As I sailed into New York on the cold wintry morning of Wednesday, December 22, 1965, on the Italian SS Michelangelo, I beheld the Statue of Liberty and wondered what America had in store for me. Little did I realize then that I was to discover the riches of my faith tradition in this land. Like many immigrants from Muslim lands, I discovered my Islam in America.
I therefore entertain a wish, shared by my reading of my noble scripture, the Quran, regarding all religions, including Judaism and Christianity—the very same wish entertained by all who have taken part in interfaith dialogue across the ages. I wish for humankind to drink deeply from that rich, nourishing current of spiritual traditions—those immutable principles of divine origin that have been given form in so many ways in human societies. Religion must be more than mere custom or habit, more than the transient styles and cultural fashions of passing ages. Religion, which speaks to the eternal in us, must be the foundation of a robust, harmonious society and the animating principle of the whole life of a people.