The Parliament Blog

Council on Foreign Relations to Hold Religious Environmentalism Conference Call with Mary Evelyn Tucker

CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series on Monday, February 9, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. (ET) will feature Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-director of Yale University’s Forum on Religion and Ecology. Tucker will lead an on-the-record conversation on the role of faith-based organizations in global efforts to address climate change. Read more…

Dr. Tucker is a senior lecturer and research scholar at Yale University where she teaches in a joint master’s program between the university’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Divinity School. She has organized a series of ten conferences on world religions and ecology at Harvard University’s Center for the Study of World Religions. Dr. Tucker is the author of Worldly Wonder: Religions Enter Their Ecological Phase and Ecology and Religion as well as co-editor of the volumes on Confucianism and Ecology, Buddhism and Ecology, and Hinduism and Ecology.

If you would like to join the discussion, you may contact Council on Foreign Relations at outreach@cfr.org or call Georgia Kinsley at 212.434.9837, and we will send you the toll free dial-in number and password. This invitation is transferable, but limited to religious leaders and scholars; we invite you to forward it to any colleagues who might be interested.


Parliament Representative Sara Rahim Delivers Keynote Address to United Nations for World Interfaith Harmony Week

Youth Representative of the Parliament to the United Nations DPI NGO Ms. Sara Rahim delivers the youth keynote speech on the occasion of World Interfaith Harmony Week at the special event of the President of the General Assembly on February 6, 2015. Fellow keynote speaker Under Secretary-General of Communications and Public Information Cristina Gallach looks on as Rahim addresses this year’s United Nations theme for World Interfaith Harmony Week, the role of Multi-religious Partnerships for Sustainable Development. (Photo by Transdiaspora Network)

Special Event of the President of the General Assembly on the occasion of World Interfaith Harmony Week

World Interfaith Harmony: Multi-religious Partnership for Sustainable Development

6 February 2015, Trusteeship Council Chamber

Ms. Sara Rahim, Representative of the Parliament of the World’s Religions

 

Your excellencies,

UN Under-Secretary General,

President of the General Assembly,

Ladies and gentlemen,

And distinguished guests.

 

Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim.

 

Thank you very much. I am humbled and grateful for this opportunity to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week with you and thank the President of the General Assembly for bringing us all together. As a young person addressing this special event, I am obliged to pay tribute to all of the wisdom and experience that is present in the room today. We come from a variety of faith and philosophical backgrounds, and we are here together to support one common idea. That idea is that we can use interreligious cooperation and understanding as a vehicle to improve our communities working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

As UN Youth Representative, I bring my greetings from the Parliament.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions, which gave birth to the interfaith movement at its initial gathering in 1893, is holding our next Parliament in Salt Lake this October 2015. Ten thousand people from 10,000 networks, over 80 countries and 50 different religious and spiritual traditions will come together to share, learn, network and celebrate. This year’s Parliament theme “Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity: Working Together for a World of Compassion, Peace, Justice, and Sustainability” aligns with the heart of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week. It is a global call to action for our faith and non-faith networks.

Too often, religion is misused as an instrument for division and injustice, betraying the very ideals and teachings that lie at the heart of each of the world’s great traditions. However, at their best, religious and spiritual traditions shape the lives of billions of people in wise and wonderful ways. When our diverse communities work in harmony for the common good, there is hope that the world can be transformed.

2015 not only marks the first US Parliament in over 20 years, but also the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 SDGS are set to help shape the Post-2015 Development Agenda in a more tangible, feasible way. The role of our faith and spiritual communities is crucial towards building sustainable partnerships that can help implement these goals into reality.

All of us in this room must invest to make that a reality.

How has faith personally been a part of my life?

I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up as a first generation Pakistani American Muslim. Like many other children of immigrants, I saw my parents work tirelessly to create a better life for their family. My faith and culture are an integral part of who I am – they have shaped my values and impacted the way I see the world and interact with others.

For the first 10 years of my life, I never found myself at odds with my Muslim identity. Going to the mosque was a normal part of my day, as routine as going to school or playing with my friends. However, the first time my reality was challenged was a day that will be etched in all our hearts and minds: September 11, 2001.

