Immigrants from Myanmar hope for papal message of compassion

20171011T1159-12137-CNS-POPE-SCHEDULE-MYANMAR-BANGLADESH cropPHOENIX — Muslims and Catholics from Myanmar living in the United States would like Pope Francis to reiterate the message of “compassion for humanity” when the pope visits their country.

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Sheraz Islam, a Rohingya refugee, said the pope is a “holy man and a God-fearing person” and he has “great compassion” for Myanmar’s Rohingya people because of their plight. Regardless of what ethnicity they are, what religion they belong to, or whether they are men or women, “they are a part of humanity,” said Sheraz, who is convinced that is the reason why the pope calls the Rohingya his “brothers and sisters.”

Francis is scheduled to visit Myanmar Nov. 27-30 and Bangladesh Nov. 30-Dec.2.

Sheraz was born in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state, home to the Rohingya Muslim people since the eighth century. However, Rohingya are not only denied citizenship, but also freedom of movement and education. Their jobs are also restricted. They have faced military crackdowns since the 1970s.

In the most recent attacks, Rohingya survivors recounted stories of sexual assaults, murder and arson of homes in villages in Rakhine state.

Sheraz resettled in the United States in 2012. He said the oppression against the Rohingya people by the Myanmar military was not as bad then.

His parents and relatives decided to flee to Bangladesh because of the recent military crackdown. During the four- to five-day journey from Myanmar to Bangladesh, “my father died along the way in early September. It was a difficult journey and he probably died of exhaustion,” Sheraz said.

He hopes that during Francis’ visit, the pope will give the message that Rohingya are a part of humanity, no matter their religion, and that they are suffering from persecution.

The oppression Sheraz referred to was a response by the Myanmar military and Rakhine militants toward Rohingya militants who attacked security checkpoints in late August.

The crackdown — called “ethnic cleansing” by the U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights — forced more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. The latest arrivals were added to the more than 300,000 Rohingya who had fled attacks in past years.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER 

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Declaration of the Fourth Catholic-Muslim Forum (see previous post)

Final Declaration of the Fourth Catholic-Muslim Forum

1. Christianity and Islam both assert that God created humanity, placing it at the very summit of creation, for use with gratitude and wisdom with respect for the laws of nature as stewards for the earth and her resources gifted by Almighty God for all generations.

2. God bestowed on every human being inalienable dignity from which fundamental human rights are derived, as well as the obligation of governments to protect them.

3. We assert the equal dignity and value of all persons irrespective of their race, gender, religion or social status, and we categorically condemn any attempts to stereotype any people or attribute collective guilt to them for the actions of individuals among them.

4. Freedom of conscience and of religion resides at the peak of the edifice of human rights. Therefore, our collective duty demands that we respect, preserve and promote such rights.

5. God, our Creator, wills the integral growth of every human being for the full flourishing of God’s gifts: body, soul, intellect and spirit.

6. Christianity and Islam have moral, intellectual and spiritual resources that can contribute to the integral human development of both individuals and communities. Persons of good will committed to the common good are the natural allies of believers desirous of the holistic development of persons, communities and all of humanity and the conservation of the environment that sustains us.

7. As believers, we are called to do all we can to address all that hinders the integral development of humanity, including any erroneous interpretations or understandings of our respective sacred texts and traditions.

8. We believe that insecurity, conflicts and the proliferation of armaments constitute grave obstacles to the realization of God’s will for humanity, its wellbeing and growth in peace and security. This is why we consider it our moral obligation to denounce wars and the arms trade that facilitate them, and instead use humanity’s resources for our personal and collective flourishing.

9. Together, as believers, we assert that those in need of development must be enabled to fulfil their destiny, allowing them to take their rightful place as full members of the human family according to God’s will.

In Berkeley, Catholic, Muslim leaders seek common ground

A nine-point declaration emerged from an international gathering of Catholic and Muslim leaders in Berkeley Nov. 6-8.

Finding common ground between the faith traditions, emphasizing human dignity, rights and protection of others, the fourth Catholic-Muslim Forum ended on an optimistic note.

“We assert the equal dignity and value of all persons irrespective of their race, gender, religion or social status, and we categorically condemn any attempts to stereotype any people or attribute collective guilt to them for the actions of individuals among them,” was one of the nine points the participants made.

The Catholic-Muslim Forum was established in 2008 by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Signatories of the “Open Letter” (A Common Word) to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders. This gathering was hosted by Zaytuna College, the Muslim liberal arts college founded in 2009 in Berkeley.

