Many people worry about the possible encroachment of Sharia—Islamic law—into the American legal system. Oklahoma voters banned the use of Sharia and other religious law, though the Tenth Circuit struck down the ban precisely because it singled out Sharia by name.1 Other state legislatures have considered similar bans.2
But in many of the instances that critics see as improper “creeping Sharia,”3 it is longstanding American law that calls for recognizing or implementing an individual’s religious principles, including Islamic principles. American law provides for freedom of contract and disposition of property at death. Muslims (like Christians, Jews, and the irreligious) can therefore write contracts and wills to implement their understanding of their religious obligations. American law provides for arbitration with parties’ consent.4 Muslims can use this to route their disputes to Muslim tribunals, just like Christians, Jews, and the irreligious often route their disputes to private arbitrators of their choice.
We’re constantly bombarded by implicit and explicit images of the relationship that Jews and Muslims supposedly have in today’s world. We are bombarded with the cliched reminder that we “used to get along” but recently have become enemies. We’ve almost become used to it, accepted it as some sort of reality. And, ironically, all these “interfaith” events can often cause us to feel even more disconnected. They just don’t seem as genuine as a true connection. It would seem the only people you would need to show such “unity” with is people you don’t get along with. Which is why we need to look deeper. We need to look wider. We need to see that “unity” doesn’t mean press. It doesn’t mean “shows of support”. It means genuine connection and giving. And the truth is that the world is scattered with that. The truth is that the press likes to say just one side of the story, likes to focus on conflict. But there is unity. There is connection.
Not big steel structures that span bodies of water or deep, rugged canyons. No, Patel wants bridges between people of diverse religious faiths: Muslims and Jews. Christians and non-Christians. Mormons and Evangelicals. And don’t leave out the atheist and the secular humanists.
“Frankly interactions between people who orient differently around religion can turn into four things,” said Patel, founder of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, which works to foster interfaith work on college campuses. “It can turn into bubbles of isolation. It can turn in to barrier of division, where people emphasize their differences. It can turn into bombs of destruction. Or it can turn into bridges of cooperation.”
In a shrinking world, where diversity of culture and faith is more prolific in communities than ever, and where new democracies are rapidly emerging around the world, bridge building fosters understanding and creates civic cooperation and shared work for the common good, Patel told an audience of students and scholars at Brigham Young University on Tuesday night.
Women of numerous races, cultures and traditions will gather worldwide Friday to encourage interfaith dialogue in celebration of World Day of Prayer.
Susan Wakefield, the chairwoman of ecumenical development for the Church Women United of Johnson County, said the idea of living peacefully together depends on having a cooperative perspective.
“Some of the purposes of Church Women United is to strengthen the visible ecumenical community, and so we want to increase appreciation and respect for women of all ages and traditions,” said Wakefield, who also is a former president of the CWU. “People of different faith traditions can work towards the same goals for peace.”
World Day of Prayer is an international movement of Christian women of many traditions who meet once a year to observe a common day of prayer on the first Friday of March. This year, the Church Women United of Johnson County will host the area’s service in Coralville at Community of Christ, 2121 S. Ridge Drive.
Women from more than 170 countries and regions will host the event. Friday’s Coralville registration will begin at 9:30 a.m., with the service starting at 10 a.m. The event is open to men and women of all faiths.
If you want to kill legislation that protects the right of Christians to withhold business services from same-sex couples, here’s one way to do it: Don’t warn people about Christians. Warn them about Muslims.
That strategy was on display in the campaign against Arizona Senate Bill 1062, which would have shielded businesses from discrimination suits if they acted on religious beliefs. Everyone understood that the bill would have allowed conservative Christians to refuse services for a gay wedding. But in Arizona, that wasn’t a strong enough argument against it. So opponents went for the Muslim angle.
Many Americans who talk about religious freedom are really just interested in the rights of conservative Christians. They’re not so keen on Muslims. In fact, they worry about Muslims imposing their beliefs on Christians. Two days ago, in praise of the Arizona bill, Rush Limbaugh complained, “Religious beliefs can’t be used to stop anything the left wants to impose—unless they’re Muslim religious beliefs, and then we have to honor those. But any other religious beliefs are not permitted.”
The first reference to Muslims in the Arizona fight, as far as I can tell, came from the Anti-Defamation League in a letter to state senators and in testimony before a state Senate committee on Jan. 16. If the bill were to pass, the ADL’s assistant regional director told the committee, “A Muslim-owned cab company might refuse to drive passengers to a Hindu temple.”
