Day of enlightenment: Seventh graders learn about Islam during Religious Diversity Journeys visit to Dearborn

5a6f8b81199cf.imageMore than 150 seventh grade students from across southeast Michigan visited the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn Feb. 25 to take part in Religious Diversity Journeys — a special program created to promote greater knowledge and understanding of the Detroit area’s diverse religions.

Religious Diversity Journeys is hosted by Interfaith Leadership Council of Metro Detroit, a faith-based organization made up of religious leaders from several different faiths who serve their communities by educating the public about religions.

The Islamic religion was the main focus of the program’s stop in Dearborn, which was attended by students who attend both public and private schools.

 During the program, students learned about the history and traditions of Islam, and also discussed the negative effects of prejudices surrounding Muslims.

The students also took part in an hour-long question and answer session with Sheikh Ibrahim Kazerooni of the Islamic Center of America,and were served Middle Eastern cuisine for lunch.

Wendy Miller Gamer, program director for Interfaith Leadership Council, spearheads the program, which launched four years ago.

She said 1,500 seventh graders and 600 parents have participated since then.

Gamer, who has been director for the council for about three months, said the program is an eye-opener for the students.

“I’m in my mid-40s, and these past few months have been the first times that even I’ve spent significant time in mosques,” Gamer said. “At the end of the day, I tell the students how lucky they are — to be teenagers — and to be able to spend a whole day learning in this mosque.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE PRESS AND GUIDE 

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Interfaith demonstrators form human chain around Muslims in prayer as they protest Trump travel ban

muslims-pray-washington-square-park-protestFaith groups protested on Friday against ongoing efforts by the Trump administration to institute a ban on travel by residents of a number of Muslim-majority countries.

The demonstration in New York’s Washington Square Park took place a year after Donald Trump‘s first executive order setting out the ban, which has been blocked by the courts.

The US Supreme Court has agreed to decide the legality of the latest version of Mr Trump’s ban, which affects residents from six countries instead of the original seven.

It pits an administration that considers the restrictions necessary for Americans’ security against challengers who claim it is illegally aimed at Muslims and stems from Mr Trump’s campaign call for a “complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the US.

The policy blocks entry into the US of most people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT (UK)

Evidence of protecting Christians’ rights, churches in Islam

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CAIRO – 27 January 201: Following allegations made by the U.S. Congress regarding violations committed against Coptic Christians in Egypt, Egypt Today provides evidence of Islam’s preservation of Christians’ rights.

Recently, Egypt’s Minister of Endowments Mokhtar Gomaa said that the protection of churches is as legitimate as defending mosques, stressing that those who died in the defense of a church are martyrs.

Religious freedom is a well-known Islamic principle. {There is no compulsion in religion; the right direction is clearly distinguished from the wrong} (Quran 22:56) . So it’s clear that each person should be allowed to find their own path in life. People of other religions are free to practice their own faith, as Islam does not force any one to embrace it.

Not only does Islam demand their freedom to practice religion, but also that they be treated justly and kindly as any other fellow human. {Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah love those who are just} (Quran 60:8) .

Regarding the protection of churches, Allah says, {Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause)} (Quran 22:40) .

Islamic scholar Ibn Khuwaiz stated that this verse included the prohibition of demolishing the churches of non-Muslim citizens, their temples, and their houses of worship.

FULL ARTICLE FROM EGYPT TODAY 

Senegal, where Christians and Muslims live together in peace

15114530511516878353By Cristina UguccioniI
“If relations between Christians and Muslims in other countries were as serene as those living in Senegal, there would be more peace on earth. Here the cohabitation between the faithful of the two religions is neither a theme nor a motive for discussion since it is lived as a fact”. These are Flavio Facchin’s words, a 55 years old priest, belonging to the Congregation of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, he is currently the treasurer of the Senegalese missions. He arrived in this country 20 years ago and for a decade he led the parish of Maria Immacolata, the only parish in Parcelles Assainies, a large suburb of Dakar where most of the population is of Islamic faith (95%, as in the rest of the country).

The gift of a crucifix
On July 16,2016, during a solemn ceremony, Moussa Sy, the Muslim Mayor appointed Father Flavio honorary citizen and gave him the keys to the city because of the many works that the missionary, together with the parish, promoted for the benefit of the whole community.

“I remember that the mayor wanted to give me a personal gift on that day,” Father Flavio says. It was a painting that portrayed the crucifix. I was moved by the gift and surprised by the choice: I was expecting it to feature the Virgin Mary as Muslims take Her very much into account and even come to church to pray before the statue of Our Lady. Instead, the mayor chose the crucifix, which in Muslim culture is little understood. I remember that in his speech he said, “My second religion is the Church. For him Christianity identified with the church he had had the opportunity to know. We have been working together for many years looking for the best solutions to help the population and there has always been great understanding among us”.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MALAYSIA HERALD

Islam confronts us Christians with long-overdue debates”

patertobiaszimmermannFather Tobias Zimmermann, long grey hair, an earring in his left ear, is head teacher of the Canisius Kolleg in Berlin, one of three Jesuit schools in Germany. The school describes itself as a secondary school “with Christian-Humanist character”. Young people should not only receive a good education here, but also mature to become responsible people. Zimmermann’s decision to hire a headscarf-wearing Muslim woman as a teacher caused something of a furore in Berlin. Newspapers such as Die Welt, the Tagesspiegel and the Berliner Zeitung reported on the story, as well as the regional public broadcaster RBB. As Zimmermann is keen to stress at the outset, he was rather surprised at the media storm.  After all, he’d only appointed a teacher, hadn’t he?

***

Father Zimmermann, at a time when the AfD is represented in the Bundestag, you appointed a Muslim teacher at a Catholic school. Did you intend to make some kind of statement?

Pater Tobias Zimmermann: No. The key factor was that this woman was very well qualified for the post. And it wasn’t because we had too few applicants either. But how to deal with such an eventuality was something we had already discussed in advance. We’ve had a very diverse staff for a long time now: many of the teachers are Catholic of course, while a few grew up in East Germany and never had the chance to get to know Christianity from the inside. Others are Protestant. As far as the Muslims are concerned, today’s situation reminds of the 1970s. Back then, we made the decision to begin accepting Protestant students. And then at some point, we appointed Protestant teachers too.

kopftuchOver the past two years, you’ve started up two classes at the school for refugee children. Did the decision have something to do with that?

Zimmermann: Of course. We’ve got around 30 Muslim students at the school today, which gives Islam a different visibility. And it also gives rise to new questions: do we now need different spaces for prayer? Not necessarily Islamic, but at least ones where followers of different religions can pray together. We’re also thinking about whether we should be offering Islamic religious studies.

So do children need to be taught by teachers who share their cultural background?

Zimmermann: Not exclusively, of course. But for me, school also offers the possibility for experimentation. Here we have the opportunity to enter into a dialogue with one another. And if society, such as it is here in Berlin, is characterised by a variety of world views, then this should be reflected in our teaching staff. As a Christian school we’re experimenting here with something I believe constitutes a good school.

FULL ARTICLE FROM QANTARA.DE

Far-Right German Politician Resigns from Islamophobic Party and Converts to Islam Politics Far-Right German Politician Resigns from Islamophobic Party and Converts to Islam

GettyImages-884449208In Germany, there is a far-right political party that has drawn many comparisons to another far-right party from the country’s past. The AfD, or Alternative for Germany (Deutschland) is known for their anti-refugee, anti-Muslim, and all-around awful positions, and in the most recent German election they made giant strides toward the mainstream by actually winning 90 seats in Parliament. This is a party that has had leaders like Björn Höcke, who complained about the Holocaust memorial in Berlin saying: “We Germans are the only nation in the world to have planted a monument of shame in the heart of their capital.” That remark caused controversy, and the AfD said they would expel Höcke for it…but then they just didn’t. Oh, not scary enough for you? Well, how about the fact that they’ve taken to using Nazi buzzwords like lügenpresse (lying press) and völkisch (a term used by the Nazis for people they deemed truly German).

FULL ARTICLE FROM GENTLEMEN’S QUARTERLY

One year after the travel ban, I am not your American Muslim

Imam Omar Suleiman is the founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research and an adjunct professor of Islamic studies in the graduate liberal studies program at Southern Methodist University. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.

633056120.0.jpgDallas (CNN)The last detainee at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was Jesus. Not the one that Christians and Muslims revere, but a 33-year-old man named Issa (“Jesus,” in Arabic), who once was a military contractor for the US Army in his native Iraq.

I know, because I was there at the airport that day — January 29 — nearly a year ago.
Of all the detainees held over those few tumultuous days, this one evoked the most sympathy and shame. How could a handicapped man named after possibly the most famous refugee in history, who served this country in war, now be turned away from that same country in the name of “security”?