I remember waking up that morning and getting dressed for school. At the time, I was attending an Islamic school and was in 4th grade. As usual, I watched the TV playing in the background, and it was then that the first plane crashed into the tower. It seemed like nothing more than a tragic accident. I was unable to process what had occurred, and went to school as usual. Soon after, I knew that something was not right. A second plane had crashed into the building, and the group claiming responsibility was “Muslim”.

To grow up as a Muslim youth in a post 9/11 America has forced me to re-evaluate what my own faith means to me. In a way, my faith itself had been hijacked, and the Islamophobia that plagued our nation following the tragic events could not allow for my complacency. I realized that the only way to challenge those very stereotypes that breed at that level meant putting myself out of my comfort zone.

Upon graduating high school, I decided to experience life in the Arab Muslim world for the first time, and I received a merit-based scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to serve as an intercultural ambassador between the U.S. and Egypt in Cairo. During that summer, I witnessed interreligious cooperation on a global level for the first time. Coptic Christians and Muslims worshipped and lived peacefully, side-by-side, during a time of civil unrest.

Beginning College that fall, I sought a new way of looking at my faith identity. I became involved with the interfaith organization on my university’s campus, and met like-minded individuals who were inspired by their faith or their philosophical tradition in order to improve their communities.

My Muslim faith is my call-to-action and inspires me to serve my community, just as much as my friends’ beliefs inspire them to give back. This common thread of service is something I have come to realize as one of the most powerful tools to build those bridges. In parts of the world that suffer from religious or social conflict, there is the potential to invest in societies and use the existing diversity as a catalyst for change, rather than division. This comes through the process of voicing one’s values, engaging with others across traditions, and acting on those shared values to improve society.

As our communities move forward with implementing the SDG’s in 2015, I believe that multi-religious partnerships can create lasting outcomes that we have been unable to tangibly reach or measure before. The Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund once stated, “People are the center of Development.”

More often than not, we forget the inherent link between human rights and development.

Historically, faith groups have led the way towards building collective community action.

From Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement
to Mahatma Gandhi during Indian Independence
to Nelson Mandela during the fight against Apartheid
to the faith leaders that are currently mobilizing their communities in Ferguson, Missouri:

All of these interfaith leaders before us have shown the power of mobilizing on shared values and taking action. Interfaith groups can continue to pave the path towards community building in a way that ensures that all voices can be a part of the conversation.

Tapping into the potential of our youth and women is another crucial element of successful community development. It is imperative that we bring the voices of young people and women to the table, so that they can be a part of the solution.

Her Excellency Ambassador Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of United States to the United Nations, stated that encouraging civic society to work more closely with government would require an outcomes-driven process. The need for setting measurable, concrete goals for the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda is dependent on focusing on peace and global governance as a basis for development.

Passing just laws and creating credible institutions is one of the most sustainable ways to improving development. I envision this as a means of tapping into multi-religious partnerships and collaborating across multiple sectors. The issues that our countries are facing cannot be viewed through a single lens. Access to education impacts the health outcomes of women and youth, which can in turn affect the socioeconomic growth of our communities. The interrelatedness of these critical issues must challenge us to think of new partnerships in innovative ways.

Similarly, we cannot deny the role of young people towards creating action and wanting change. One of the biggest root issues that plague our global community is the lack of outlets that young people have to voice themselves and create those changes. We must help develop civic society so that young people have channels to properly voice their concerns and demand systematic reforms from their local institutions. Young people are interconnected, multilingual, and globalized. Our communities must ensure that we are investing in local, youth-driven initiatives for change. Young people have the answers, and they can be a part of the solution.

As someone who is passionate and deeply committed to building community impact through interfaith partnerships, I encourage all of us to tap into the youth in our networks.

The development community, particularly interfaith and faith-based organizations, must continue to think in innovative ways to collaborate across sectors and be inclusive of all minority voices.

During the 1999 Parliament in Cape Town, Nelson Mandela stated: “No government or social agency can on its own meet the enormous challenges of development of our age. Partnerships are required across the broad range of society. In drawing upon its spiritual and communal resources, religion can be a powerful partner in such causes as meeting the challenges of poverty, alienation, the abuse of women and children, and the destructive disregard for our natural environment. We read into your honoring our country with your presence an acknowledgement of the achievement of the nation and we trust in a small way that our struggle might have contributed to other people in the world. We commend the Parliament of the World’s Religions for its immense role in making different communities see that the common ground is greater and more enduring than the differences that divide. It is in that spirit that we can approach the dawn of the new century with some hope that it will be indeed a better one for all of the people of the world.”

