Jordanian prince and Jewish scholar say Christianity is intrinsic to Arab culture

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Prince Hassan and Woolf Institute head decry Islamic State’s “savage” assault on Christians 

If a goal of the Islamic State group and other jihadists was attained—the expulsion of Christianity from its birthplace in the Near East—it would “destroy the richness of the tapestry of the Middle East and [be] a hammer blow to our shared heritage,” said a Muslim Jordanian prince and a Jewish proponent of interfaith relations.

Writing in The Telegraph, Prince Hassan of Jordan, founder and president of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies, and Ed Kessler, director of the Woolf Institute for relations among Christians, Jews and Muslims, said that Christian communities have been “intrinsic to the development of Arab culture and civilization.”

This central role in our region and civilization is why it is abhorrent to us, as a Muslim and a Jew, to see Christianity and Christians under such savage assault across our region,” Hassan and

The two men called ISIS’ attacks on Christians, which the US State Department has classified as genocide, “sickening.” They said ISIS’ vision is an “apocalyptic” one that “harks back to a mythic Golden Age” of Islam. It is “solely the creation of the warped minds of today’s jihadists,” they charged. “Daesh want to take us to a new Dark Age, an age made even darker by the dangers that the gifts of science and technology pose in their hands,” they said, using an Arabic nickname for the jihadist group.

Helping to end this dangerous slide towards hatred, self-destruction and fratricidal conflict is the main challenge for all of us involved in interfaith dialogue. This requires us to step up our efforts to increase understanding that what unites the three great faiths of our region is far greater than any differences. We must stress, too, that respect for the past and learning from it does not require us to live there.

But this must be coupled with an honest recognition that all the Abrahamic scriptures – the Christian Bible, the Jewish Tanach and the Koran – contain texts which are divisive and include attacks on other groups. Throughout history, they have been used to justify the most appalling actions in the name of God.

These texts, which carry weight and authority, cannot be deleted or ignored.

So how do we counter their divisive message which, in the wrong hands, can be read as a license for bigotry and violence?

FULL ARTICLE FROM ALETEIA 

Omar: The Muslim who walked from Somalia to attend my Christian son’s funeral

1472236706099(an astonishingly profound interfaith article  from Fox News. . . Miracles sometimes do happen).

I’ll never forget the day my son died.

I rushed Tim, out to the car—leaving Ruth with the other boys—and drove as quickly as I could to the nearest hospital. Halfway there Tim went into cardiac arrest. His sudden asthma attack was taking his life, and we were desperate.

The dark streets of Nairobi were deserted.

All I could see was a lone man, walking in the darkness from a shopping center. I quickly blocked his car with mine, and I demanded that he drive my car to the hospital while I climbed into the back seat and frantically administered CPR on my son.

In a passing moment of hope, Tim’s heart began beating and he started breathing again. When we reached the hospital, the medical staff began emergency treatment for Tim. Our son was unconscious, but breathing. As Ruth, my oldest son Shane, and some friends began to arrive, we huddled to pray.

When we next saw the doctors, their eyes told us what had happened even before they spoke a word. Tim was gone. He was sixteen years old.

We have never wept as we wept in that moment.  In the five years we had lived as missionaries in the Horn of Africa and its surrounding countries, we had experienced heartbreak and stared the evil of terrorism straight in the face; but nothing had prepared us for this.

We had devoted our lives to serving the poor, and yet God had allowed our son to be a casualty of our sacrifice. We couldn’t help but ask ourselves: is all of this really worth it?

Later that morning, we sat with our other sons and talked about what had happened. I said, “We did not choose this horrible thing that has happened. And I don’t know how we are going to live through it. But we are going to make sure that we don’t waste Tim’s death. Somehow, we will do our best to honor God through even this.”

I don’t even know where those words came from. There was something profoundly supernatural about it. It was as if God was sitting right there with us in our pain.

Knowing Tim didn’t want to go back to America for college, but wanted to remain in Africa and become a teacher—Africa was truly his home—we decided to bury Tim at his school in Nairobi.

The funeral was scheduled for the following Saturday.

During that week, our home was filled with people every hour of every day. Neighbors, Tim’s fellow students, colleagues and friends from our Kenyan church enveloped us in their love and care.

Yet the biggest surprise of the week came on Thursday when “Omar” appeared at the front door and said to me, “I have walked here from Somalia. I had to come to help bury our son, Timothy.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOX NEWS 

Trump doesn’t understand what Sharia is

Sally Kohn is aSally Kohnn activist, columnist and television commentator. Follow her on Twitter: @sallykohn. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)It’s clear that Donald Trump has no idea what Sharia is. Earlier this month, Trump proposed what he described as “extreme vetting” to ban immigrants who “believed Sharia law should supplant American law.” But while this irrational fear-mongering might play well to some of his supporters, it is detached from reality.

Perhaps Trump isn’t interested in the truth. The rest of us should be, though, because understanding the truth about Islam is the best way to fight extremism within it. The alternative is to misunderstand and misrepresent the majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, the very people who have the greatest stake in the fight. (Remember, the vast majority of victims of Islamic extremist attacks are Muslims.)trump
So, what exactly is the truth about Sharia, and how does that help us combat extremism? In short, there is a difference between personal, spiritual Sharia and the political incorporation of Sharia into law. And within both, there are progressive interpretations as well as more fundamentalist conservative interpretations. So the word Sharia doesn’t mean one thing.
“Every practicing Muslim — whether traditional or conservative or progressive — in some way follows Sharia,” says Wajahat Ali, a Virginia-based writer and creative director of Affinis Labs. “There’s no book called Sharia. You can’t rent it. It’s subject to human interpretation and is malleable, thus explaining how Muslims have existed for 1,400 years in nearly every society.”

London Muslims go to church in solidarity with Christians: ‘We will not let hatred win’

st-john-on-bethnal-green-welcomes-muslims-to-sunday-serviceLeading members of Britain’s Muslim community have attended a London church service to show solidarity with their Christian neighbours.

The Muslim men and women joined the congregation of St John on Bethnal Green for Sunday eucharist yesterday to demonstrate friendship and community in the wake of the brutal murder of Father Jacques Hamel in France.

The London diocese said the service was organised by Faith Matters, an integration campaign group, and the Rector of St John’s, the Rev Alan Green, “to confirm the importance of life within both faiths and to come together in the spirit of solidarity, empathy and care for the dignity and lives of each other.”

Among the Muslim guests were Dr Mamadou Bocoum, an imam, a lecturer in Islamic Studies and board member of the Muslim Law Council, Rabina Khan, a Tower Hamlets councillor, and Mohammed Amin, the first Muslim to become a partner with accountants Price Waterhouse in the UK.

St John’s has a long history of interfaith work in east London.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY

Minnesota boy, bullied for being Muslim, takes on Trump

cb0e61-20160819-cair01A boy who has said he wants to be the first Muslim president is taking on Donald Trump, ahead of Republican presidential nominee’s appearance in Minneapolis scheduled for Friday.

Yusuf Dayur, 12, said Trump says things that fuel ill-will toward his fellow Muslims. Trump’s campaign is instilling fear in people, Dayur said, “who do not really know what Islam stands for and do not really know what the Muslim community believes.”

At a speech in Maine earlier this month, Trump said the U.S. does not do a good job of vetting refugees, which he says raises safety issues in Minnesota.

Donald Trump
“Creating an enclave of immigrants with high unemployment that is both stressing the state’s — I mean the state is having tremendous problems — its safety net, and creating a rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamic terror groups,” Trump said.

• Earlier: In speech, Trump targets Somalis in Minnesota, Maine

In Minnesota, 10 young men of Somali or Oromo descent have been charged with conspiring to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS. Six pleaded guilty, three were convicted and a 10th is believed dead. In addition, more than 20 young men traveled to Somalia to join the ranks of the terror group al-Shabab starting in 2007.

