Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi to open in 2022

The cultural landmark in the UAE capital, which includes a synagogue, a church and a mosque, is meant to be a beacon of understanding and peaceful coexistence, inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity.

By Robin GomesThe Abrahamic Family House, which encloses a synagogue, a church and a mosque in a single complex, and which is scheduled to be inaugurated in 2022, is 20 percent complete, the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity (HCHF) said in a statement on Tuesday.  The  Committee, which is also supervising the project , said it is inspired by the 2019 Document on Human Fraternity.  Constructed on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, the project is closely followed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb of al-Azhar, who endorsed the design, the HCHF said.

The  Abrahamic Family House derives its name from the Old Testament biblical figure, Abraham, who is recognized and greatly revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Shared values
The Abrahamic Family House’s design, by architect Sir David Adjaye, captures. the values shared by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, through three main buildings, including a mosque, a church, and a synagogue in one place. “As such, the complex innovatively recounts the history and builds bridges between human civilizations and heavenly messages.”

The names of the three separate iconic houses of worship in the Abrahamic Family House complex are officially unveiled as “Imam AlTayeb Mosque,” “St. Francis Church,” and “Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue”.   Moses ben Maimon was a prolific and influential Sephardic Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages.

Interfaith harmonious coexistence
Besides the 3 places of worship, the site includes a cultural center that aims to encourage people to exemplify human fraternity and solidarity within a community that cherishes the values of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence, while the unique character of each faith is preserved.

The design of the Abrahamic Family House was first unveiled by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, at a global gathering in New York in 2019, during the 2nd meeting of the HCHF. IT said the design was also presented to Pope Francis and the Grand Imam during a meeting with them in November that year.

“The Abrahamic Family House epitomizes interfaith harmonious coexistence and preserves the unique character of each religion,” said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture Abu Dhabi and an HCHF member. He said, “It personifies Abu Dhabi’s vision for human fraternity and embeds coexistence into the already diverse cultural fabric of the UAE. Overseeing the development of this iconic project is inspiring and reflective of the UAE efforts in realizing the values of the Document on Human Fraternity and fostering its lofty principles.” 


Putting Black at the center of interfaith

(RNS) — Every January, the city of New York hosts an interfaith breakfast that gathers my fellow New Yorkers who work to improve the lives of people in the five boroughs of NYC and beyond.

Gathered under one roof for several hours are representatives of the many different faiths that can be found in our city: Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and so many others assemble, not only to celebrate our diversity but to address pressing social justice issues, including racial equity, systematic racism and racially biased policing.

Interfaith coalitions have long taken up racial justice causes, most famously in the civil rights movements of the ‘60s, and New York’s is one of literally hundreds of similar gatherings I have attended in my life as a Black Christian minister.  

RELATED: Black religious leaders, stand with our LGBTQ family

Yet, interfaith organizations themselves have often not taken racial equity work seriously. Some of the great interfaith organizations of the early 20 century, such as the National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ), have either actively discouraged the participation of Black leaders or passively signaled their disinterest by ignoring the struggle for racial justice that their Black and brown neighbors and their religious leaders were facing. 

This is despite the interfaith mingling that is woven into the history of Black people in America in traditional African religious traditions, Islam and Christianity as well as other faiths such as Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., has more than 1,000 religious artifacts that demonstrate the breadth of faith expressions among Black people since the first enslaved people from Africa brought their Muslim faith to this country.


Zahid Quaraishi confirmed as first America’s Muslim federal judge

  • Appointment draws mixed emotions from Muslim community
  • Quarashi worked for Ice and served with US army in Iraq

The United States has appointed its first Muslim American federal judge in Zahid Quraishi, a historic confirmation that is eliciting mixed emotions from the Muslim community.

The United States has appointed its first Muslim American federal judge in Zahid Quraishi, a historic confirmation that is eliciting mixed emotions from the Muslim community.

The Rutgers law school graduate was nominated by Joe Biden and confirmed by the Senate on Thursday in an 81-16 vote. But Quraishi’s work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) during the Bush administration and his role in the Iraq war has garnered criticism too.

“Cair remains concerned about the lack of clarity over Judge Quraishi’s past professional experiences in serving with the army in providing legal advice about detentions in Iraq during a time of US military abuse and his tenure at Ice during the last year of the Bush administration,” Cair’s government affairs department director, Robert McCaw, told the Guardian.


Actor Riz Ahmed wants to stop Hollywood’s ‘toxic portrayals’ of Muslims

British actor and rapper Riz Ahmed has launched a fund to help combat “toxic portrayals” of Muslims in films.

The move comes after a study showed Muslims rarely appear on screen, or are shown in a negative light if they do.

Earlier this year, the Sound of Metal star became the first Muslim to be nominated for best actor at the Oscars.

Ahmed, who is also known for Rogue One and The Night Of, said: “The problem with Muslim misrepresentation is one that can’t be ignored any more.”

In an online video, he said his history-making Oscar nomination was a “bittersweet” moment.

‘Unwritten rule’

“I simultaneously wore that slightly dubious accolade with a sense of gratitude personally… I also felt tremendous sadness.

“How was it that out of 1.6 billion people – a quarter of the world’s population – none of us had ever been in this position until now?

“I asked myself, if I’m the exception to the rule, what must the rule be about people like me? What must the unwritten rule be about Muslims – a quarter of the world’s population – and their place in our stories, our culture and their place in our society, if any?”


A driver slams into a Muslim family, killing four people, in what Canadian police say was a hate crime

(CNN)A family of five was waiting at an intersection in the Canadian city of London when a driver intentionally mounted the curb and struck them, killing four, because of their Islamic faith, officials said Monday.”There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate. It is believed that these victims were targeted because they were Muslim,” said Detective Superintendent Paul Waight of the London Police. “There is no known previous connection between the suspect and the victims.”A 74-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene Sunday night and the other four family members — a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman, a 15-year-old girl, and a nine-year-old boy — were transported to the hospital by paramedic services.

The two adults and the teen died at the hospital, police said. The boy is still recovering in serious but non-life-threatening condition, they said, adding that family members of the victims have requested the names of the victims not be released at this time.


Supreme Court to rule on FBI’s move to block Muslim civil rights suit

The case involves the FBI’s use of an informant who posed as a convert to Islam after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and attended mosques in California.

June 7, 2021, 12:25 PM EDTBy Pete Williams

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to take up the federal government’s claim that allowing a civil rights lawsuit filed by Muslims in California to proceed would reveal secrets that could damage national security.

The case involves the FBI’s use of an informant who posed as a convert to Islam after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and attended mosques for more than a year in Orange County. According to the lawsuit, he struck up conversations and attended meetings and lectures, sometimes secretly recording them.

The effort “explicitly targeted Muslims because of their religion,” violating their religious freedom, a lawyer for the Muslims told the Supreme Court.

“The explicit purpose of this operation was to gather information on Muslims in Orange County — not terrorists, spies, or even ordinary criminals, but Muslims,” they said.

Pete’s primer: Breaking down the 3 major upcoming SCOTUS decisions

MAY 28, 202103:23

The Justice Department moved to block the suit in federal court by asserting the state secrets privilege, which courts have recognized for more than a hundred years. Revealing evidence about whether any particular person was the subject of an FBI counter-terrorism investigation, “the reasons for any such investigation, and the particular sources and methods used” would harm national security, government lawyers said in their Supreme Court submission.


Church criticizes Austrian government’s ‘Islam Map’

VIENNA: The Austrian Catholic church on Friday became the latest religious group to criticize a government-backed, online map of hundreds of Muslim organization which sparked violence against the Muslim minority.
The highly controversial map shows details of more than 600 Muslim associations — from youth groups to mosques — including details on their location and photos of members.

The map was first presented by a government-funded group monitoring Muslim extremism and by Austria’s Integration Minister Susanne Raab, a member of conservative, anti-migration Austrian People’s Party (OeVP), who called it a tool to “fight political Islam as a breeding ground for extremism.”

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the head of the Austrian Catholic church, wrote in an op-ed Friday that it was “dangerous to give the impression that one of the religious community is under general suspicion,” and asked why one of the country’s many religious communities was singled out.

Umit Vural, head of the Islamic Religious Community of Austria, described the map as a “massive security threat” to Muslims, while the Muslim Youth Austria organization said several Muslims had already been attacked and a mosque has been defaced since that map went online in late May.


The Qur’an and Its Link to Christianity and Judaism

By Charles Mathewes, Ph.D.University of Virginia

In the past 50 years, thinkers have come to realize that Islam is an intrinsic part of the history of Western thinking on evil in complicated ways. Islam is linked to the older traditions of Jewish and Christian thought, but offers an alternate vision to them. There is also the way in which the Islam regards the Qur’an.

Islam and Other Abrahamic Religions

Islamic thought was deeply influenced by earlier Greek, Jewish, and Christian thinkers; and so, to understand Islamic thought reveals things about those earlier traditions that might otherwise go missing.

Islam was itself the source of the transmission of much pre-Christian literature and philosophy, especially Greek philosophy, to Western Christendom. These also picked up a good bit of insight on a series of important topics from the Islamic philosophers and lawyers themselves.

Also, Islam serves in a way as a kind of internal critic of the mainstream of Western thinking about evil; a critic who is both within and without this mainstream. It not only serves as a useful contrastive option to the main line of thinking that Western ideas of evil follow, but it also serves as a vital account that has its own integrity, even if it is somewhat oblique to that mainstream.

This is a transcript from the video series Why Evil ExistsWatch it now, on The Great Courses Plus.

The Uniqueness of the Qur’an

A decorated page from the Qur'an
The Qur’an has a complicated relationship with the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity. (Image: Acquired by Henry Walters/Public domain)

The Qur’an is unique among the scriptures of the Abrahamic faiths in explicitly rendering the episode of the origin of evil in Creation by recounting the rebellion of Iblis, the rebellious spirit. Iblis is the one who becomes ash-Shaitan, the primordial rebel against God.

The Qur’an is the sacred text of Islam, but it is not viewed, per se, as the Muslim Bible. Yes, it’s roughly as long as the Christian New Testament and similarly divided into sections. There are 114 suras (chapters) in the Qur’an and each of those suras is composed of verses called ayahs, which is also translated as the word ‘sign’.

Each of the verses, thus, of each of the suras of the Qur’an is a sign of God’s providence and love towards humanity. So far so good; it looks like another holy book.


136 Children Kidnapped From Islamic School In Nigeria

Nigerian authorities said security agencies are doing their best to bring the children back safely, but don’t have enough logistics.


Gunmen seized 136 children from an Islamic seminary in central Nigeria at the weekend, the state government said, the latest in a string of such incidents plaguing Africa’s most populous nation.

The Niger state government first reported the raid on the school in the town of Tegina on Monday, but did not indicate the number of children seized.

Armed gangs are terrorising inhabitants in northwest and central Nigeria by looting villages, stealing cattle, and taking people hostage.

More than 700 children and students have already been kidnapped by gunmen for ransom since December.

“Niger State Government has confirmed the number of students abducted by bandits at the Salihu Tanko Islamic School, Tegina… to be 136,” the local government wrote on Twitter late on Wednesday.

The state deputy governor Alh Ahmed Mohammed Ketso said that security agencies were “doing their best but don’t have enough logistics,” adding that more help was needed to equip them to confront the criminals.


Austrian Muslims to sue government over ‘Islam map’

A leading Muslim group in Austria has said it plans to file a lawsuit against the government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz for unveiling a controversial “Islam map”, according to Austrian media reports.

Muslim Youth Austria lambasted the government for publishing a “political Islam map”, which identifies the locations of mosques and Muslim associations around the country.KEEP READINGAustria gov’t agrees to preventive arrests, ban ‘political Islam’Austria: Anti-Muslim rhetoric rises after Vienna attackAustrian police seize weapons intended for German far rightMuslim Austrian academic shares tale of gunpoint raid

“The publication of all names, functions and addresses of Muslim institutions and institutions that have been read as Muslim represents an unprecedented crossing of boundaries,” the group was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Integration Minister Susanne Raab launched a website on Thursday, called the National Map of Islam, with the names and locations of more than 620 mosques, associations, and officials and their possible connections abroad.

The group Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGOE) warned against stigmatising all Muslims living in Austria “as a potential danger to society and the democratic legal order in the country”.

This campaign is fuelling racism and “exposes Muslim citizens to a massive security risk”, the IGGOE added.