I was very lucky to hear Professor Dr Taj Hargey, from Oxford University's Muslim Education Centre, and who has a doctorate in Islamic studies, speak five times in Cape Town recently.
The first time was at Temple Israel Wynberg where The Open Mosque Community's Muslims celebrated Iftar, ie broke their Ramadan Fast.
Dr Taj spoke about the connection between Judaism and Islam.
Then I heard Dr Taj three times at The Open Mosque, where I prayed Iftar, Eid (end of Ramadan) and Jumu'ah (Friday prayers) with my Muslim half-brothers and half-sisters.
And then I heard Dr Taj speak at the Methodist Church in Rosebank about "the close connection between Christianity and Islam".
At every one of these talks, Dr Taj reiterated his belief in "the L of IsLam". The vertical part of the L (ie the |) signifies the connection between Allah and mankind. The horizontal part of the L (ie the _) signifies the connection of siblings with each other, families with each other, tribes with each other, religions with each other, etc. This is very similar to the Cross in Christianity, which has the same strokes as the "L" of IsLam.
I was truly humbled to hear the other side of Islam, as opposed to what we read in the mainstream press on a daily basis. My personal belief is that our way of life is made up of three parts: religion, community and soul. In the Torah, in the Shma, this is represented as Mind, Heart, and Soul. In Christianity, this is Church, Body (of Christ) and Spirit. In Buddhism, this is Dharma, Sangha and Buddha.
Fundamentalist belief lives in the religious practice, and in my humble opinion, religious practice without community and without spirit is only one third of a whole way of life.