I hope that World Interfaith Harmony Week will serve as a call to action for all the voices in our communities, including youth, women, and minorities, to work towards sustainable development.  May all faith, non-faith, and spiritual traditions commit to seeing the best in each other and working collaboratively across all sectors as we move forward with our Post 2015 Development Agenda.

Thank you very much.

Releasing ‘Spirituality: Key to Future Interreligious Relations’ by Leo D. Lefebure

By Leo D. Lefebure, Trustee Emeritus of the Parliament of the World’s Religions
Georgetown University

This essay will be published in Interfaith Spirituality: The Power of Confluence. Ed. Ambrogio Bongiovanni, Leonardo Fernando, Gaetano Sabetta, and Victor Edwin. Delhi, India: SPCK, forthcoming 2015. © all rights reserved.

 

 

To download the full chapter please click here. 

About Dr. Leo D. Lefebure

Leo D. Lefebure is the Matteo Ricci, S.J., Professor of Theology at Georgetown University and a priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. He is the author of four books, includingRevelation, the Religions, and Violence and The Buddha and the Christ. His next book will be Following the Path of Wisdom: a Christian Commentary on the Dhammapada, which is co-authored with Peter Feldmeier. He is an honorary research fellow of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Parliament Representative Sara Rahim to Deliver Youth Keynote Address to UN for World Interfaith Harmony Week

Parliament Representative Ms. Sara Rahim Will Address the United Nations for World Interfaith Harmony Week on February 6, 2015.

You are invited to attend this special program convened by the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations in cooperation with the Committee of Religious NGOs:

World Interfaith Harmony Week Multi-religious Partnership for Sustainable Development

Apply for Passes:

Special grounds passes to the UN Headquarters in New York City will be issued upon availability Tuesday, February 3.  

Click Here to Request a Pass Today >>

World Interfaith Harmony Week Multi-religious Partnership for Sustainable Development
Presented by the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations

February 6, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. EST
This event will be webcast on UN.org- Finalized Program TBA | Tentative Program as Follows

Opening Session:

  • H.E. Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations
  • H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Dr. William F. Vendley, President of the RNGO Committee at the UN
  • Ms. Sara Rahim, UN Youth Representative of the Parliament of the World’s Religions

Panel Themes:

featuring distinguished speakers TBA:

Interfaith Collaboration for Post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda

Partnership to Strengthen the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals

The 2015 World Interfaith Harmony Week Observance of the United Nations is convened by the Office of the President of the General Assembly in cooperation with the Committee of Religious NGOs.

Co-Sponsors include the CONGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns – NY | Global Movement for the Culture of Peace | NGO Committee on Sustainable Development | Spiritual Caucus at the UN | The Values Caucus at the UN

Read the United Nation World Interfaith Harmony Week Resolution Here

The United Nations observance of World Interfaith Harmony week celebrates its fifth year in 2015. $50,000 in prize money sponsored by King Abdullah of Jordan is dedicated to winning entries promoting peace across the world. Submissions include performance, organizing, and just about anything interfaith.

To learn more and to enter this global peacebuilding competition click here. 

Waking In Oak Creek Reveals Community’s Inspiring Response to Hate

Not In Our Town’s new film Waking in Oak Creek profiles the powerful community response to the shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in 2012. After six Sikh worshippers were killed and Oak Creek Police Lieutenant Brian Murphy was shot 15 times by a white supremacist, town leaders worked together to cultivate new bonds with the Sikh community and guide the community forward toward healing. Young temple members, still grieving from the tragedy, emerge as leaders, and thousands gather for vigils and a 6K run to honor the victims. Together, a community rocked by hate is awakened and transformed by the Sikh spirit of relentless optimism.

Waking in Oak Creek is a strong resource to spark conversations and action in your town to address the need to build bridges between different groups in the community; actively respond to hate and intolerance; and engage youth in building safe, inclusive communities. A community screening and discussion of the film can serve as a way to initiate – and sustain – interfaith collaborations and vital local work on these urgent issues.

