Archive for the ‘muslim’ tag
Christian-, Muslim-, and Jewish-Americans ages 18 through 35 are encouraged to apply to the Ecumenical Institute at the Chateau de Bossey of the World Council of Churches for the “Building an Interfaith Community” seminar course running August 12 – 30 this summer in Switzerland. May 1 is the deadline, and financial assistance is available.
“What can we, as people of faith, do to respond and to overcome the pressing challenges of our time, such as violence and conflict, and build together mutually accountable societies based on respect and cooperation?” This is the question up to 30 young Christians, Muslims and Jews from around the world are to explore during a summer seminar at the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Institute in Bossey.
Aug 30, 2013 06:00 PM
Participants should be between 18-35 years of age, well grounded in their own faiths and be positioned to influence the thinking of members of their wider faith communities after completion of the summer course
by Josh Levs
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.”
Those who seek to cause religious conflict are small in number but highly motivated, organized and funded. While there are billions of people who are engaged in their own faith tradition, many have not yet learned how to live or work together well with those of different traditions.
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation decided to tackle this challenge through organising a year-long Fellowship that brought together young people of different faiths to work toward better interfaith action. The Foundation selected 33 outstanding future leaders, who between July 2011 and June 2012, worked in interfaith pairs around the world. They built understanding between different religious communities by mobilising them around the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular around malaria prevention.
The Fellows represented a diverse cross section of the faith traditions: 11 were Christian, 10 Muslim, 5 Jewish, 3 Hindu, 2 Buddhist, 1 Baha’i, 1 Sikh and 1 Quaker. Thirty of the Fellows were placed in multi-faith pairs in Canada, India, the United Kingdom and the USA.
by Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix, Filmmakers, “The Light in Her Eyes”
In a courtyard off a busy street in Damascus, Syria, boisterous girls run and play before class starts in the women’s side of Al-Zahra mosque. Inside the mosque, preacher Houda al-Habash teaches the Qur’an, educating women and girls about their religion, and their rights, within their faith. Julia Meltzer lived in Damascus in 2005, and from the moment she first entered Al-Zahra mosque, she recognized what a unique place it was. Houda’s school was well-organized and energized—filled with women and girls supporting each other in their studies.
Most people don’t associate Islam with women’s rights, and that’s exactly what we found interesting about the Al-Zahra Mosque Qur’an School. Inside this community, we uncovered a lively debate about women’s roles as mothers, teachers, wives, workers, sisters and daughters. Houda insists that secular education is an integral part of worship, because it gives her students the tools to make decisions about their futures. However, the school also emphasizes the importance of modesty and piety. These women and girls are following “the straight path” of Islam, because they want to live according to its structure, rules and ethics.
Houda’s version of women’s rights doesn’t look like ours. We were raised in the West by feminist mothers, grew up attending marches for reproductive freedom and identify as third-wave feminists. But the deeper we dove into Houda’s community, the more we realized how much our guidelines for judging women’s liberation and autonomy were informed by the parameters of our culture and experiences. As filmmakers, we believe it’s our job to understand our subjects, and to tell truthful stories about their worlds.
by Dawud Walid
My passion for bridging religious differences has been shaped not only by my spiritual connection to the Islamic tradition, which promotes striving towards the common good, but also by how I was raised.
As a youth, I was privileged to travel abroad with my father, who worked for an agency that promoted trade and commerce. I was exposed at a young age to people of diverse ethnic backgrounds as well as introduced to people of various faiths. I met people who practiced indigenous African religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I visited a Catholic church in West Germany prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall and toured the home of Anne Frank in Amsterdam.
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, who was a cousin and disciple of Prophet Muhammad, said, “People are enemies of what they do not know,” and “Whoever is ignorant of a thing finds fault in it.”
I believe that much of the conflict that exists among people of diverse faith traditions—that is not rooted in politics—is mere ignorance of the other. Therefore, based upon my experiences in which I find confirmation from my spiritual tradition, organic intermingling and purposeful dialogue with others are the only hope that we have in cultivating peaceful coexistence between various peoples of faith. Hence, I have been involved in both interfaith and intrafaith activism for the last 15 years.
Though I am an advocate of interfaith and intrafaith activism, I am certainly not a proponent of theological relativism, the concept that all philosophies are equally valid and that we must affirm others’ theology even when it conflicts with ours. I find such relativist discourse to be unauthentic and counterproductive. The purpose of interfaith and intrafaith dialogue is for us to recognize our differences to dispel misconceptions, which breeds fear of the other, so we can move towards the states of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and optimally mutual cooperation to make a more just world.
The Qur’an states (5:2), “Cooperate with each other in virtue and piety, but do not cooperate with each other in sin and enmity.”
As a member of the Metropolitan Detroit Interfaith Workers Rights Committee, I join others of various faith traditions to advocate for labor rights and social justice based upon our sincerely held beliefs, not to convert them to my theology. With rights to have the existence of unions and collective bargaining being stripped, to Wall Street banks secretly renegotiating lenders’ mortgages, which have caused thousands of American citizens to become homeless, we need each other as various faith groups to challenge these injustices. Jews cannot do it alone, Christians cannot, nor can Muslims. It is through such collaboration based upon our acceptance of transcendent values within our separate traditions, which will earn us the pleasure of the Divine according to my belief.
As there is a need for interfaith cooperation, I also see the necessity for intrafaith dialogue and cooperation among Muslims. Thankfully, American Muslims have not experienced sectarian tension that has led to violence as in Iraq and Pakistan. Irrespective of schools of thought within Islam, Muslims share common social challenges, which need to be addressed, and one of the most pressing is Islamophobia. Mosque construction projects have been met with vitriol across America in which anti-Muslim bigots do not distinguish whether the majority of worshipers in the mosque are Sunni or Shia Muslims. When I’ve interviewed Sufi Muslim women, who were discriminated against due to wearing hijab, the offenders did not distinguish between whether they were members of a Sufi order or not in their discrimination. In all of these scenarios, to the offenders these were Muslims all the same. Hence in 2006, I joined Islamic religious leaders in Metro Detroit from various traditions to clarify misinformation disseminated about Islam. This convening then gave birth to continuing monthly meetings in which other common challenges are discussed between Muslims of various persuasions.
Life is short, and none of us know how long we will have to work to effectuate change for a better world. The Creator will take care of the afterlife; that will all work itself out. I believe that this world was entrusted to us to protect the creation and to cultivate the common good for all human beings. My work in bridging religious differences has been and hopefully continues to be for the common good of all of us.
Dawud Walid is the Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), an imam, and board member of the Metropolitan Detroit Interfaith Workers Rights Committee.
by Jessica Abrahams
from The Guardian
Fifteen years ago, a Muslim scholar, a Christian priest and a Jewish philanthropist came together in London to create Three Faiths Forum (3FF), a platform for community leaders to engage with each another and break down barriers. But today, some of the most valuable work the charity undertakes is in schools, ensuring that tensions between faith communities don’t trickle down to the next generation.
Often this will simply be making sure that children of different faiths have an opportunity to meet one another or addressing a lack of knowledge about other religions; occasionally more severe problems occur. “We’re contacted by RE teachers to help when there’s been anti-Jewish, -Muslim or -Christian sentiment,” says Debbie Danon, the charity’s education manager.
Deputy director Rachel Heilbron speaks of one particularly serious case they became involved with last year. A teacher discussing the features of a church with a group of 14-year-old students at a non-denominational school in London mentioned synagogues. Some of the students complained they didn’t want to learn about “Jew stuff”. They said that Jews were dirty and smelly and that they kept money under their hats. As the situation escalated, some of the children began banging on the tables, chanting: “Kill the Jews, kill the Jews.”
by DV Maheshwari
from DNA: Daily News and Analysis, India
Another chapter was added to the history of communal harmony in secular Kutch last week when Acharya Purushottam Priyadasji Maharaj, chief of the Maninagar (Ahmedabad) Swaminaryan Gadi Sansthan, laid the foundation stone of a Muslim community hall in Kera village.
The community hall is being built in the Swaminarayan Nagar area of the village by non-resident Indian Salim Molu, a Khoja (Ismaili) Muslim philanthropist based in Mombasa, Kenya. Molu has also announced a donation of Rs50 lakh to the Aga Khani Ismaili Khoja community of the village.
