As a young child, I saw an image that has always stuck with me in the home of a family friend, a small gilded framed picture of “The Golden Rule” and all of its interpretations. This teaching, which describes the ideal of treating others with the same kindness and respect with which you wish to be treated, is familiar to most people. However, that simple image did not only state “The Golden Rule,” it also expressed the way that the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, and Baha’i faiths all stated the same value, holding it as one of their highest principles. I was reminded of this image this past semester in my “Islam in Europe” class, taught by Ambassador Akbar Ahmed at American University, School of International Service. Professor Ahmed emphasizes the importance of diversity and mutual respect through the course and his book, “Islam in Europe,” which details the past and present lives of Muslims on the European continent. Throughout the course, we analyzed European societies through history through two tribal identities: primordial and predator. Primordial tribal identity is defined as societies that place value and importance on their specific culture and traditions, whereas predator identity encompasses societies that use aggression to spread their own culture. While most European societies fall into these two categories, a thousand years ago the Iberian Peninsula took a pluralist approach, and under this model of society, less emphasis was placed on a single, homogenous tribal identity. Instead, the focus was placed on diversity in a practice known in Spain as “convivencia” or coexistence. In Ambassador Ahmed’s class, we learned that in order for convivencia to occur, five conditions must be met: regard for the Ilm ethos, acceptance of “the other,” rights of women, economic prosperity, and political stability. These conditions were met in medieval Iberia under progressive Muslim rulers, known at its pinnacle as Andalusia. Respect can be created through open discussions about religion and the representation of religious minorities Beginning with the Ilm ethos, the Quranic instructions to “seek knowledge” is the most crucial condition for convivencia. The ability and the drive to seek knowledge are vital to the success of convivencia because it pushes individuals to learn about and embrace other religions, races, and classes. This directly connects to the second condition of convivencia because learning about others allows individuals to accept them. An example of this during the time of Andalusia was the relationship between Ibn Rushd, also known as Averroes, and Rabbi Maimonides. Averroes was a highly respected Muslim philosopher, often credited as the man who invented philosophy in the West and a contemporary of Rabbi Maimonides, one of the most influential Torah scholars and philosophers of the Middle Ages. These philosophers exemplify the idea of respecting and listening to members of other religions, and during this time were paragons of interfaith dialogue. The third condition, the role of women, is significant because in Andalusia women of all classes were encouraged to become educated in contrast to other European nations at the time that we’re still debating if women should be treated as humans. The final two conditions, economic prosperity and political stability, have a direct causal relationship. A prosperous economy influences and is directly influenced by the leaders of a nation, and in order for convivencia to occur, a society’s citizens must be able to survive and trust their leaders. On a more personal level, convivencia is a principle that I grew up with, though it was never explicitly named. I was raised in the Baha’i faith in Tennessee, a state where intolerance on the basis of religion is not uncommon. This intolerance however was the opposite of what I experienced within my own community. Baha’is believe that all religions worship the same God but call this God by different names, from Allah to Yaweh, the world’s major religions share a foundation of their beliefs, that they express in different ways. I saw this paralleled in the words of a Flamenco Guitarist in Cordoba interviewed by Professor Ahmed in his film Journey into Europe, who described all faiths as describing “the same picture from different points of view.” From a young age, I was taught the Baha’i principles of acceptance, understanding, giving, kindness, and unity above all else-all principles that would seem very familiar to anyone who has studied the aforementioned concept of convivencia. In fact, there is a substantial overlap between each condition of convivencia and the teachings of the Baha’i Faith. The first condition of convivencia, the Ilm Ethos, is quite similar to the Baha’i teaching of “The Independent Investigation of Truth” which encourages individuals to question and examine new information and puts emphasis on introspection. Additionally, Baha’is believe in the oneness of humanity, teaching seen clearly in convivencia’s second condition: acceptance of “The Other”. Another teaching that is fundamental to the Baha’i Faith is the equality of men and women which is apparent in the third condition that must be present for convivencia to occur, “The Role of Women” or, more specifically, the empowerment of women. The fourth principle of convivencia, Economic Prosperity, is reminiscent of the Baha’i belief that extreme economic inequality should be abolished. Finally, the fifth condition of convivencia, Political stability, has the least direct connection to any Baha’i teachings but aligns with the Baha’i moral that religion must not be a part of politics, which was exemplified in the height of Andalusia’s period of convivencia when Muslim rulers trusted their closest advisors to be Christians and Jews. The most important principle that the Baha’i Faith emphasizes is the importance of interfaith dialogue, which is essential to the coexisting of religions that convivencia details. In order to create societies of religious coexistence, knowledge and respect for different religions is crucial. Respect can be created through open discussions about religion and the representation of religious minorities. That is why the first two conditions of convivencia are seeking knowledge and accepting others because when these two things have occurred, we stop being divided along the lines of religion. Interfaith dialogue and religious pluralism are two principles that were central to my upbringing and that should be discussed on a much deeper level. I appreciated how these principles were at the centre of every discussion in Ambassador Ahmed’s “Islam in Europe” class on the historical precedent of Islam’s existence in Europe and were presented as key solutions to the obstacles facing Europe today. The aforementioned “Golden Rule” is not a surface-level principle written for children, it is an example of a connecting principle between faiths and the ability of faiths to agree. Agreement and coexistence between religions are possible, and to prove this, we should look no further than to Andalusia and to the image within my friend’s small gilded picture frame. The writer is a student of international studies at the American University, Washington DC.