.”
READ Global
What if ONE IDEA could meet the challenges of global poverty?
READ Global’s Success Based On
 Celebrate Tradition of different faiths, without proselyting
or sanctioning any
 Position as an NGO, a-political, and non-religious
organization = Honest Broker
 Create “Zones of Peace”
 Has 100% success rate in war torn conflict regions like India,
Nepal, which are multi-denominational: Hindu, Muslim,
Christian, Buddhist
 Over 45 libraries/community centers (40 more planned)
 1.5 million rural poor impacted out of poverty and into
education & employment
“RELIGIOSITY” is Gaining Momentum
#1 Websites = & Christian Broadcasting Network (700 Club)
Record Conversions to both Islam and Evangelical Christianity 22 Million page views, 6 Million Unique Visitors
Shariah Finance – now handling 1.5 Trillion US Dollars!
“Islamic Identity” Burgeoning:
 37% of U.K. Muslims under age of 40 follow Shariah
customs. Re-emergence of the Hijab
 Renaissance of Islamic based Music (Sami Yusuf)
 Huge Demand for Islamic Deen Forums & Scholars
(Hamza Yusuf & Zaytuna)
Islamaphobia At An All Time High
Current Environment of Polarized Fear & Hate Compel Us to Urgently Build Bridges of Hope
We need to deploy Smart Bombs – WME’s, exercising compassion, understanding, and faith based
leadership (engagement)
Park 51 Islamic Center
USA: Islamaphobia
Building Bridges Over Troubled Waters
 Timing for Interfaith Dialogue no longer just a social need – U.S. is in a
crisis that needs community & faith based engagement, at every level:
Religious, business, civic, political
 Our Socially Responsible Business: “Prophets for Peace”
American Halal Co, Inc / Saffron Road
 We seek to build bridges of peace and understanding, using a consumer
branded enterprise as our vehicle
Equitable & Ethical Development
Examples of Quantifiable SRB Impact
Empowerment & Education
1.5 million rural poor
Up to 80 libraries
Women's Empowerment
50,000 homes, 1,000 churches,
synagogues, mosques
Renewable Energy
and Organic Agriculture
Over 40 million consumers, $12
million in philanthropy, 100,000
acres of organic farms
Health & Nutrition
100 million consumers eating
healthy, including 2,000 schools
Charity / Philanthropy
$300 million to NGO's / Charities
(eg. International Rescue Committee)
Cultural Validation
Outreach to 50,000 schools in
Islamic Countries
Distribution of Wealth to Poor
Grameen Dannon Yogurt, Grameen Hospitals
Over 30 million in poverty benefitted,
95% Muslims in poor villages
Establish Sustainable Foundation: “Prophets for Peace”
• Nourish moderate Muslim voices and advocate podium for youth engagement
• Donate % of profits of Saffron Road Brand into PFP Foundation
Promote, Facilitate and Lead Community to embrace American Muslims via Interfaith
Foster Holistic Muslim Business Model: Halal, Shariah Compliant, SRB
Cultivate Muslim Luminaries to Champion Saffron Road’s Peace Building Activism
From Muslim Nobel Peace Prize Winners, to Scholars, to Sports Stars, to Musicians
Obtain Endorsement of Non Muslim illuminarys and Businesses for pluralistic outreach
Current Challenges For Future Sustainable Interfaith Development
 Current Total Shut Down of Ethical Charitable giving for bonafide American Islamic Charities
Gags the Moderate Voices, Spooks Top Donors, Halts All Educational Progress
 Muslim leaders and Moderate Muslim Majority Need To Take Leadership in Civic
Engagement on local, state, federal levels.
 Non-Muslim religious leaders, civic leaders, politicians, business & community leaders need
to Build Bridges with American Muslims, publically supporting American Muslim initiatives
 Need to Establish “Peace Initiatives:”
Prophets for Peace (American Halal Company)
Rabbi Jack Bemporad’s “Institute of Islamic and Jewish Understanding”
Saleem Ali’s Peace Parks
READ’s Zones of Peace
• To Drown Out Voices of Hate Driving Islamaphobia and Anti-Semitism
• To Have A Unified Bridge for Peacemakers of Faith to Stand On
• To Lead Media Outreach To Be Informed And Just To the “OTHER”
Hope DOES Spring Eternal Among Our Youth
Interest & Engagement in Interfaith forums at all time high
Survey: 67% of college freshmen in U.S. committed to do social service /
volunteer work (highest in over 25 years)
During Hurricane Katrina – 220,000 college students did 2.2 million hours of
Pakistan Floods: Over 500,000 teenagers volunteering service for the crisis
In Conclusion…
As Alexander Solzhenitsyn put it:
“The line separating good and evil passes not
through states, nor between classes, nor
between religious ideologies, nor between
political parties either – but right through
every human heart.”
Thank You!

Building Bridge of Hope