But those figures represent a small fraction of the tens of thousands of Somali-Americans who call Minnesota home.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO 

Nigerian Christians and Muslims open historic peace centre

christian-and-muslim-leaders-in-nigeriaNigerian Christians and Muslims gathered on 19 August to open the International Centre for Inter-Faith Peace and Harmony (ICIPH).

The centre is located in Kaduna, where more than 20,000 people have died in various conflicts over the last three decades. Amid a growing number of interfaith initiatives in Nigeria, the new centre has a unique goal: to systematically document interfaith relations to inform national and international policy-making.

Key local Nigerian organisations, the Christian Council of Nigeria and Jama’atu Nasril Islam, led the effort to open the centre, which was preceded in 2014 by a consultative forum held in Abuja that drew about 40 Muslim and Christian leaders.

Many supporters were recognised at the grand opening, among them Dr Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, primate of the African Church and president of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Sultan of Sokoto Sa’adu Abubakar, and Dr Khalid Aliyu, Secretary General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam.

Prince Ghazi of Jordan and Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja were also among those who envisioned the centre’s goals and outcomes.

Malam Nasir EL-Rufai, governor of Kaduna State, formerly opened the centre. He shared his experience of the way that religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim, sometimes speak and act in ways that hinder interreligious peace, so he was very pleased to support the centre as a physical symbol helping Muslims and Christians work together more effectively.

Abubakar also voiced his support for the centre, and spoke about how God wants there to be religious diversity in Nigeria. Onaiyekan said he believed the centre could potentially become a model for conflict resolution in other parts of the world.

FULL ARTICLE FROM EKKLESIA.UK 

Nigeria’s Subversive Love Stories

Nigeria Subversive Love Stories

In this photo taken Sunday, April 3, 2016, Suleiman Maharazu, centre, the owner of Maharazu Bookshop, sells books to young girls in his shop in Kano, Nigeria. In the local market, stalls are signs of a feminist revolution with piles of poorly printed books by women, as part of a flourishing literary movement centered in the ancient city of Kano, that advocate against conservative Muslim traditions such as child marriage and quick divorces. Dozens of young women are rebelling through romance novels, many hand-written in the Hausa language, and the romances now run into thousands of titles. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

KANO, Nigeria — Nestled among vegetables, plastic kettles and hand-dyed fabric in market stalls are the signs of a feminist revolution: Piles of poorly printed books by women that advocate forcefully against conservative Muslim traditions such as child marriage and quick divorce.

They are part of a flourishing literary movement centered in the ancient city of Kano, in northern Nigeria, where dozens of young women are rebelling through romance novels. Hand-written in the Hausa language, the romances now run into thousands of titles. Many rail against a strict interpretation of Islam propagated in Nigeria by the extremist group Boko Haram, which on Sunday posted video showing dozens of the 218 girls militants abducted from a remote school in April 2014.

“We write to educate people, to be popular, to touch others’ lives, to touch on things that are happening in our society,” says author Hadiza Nuhu Gudaji, whose views have gained a recognition unusual for women in her society.

Gudaji’s novellas are so popular that she is invited to give advice on radio talk shows. She describes how she was able to influence the future of a 15-year-old who called in, begging the novelist to persuade her father not to force her into marriage.

“We said: ‘The father of this girl, you are listening to us, you hear what your girl is saying,” Gudaji recounts. “‘If you force her, maybe the marriage will not end so well, maybe the girl will run away and come to a bad end.'”

A few weeks later, the girl called to say thank you, and that she was back in school — a striking example of the kind of power the author wields.

The novellas are derogatorily called “littattafan soyayya, meaning “love literature,” Kano market literature or, more kindly, modern Hausa literature. Daily readings on about 20 radio stations make them accessible to the illiterate.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES