The Parliament Blog

Archive for the ‘mosque’ tag

Christian College Student’s Idea Leads to Rally for Burned Mosque

by Josh Levs
from CNN

When 20-year-old Ashley Carter heard about a mosque burned to the ground in her town this week, she was shocked.

“I was very saddened,” she told CNN on Wednesday. “I thought it was very evil.”

So Carter, a student at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri, texted a friend, suggesting they organize an event “promoting acts of love.”

But quickly, the idea changed: They would organize a “rally of people coming together, from all walks of life, all religions, a really diverse group of people trying to promote this radical love.”

She called Kimberly Kester, spokeswoman for the Islamic Society of Joplin, whose worship house serving about 50 families in the southwest Missouri city burned down Monday. Investigators have not determined the cause, but the mosque has been attacked in the past.

Kester supported the idea. So Carter and some of her friends created the plan for the rally and announced it on a Facebook page. The next day, Tuesday, word began to spread. By Wednesday morning, more than 400 people had posted that they would attend the event, scheduled for Saturday, August 25.

Carter said she was inspired by “my love for Jesus. And I know that Jesus calls us to love people.”

Click here to read the full article

August 13th, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Bussy-Saint-Georges, the Town with Built-in Religious Harmony

Photography Credit to Philippe Wojazer/Reuters from the Guardian.

Workmen prepare the European Regional Temple in Bussy-Saint Georges.

by Stephanie Le Bars
from The Guardian Weekly

Hugues Rondeau is the Radical party mayor of Bussy-Saint-Georges, a new town in the Paris suburbs. His taste for “ordered urban space” has led to an innovation: the multi-faith district. On a plot of land just beyond the built-up area, he has authorised the construction of several places of worship.

“Here there will be two Buddhist temples, a mosque, a synagogue, a Chinese evangelical church and an Armenian cultural centre,” said the mayor, a practising Catholic who is convinced that in a secular state the government should not turn a blind eye to religious fact. “Our 30,000 inhabitants are mostly of foreign origin with 45% from Asia,” he said. “We couldn’t deprive them of their religious practice.”

Click here to read full article

Religious Communities Rally to Support Missouri Muslims After Mosque Arson


Imam Lahmuddin holds his hands over his face after a devastating fire destroyed the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque Monday morning, Aug. 6, 2012.
Photo from Joplin Globe/T. Rob Brown

by Roger McKinney
from Joplin Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — Some local Christians and others who attended an event Saturday at the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque said they are saddened and dismayed about the fire that destroyed the mosque Monday morning.

The Rev. Frank Sierra, of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, called Saturday’s gathering “a great event.”

“Instead of labeling people, we get to see them as fellow human beings — children of God — and that breaks down a lot of walls,” he said.

All were unanimous about their support for members of the Muslim community in their time of hardship and their outrage over the burning of the mosque.

“This is a threat to a group of law-abiding citizens in our midst,” said Paul Teverow, with the United Hebrew Congregation, who was at Saturday’s gathering and was at the mosque to offer condolences Monday morning. “The people of Joplin should share the same sense of outrage.”

He said such incidents are something much deeper when a place of worship is destroyed.

“I just feel a lot sadder,” he said.

He said ties between the mosque and synagogue go back many years, and that the connection would continue.

“This strikes very close to us,” he said. “They’re our extended family.”

Jill Michel, pastor of South Joplin Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), echoed the sentiment.

“They’re our brothers and sisters,” she said. “These are caring and compassionate people who are making a difference in our community. Their grief must be ours. It just has to be. That’s what our faith tells us.”

Click here to read the full article

Sacred Space: Amal Ali on Islam and the Mosque


Amal Ali discusses Islam, prayer, the mosque, and the practice of her religious tradition.

July 24th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Tennessee Mosque Wins Petition To Open

Photo Credit Erik Schelzig, Associated Press

The mosque being built in Murfreesboro, Tennesse in June.

by The Associated Press
from National Public Radio

A federal judge ordered a Tennessee county on Wednesday to move ahead with opening a Muslim congregation’s newly built mosque after a two-year fight from opponents.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro sued Rutherford County earlier in the day and asked District Judge Todd Campbell for an emergency order to let worshippers into the building before the holy month of Ramadan starts at sundown Thursday.

Federal prosecutors then stepped in with a similar lawsuit.

The future of the mosque had been in question since May, when a local judge overturned the county’s approval of the mosque construction. This month he ordered the county not to issue an occupancy permit for the 12,000-square-foot building.

Campbell ordered the county to move ahead on approving the mosque for use, although it wasn’t immediately clear if that could happen by Thursday. Final inspection of the building is required.

Click here to read full article

July 22nd, 2012 at 10:55 am

Nine FAQs About Ramadan

Photo Credit to Alamy

Peckham Mosque women praying Ramadan prayers.

from The Huffington Post

What is the history of Ramadan?

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Arabian calendar. The term Ramadan literally means scorching in Arabic. It was established as a Holy Month for Muslims after the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in 610 CE on the occasion known as Laylat al-Qadr, frequently translated as “the Night of Power.

What is the ‘goal’ of Ramadan?

In general, the practices of Ramadan are meant to purify oneself from thoughts and deeds which are counter to Islam. By removing material desires, one is able to focus fully on devotion and service to God. Many Muslims go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge themselves of impure thoughts and motivations such as anger, cursing, and greed.

Click here to read full article

From Steeples to Domes, Architecture Reflects Religious Diversity

Photo Credit to John Gillis from The Daily News Journal

The pinnacle of Shri Krishna Pranami Mission Hindu Temple in Christiana.

from The Daily News Journal
by Scott Broden and Doug Davis

Religious architecture is all about helping believers worship.

Whether it comes to church bell towers, steeples and crosses or mosque minarets and domes, the designs are ways for the congregation to keep the faith. The Daily News Journal recently visited a number of these houses of worship throughout Rutherford County to learn how architecture plays a role in their religion.

Located in rural Christiana, the 12,799-square-foot Hindu Shri Krishna Pranami temple completed in 2009 is, on the surface, a stark contrast to the traditional homes and farms that make up this tight-knit community. But it’s that rural quality, that “incredible natural beauty” that made the community an ideal fit for the temple and its followers, according to Vippin Aggarwal, speaking on behalf of Temple President Hasmukhbhai Savalia.

CPWR’s “Sharing Sacred Spaces” Program Has Its Finale at the Chicago Downtown Islamic Center

The 99 Names of Allah, on display at the entrance to the prayer area of the Downtown Islamic Center, Chicago. On each tile is an attribute of God, which Muslims use to help understand and worship God. Photo from CAIR-Chicago.

by Sarah Fentem

Mohammed Kaiseruddin, a member of the Downtown Islamic Center Board, is the first to admit there is nothing intrinsically special about the space that houses the Downtown Islamic Center (DIC).

“The DIC spaces are hardly unique”, he said.  “If anything, the DIC demonstrates that our place is sacred not because of its design but because of its use.”

The DIC can only be found if you know where to look. Housed in multiple stories of a former commercial building on State Street downtown, the mosque blends seamlessly into the retail shops around the Jackson Street Red Line stop, its front door easily confused with the entrance of the apparel store adjacent.

The DIC was the final destination for the Council for a Parliament of World Religions’ “Sharing Sacred Spaces” project, a series of events that brings together different Chicago-area communities of faith and practice. Since October, one of eight participating faith communities has opened their doors each month to showcase their sacred space and share their beliefs and traditions.

The Downtown Islamic Center served as a fitting capstone for the program, demonstrating Sacred Spaces creator and Chicago architect Suzanne Morgan’s affirmation that “spaces become sacred through the meaning they have for the members of their communities.“ What makes a space holy is not what the building looks like for, as in the case of the Downtown Islamic Center, appearances can be deceiving. Instead what counts is what goes on inside.

Originally established as a space for Muslims working downtown to attend daytime prayers, the building was more of a “home away from home” than a religious center in its own right.  In the past 15 years, however, the DIC has grown to become a large and vibrant religious presence downtown, with the weekly Friday prayers (Jumu’ah) attracting hundreds of people.

The youngest of the three Abrahamic religions and the world’s second largest religion after Christianity, Islam has 1.5 billion followers, or 1 Muslim for every 5 people worldwide. The defining statement of Islam is “there is none worthy of worship except God, and Muhammad is His messenger.” Muslims live lives based on the Qur'an, taken to be the literal words of God revealed to Muhammad, His prophet.  Islam is based on the 5 basic acts of faith (“pillars”) as the declaration of faith in God, praying five times a day, giving to charity, fasting during the month of Ramadan, and performing pilgrimage in and around the holy city of Mecca at least once during a lifetime.

Visitors to the May 12 event were able to witness afternoon daily prayers. Visitors were ushered into a large, mostly unfurnished space on the 5th floor of the building, which could have easily been mistaken for a conference room or banquet hall at a hotel or university, save for one ornately lit, marble-covered corner on the Northeastern side of the room and diagonal, parallel lines drawn across the carpet.

The marble corner, or mihrab, is a niche that indicates the direction in which Muslims are to pray, or qiblah. No matter where they are in the world, Muslims face towards the Kaa'bah, a sacred stone building at the Great Mosque in Mecca, said to be built by Abraham (in Chicago’s case, to the Northeast).  Those taking part in prayer at the DIC faced the Mihrab and, guided by the lines in the carpet, lined up neatly touching shoulder to shoulder. Except for the initial call to prayer, the praying was mostly silent.

