Muslims, Christians partner to bring refugees to Victoria (Canada)

Masjid-al-Iman-picMuslims and Christians are forming a partnership in an effort to bring refugee families to Victoria.

They will work to help two or three families that have fled violence in countries such as Syria or Iraq. Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has pledged to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year.

The partnership brings together Masjid Al-Iman with Oak Bay United Church and St. Aidan’s United Church in Saanich.

The groups are a good match, said Ismail Mohamed Nur, the mosque’s imam.

Nur said the Muslim community is “very happy” to be able to work with the Christian groups.

“It’s something that’s been echoed on their side, as well,” he said.

“One of the things that we’ve been talking about when we’ve gotten together is the fact that these kinds of issues, it makes us put our differences aside.”

Nur said that while Christianity and Islam have differences, “at the same time, we have more things in common.”

“One of those things is helping people,” he said.

“This is a real-case scenario where our action or inaction will actually affect people’s lives.”

He said that getting refugees to a new home is just part of the process.

“The first part of helping those people is to bring them to a better place, to Canada, but that’s just half of the story,” he said.

“The second part is helping them integrate into society and taking care of their needs.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE COLONIST 

Building Bridges: Islam Scholar John Esposito Talks to OnIslam

27-10-15_Building_Bridges_OnIslam_Talks_to_John_L._Esposito_1SALT LAKE – The Wall Street journal called Professor John L. Esposito “American’s foremost authority and interpreter of Islam.” With over 40 years devoted to the field of Islamic studies, Esposito is well known as one of the world’s most influential bridge builders of understanding between the East and the West.

In this interview, Professor Esposito talks to OnIslam.net about his new center, appropriately titled Bridges, the media and public perceptions, as well as the latest controversies surrounding Bill Carson’s recent comments.

You are one of the world’s leading experts on Christian-Muslim Relations, so what do you think is the greatest theological misconception that Christians have about Muslims?

Well, it depends on which Christians. Your really hard liners, Franklin Graham, would wind up saying things like, Islam is evil or they might say the God of Christianity is not the God of Islam. But you also get people who do not go out of their way to bring it up, but who, with an almost matter of fact presumption, believe that Islam is a particularly violent religion relative to other religions. It’s ironic because it’s almost as if they never bothered to read the Old Testament or looked at Christian history post Constantine, when Christianity became imperial.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ONISLAM 

Why Christians should want Islam to be taught in schools

islam-in-schoolsA Californian mother’s rant about Islam being taught in schools has gone viral in yet another embarrassing display of the rampant ignorance that plagues so many of our friends across the pond, desperate to protect America’s non-existent Christian heritage.

Tara Cali of Bakersfield, California, posted a photo online of her son’s homework assignment which asked students to name the five pillars of Islam and summarise Islamic beliefs and practices.

“My son will not be a part of this in any sort of way. This is bad teaching material. He will NOT partake. If you have a problem with it, call our lawyer,” Cali wrote over the homework sheet, listing six Bible verses instead.

“How about Christian practices? That sheet has never came home, this year or last! [sic]” she added. Under a QR code that students were invited to scan to hear the call to prayer from a Mosque in Istanbul, Cali simply wrote, “Seriously?”

It’s the kind of response that you’d hope would be laughed at and ignored, but Cali’s Facebook post has been liked 38,000 times, and shared by more than 123,000 people. Some of the comments below accuse the government of brainwashing children and implying that Christianity is being pushed out of schools, while Islam is actively encouraged.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY

Cyprus monastery renovation unites Muslims, Christians

2015-297-b77a007c-d716-4fee-a4fc-4ed73607d934APOSTOLOS ANDREAS MONASTERY, Cyprus — Work to restore a monastery on the divided island of Cyprus has brought Turkish Cypriots together with Greek Cypriots, and Muslims with Christians.

Lore stretching back to the dawn of Christianity says this monastery sits directly over a freshwater spring created by one of Jesus’ first disciples, St. Andrew, while he was waiting for winds to pick up so he could continue his ship-borne travels.

The spring water, according to lore, even helped restore the sight of the captain’s blind son. In gratitude, the captain built a small church on this rocky outcrop near this tip of Cyprus’ northeastern Karpas Peninsula and dedicated to the saint.

That church became the foundation for the 19th century Apostolos Andreas monastery deeply revered not only by the island’s Greek Orthodox faithful, but also many Muslim Turks who would mount weekslong pilgrimages there.

But the monastery was left to ruin over the island’s ethnic division, brought on by a 1974 Turkish invasion after a coup aiming at union with Greece. Experts feared its crumbling trusses and sandstone walls were at risk of collapsing.

Now, the monastery is undergoing a much-needed restoration that is serving as a poignant symbol of how the island’s rival communities have joined to protect its religious and cultural heritage while fostering trust as United Nations-sponsored reunification talks gather pace.

“This sends the message to Europe and the Middle East that here in Cyprus, there are no disputes between religions,” said Takis Hadjidemetriou, a member of the Technical Committee on Heritage, a body of Greek and Turkish Cypriots tasked with preserving religious and cultural monuments on both sides of the divide.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SEATTLE TIMES

Why Pope Francis Is Visiting a Hotbed of Christian-Muslim Violence

Vatican-Headline-News-Now-Pope-FrancisJust after his election in March 2013, Pope Francis told the world he wanted a “poor Church, for the poor,” and if his upcoming travel schedule is anything to go by, it would appear he has remained true to that promise.

On November 29, Francis will arrive in the Central African Republic (CAR) for a stay of just over 24 hours, the Vatican confirmed this week. In the United Nations (U.N.) Human Development Report 2014, CAR was ranked 185th out of 187 countries, ahead of only its neighbor the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Niger. The country has the lowest GDP per capita in the world and is riddled with sectarian tensions between the Seleka—a majority Muslim alliance of militias—and their Christian counterparts, the anti-Balaka. Since independence from France in 1960, the country has had no fewer than eight coups and mutinies.

In the capital of Bangui, a recent wave of violence has resulted in 77 deaths and more than 400 people being injured as Seleka and anti-Balaka militants hunted each other down in the capital. Civilians were caught up in the violence, with at least 31 civilians being shot point-blank, stabbed or having their throats slit in targeted killings, Human Rights Watch (HRW)said on Thursday. The latest clashes were sparked by the murder of a 17-year-old Muslim taxi driver, Amin Mahamat, whose corpse was found with his throat cut on September 26.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE

Anti-Muslim protests span US: How mosques are responding

940570_1_1010-anti-islam-protests_standardMuslim leaders of mosques in more than 30 cities nationwide are preparing for anti-Muslim marches planned for today.

A Facebook group called Global Rally for Humanity has put out a call for anti-Muslim demonstrations “in every country at every Mosque.” One spin-off group, organizing a rally in Dearborn, Mich., encouraged demonstrators to show up armed, noting that Michigan is “an open carry state.”

Earlier this week, the Council for Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights group, released a statement urging Muslim leaders around the country to take extra precautions ahead of the planned demonstrations.

Recommended: Islam, the American way

“Many of these planned rallies may not take place, or they may consist of only a handful of people shouting slurs at worshipers,” the statement read. “But given the recent endorsement of Islamophobia by national public figures, it would only be prudent for mosque and community leaders to prepare for any eventuality.”

Preparing for such events can present both emotional and logistical challenges, CAIR executive director Ibrahim Hooper told the International Business Times.

“We don’t know if it’s just bluster or something serious,” he said. “Our position is generally not to give attention to people seeking cheap publicity. But there’s been enough violent rhetoric around this event that we just felt it prudent to alert the community about what actions they can take to make sure everyone is safe and secure.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR 

‘No One Is a Stranger’ The Jordanian Model for Muslim-Christian Relations

Francis_Jordan_0 (1)A Catholic family from Jordan was one of six households to address Pope Francis at September’s World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. As an American Catholic who has lived among Christians in the Jordanian capital of Amman, I was eager for their presentation, hoping it might challenge the belief taking root among American Catholics and others that the Middle East is universally a place of Muslim intolerance toward Christianity. I thought that Francis and those in attendance might hear, in spite of the very real dangers currently faced by many Christians in the region, of the generally tolerant environment of Jordan, characterized by peaceful co-existence. Unfortunately, the statement—delivered by a man named Nidal Mussa Sweidan, who was accompanied by his wife and two daughters—played into the notion that Christians are invariably subject to persecution.

The horrors suffered by Christians in certain parts of the Middle East cannot be overlooked. Islamic State fighters have captured hundreds of Christians in Syria in a brutal campaign that includes execution (including crucifixions), torture, rape, and enslavement of female captives. Up to a million other Christians are said to have fled their country. Affiliates in Libya notoriously executed dozens of Christians earlier this year, murders that were recorded and then seen around the world. In Iraq, tens of thousands of Christians have been displaced from the northern city of Mosul since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003. In 2013, dozens of churches in Egypt were destroyed in arson attacks.

Sweidan never explicitly said the words “Muslim” or “Islam,” but he didn’t have to. In speaking almost exclusively of “religious persecution” and a “hostile environment,” and in praising the Christian community as the singular source of light and goodness in the region, he appealed to negative assumptions about Muslims and cast Islam as the enemy. This was a lost opportunity. Sweidan could have offered a more hopeful message by noting that the historic coexistence of Islam and Christianity is, despite challenges, still evident in Jordan.

FULL ARTICLE FROM COMMONWEAL MAGAZINE