Molu had met Acharya Purushottam Priyadasji last year during the latter’s visit to Kenya and the United Kingdom.
The foundation-laying ceremony took place amid a large presence of people from both the Patel and Khoja communities, which are in almost equal number in Kera. The community hall is expected to be ready by this time next year. According to Prem Patel, solicitor of Molu Firms in the UK, it will also be inaugurated by Acharya Swami.
by Najeeba Syeed-Miller
I was recently offering a workshop to a group of Muslim educators from all types of ethnic, racial and community backgrounds. One of my points in the training on conflict resolution was the importance of story telling,the many ways that stories are formed, told and uttered in different cultural contexts.
Sometimes, the content of the story is less important than the way we tell the story.
We talked about how to listen to the form of the story being told, its inherent design logic, and what we learn about a person and her community from the way she chooses to tell her story especially in times of conflict. For it is in conflict times that we resort to what is most familiar and sacred to us all.
For years, I have had the honor of being a peacemaker, a mediator who listens to people’s stories. I jokingly told a colleague that I could tell what they were thinking even as they were telling their story just by the way they sat, how their hands moved, whether they looked away at certain points or by what they also did not say.
It is important to hear a story being told as a fully embodied experience. The words, the way they are arranged, the flow of the narrative, its resonance with body language give you a more complete vision and experience of the story and insights into the storyteller.
So I thought about the ways stories play into my work, into my life and into my recovery of the sacred capacity of humans to build peace with each other. Some thoughts are below.
by Amanda Greene
from The Christian Century
Andrew Bowen sat yoga-style in his armchair, absent-mindedly fingering a set of Muslim prayer beads in his left hand as he talked about 2011 — his year of conversion.
But he’s not Muslim. In fact, the 29-year-old Lumberton resident doesn’t call himself by any of the 12 faiths he practiced for a month at a time last year.
Not Hindu (January). Not Baha’i (February). Not Zoroastrian (March). Not Jewish (April). Not Buddhist (May). Not agnostic (June). Not Mormon (July). Not Muslim (August). Not Sikh (September). Not Wiccan (October). Not Jain (November). And not Catholic (December).
Finding faith in God again was not Bowen’s aim. This young father of two was looking for faith in humanity.
By Erica Shaps
From Huffington Post
When I was on a Brandeis University Hillel first year retreat, it never crossed my mind that the police might be watching me. It sounds silly and irrational. However, after the Associated Press disclosed a New York Police Department (NYPD) program monitoring and investigating college students involved with Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) last week, this worry is entirely legitimate, especially for my Muslim peers across the Northeast.
I am a Jewish undergraduate born in the Chicago area attending college in Boston. Why does this matter to me?
I think about how much I cherish my campus’ religious diversity. I recall the distrust directed at the Jewish community historically and feel obligated to speak out. As a student involved with religious life on campus, when I read about the NYPD’s surveillance program I can’t help but feel violated.
I was most appalled while reading that an undercover officer joined City College of New York Muslim Students on a rafting trip, wrote down their names and recorded how many times a day they prayed. On my retreat two years ago, I prayed three times a day. Does this make me more threatening? If I were Muslim and not Jewish, would my name be on a list filed with my local police department? My ability to send e-mails to the Hillel listserv without concern that someone may be reading them feels like a luxury.
It is particularly upsetting that these secret investigations happen on college campuses. Call me idealistic, but I see the university as hallowed ground: a unique space for young adults from incredibly diverse backgrounds to form a community around the shared values of education and open-mindedness. Two weeks ago, Brandeis Hillel and MSA hosted their second annual joint Shabbat dinner and Friday evening program. We exchanged stories and traditions and built relationships over shared food. This event, in direct contrast to the suspicion caused by excessive monitoring, represents the epitome of American values and academic ideals.
Yes, the NYPD has legitimate security concerns and a right to investigate potential threats. However, a broad surveillance of university MSAs, including those outside of New York, is excessive and unwarranted. Justice Louis Brandeis, my university’s namesake, was a firm believer in the right to privacy. He was among the first to provide a legal framework for this concept in his landmark dissenting opinion in Olmstead v. United States.