Before entering the main prayer area on the fifth floor, visitors were asked to either remove their shoes or don fabric booties over their footwear before walking on the carpet. The removal of shoes is customary in mosques as a way to show respect when one stands before God. For the same reason, the DIC has two locker-room like facilities on the fourth floor so worshippers can perform wudu, or ritual cleansing, before praying.

Even for the visitors, the rituals lend a sense of holiness to the space. When forced to pay close attention to normally mundane activities like walking across a carpet, a person is made to become similarly aware of the things one says and does.

The holy feeling permeates the entire space. “The DIC is my spiritual home in Chicago,” said Ahmed Nyamuth, a DIC member. “As soon as I cross its threshold….a kind of peace and tranquility descend on me.”

While most Americans might think of the Middle East when they think of Islam, Muslims are most numerous in Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, a statistic reflected in the makeup of the DIC community. As the center has grown though, so has the diversity, making the DIC home to what Chairman Syed Khan calls “A true rainbow of Muslims.” The DIC is made of immigrants and Americans of all age groups and walks of life.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the DIC is that it is run entirely by volunteers. The center is governed by a voluntary board, with administrators and services taken over by members of the community. Knowledgeable Muslims like professors give weekly sermons, and any capable person in attendance is able to lead daily prayers.

The fact that the center is run entirely by volunteers emphasizes the commitment and love its members have for their faith and their community. Said Qudsia Khan, “I feel blessed that such a space is easily and readily available to me,” underscoring a “Sacred Spaces” visitor’s comment during the tour: “It’s the people who gather that make the sacred space.”

Click here to learn more about Sharing Sacred Spaces and join us at our culminating event on the Federal Plaza on June 10th!

First Mosque Part of the Heritage of all Canadians

By Daood Hamdani
From Common Ground News Service

Ottawa – This May, as Muslims mark the twentieth anniversary of the induction of Al-Rashid mosque in Fort Edmonton Park, the country’s largest living history museum, the spotlight will be on the leadership role of Muslim women in this historic event.

Fifty years after they burst onto the front line to help complete the construction of Canada’s first mosque in 1938, Muslim women took over a floundering campaign to save it from demolition. They surprised many by not only preserving this irreplaceable piece of Canadian heritage but enshrining it in the history museum. Al-Rashid, once a bustling hub of community life, started drifting into disrepair after the congregation outgrew it and moved to a new Islamic centre in 1982. Numerous efforts to raise money and find a new location for the old structure failed. Al-Rashid was set for demolition in 1988. Out of options, the Muslim community could only hope for a miracle.

To many, including Canadians of other faiths, the loss of the country’s oldest mosque and a Canadian heritage building was unthinkable. Al-Rashid was more than a place of worship. It was also the story of the struggle, adjustment and integration of early Muslim settlers.

While the community braced itself for the inevitable, the Terrific Twelve, a group of twelve women who belonged to a relatively new and untested organisation, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW), which was founded in 1982 to speak for Muslim women, defiantly dug in to save the mosque. Led by Lila Fahlman and Razia Jaffer, founder and president of CCMW respectively, these young, highly educated women of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds included second-generation Canadians and new immigrants, working moms, full-time homemakers and single professional women.

Click here to read the full article

January 26th, 2012 at 10:40 am

Speaking Out Against Mosque Desecration

by Rabbi Gideon D. Sylvester
from Common Ground News Service

Jerusalem – Across the world, people were outraged by the news that mosques in Israel had been desecrated and racist graffiti scrawled across their walls. Israeli Jews felt ashamed. We asked ourselves: do the perpetrators have any understanding of Jewish history and theology, – which clearly teach respect for every human being and the necessity of standing up against injustice wherever we see it?

Growing up in the shadows of the Holocaust, I, a young British Jew, learned about Kristallnacht, the night in 1938 when dozens of German synagogues were attacked. In youth groups we discussed how the demonisation of people and the destruction of their religious buildings were a first step to genocide. We proudly proclaimed, “never again” – never again should this happen to Jews; never again should it happen to any other people.

We understood the Biblical requirement for a sovereign Jewish state to care for everyone, including those who do not share our heritage.

Exploring our relationship to other faiths, we discovered that from medieval times, great rabbis taught their followers that Islam is a monotheistic religion whose adherents must be treated with respect. When the great Jewish philosopher, Maimonides, pondered why God had created so many people whose faith differed from his own, he concluded that although God’s will is unfathomable, Islam and Christianity seemed to be part of the divine plan to spread ethical monotheism throughout the world.

Click here to read the full article