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Outside the Agenda
Nov 1, 2012

The world agenda is occupied with all kinds of things: the US presidential elections, Syrian massacre, economic fallout in Europe, instability in the Middle East in the course of the Arab spring... The tragic terrorist attack in Libya against the US ambassador was almost like a second September 11th for many Americans, and although its shockwaves shook the entire planet, its greatest blow seemed to target more the US domestic affairs rather than its international relations. Whatever the instigating motivations may be, such murders never benefit anyone, with the exception of a few scavengers who feed on human blood. Let us step aside a bit from the tiring agenda of world issues and move on to some contemplation with this issue in your hands.

Margaret Johnson is taking us to Mina, the tent city where Muslim pilgrims stay during the Hajj. Her memoirs is a personal one, as every memoir is, but one in which millions of pilgrims will pleasantly remember the many life-changing moments from their own experience of transformation, revival, meaning, companionship, servanthood, and mercy in the face of physical difficulties that come along with travel and camping with a large family of several million faithful.

As science unfolds many unknowns to us, we witness a universe that is intricately united across seemingly unrelated phenomena. This fact is so vividly displayed in the articles "The Sun and Its Distinctive Position" and "Why Is Cancer a Complex System" that one cannot help but be filled with awe and appreciation for all the blessings-a great majority of which we are unaware of-that make our lives possible.

Dorothy C. Buck celebrates the legacy of a pioneer in interfaith dialogue: Louis Massignon. The renowned French Catholic scholar of Islam and the Islamic world, Massignon died fifty years ago on October 31. Buck's biographical essay narrates the story of a courageous man who dedicated his life and research to interfaith dialogue and particularly to the relationship of the three Abrahamic faith traditions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Believing, Belonging, Behaving and Becoming are the four B's of religion according to Douglas Golding, for whom these B's give "a new formal structure for discussing religious belief and practice intelligently, just as there are formal structures which help us make sense of physics or chemistry or biology or economics or sociology, or any of the natural or social sciences." Golding further says, "At a time when the patterns of religious adherence are changing, due both to immigration and conversion, it is more important than ever for us to understand what other people believe."

We had a successful conference titled "Peacebuilding through Education" in New York in September. We are now moving on to our next event in Lahore, Pakistan: "Ideal Human and Ideal Society in the Thoughts of M. Fethullah Gülen," a conference which will take place on November 21, at the University of the Punjab. Academics from different countries will join their Pakistani colleagues to discuss on their encounter with Fethullah Gülen's thought and action in their respective countries and how the education movement he inspired is helping shape their future generations.