JTA — A mosque that opened recently amid protests in a heavily Jewish part of London announced plans to host an exhibition celebrating Muslims who saved Jews during the Holocaust.
Golders Green Mosque is set to feature the exhibition prepared by the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Israel at the beginning of the new year, The Jewish News of London reported Thursday.
The exhibition is about Muslim Albanians who hid and protected Jews during the Holocaust, when Albania was under fascist control.
FULL ARTICLE FROM TIMES OF ISRAEL
In an age where religious persecution is spreading at speed, it is crucial to consider steps which need to be taken to prevent further acts of religiously motivated violence. If it is not possible to prevent this altogether, then we must, at least, consider how we slow it down. Engaging in political dialogue and stressing the need to adhere to international legal standards and states’ international law obligations is not nearly enough.
If we take into consideration the fact that in most states, it is predominately religious minorities that are being persecuted, it becomes clear that the only way to prevent religious persecution is to ensure the right to freedom of religion or belief for all, whether one belongs to the majority or minority groups. The majority group plays a critical role in addressing the persecution of minorities. Their influence on the situation for minority groups cannot be downplayed. Hence, today, more than ever, it is crucial to open an interfaith dialogue.
Interfaith dialogue, which refers to an exchange among religious communities on issues of mutual concern, explores the “engagement of the world’s religious traditions around theological questions and in their efforts to collaborate on questions of peace, human rights, and economic and social development.”
Actors which are often neglected in these debates are businesses. Businesses should have, at the forefront of their corporate governance policies, an acute focus on adherence to human rights (including the right to freedom of religion or belief for all) in states where they manufacture, buy or sell their goods. They must maintain an open dialogue with local and national authorities about the need to adhere to human rights standards. Similarly, they must require their local partners to comply with the internationally recognized standards.
FULL ARTICLE FROM FORBES
Every month, Christians and Muslims from Milan to Mecca, Kansas to Kuala Lumpur find common ground in an unusual place: a desert country the size of Maine surrounded by war zones.
In Jordan, a royal family recognized as descendants of the prophet Muhammad, and a citizenry of Christians and Muslims who have lived side by side for centuries, have been playing an outsized role in fostering dialogue and common understanding among the world’s faiths.
Participants and observers say Jordan’s interfaith drive is not political expediency or a PR stunt; rather it is the continuation of a unique homegrown tradition of celebrating faiths’ common bonds and values that the kingdom has taken to the world stage as an answer to growing polarization and sectarianism.
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Jordan’s first call to action was in the wake of 9/11 and the sectarian violence and terrorism triggered by the Iraq War next door.
King Abdullah crafted and promoted a response – the Amman Message, a document clarifying the central tenets of Islam, rejecting terrorism, extremism, and violence, and denouncing the practice of declaring other Muslims as “apostates.”
Jordan’s decade and a half of interfaith activism is being recognized: Last month King Abdullah was awarded the 2018 Templeton Prize for the country’s interfaith work, becoming only the second Muslim recipient of an award previously granted to the Dalai Llama and Mother Theresa.
FULL ARTICLE FROM YAHOO NEWS
While most British Muslims might be indifferent to the celebrations underway this season, perhaps we can play a small part in reviving the generosity, kindness and true Christmas spirit associated with the holiday.
It’s Christmas time and so it hasn’t taken long for a national newspaper to run a feature implying British Muslims are poorly integrated for “refusing to celebrate a Christian holiday”. The irony of this pernicious Islamophobia, feebly hiding behind the banner of defending the Judeo-Christian values of our country, is that it is bereft of any meaningful understanding of Islam.
You see, the thing is, Muslims love Jesus.
In fact, the Prophet Muhammad said: “The dearest person to me in friendship and in love, in this world and the next is Jesus, the son of Mary.”
It may come as a surprise to many to learn that Jesus is mentioned in the Quran over 100 times, while the Prophet Muhammad, by contrast, is mentioned just five times. Described as the best woman ever to have set foot on earth, there is a whole chapter in the Quran named “Mary” and she is the only woman mentioned by name in the holy book.
It’s not just that Muslims love Jesus – we believe him to be one of the greatest messengers of god. We believe in his miraculous birth. We believe that god gifted him with the ability to bring the dead back to life, heal the leper and bring sight back to the blind and, like Christians, we believe in his second coming back to this world.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT (UK)
A video made by the Egyptian Fatwa Institute and uploaded to YouTube earlier this month encourages Muslims to extend holiday greetings to Christians and to maintain friendly relations with those around them, regardless of their religion.
“Congratulating non-Muslims during their holidays is encouraged by Islam, and is in keeping with the noble manners introduced by the Prophet Muhammad,” the narrator says, in a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
FULL ARTICLE FROM TIMES OF ISRAEL
At Bellarmine, an all-boys Catholic school in San Jose, Calif., I was often the token Muslim and probably the only person who began freshman year thinking the Eucharist sounded like the name of a comic book villain. I eventually learned it’s a ritual commemorating the Last Supper. At the monthly Masses that were part of the curriculum, that meant grape juice and stale wafers were offered to pimpled, dorky teenagers as the blood and body of Christ.
During my time there, I also read the King James Bible and stories about Jesus, learned about Christian morality, debated the Trinity with Jesuit priests and received an A every semester in religious studies class. Twenty years later, I can still recite the “Our Father” prayer from memory.
Growing up, I’d been taught that Jesus was a major prophet in Islam, known as “Isa” and also referred to as “ruh Allah,” the spirit of God born to the Virgin Mary and sent as a mercy to all people. Like Christians, we Muslims believe he will return to fight Dajjal, or the Antichrist, and establish peace and justice on earth. But it was everything I learned in high school that came together to make me love Jesus in a way that made me a better Muslim.
Even though I don’t personally celebrate Christmas, the season always makes me think of his legacy of radical love. This year, it’s especially hard to understand how Trump-supporting Christians have turned their back on that unconditional love and exchanged it for nativism, fear and fealty to a reality TV show host turned president.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
BEIRUT — The Iranian cultural attaché stepped up to the microphone on a stage flanked by banners bearing the faces of Iran’s two foremost religious authorities: Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, and Ayatollah Khamenei, the current supreme leader.
To the left of Ayatollah Khomeini stood a twinkling Christmas tree, a gold star gilding its tip. Angel ornaments and miniature Santa hats nestled among its branches. Fake snow dusted fake pine needles.
“Today, we’re celebrating the birth of Christ,” the cultural attaché, Mohamed Mehdi Shari’tamdar, announced into the microphone, “and also the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.”
“Hallelujah!” boomed another speaker, Elias Hachem, reciting a poem he had written for the event. “Jesus the savior is born. The king of peace, the son of Mary. He frees the slaves. He heals. The angels protect him. The Bible and the Quran embrace.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
On Christmas Eve, churches all over the country will welcome into their midnight mass services people who rarely take part in acts of Christian worship but find candlelit carols irresistible.
In the pews of St Alban’s in North Harrow there will be a special group of visitors: about three dozen Muslims from a nearby mosque.
For the past 10 years, worshippers at the Shia Ithna’ashari Community of Middlesex have been attending midnight mass at St Alban’s as a way of meeting their neighbours and taking part in Christmas festivities.
“For us, attending midnight mass is a great chance to participate in an important part of Christmas celebrations and meet people from our local church, many of whom have become our friends,” said Miqdaad Versi, an executive committee member of SICM.
“Ten years ago, this was one of the first times we met, and now it has flourished into a much stronger and long-lasting relationship as we meet regularly, work together and organise joint events.”
The Christmas visits were initiated by young members of the mosque. The executive committee checked with the church that they would be welcome, and every year since up to 50 Muslims have attended the midnight service.
Versi said that most Muslims enjoyed Christmas celebrations and the focus on family. “There are differences in belief, of course, but in the Islamic faith Jesus is revered as a major prophet.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)
A tandoori spiced turkey and fruit filled stockings are the holiday traditions of one young family
For most of my life, Christmas was just another day. Growing up in a Pakistani-Muslim family just outside of Toronto, I saw Christmas as a holiday that came with some much-needed vacation time and excellent Boxing Day sales.
Once in a while, my parents would get into the holiday spirit, and we’d invite our friends over to eat turkey and stuffing. They would put Christmas carols on YouTube and wear red and green shirts, and we’d pretend like we knew what we were doing when it came to celebrating the holiday. Though, one thing we never did have was a tree. That seemed to be what set us apart from the people who really celebrated Christmas.
But most years, instead of anything official, we’d go to see a movie together on Christmas Day or just hang out at home as several feet of snow fell outside.
All of that changed when I met my husband. His Dutch-English Catholic family celebrated Christmas just the way I had imagined people did. There was a massive tree by the fireplace, decorated with gold and red tinsel, ornaments from their childhood hanging all over. Green garland covered the banisters along the staircase and cottony fake snow adorned the hutch in the dining room, with a full winterscape complete with baby Jesus on top.
The house smelled like turkey, which had been cooking for several hours. There was baked brie with cherry jam and shrimp cocktail on the coffee table in the living room. It was wonderful–it was everything I thought Christmas was–at least from what I had seen on TV.
FULL ARTICLE FROM GROK NATION
BAGHDAD – Baghdad residents are approaching Christmas with an enthusiasm that defies increasingly outdated international perceptions of Iraq as a perpetually war-torn country often at the mercy of armed groups.
Market stalls are piled high with Santa Claus cuddly toys or lined with an impressive range of plastic Christmas trees in multiple shades, while whole shop aisles are dedicated to selling seasonal items – coloured baubles, glittery fir cones, miniature plastic snowmen and white-trimmed bright-red children’s outfits.
Across the capital, many hotels, cafes and restaurants have trees and decorations, mostly featuring images of Father Christmas rather than Nativity scenes, with such Christian symbolism largely confined to churches.
This year is special, and we’re celebrating in a bigger and wider way, ringing the church bells and singing
– Iraqi nun
“We haven’t had any threats or problems this year, and the situation for us is nice and stable,” said a nun in the Dominican Convent in Baghdad’s Karrada district who preferred not to give her name.
Standing beside an illuminated Nativity scene and richly decorated Christmas tree in Baghdad’s Christ the King Church, she told Middle East Eye that Iraq’s Christians have previously tempered their celebrations, as the holiday has sometimes coincided with the Islamic month of Muharram, when many Muslims mourn the killing of the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Hussein.
“We respect Muslims’ sadness at this time,” she said.