“We hope that this study, presented in an accessible style and format, will help promote interfaith dialogue and understanding throughout the Arabic-speaking world,” says Suheil Bushrui, a UMd professor who, with a team of co-authors, produced the original English book and who supervised its translation to Arabic. Bushrui held the Bahá’í Chair from 1993 to 2006 and now holds the university’s George and Lisa Zakhem Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace.
Like its English-language counterpart, the Arabic edition — published by al-Saqi Books in Beirut, Lebanon and titled Turathuna al-Ruhi: Min Bedayat al-Tarikh ila al-Adyan al-Mu‘aserah (“Our Spiritual Heritage: From the Earliest Times to the Contemporary Religions”) — offers a comprehensive survey of divine and non-divine spiritual traditions, including a chapter devoted to the Bahá’í Faith. Each spiritual tradition is presented in its own right as an independent system of ideas and practices. At the same time, the material has been produced based on a perspective that argues for the existence of a spiritual heritage common to all humanity.
Given the wave of change sweeping the Arab world, Bushrui and his co-authors are hopeful that Turathuna al-Ruhi will help advance unity in diversity in the region. They note how U.S. officials, and Western diplomats in general, typically talk in the language of democracy promotion. “But perhaps more important,” says Bushrui, “is promoting diversity because democracy is often denounced as a Western import whereas diversity — including religious and cultural diversity — has deep roots in the region.”
A review of Turathuna al-Ruhi in the Oct. 29, 2011, issue of of al-Hayat, a widely read Arabic daily newspaper (see the complete text at http://international.daralhayat.com/internationalarticle/323384), hails publication of the book as the first of its kind in Arabic. It places the book in the context of several important initiatives promoting interfaith dialogue, including two recent high-profile multi-faith gatherings convened in Qatar and Assisi, Italy (the latter under the sponsorship of Pope Benedict XVI). “The authors,” says the review, “present the various traditions as essential principles in a manner completely free of any intervention on their part that might serve either to undermine or promote a particular religion.”
The Arabic translation can be purchased in the United States through Dahesh Heritage bookstore in New York City (Daheshbooks@aol.com or 800-799-6375). The original English book may be ordered through Oneworld Publications or online bookselling sites such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.