JERUSALEM – A new Israeli law giving Muslim and Christian Arab citizens separate representation on a national employment commission drew fire from the Palestinians on Tuesday.
“This law aims to create a new reality among our people based on religion and not national identity,” Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement. Israel’s parliament on Monday passed into law a bill expanding the equal opportunities commission from five to 10 members, and giving separate seats for the first time to representatives of Christian and Muslim Arab workers’ groups.
“We and the Christians have a lot in common. They’re our natural allies, a counterweight to the Muslims who want to destroy the country from within,” Haaretz daily quoted the bill’s sponsor, Yariv Levin, of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, as saying. It also sets aside seats for Druze, ultra-Orthodox Jews and families of Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia, all groups which have higher than average unemployment.
CARNOT, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC — The Christian militiamen know hundreds of Muslims are hiding here on the grounds of the Catholic church and now they’re giving them a final ultimatum: Leave Central African Republic within a week or face death at the hands of machete-wielding youths.
On Monday, some of the 30 Cameroonian peacekeepers fired into the air to disperse angry militia fighters congregated outside the concrete walls of the church compound. The gunfire sent traumatized children running for cover and set off a chorus of wails throughout the courtyard.
The peacekeepers are all that stand between nearly 800 Muslims and the armed gangs who want them dead. Already the fighters known as the anti-Balaka have brought 40 liters (10 gallons) of gasoline and threatened to burn the church to the ground.
Venice has never had an easy time with its cultural history. For centuries the lagoon city was an important trade hub between East and West, essentially importing spices and fabrics from the Middle East to distribute throughout Europe, filling the city’s coffers in the meantime. But the Venetians also readily took part in the Saracen Crusades, killing and condemning the very trade partners who made them rich. Now Venetians are struggling once again with their history thanks to the prospect of a new museum dedicated to Islamic art, slated to fill one of the empty 19th-century palaces next to the Rialto bridge on the city’s famous Grand Canal.
The museum was the brainchild of former Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who agreed to make “a commitment to explore the opportunity to build an Islamic museum in Venice” on a recent visit to Qatar. Italy has 1.2 million Muslim residents and 20,000 Italians who have converted to Islam from Catholicism. But Venetians are torn between whether they want a museum dedicated to Islamic art and culture in the city known best for its Catholic carnivale traditions, which kick off next week. Lorenzo Fontana, a European parliamentarian for the xenophobic Northern League party, which holds strong anti-Islam sentiments, said he and his party members will do whatever they can to stop any work to build the art space. “If they try to do this then we will camp out in front of the site day and night and obstruct the work,” he said after Letta’s visit. “We will sleep and eat there, they will have to take us away by force, and when they take us away, we’ll simply return. The Veneto wants independence, not Islamic museums.”
This is a reflection paper written 2002 in by Dr. Mark Swanson, associate director of our Center, and professor of Christian-Muslim relations at LSTC. What it proposes about Christian-Muslim relations remains as pertinent now as it was then.
Through” is a tricky preposition when its object is one of the great faiths of humankind, claiming the allegiance of about a fifth of the world’s people. I need not go farther than my mailbox or a few clicks away on the internet to find evidence of zealous Christians attempting to “see through” Islam, looking (they believe) beyond and beneath superficial pieties and apologetic constructions in order to comprehend the essential nature of Islam—to prepare for Christian evangelism, perhaps, or simply to affirm the superiority of their own Christian faith. This is not my intention with the expression “‘thinking through’ Islam.” To “think through” is not a matter of the other becoming transparent to my all-knowing gaze. While it does not exclude analysis and criticism carried out with the requisite humility, it has to do especially with ways by which that other may become notonly an object of reflection but also a conversation partner and teacher.
DETROIT (AP) — The black community must unite across Christian-Muslim lines and recognize the common goals among the diverse approaches of its past leaders, from Malcolm X to W.E.B. DuBois, because they all “wanted our liberation,” Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan told thousands of supporters Sunday in Detroit.
Farrakhan spoke to a packed Detroit Joe Louis Arena during his keynote address during the annual four-day Saviours’ Day convention. He touched on a range of topics, including problems facing the bankrupt host city, where the National of Islam started.
He spoke of the common reverence for Jesus that that Muslims and Christians share, and praised the work of Christian ministers in spreading the word of God. Farrakhan went through what he called his “Pantheon” of black leaders, describing how Martin Luther King, Booker T. Washington, DuBois and Malcolm X were part of a common struggle.
“All of them wanted our liberation,” Farrakhan told the crowd. “Can you hold onto the common thread that binds them all together as one?”