Through Not In Our Town’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, free DVDs of Waking in Oak Creek are available for community screenings, educational programs, and training workshops. Additional resources include a Guide for Community Screenings, an Educator Lesson Plan, and outreach tools.

Watch the film trailer, request a free DVD, and download valuable resources here.

Not In Our Town (NIOT) is a movement to stop hate, address bullying, and build safe, inclusive communities for all. Learn more at www.NIOT.org.

January 30th, 2015 at 9:54 am

Gandhi and His Message | Arun Gandhi on the Anniversary of His Grandfather’s Assassination

Dr. Arun Gandhi

Weeks before his assassination, a journalist asked the great Indian leader and champion of non-violence, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi what would happen to his philosophy of nonviolence after his death. His reply was both prophetic and poignant. He said: “The people of India will follow me in life, worship me in death, but not make my cause their cause.”

These words could have been uttered by any of the people we worship today. Gandhi’s cause was simple: Bring peace through religious, ethnic and cultural harmony among the people of the world. Our emphasis on nationalism and patriotism, narrowing people’s perspectives to a small geographical area, was repugnant to Gandhi. In fact, he said, the acceptance of the interconnectedness and inter-relatedness of all beings is what will save this world from strife and destruction. No country, however rich and powerful, can be safe if the rest of the world destroys itself. The security and stability of any country, he believed, depends on the security and stability of the whole world.

What we are doing today is just the opposite. We are not only torn apart as nations but even in our belief in God and spirituality. The world is witnessing violent chaos. People killing each other in the name of God although God and religion are about love, respect, compassion, understanding and acceptance. If the world does not appear to have accepted Gandhi’s message of nonviolence and a life of harmony, neither has his own country of birth and dedication – India.

Not even his own Congress Party believed in or accepted his philosophy and way of life although this party has ruled over India for almost 60 years after independence in 1947. The Congress Party paid lip-service to Gandhi, printed his image on all currency notes and observed his birth and death anniversaries. Beyond that Gandhi’s legacy gathered dust on the shelves. If India could not give the lead to the world in sane living can one expect other nations to follow Gandhi’s ideology?

I believe Gandhi was a universal personality and his philosophy should appeal to anyone who believes in civilized behavior. After all he did influence many leaders in different countries! The tragedy is that everyone sees his philosophy of nonviolence as a strategy of convenience and not as a way of life. The consequence is that individually and collectively as nations we subscribe to a Culture of Violence that dominates every aspect of our lives. Nonviolence is selectively used as just another weapon of convenience.

Peace has, consequently, come to mean the absence of war and that if we are not fighting physically we are nonviolent. We do indulge, however, in passive (or non-physical) violence like exploitation, oppression of all kinds, wasting resources, encouraging disparities, and the countless other ways in which we hurt people emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. It is this passive violence that generates anger in the victim and ultimately results in physical violence. It is the fuel that ignites war and violence.

India is now at the crossroads. The extreme right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its multiple off-shoots have come into power. Their genesis is in the Hindu supremacist and militant RSS organization, that was responsible for the assassination of Gandhi. Since the assassination of Gandhi in 1948 the Hindu right wing claimed they had nothing to do with the conspiracy and that it was all engineered by Nathuram Godse, his brother Gopal and a few friends. The reality is that Godse was a member of the RSS, and withdrew himself from membership only to protect other RSS functionaries, during his trial.

With the sweeping majority that the Hindu Right wing now enjoys in the Indian Parliament their Members of Parliament have been emboldened to demand that Godse be considered a hero of the Indian revolution, that the killing of Gandhi was an act of patriotism and that Gandhi’s image be removed from the currency notes. To me this sounds like tacit admission that they were morally responsible for empowering Nathuram Godse to carry out the assassination plot, just as the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is morally responsible for the slaughter of more than 2,000 Muslims in the State of Gujarat in 2002 when he was the Chief Minister, the equivalent of a US Governor. The slaughter was the result of police inaction and the Government’s lack of intention to call in Federal troops. Either Mr. Modi wanted the slaughter to take place or he was a weak leader incapable of controlling the government and the bureaucracy. Most people believe it is the former and not the latter

The Hindu nationalists, like bigoted people anywhere, are adept at speaking from both sides of their mouths. This includes the Prime Minister, Mr. Modi, who has almost overnight become America’s wunderkind. The BJP and its numerous allies firmly believe in the Nazi theory that a lie repeated often enough will eventually be accepted as truth. Unless the people of India come together against hate, intolerance and fascism, lies, deceit and corruption could be India’s fate in the foreseeable future.

