Niqab should not be election issue, say Christian, Muslim and Hindu leaders in Canada

mohammad-mazirLeaders from different religions gathered in St. John’s on Thursday and were united in their belief that wearing of the niqab should not be an election issue.

The niqab has become a divisive federal election topic in recent weeks, with the Conservative government vowing to fight a Federal Court of Appeal ruling saying women shouldn’t have to remove niqabs, which cover their faces during citizenship ceremonies.

Leaders from the Anglican, Catholic, Muslim and Hindu religions all took part in the meeting on Thursday, organized by the Religious Social Action Coalition.

While the focus was on poverty reduction, the niqab issue wasn’t far from their minds.

Mohammed Mazir, with the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, doesn’t think the niqab should be part of anyone’s campaign.

“It’s really an issue which I think certain politicians feel they can make some points and gain some ground,” he said after the meeting.

“That’s up to them, whether the public will support them or not. As far as we’re concerned, it’s totally a non-issue.”

Rami Wadhwa

Rami Wadhwa hopes that Canadians will get used to the niqab the same way they did with Sikh turbans in years past. (CBC)


3 anti-terrorism statements from organizers of new Islamic mosque in Grand Rapids

mosque2GRAND RAPIDS, MI – One of the best ways to combat extremist Islam “is to speak out against it publicly,” says one of the board members of Masjid as-Sunnah, a fledgling mosque that plans to start meeting in Burton Heights.

Grand Rapids Planning Commission this month will consider a permit for the mosque to operate in a two-story building at 2312 S. Division Ave. between Burton and Alger streets. A hearing is set for 1:20 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, at the city’s Development Center, 1120 Monroe Ave. NW.

The group of about a dozen Muslims wants to convert the vacant 2,400-square-foot building’s main floor into worship space with a library and bookstore, and renovate four one-bedroom apartments upstairs.

Here are three excerpts from the mosque’s permit application filed with the city:

• “We believe in adopting the creed and carrying out the ritual acts of worship as they were adopted and carried out by the Prophet Muhammad and his disciples. We are a non-political and non-violent group. We abhor the acts of terrorism that have been taking place in recent years in the name of Islam and openly condemn the acts as well as the perpetrators.”• “Our goal is to educate Muslims as well as non-Muslims about the primary tenets and overall message of the religion of Islam. In addition to this, we want to clarify to Muslims and non-Muslims alike that that the terroristic activities witnessed in recent years from various organizations (Muslim Brotherhood, Taliban, al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc.) have nothing to do with the pure religion of Islam. Rather, we condemn these groups and their activities in the strongest of terms.”

• “Our long-term plans are to see a thriving Muslim community connected to this mosque, which will exemplify to our non-Muslim neighbors what true Islam is, contrary to what they may see in the news media or hear about from subsidiary sources.”


Christians Join Forces With Muslim Group Hezbollah to Fight ISIS in Lebanon


Christian Post — The Iran-backed Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah, classified for many years by U.S. Intelligence as a terrorist organization, is training Christians to fight ISIS in Lebanon and the Middle Eastern believers say their new and unlikely allies “accept us as we are.”

Citing Lebanese sources, Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin says Christian villages in the Bekaa Valley area of Lebanon are forming militias to join Hezbollah fighters already engaging ISIS and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nursa Front in the Syrian Qalamoun mountains opposite villages in central and eastern Bekaa.

Rifit Nasrallah, a Catholic businessman who is part of the militias fighting ISIS in Ras Baalbek, discussed the alliance with Hezbollah in an International Business Times report last month.

“We’re in a very dangerous situation,” he said. “The only people who are protecting us are the resistance of Hezbollah. The only one standing with the army is Hezbollah. Let’s not hide it anymore.”

Nasrallah said Hezbollah does not expect its allies to convert to Islam or create an allegiance to the group’s ideals.

“They accept us as we are,” he said. “They do not impose on us anything. When there’s an occasion, they come to our children’s birthdays. The people here accept that Hezbollah comes and helps.”

This unlikely alliance between Christians and Hezbollah is a far cry from the adversarial relationship depicted between the two groups in the region.


Ben Carson slanders Islam: Here’s exactly why his claims about Muslims are dead wrong

deadstate-Ben-CarsonThe neurosurgeon-turned-Republican candidate is spreading absurd lies about the world’s second-largest religion

In his recent anti-Muslim crusade, Ben Carson promoted a disturbing form of religious segregation, claiming that a Muslim should only be president if he or she “renounces the tenets of Islam.”

Sadly, just as racial segregationists long garnered votes by promoting fear of black Americans, religious segregationists such as Carson today garner votes by promoting fear of Muslim Americans. In fact, Carson’s anti-Muslim intolerance has advanced his polling numbers and dramatically increased his campaign fundraising.

In the process, Dr. Carson has helped promote and sustain frighteningly high levels of anti-Muslim sentiment. A recent PPP survey in North Carolina reported that 72 percent believe a Muslim should not be allowed to be president of the United States. Likewise, 40 percent seek to ban Islam altogether.

Under Dr. Carson’s crusade of religious segregation, some Americans appear to have forgotten the First Amendment’s fundamental religious freedom guarantee, and likewise Article VI of the Constitution, which forbids religious tests for any government office. Like his racial segregationist predecessors, Dr. Carson demonstrates that the Constitution is suddenly meaningless when influential politicians use fear and hate to advance their agenda.

Undeterred from his myopic comments on CNN and the resulting blowback last week, Carson advanced his religious segregationist views in a recent email to his constituents, claiming that “Under Shariah law, women must be subservient and people following other religions must be killed.”


Healing the wounds between Islam and Christianity

History (1)SPECIAL REPORT | One of Indonesia’s most prominent liberal Muslim intellectuals says politics and economics are major factors in conflicts between Christianity and Islam – and that people of both faiths must work together to heal the wounds.

Azyumardi Azra, who is Rector and Professor of History at Univeritas Islam Negeri in Jakarta, was speaking in Adelaide recently at the first of an Australian-wide series of public discourses on whether Christianity and Islam can co-exist.

Azra described Islam, Christianity and Judaism as “siblings” because they are all “Abrahamic faiths”. Abraham, Moses, Noah and Jesus are, with Mohammed, Islam’s five Major Prophets, he said.

“So that’s why Islam is the youngest among the three siblings.”

As such, Azra said Muslims believe in the Old Testament and the New Testament, as well as in the Quran.

“Of course, all religions preach, teach you, peace,” he said.

“But there are sometimes certain passages of the holy books’ content, statements or doctrines that can be used to justify violence within one single, particular religion or against other religions.”

Azra said this “ambiguous nature of religion” meant such passages led to “extremist or violent acts” when taken “in a very literal way, a very ad hoc way and not in a very comprehensive way”.

“This, of course, becomes complicated when it comes to politics,” he said.

“Most of the so-called violence with religious chaos in our time is mostly related to economy and politics.

“I would argue that economics and politics are very important factors that in the end create a lot of resentment among different religious groups that can explode.”


Even Christian Groups Disagree With Republicans’ Plan To Prioritize Religious Minorities In Refugee Crisis

Syrian refugeesWASHINGTON — Christian groups that work with refugees are strongly opposed to a proposal that would in effect put Iraqi and Syrian Christians ahead of Muslims for resettlement in the U.S., even if they are also victims of persecution.

Ten House Republicans have signed on to a bill introduced this month by House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) that, among other things, instructs the government to prioritize religious minorities from Syria and Iraq for refugee status. The Obama administration plans to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the 2016 fiscal year, which begins on Thursday.

As western countries determine how many people to take in from the Middle East amid an ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, the religious provision in McCaul’s proposal points to a key point of tension: the fact that most Syrians are Muslim.

This has been specifically highlighted by some leaders, such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who said admitting more refugees could take away Europe’s Christian identity.

U.S. politicians who oppose accepting more Syrian refugees have been less explicitly focused on religion, but contend that it would harm national security because some of those acceptedcould be potential terrorists. In announcing the legislation, the congressman did not mention any religion specifically, but instead focused on the “threat posed by inadequate security screening procedures for refugees seeking entry into the United States,” including members of the Islamic State. 


Why the Qur’an might not be what you thought, and why it matters

quranOn the face of it, it’s a little unlikely. But not long ago, what may be the oldest copy of part of the Qur’an was discovered in the Cadbury Library at Birmingham University.

The two parchment leaves had been bound together with leaves of a similar Qur’an manuscript, which is datable to the late seventh century. These, however, are earlier. Radiocarbon analysis has dated the parchment – prepared animal skin – on which the text is written to the period between AD 568 and 645. Mohammad himself is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632, raising the intriguing possibility that it could have been written in his own lifetime.

The fragment contains parts of suras (chapters) 18-20, written with ink in an early form of Arabic script known as Hijazi. So far, so fascinating: it’s like finding a copy of one of Paul’s letters from 40 AD, or a Matthew’s Gospel from 80AD. From a historical point of view, it sends goose-bumps up the spine – and for a Muslim, even more so. The chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque is reported to have said: “When I saw these pages I was very moved. There were tears of joy and emotion in my eyes. And I’m sure people from all over the UK will come to Birmingham to have a glimpse of these pages.”