At the beginning of my stay in Paris, a happy event led me to discover the existence of a spiritual-sharing-group at the great mosque in Paris
which met under the theme “Enter into the intimacy of the Koranic universe.” It is true that I could not imagine spending a school year in Paris without trying to meet with the Muslim community in France -I who lived 17 years in Algeria where I very much appreciated the welcome of Muslim friends and families. I carried within me the desire to meet the Muslim minority living in Paris.
With the goal of sharing our lived experience, our host ensured that exchanges did not become discussions, but that we would all seek to discover how God speaks to us in our life, how God’s word inspires, how God reveals himself through the Qur’an. The group was very diverse, consisting of people wishing to deepen their Islamic faith, new converts, people who were of Muslim culture but did not know the Qur’an or the Islamic faith, people searching … people who wanted to share what they were living in their encounter with God.
At these meetings there were also Christians and a rabbi. Among the Christians there were friends of Muslims, members of interfaith families, representatives of parishes in neighborhoods where interreligious dialogue is lived daily with Muslims, etc. At the end of our meetings representatives of each faith group recited a prayer from their religious tradition.
I really appreciated the atmosphere of listening and sharing. Everyone could speak in turn to share their experience, how the Lord speaks and guides them in their life. I was struck by the depth of sharing and respectful listening. All this helped to unify our feelings and our hearts. At the end of our meetings I felt a greater communion among us, a shared family spirit.
I discovered an intimate face of Islam, lived in dialogue and wonder seeing how Muslims face “their Lord”, whether through the Quranic word or through the events of life. It is true that this spiritual Islam often escaped me in the shared everyday life with Muslims in Algeria where we often work between what is permitted or forbidden by religion, in which there is little or no room for the encounter with God. Here, I met Muslims who first seek to live a relationship with God and this relationship inspires their lives and opens them to other believers without fear or prejudice.