ABOUT DR. ARUN GANDHI

Dr. Arun Manilal Gandhi

Born 1934 in Durban South Africa, Arun was sent by his parents to India when he was 12 years old so that he could live with and learn from his grandfather, Mohandas Gandhi. It was then that young Gandhi learned the principles of non-violence that he continues to espouse until today. Dr. Gandhi spent much of his adult life in India working as a journalist and promoting social and economic changes for the poor and the oppressed classes. Along with his wife Sunanda he rescued about 128 orphaned and abandoned children from the streets and placed them in loving homes around the world. They also began a Center for Social Change which transformed the lives of millions in villages in the western state of Maharashtra. In 1987 Arun came to the United States and in 1991 he started the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2007, the Institute was moved to the University of Rochester, New York. In 2008 Arun resigned from the Institute to begin the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute, with its mission to build basic education schools for the very poor children of the world. The first school will open shortly in a depressed village in western India (www.gandhiforchildren.org). Arun Gandhi has taken the message of nonviolence and peace-making to hundreds of thousands of high school and university youth around the United States and much of the Western world. His publications include The Legacy of Love; The Forgotten Woman: The Life of Kastur, wife of Gandhi, and several others.

January 29th, 2015 at 5:56 pm

Blasphemy and Freedom

Image: Antoine Walker/ Flickr

The Charlie Hebdo incident: we cannot not sight it and refrain from all comment. It would be redundant to revisit here the obvious aspects of the incident.
Thus, obviously, the murderers at the office of the French satirical magazine were simply evil.

Obviously, the killers were motivated by their obsession with their version of Islam to do the evil act.

Obviously, haters of Islam could be counted on immediately to call for hateful counter-action. They did not disappoint.

Obviously, obsessive critics could be expected to trace all the evils to “their” holy book and to discount descriptions of and calls for holy wars in other people’s holy books. What was expected has occurred.

Obviously, anyone who spoke up for patience, tolerance, understanding, and positive responses to the evil had to be ready to be dismissed as vapid, naïve, and blind excusers of evil.

Five “obviouslys” should suffice. Some other voices revealed how difficult it is to go beyond the obvious, but they tried. The most interesting of these were those who addressed some rationales and motives of the killers and their spiritual kin. Thus Bill Donahue of the Catholic League issued a release captioned, “Muslims Are Right to Be Angry.”  To the point: “We,” he wrote, should not “tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked the violent reaction.” Donahue was predictable, but one can understand his emotional response.

“Charlie Hebdo” wanted to taunt and outrage believers in other faiths than Islam, notably Judaism and Catholicism, both of which have their own defense leagues. You don’t have to be a Catholic or to be offended by the paper’s cartoons picturing nuns masturbating or popes wearing condoms.

Rabbi David Lerner of Tikkun took a different tack: the incident should remind “us” in the West of other kinds of dehumanizing in our media. Alas, “we tolerate the kind of endless put-downs that the ‘humor’ magazines and even supposedly liberal comedians like Bill Maher perpetrate, not realizing how much damage all of this does to our souls.”

Becoming concerned with evils that do “damage to our souls” might be one positive response to come out of the crisis in which we measure “their” evils against ours. Anyone who reads “Comment-section” responses to internet coverage of this topic will encounter myriad vengeful, hateful, also-blasphemous verbal swings at reverent citizens minding their own business. Some who comment do express proper gratitude for the non-lethal or, at least, less lethal expressions, and credit Western democracy for providing us with forums which protect blasphemers.

The moment calls for new appreciation for those polities we enjoy which have encouraged inter-group civility, threatened though that may be in these days of hyper-polarization. But people in our citing and commenting vocations can also use the moment to recalibrate our measures of outrage.

In 1988 when we were chartered to begin a multi-volume, multi-year, multi-religious study of fundamentalisms, a historian of the domestic versions of such helpfully reminded us editors that, as we study militant and belligerent religious movements and forces, we should remember that “there are no guns or bombs stored in the basement of Moody Bible Institute.”

The MBI, a stronghold of latter-day American now-moderating fundamentalisms, is visible from my windows. I never feel threatened and do feel welcomed. “We” cannot solve all the problems at the core of the present tragedy, but those who ask us to begin at home to promote understanding do serve the cause. They may sound weak. They are strong.

Author, Martin E. Marty, is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His biography, publications, and contact information can be found at  www.memarty.com.

Resources:

Donohue, Bill. “Muslims Are Right To Be Angry.” Catholic League For Religious and Civil Rights, January 7, 2015, 2015 News Releases. http://www.catholicleague.org/muslims-right-angry/.

Ohlheiser, Abby. “#JeSuisCharlie: Cartoonists react to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.” Washington Post, January 7, 2015, Comic Riffs. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2015/01/07/cartoonists-react-to-charlie-hebdo-massacre-in-paris/?wpisrc=nl_pdmwk&wpmm=1.

Lerner, Michael. “Mourning the Parisian Journalists Yet Noticing the Hypocrisy.” Tikkun, January 9, 2015. http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2015/01/09/mourning-the-parisian-humorists-yet-challenging-the-hypocrisy-of-western-media/.

Cole, Teju. “Unmournable Bodies.” New Yorker, January 9, 2015, Culture. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/unmournable-bodies.

Saffa, Ozzie. “‘Dangerous Moment’ for Europe, as Fear and Resentment Grow.” Ozzie Saffa Blog, January 8, 2015. http://ozziesaffa.blogspot.com/2015/01/dangerous-moment-for-europe-as-fear-and.html.

Schuessler, Jennifer. “Charlie Hebdo Attack Chills Satirists and Prompts a Debate.” New York Times, January 9, 2015, Arts. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/10/arts/an-attack-chills-satirists-and-prompts-debate.html?_r=1.

Kristof, Nicholas. “Is Islam to Blame for the Shooting at Charlie Hebdo in Paris?” New York Times, January 7, 2015, Opinion Pages. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/opinion/nicholas-kristof-lessons-from-the-charlie-hebdo-shooting-in-paris.html.

Krule, Miriam. “Charlie Hebdo’s Most Controversial Religious Covers, Explained.” Slate. Accessed January 11, 2015.

Calamur, Krishnadev. “‘Charlie Hebdo,’ A Magazine of Satire, Mocks Politics, Religion.” NPR, January 7, 2015, International. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/07/375599183/charlie-hebdo-a-magazine-of-satire-mocks-politics-religion.

“Paris attacks: Millions rally for unity in France.” BBC News, January 11, 2015, Europe. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30765824.

Alderman, Liz. “Huge Show of Solidarity Against Terrorism in Paris.” New York Times, January 11, 2015, Europe. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/12/world/europe/paris-march-against-terror-charlie-hebdo.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news.

Martin, Marty E. and R. Scott Appleby, eds. The Fundamentalism Project. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994-2004. http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/series/FP.html.

Image: Antoine Walter / flickr creative commons.

To read previous issues of Sightings, visit http://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings-archive.

January 13th, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Parliament Board Condemns Violence in France and Nigeria; Invites All Faith Communities to Issue Joint Statement

“The Parliament of the World’s Religions vehemently condemns revengeful attacks killing 12 journalists and four Jews in France, and an estimated 1500 women and children in Nigeria. Now this cycle of revenge has engulfed the French Muslims with more than 20 attacks on Islamic buildings. We send our condolences to the families of the victims and to all of France and Nigeria as they grieve.

The Parliament believes that use of religion or any other socio-political ideology to “justify” violence is simply not acceptable.

The Parliament urges the global community to remember that such acts violate the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and asks that faith communities stand together to break this cycle of revenge by speaking out and organizing programs which enhance positive human relationship of compassion and forgiveness.

The Parliament plans to organize special programing in the forthcoming 2015 Parliament in October 15-19th on the cycle of war, violence, and hate. We invite all faith communities to participate in a joint declaration with a clear resolve to do our utmost  to develop a movement against war, violence and hate.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

The French Interfaith Youth Movement Stands Up For All

Via The National Office of L’Association Coexister/The Coexist Association/Interfaith Tour: 

“After the attack to the Paris office of the French Magazine Charlie Hebdo, Coexist interfaith youth movement, wishes to express its shock, fear and sadness at such an act of barbarism. We are deeply affected by what has happened.

This odious act affects not only journalists, police officers, their families and friends to whom we offer our condolences. It affects our national community. It undermines social cohesion of our country, our citizenship, France. Freedom of the press and opinion are part of the foundations of our democracy. And this freedom is not negotiable.

We seek to promote respect for all, all faiths, all convictions. We also defend the right to criticism, caricature and derision. Freedom is a precious asset is our common heritage.

Extremism, wherever it comes from, must be fought and put out of harm’s way. Against all fundamentalism, against fanaticism that disfigure the image of the communities they claim to represent. It is urgent to work for national unity. The intolerance must be fought, ignorance defeated.

“They wanted to put France on her knees, instead let us send them a message. We are here in solidarity and united. The goal of terrorists is to divide a population that is the victim. Panic, division, or denouncing a culprit in our national community would prove them right. ” said Samuel Grzybowski, Chairman of Coexist

It is time for the Republic to emerge.

For freedom of expression, brotherhood among citizens. ”

 

 

Avenging the Prophet Who Banned Revenges

By Abdul Malik Mujahid

Chair of the Board of Trustees, Parliament of the World’s Religions

“We have avenged the Prophet Mohammad,” the gunmen shouted after killing 12 at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, yesterday. The publication is known for lampooning the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.

Well. The Prophet banned revenge as he built his peace sanctuary in seventh-century Madinah, establishing instead the rule of law.

He never killed anyone. Only, after God’s command to defend his peace sanctuary, under attack by the non-Muslims of Makkah, did he picked up arms. These defensive battles lasted a total of six days in his life and the number of dead from both sides was less than 300.

Peace was his goal, which he achieved by developing alliances between Madinah’s non-Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

Violent extremists who accuse others of disrespect, then consider this a license to kill have nothing to do with the Islam taught by the Prophet they claim to be avenging. They have nothing to do with the message of forgiveness and mercy which Allah revealed to the Prophet; nothing to do with the law and order the Prophet established and upheld, which led to him being considered one of the world’s greatest lawgivers by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Muslim love for Prophet Muhammad is unquestionable. God’s peace and blessings be upon him. It does hurt us when people are abusive towards the Prophet.

It is, however, the ignorant, who do not know the loving path of mercy and forgiveness taught by the Prophet; they are turning into violent extremists and committing crimes in his name.

This is not love. This is hate.

The Prophet would be horrified at what is being done in his name to avenge disrespect to his honor.

The non-Muslims of Makkah tortured the Prophet and his followers. He did not retaliate. He preferred to move away, first encouraging migration to Abyssinia, which was ruled by what he described as a “just king”, who was a Christian, Najashi or Negus.

When some tribes agreed, he established the peace sanctuary in Madinah via constitution and consensus. He built a society that promoted inclusiveness, freedom, rule of law, and peace.

Respect for other faiths was a key element of Madinah society. Muslims, are by Scripture and Prophetic practice, ordered to accept God’s revealed books, as well as His Prophets and Messengers. We are also ordered to never insult the cherished beliefs of others, for humor or in retaliatory anger. This is why even today, throughout the Muslim world, you will not find newspapers being disrespectful of other religions. The terrorists are not the norm. They are the exception.

Muslims in France, America, and around the world are sick of terrorists perpetuating violence that is a violation of their faith in their name. We are against war and hate. We are also tired of the abuse of freedom of speech to spew hatred, mistrust, fear, and misunderstanding.

War, terrorism, and Islamophobia are a nexus, connected to each other and condemnable. They feed off of each other, perpetuating violence and fear. We Muslims condemn terrorism, war as well as hate. We must strive against them all.

——-

Being just in the love of the Prophet

We need to understand this abuse of the Prophet for what it is: a form of psychological violence intended to hurt and harm. Our response when we encounter such attacks must be to seek God’s forgiveness and respond with what is better: prayers on the Prophet and Duas for him.

The Prophet and the people who opposed him

Our Prophet was a mercy to all human beings, regardless of their religious, racial, cultural or ethnic background. We, as his followers, must live and spread this message today at a time when hatefulness and ugliness towards each other has become the norm.

Please stop abusing the Prophet

It is abusive to partially quote the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, thus distorting what he said.

 

Prophet's Mosque in Madinah

Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah