Why Christians Need to Support Women’s Rights and Religious Freedom in the Muslim World

MUSLIM BRITAlthough women’s rights and religious freedom are not commonly associated with one another in the world of the 1.6 billion Muslims, there is a correlation that must be uncovered.

According to Women and Religious Freedom by Nazila Ghanea, inherent in religious freedom is the right to believe or not believe as one’s conscience leads, and live out one’s beliefs openly, peacefully, and without fear.

Freedom of religion or belief is an expansive right that includes the freedoms of thought, conscience, expression, association, and assembly. For the Muslim world, the Quran reads in Sura 2:256, “Let there be no compulsion in religion.”

Individuals must not be forced to follow a literal interpretation of religious teachings and traditions. Faith under force is invalid and ingenuine. Therefore, it is never in the public’s interest to force belief on individuals, regardless of gender, and restrict their right to question, explore and fulfill their purpose.

In fact, the research shows that women can contribute to greater peace and prosperity of a society when they are free to choose to exercise their own free will and belief (see here).

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

Can Islamist moderates remake the politics of the Muslim world?

0917-musl-mod-women-tunisiaThe era of political Islam appears to be waning in some regions. But as some Islamists broaden their appeal, there’s an opportunity to increase our understanding of the nuances of Islam in politics.

Alaa Faroukh insists he is the future. After nearly a decade in the Muslim Brotherhood, he says that he has finally found harmony between his faith and politics, not as a hardcore Islamist, but as a “Muslim democrat.”

“We respect and include minorities, we fight for women’s rights, we respect different points of view, we are democratic both in our homes and in our politics – that is how we honor our faith,” Mr. Faroukh says.

The jovial psychologist with a toothy smile, who can quote Freud as easily as he can recite the Quran, is speaking from his airy Amman clinic, located one floor below the headquarters of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, the very movement he left.

“The time of divisive politics of older Islamists is over, and everyone in my generation agrees,” says the 30-something Faroukh. “The era of political Islam is dead.”

Faroukh is symbolic of a shift sweeping through parts of the Arab world. From Tunisia to Egypt to Jordan, many Islamist activists and some established Islamic organizations are adopting a more progressive and moderate tone in their approach to politics and governing. They are reaching out to minorities and secular Muslims while doing away with decades-old political goals to impose their interpretation of Islam on society.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR 

A shift in Islam – and beyond

0924 upfront dupfront demoracyWhat is the right balance between a living faith that embraces the changing times and the religious traditions and doctrines that are often millenniums old?

Taylor Luck’s cover story this week appears to be about a shift within Islam. From Jordan to Tunisia, Taylor sees seeds of political moderation taking root. The cataclysmic failure of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, together with broader trends in globalization, is prompting a rethink among many Islamic political activists. They are seeing that women’s rights, religious tolerance, and other democratic ideals can be a winning combination.

Yet the story also hints at a deeper and more universal question that faces not only Islam, but also Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and the core views of many other faiths. What is the right balance between a living faith that embraces the changing times and the religious traditions and doctrines that are often millenniums old?

Most readers of Taylor’s story will surely cheer the changes now affecting Islam. Women’s rights and the expansion of civil liberties are essential elements of human progress. But change the focal distance, and the comfortable acceptance of cultural change in some distant place can become more unsettling closer to home. If modern cultural forces are bringing a welcome breeze of enlightenment to Islam, then why are such forces sometimes seen as threatening religious traditions in other places?

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR 

Three Evangelicals Walk into a Muslim Convention

20180902_113913By Kevin Singer, Chris Stackaruk, and Usra Ghazi

This wasn’t the first time Evangelical leaders participated in the largest annual gathering of Muslims in the United States. The Islamic Society of North America Annual Convention has for many years included panel sessions, discussions and even celebratory events on interfaith relations with religiously diverse leaders. Perhaps because of the unique relationship between the current U.S. presidential administration and Evangelical leaders, and because of a heightened political climate of partisan and ideological divides, this was the first ISNA convention to feature multiple conversations about bridging these divides and a majority Evangelical panel, live recorded for a predominantly Christian podcast audience.

Neighborly Faith is an organization that seeks to help Evangelicals become better neighbors to people of other faiths. On September 6, 2018 Neighborly Faith partnered with America Indivisible, a national organization that addresses anti-Muslim bigotry by strengthening neighborly ties, to make the case for better Muslim-Evangelical relations directly to Muslims in Houston and Evangelical podcast listeners all over the country.

The panel, titled “Reaching Persuadable Americans: Why Engaging Conservatives Matters,” featured Neighborly Faith co-hosts Kevin Singer and Chris Stackaruk, Texas megachurch Pastor Bob Roberts Jr., president of Islamic Relief USA Anwar Khan, and Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. What was especially intriguing were the questions and comments during the Q&A. They provide a window into what everyday Muslim Americans are concerned about when it comes to their relationships with Evangelicals and conservatives. As we shuffled through the question cards, we noticed a couple of themes emerge.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ISLAMIC MONTHLY 

D’Amato: Doing Islam differently: Mosque fully includes women, gay people

B88374925Z.1_20180920205032_000_GTFB5BSD.2-0_Super_Portrait.jpgAt this mosque, women worship in the same room as the men. They lead prayers and give sermons.

They are not forced to watch the service on television in a different room.

At this mosque, gay people are welcomed.

And there’s no dress code. You can cover your head or not, as you see fit.

This mosque, based in Kitchener-Waterloo, does Islam differently.

“We reject a patriarchal system,” says Fran Pappert-Shannon of Waterloo, who co-founded the mosque two years ago, and co-ordinates its activities.

“We are egalitarian, without a patriarchal hierarchy. and we believe in the concepts of shared authority.”

All of this is very unusual for the religion, as it is often practised in North America.

And so, in order to write about the K-W El-Tawhid Juma Circle, I had to agree not to publish its location.

Some members of the congregation, who are gay and haven’t come out yet, were uneasy about having a journalist around, so I couldn’t observe the service.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE RECORD 

Dr. Maryam Mostoufi: Interfaith dialogue feeds the soul

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Over the years I’ve heard a number of jokes that begin — “A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim walk into a… ” It’s an effective stem for a joke because it’s based on a negative stereotype that suggests it highly improbable that the three would voluntarily associate with one another.

Yet, in Springfield we’ve been proving for 40 years that those of diverse theological backgrounds do just that.

Four religious leaders within the Springfield community — the late Rev. Dr. Richard Maye and the Rev. Mark Watkins, Rev. Andy Templeman and Rabbi Barry Marks — had a vision. They saw a possibility for entering into dialogue based on their shared values and jointly tackling community issues.

Originally, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Unitarian clergy met over brownbag lunches once a month, as we still do. What they did not anticipate was the deep respect and friendships they and future members of the Greater Springfield Interfaith Association would develop over the years. Nor could they foresee a future that included as many other faiths as it does today.

This year we developed our first logo (About time!). It illustrates our belief that all faiths grow out of a spiritual sense of mystery and thus should be held with reverence and respect. The faith symbols are representative of those in Springfield and our membership — Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Humanist, Islamic, Jewish, Native American, Sikh, Tao, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian — all of which have participated in one way or another over the years.

Our monthly meetings have not been limited to chatting and chewing. We’ve used them as opportunities to educate ourselves about each other’s religious traditions, beliefs and practices and to learn about community issues and services. But we recognized early on that to be relevant, we needed to get out of our chairs and pulpits and into the larger community. We needed to literally practice what we preach.

FULL ARTICLE FROM STATE JOURNAL REGISTER 

Ashura: What is it, when is it and how is it celebrated?

day_of_ashura_by_zhrza-dawb0r8Muslims around the world will be gathering to commemorate the day of Ashura today as part of the new month Muharram.

Muharram is the first month in the Muslim calendar and is regarded as one of the holiest, aside from Ramadan.

The month is marked by solemn commemoration and remembrance instead of celebration and includes within it the day of Ashura.

Ashura is a special day in Muslim culture, but is specifically more significant for Shia Muslims, who use it to comemmorate the martyrdom of Hussein.

Why is Ashura significant?

Muslims will remember the day as when Noah left the Ark, and when Moses was saved by God from the Egyptians.

Shia Muslims however commemorate the occasion as it marks the martyrdom of Hussein at Kerbala.

Hussein was a grandson of the prophet Muhammad, the founder of the Islamic faith, and he perished in battle at Kerbala during 680AD.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE EXPRESS (UK)