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Archive for the ‘The Washington Post’ tag

Ramadan, a Sacred Time for Reflection, Sacrifice to Muslims and Appreciation as non-Muslims

Photo Credit to Mohammed Ballas- APby Christopher L. Heuertz
from The Washington Post

This week remember to wish all your Muslim friends “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem” (“Blessed/Happy Ramadan”) as the annual fast of Islam begins the evening of Thursday, July 19th and goes until the evening of Aug. 18 (holiday may start July 20 and end Aug. 19 depending on when Muslims spot the new moon in different parts of the world).

Ramadan commemorates the month when the sacred scriptures of Islam, the Koran, was given to the prophet Muhammad. In Islam, it is a period of purification, a time if fasting. The fast is observed throughout daylight, commencing at sunrise and concluding at sunset each day. Not only does the fast include food, but water and other beverages— not even a sip. In many instances, Muslims even fast from most forms of entertainment, creating time to recite their scripture and performing additional prayers throughout the night (tarawih or taraweeh).

It’s not simply a fast from food, but a time of cleansing both the body and the soul. Even small children are included in this sacrament.

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Interfaith Work Remains Important to Protect Religious Minorities

Photo Credit to Getty Images

Coptic Christians demonstrating after conflicts in Egypt.

by John Bryson Chane
from The Washington Post

As Egyptians come to terms with the near-sweep of the Muslim Brotherhood in their new government, no one is more apprehensive of what this new government means than Egypt’s minority Christian population. The new president, Mohamed Morsi, has promised protection for minorities, but Coptic Christians in Egypt are still nervous about the future. And they are not alone. In countries across the Middle East, life for religious minorities is often uncertain; and as the violence of the Arab Spring continues, these groups remain at risk of persecution and discrimination.

But a gathering of Christian and Muslim faith leaders in Beirut last month gives me hope that religious leaders can play a role in speaking up for minority religions and negotiating conflicts between groups. The symbolism of holding such a meeting in Beirut is resonant and powerful. For Protestants and Catholics to come together with Shi’ites and Sunnis in a city so often shredded by sectarian violence sends a powerful message to faith communities and the world.

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Dalai Lama Taps American to Bridge East and West at Tibetan Monastery

Nicholas Vreeland, newly appointed abbot of Rato Monastery in Southern India.

by Kim Lawton
from The Washington Post

The Dalai Lama has given Nicholas Vreeland, director of The Tibet Center in New York, a daunting new assignment. On July 6, Vreeland will be enthroned as the new abbot of Rato Monastery in southern India, one of the most important monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism. He will be the first Westerner to hold such a position.

In making the appointment, the Dalai Lama told Vreeland, “Your special duty (is) to bridge Tibetan tradition and (the) Western world.”

“His Holiness wishes to bring Western ideas into the Tibetan Buddhist monastic system, and that comes from his recognition that it is essential … that there be new air brought into these institutions,” Vreeland told the PBS program “Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.”

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July 1st, 2012 at 10:55 am

Islam, Not a Monolith

By Fahima Haque
From The Washington Post

Amir Muhammad always told his children, “don’t wake up to your sins.”He figured it was the best way to get them to pray in the morning and start each day with a clean slate. It was better than preaching the impossible: don’t sin at all.

His way of practicing Islam was different than the way I was taught growing. Tucked away in Elmhurst, Queens, amongst the other immigrants, the ubiquitous Halal markets and the nosy Bangladeshi community, it was easy for my parents to maintain a staunch view of religion that involved keeping their kids in line.

Muhammad founded the Islamic Heritage Museum in 1996, which began as a traveling museum. In April 2011, the museum found a permanent home in Anacostia in the space that was formerly the Clara Muhammad School. He is the curator of the space and takes a quiet pride that building has been Muslim-owned since 1973 and that the kelly green Clara Muhammad sign still hangs above the entrance on Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave in Southeast.

As he gave me a tour of the six exhibits beginning with “ForgottenRoots,” a historical look at Islam’s beginnings to Muslims in the 21st century and their roles in military, politics and activism, Muhammad made it clear he doesn’t prescribe to that view of religion. He has a twinkle in his eye when talking about Allah. He has a charismatic and jovial air–unlike religious-minded men I knew growing up. But maybe that’s because of his unusual path to Islam.

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November 18th, 2011 at 10:45 am

Facing the veil in France

From The Washington Post

The newly enacted French ban on all face veils is a really poor response to a quite legitimate concern. The concern to which I refer is not what some see as the inevitable takeover of Europe by fundamentalist Muslims. That is an Islamophobic fantasy designed to instill fear and provoke hostility.

Nor is the concern that people who remain attached to the cultural practices which they bring from their nations of origin to their new homes will never acclimate to, or constructively participate in, the larger culture in which they live. That concern, while more legitimate than the first, ignores the fact that effective acculturation is always a two-way street.

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