It was inspiration, pure and simple.
"Is this the event of the decade or what?" asked an incredulous audience
member, Shane Payne. He was witnessing the Habitat for Humanity of Smith
County groundbreaking of Abraham's House, a cooperative effort by the
Tyler's Muslim and Jewish communities, to build a house for a needy
Christian woman and her son, in Tyler on Monday.
That sense of awe was not only Payne's but also a palpable one among
participants at the first-ever cooperative effort between the two religious
communities in Tyler.
"I'm not aware of any place, anywhere in our nation," said state Rep. Leo
Berman, R-Tyler, District 6, to the crowd, "where something like this is
taking place. This attitude is something that should sweep through Texas,
the nation and all the way to the Middle East."
Not only members of the two religious groups building the home attend the
mid-day event. Republican and democrat elected officials along with black
and white pastors were swept into the moment by the spirit of cooperation
that has been sparked by East Texas Islamic Society spokesman, Anwar
Khalifa, and Rabbi Neal Katz of Tyler's Congregation Beth El.
Declaring that Tyler citizens, "have an obligation to our community to make
it the best place for every one, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Black, Brown or
White," Khalifa thanked the Habitat staff for, "allowing us to show the
true side of Islam."
"God says in the Quran," Khalifa said, "'Oh humankind! I have created you
from a single pair, and male and female, and made you into nations and
tribes that you may come to know one another.' We are all here to serve God
and God commands us to do good, for us to love for our neighbors, what we
love for ourselves…