This year’s topic was “Integral Human Development: Growing in Dignity, Catholic and Muslim Perspectives.” Participants included 12 delegates each from the Catholic and Muslim traditions. Additionally, there were six observers from each side. They came from as far away as Rome and Jordan; Argentina and Zambia.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CATHOLIC VOICE 

The Game of Thrones Christians Should Be Watching

79795Before the crown prince of Saudi Arabia stunned the world with his sudden arrest of dozens of fellow princes and millionaires on corruption charges, he stunned many Christians with his stated desire to moderate its version of Islam, commonly dubbed Wahhabism.

 Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 as an alliance between Bedouin warriors of the al-Saud tribe and strict Salafi Muslim scholars following Mohamed ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Discovering oil six years later, it also became one of the Muslim world’s wealthiest nations. The combination has led many religious freedom advocates to blame Saudi petrodollars for funding a worldwide rise in Islamist extremism.

But last month, Mohammad bin Salman said his conservative Muslim country would return to “what we were before: a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world.”

Extremist ideas would be destroyed, the crown prince proclaimed, blaming Iran for sparking Saudi Arabia’s notoriously tight religious control. He pledges now to reverse this and stamp out extremism.

“What happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia,” bin Salman said. “What happened in the region in the last 30 years is not the Middle East. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries; one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn’t know how to deal with it.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

Hijab-wearing Barbie doll introduced in honour of Olympic fencer

ST_20171116_BARBIE16DKXQ_3561757NEW YORK • Meet the newest Barbie, who has dark skin, the muscular thighs of an athlete and a hijab.

The doll, modelled after Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, was revealed on Monday evening at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York.

Ibtihaj, who was the first American athlete to compete in the Olympics in a hijab, won a bronze medal in the team sabre event in Rio de Janeiro last year.

The fencing mask, the uniform and the “Olympic-medal-thick” legs were all there, Ibtihaj noted while introducing the doll onstage at the awards show.

And for the first time in Barbie’s existence since the 1950s, there was a white head scarf tucked tightly around the doll’s face, with not a wisp of fake hair in view.

“Perfect hijab moment right here,” Ibtihaj, 31, said, turning the toy this way and that.

 In an interview on Tuesday, she recalled how important it was for her to play with dolls as a child – even as she was pursuing sports – and “envision myself in places where society told me I did not belong”.

Interfaith Voices: Bridging the gulf of faith

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by Amarah Khan

Fall season is about in Albany. Leaves are turning; the air is getting crisper. September marked the beginning of the Islamic calendar, commonly known as the Hijri calendar. The excitement of a new year has come intertwined with the unique beauty of autumn.

New Year’s celebrations among the Muslim community are somewhat unique in that there is ample emphasis on prayer, some families observe fasting during the first 10 days of the year with additional observances of rituals on the 9th and 10th of Muharram (the first month of the Hijri calendar).

Being part of a vibrant college town and working as an administrator at an institution of higher learning prompts its own set of reflections during this time. What values am I modeling, what values am I teaching? Is my work effective enough? Am I cultivating the kind of community that would nurture not just mine, but all future generations?

It is with these thoughts that I started working with colleagues and community members on developing a local chapter of the Sisterhood of Salaam-Shalom — an interfaith effort to bring women from two Abrahamic traditions together in solidarity.

The opportunity is actually a gift — one that was not available to many when we were growing up because the walls of religious differences were too high to breech. My native Pakistan has a 95 percent Muslim majority. Such strength in numbers meant growing up with a sense of privilege and entitlement that permitted us to live a life almost completely oblivious of the remaining 5 percent.

FULL ARTICLE FROM DEMOCRAT HERALD 

Religions not responsible for terrorism: Speakers

International-peace-Conference-minhaj-university-day-1-11-112017-6LAHORE – Leading figures belonging to five religions have unanimously rejected as mere propaganda the assertion that religions are responsible for acts of terrorism in the world.

The participants of a two-day conference on “Religious Pluralism and World Peace”, which concluded on Sunday, recommended holding of dialogue among the followers of all religions to iron out misunderstandings and chalk out a strategy for world peace.
Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, an expert in terrorism from Singapore, Dr. Paul Rohan from University of Jafna, Sri-Lanka, Dr. Adrian Feldmann of Australia, Dr. Andre Wehrli-Allenbach of Switzerland, Dr. David James Bamber and Dr. Cedric Aimal Edwin were among the international speakers at the conference organized by Minhaj University in collaboration with Punjab Higher Education Commission. Scholars of various religions including Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Islam sat together to talk about the present challenges of the world –the main purpose for which the conference was organized.

Reading out declaration in the conference, Minhaj University’s Deputy Chairman Dr. Hussain Mohayyuddin said that no form of terrorism and violence had anything to do with world religions and it must be condemned at all levels. He said misuse of religion and its misunderstanding by general discussions must be stopped, suggesting that it should only be limited to the competent scholars with concept of religious doctrine, beliefs and practices.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATION