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Asking the clergy about mediating disputes

The New Testament, The Torah and the Quran all have Scriptures about how to forgive and how to live with others. But, in the heat of the moment, it may be hard to find solace and resolution in words alone. This week's clergy offer some helpful suggestions and Scriptures about resolving conflicts.

Rabbi Steven H. Moskowitz, Jewish Congregation of Brookville, Jericho:

As a rabbi, of course I believe that Scripture and rabbinical teachings can help with disputes. But the best and most healing thing is the weekly Torah readings at services. We also take the Torah out every Shabbat and march it around the congregation, and everyone kisses and touches it. It is a really unifying act. More than the act of reading from the Torah, this process unifies the congregation and brings people closer together and cements us as a congregation.

When we're sitting and praying together and reading from the Torah, it is hard to stay mad at each other. It also is a way for members to overcome disappointments and anger as we share in this joyous moment.

People do come to me sometimes if they are having a dispute. Then, I would turn to the wisdom of our traditions to offer them council. Which Scriptures or rabbinical teachings I would offer would depend on the situation.

Imam Ahmadullah Kamal, Long Island Muslim Society, East Meadow:

The Quran mentions everything. If we have any kind of problem, we can look to the Quran for a solution. The first verse I would recommend is Chapter 49, Verse 10: (Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan translation): "The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers, and fear Allah that you may have mercy."

God is saying that there is no favoritism on his part. And, if you fix the problem, you may receive his mercy. It is human nature to get into conflict. Each of us thinks we are better than the other person, that what we say is right, that we're smarter. Thinking like this creates all kinds of problems.

Allah says in Chapter 4, Verse 114: "No good is there in much of their private conversation, except for those who enjoin charity or that which is right or conciliation between people. And whoever does that seeking means to the approval of Allah -- then we are going to give him a great reward."

He is saying that some pray for charity, for fasting, for good actions. Allah doesn't like there to be disputes between people. So, it is better to fix a dispute than to perform acts of charity and other good actions.

When we are living in society, it is the responsibility of each of us to take care of others. If we give priority to others, we can have peace and tranquillity in our community, in our country.

The Rev. Wendy Steed, St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Inwood:

I wish I could answer this question by saying, "What disputes?" The ideal, of course, is that we share a faith, a mission in life and a moral code that are part of the religious tradition of Scripture, with love being its foundation. Nothing can be important enough to separate us. Anglican cleric and theologian John Wesley (1703-91) called this "the tie that binds."

As Methodists proclaim our relationship with God as "going on to perfection," we also acknowledge that the perfected relationships we seek are still a work in progress. So, leaving denial and logic at the door, we are faced with the reality that we are human.

As part of our tradition, history and sacred relationship with God, we look to Scripture as a revelation of God's wisdom not only in how we should approach our relationship with him, but also how we should relate to each other.

Certainly we can and should look for guidance in Scripture not only in our congregation, but as we negotiate the challenges of life as we recall that we are all related in a special way through our faith (Matthew 12:48-50), we are called to forgive as we would expect to be forgiven (Luke 6:37), kindness is required (Ephesians 4:32), and finally and most importantly, love, the most important commandment, must always guide us (John 13:34-35).

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