An Interfaith Study Guide on Peacemaking

curriculum-w-textThe following is a downloadable pdf study guide produced by the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Institute.  Please download it for yourself or use it as a study guide for small groups.  A vitally important initiative for our perilous times.  It is also available as a Kindle download here.

(from the introduction to the guide):

As an introduction to the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative and these study materials, participants are invited to go to the AFPI website to hear the stories of members of the organization as they share their commitment to interfaith dialogue and peacemaking, http://abrahamicfaithspeacemaking.com.

We live in a world where examples of religious pluralism abound in local communities everywhere. Porous world boundaries due to globalization, immigration, technology, and transportation have produced a climate where religious understanding-and misunderstanding-lies at the heart of local, national, and global issues. Increasingly, we find ourselves having to learn about the differences among religious traditions in order to articulate the nature of current events. Few remain unaware of the realities of individual and communal religious violence in our society. Discussions about the current American religious landscape often ignore one salient fact: that the Abrahamic religions and cultures have been deeply intertwined and intricately related from their inception. After the 1965 Immigration Act, other religions, such as those with origins in Asia, have been steadily growing in their number of adherents in the United States. Places of worship for Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious traditions are part of the religious landscape of nearly all communities across the United States. Los Angeles is considered the most diverse Buddhist city in the world. In states like California, there is no majority race, ethnicity, or religion. Similar demographic shifts, while uneven across the United States, will occur often in the next fifty years, and are no longer confined to the coastal cities more often associated with religious diversity.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ABRAHAMIC FAITHS PEACEMAKING INSTITUTE 

Friday essay: The Qur’an, the Bible and homosexuality in Islam

8npwdsxz-1466037951Neither the Bible nor the Qur’an (Koran) has a lot to say about homosexuality, and what they do say relates only indirectly to contemporary discussions about gay rights and same-sex marriage. Like pre-modern scholars of law and ethics, these books assume heteronormativity.

As a concept, homosexuality is relatively recent, even if there is plenty of evidence for homoerotic pleasure in the past – albeit illicit in religious terms.

Scriptures and later writers usually referred only to particular sexual acts and did not raise the issue of personal sexual orientation. For religious conservatives, though, both Muslim and Christian, the occasional derogatory reference to same-sex acts is enough to prove their inherent sinfulness in all circumstances.

More liberal interpreters point to broader ethical considerations such as compassion and empathy. They argue that the condemnations of scripture do not apply to committed relationships founded on love.

Such a perspective, however, is inevitably more common among believers concerned with human rights, influenced by gender theory, and trained in contextual and holistic methods of interpretation.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION 

Live Webinar: Understanding Islam with Safi Kaskas

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Join author Safi Kaskas ( The Qur’an:  A Contemporary Understanding) this coming Saturday (December 3) at 10:00 am Eastern Time (US) for a live webinar on Understanding Islam.

Many people are asking questions about Islam. Is Islam inherently violent? What does the Qur’an actually say? Does ISIS represent true Islam? Should we be fearful of Muslims?

These are a few of the topics I’ll be discussing this Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern with Muslim author and speaker Safi Kaskas. You can join the conversation with comments or questions by clicking our AnyMeeting link here.

Safi is an American Muslim strategic management executive with a wealth of knowledge about Islam. As a co-founder of East-West University in Chicago, he’s a big proponent of education. Safi travels the globe to deliver talks about Islam in the modern world. He has spoken multiple times at the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast and serves on the board of the peacemaking organization Bridges to Common Ground.

Safi has translated the Qur’an twice. His first translation is called The Qur’an: A Contemporary Understanding. His second translation, written with a Christian friend, is called The Qur’an – with References to the Bible: A Contemporary Understanding. This is the first translation of the Qur’an that has references to the Bible. Interestingly, Safi found 3,000 biblical references in the Qur’an.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS.COM

Ban Muslims? These Christians in Georgia say that would be a big mistake.

img_9947Lots of people are worried that Donald Trump was serious when he said he would ban all Muslims from entering the United States. And that’s especially true for some of the Christians who are helping Muslim refugees resettle in America.

When Luke Keller woke up to the news that Trump would be president, he picked up the phone.

“I immediately called all of my Muslim friends and just reassured them that nothing’s going to happen to them, nothing’s going to happen to their families,” Keller says.

“The Unites States, we have our problems, but we take care of ours.”

The 27-year-old Keller has lots of Muslim friends. He runs a nonprofit outside of Atlanta called The Lantern Project that trains refugees in trades. Many of them come from Muslim-majority countries such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“[The training program] teaches them certified construction and we do welding, we do pipe fitting, we do masonry, we do carpentry, we do electrical,” Keller says.

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FULL ARTICLE FROM PRI.ORG

20 Million Muslims March Against ISIS and The Mainstream Media Completely Ignores It

arbaeenIn one of the largest organized marches in the history of the world, tens of millions of Shia Muslims made an incredibly heartening statement, by risking their lives to travel through war-stricken areas to openly defy ISIS. This massive event that would have undoubtedly helped to ease tensions in the West was almost entirely ignored by corporate media.

Women, men, elderly, and children made their way to the city of Karbala on Sunday and Monday last week for the holy day of Arbaeen. Arbaeen is the event which marks the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, the religious ritual that commemorates the death of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Imam Hussein in 680 AD.

As the Independent reports, massive crowds paid homage to the shrines of Imam Hussein and his half-brother Abbas in Karbala, where they were killed in a revolt against the Umayyad ruler Yazeed in the 7th century AD when they refused to pledge allegiance to Yazeed’s Umayyad caliphate.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE FREE THOUGHT PROJECT 

Mosques get threatening letters: Trump will ‘do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews’

imrsThis is an alert to Christians to make an extra effort to show our support for our Muslim neighbors pushing our elected officials, including our president elect, to renounce in no uncertain terms the hatred the election has fostered and fed.  

Letters threatening that President-elect Donald Trump will do to Muslims what Adolf Hitler “did to the Jews” were sent to three California mosques last week, according to the Council on Islamic-American Relations, or CAIR.

The handwritten letter, which referred to Muslims as “children of Satan,” were mailed to Islamic centers in San Jose in Northern California and Long Beach and Pomona in Southern California. It called Trump the “new sherriff [sic] in town” who will “cleanse America and make it shine again” by eradicating the country’s Muslim population.

“You Muslims are a vile and filthy people. Your mothers are whores and your fathers are dogs,” the letter states. “You are evil. You worship the devil. But, your day of reckoning has arrived.”

The letter went on to say that Muslims “would be wise to pack your bags and get out of Dodge.”

The Evergreen Islamic Center in San Jose was the first to receive the letter, according to CAIR, a civil liberties and advocacy organization for Muslims in the United States. Authorities were alerted Thursday night after the center’s imam found it in the mail, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

On Saturday, CAIR said the Islamic centers in Long Beach and Pomona also received a similar letter.

“The hate campaign targeting California houses of worship must be investigated as an act of religious intimidation, and our state’s leaders should speak out against the growing anti-Muslim bigotry that leads to such incidents,” Hussam Ayloush, executive director for CAIR’s office in Los Angeles, said in a statement.

The letter, which was signed “Americans for a Better Way,” ended with “long live President Trump and God bless the USA.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST