Raising Faith to Cut Down Gangs in Ottawa, Canada

Ottawa’s new faith and gangs group listens to Christian and Muslim community volunteers who are trying to find ways to keep kids out of the grasp of street gangs, writes Jennifer Green.

BY JENNIFER GREEN, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN

Maybe religious leaders can’t reach Ottawa’s hard-core gang members, but they believe their teachings can divert younger kids headed that way. The snag is often a parent who objects.

Crime prevention officials, police and Christian and Muslim community volunteers recently addressed the city’s new faith and gangs group to explore how congregations might keep kids from a gang lifestyle.

Abdi Wahid, a Somali Muslim, said gang life looks like the only alternative to young immigrants who can’t keep up in Canadian schools after years in refugee camps.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE OTTAWA CITIZEN

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When NYPD Wears a Muslim Topi

New York

Around five in the morning one day in the summer of 2007, just as Imam Khalid Latif was preparing for the salatul-fajr, the obligatory prayer between dawn and sunrise, the phone in his small Manhattan apartment began to ring.

He had been up late the night before, having just conducted a nikkah, a Muslim wedding ceremony, for a South Asian couple he knew from New York University, where he served as chaplain. Afterward, he offered to drive a few students back into the city, so he had not gotten home as early as he might have expected.

On the phone was an operations dispatcher from the New York Police Department (NYPD), where Imam Latif also served as a chaplain, having been named only three months earlier to the post. This was his first emergency call: Two cops had been shot, one fatally. He was to go to the hospital to minister to the families and fellow officers of the fallen.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

D.C. Center Teaches 8th Graders About Islam

Most American schoolchildren learn about Islam in a social studies classroom. But at the Friends School in Baltimore, eighth-graders make their own mini-pilgrimage every year, to the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C.

As their bus rattles along the highway south to Washington, most of the kids are busy making up songs about each other. But 12-year-old Julia Potter is counting off the Five Pillars of Islam on her fingers: charity, prayer, fasting, profession of faith, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR

Muslims Turning to Home Schooling in Increasing Numbers

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 21, 2010

On a chilly afternoon in western Loudoun County, a group of children used tweezers to extract rodent bones from a regurgitated owl pellet. A boy built a Lego launcher. A girl practiced her penmanship. On the wall, placards read, “I fast in Ramadan,” “I pay zakat” and “I will go on hajj.”

Welcome to Priscilla Martinez’s home — and her children’s school, where Martinez is teacher, principal and guidance counselor, and where the credo “Allah created everything” is taught alongside math, grammar and science.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

Obama Names Rashad Hussain Special Envoy to Muslim World

By William Wan

President Obama said today he is naming Rashad Hussain as his special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference as part of his effort to build up relationships with the Muslim world.

The announcement came in a video message by Obama to the seventh annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum meeting in the Qatari capital. More on his announcement here.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

Lancaster Mayor Apologizes for his ‘Christian Community’ Remark

Members of Los Angeles-area Islamic organizations said Tuesday they welcomed an apology from Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, who drew criticism after telling an audience of mostly Christian ministers that he was “growing a Christian community.”

“This episode demonstrates that we must all come together as Americans to uphold the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, and to maintain the values of inclusiveness and fair treatment,” Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the greater Los Angeles area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement.

Parris touched off a firestorm after saying in his Jan. 27 “State of the City” address that Lancaster was “growing a Christian community, and don’t let anybody shy away from that.” The mayor added that he needed the community to stand up and say “we’re a Christian community, and we’re proud of that.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES

Minnesota: Blazing a Trail in Interfaith Relations

Posted by Zafar Siddiqui

Minnesota is not just nice, but exudes warmth unlike any other place in the country. Home to the longest running Muslim-Christian dialogue in the nation, Minnesota is blazing a new trail in interfaith relations.

The fact that Islam, Judaism, and Christianity have a strong connection to Prophet Abraham makes this dialogue simply fascinating. The belief in the God of Abraham gives a common platform to share the commonalities while respectfully understanding the differences. Interfaith dialogue is not about compromising one’s faith. Rather it is about understanding the other in a respectful and open dialogue.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE