Cinema of God: Muslims Memorialize Augustine

89918The students at Wheaton College were surprised: Wait, Saint Augustine was African?

Shown the international award-winning Augustine: Son of Her Tears for a freshman seminar that reads his Confessions, they witnessed history brought to life beyond the text, said Sarah Miglio, dean of curriculum.

So did the Muslim actors who depicted the story of the Christian theologian. The cast and creators now want to remind the world—and especially their own people in North Africa—that the church father properly belongs to their heritage.

“The West is more acquainted with Augustine than we are in North Africa,” said Aicha Ben Ahmed, the Tunisian actress who played Monica, Augustine’s long-suffering mother. “We have a wine named after him here, and it is better known than the saint.”

The leading actor, Ahmed Amin Ben Saad, was similarly affected. “Saint Augustine is a very strong and perplexing character,” he told Watani, an Egyptian Christian newspaper. “I felt the reverberation of his struggles in my own psyche.”

Known historically as Augustine of Hippo, the author of the monumental City of God and Confessions was born in 354 in Thagaste (present-day Souk Ahras) in northeast Algeria, 170 miles from Carthage, in present-day Tunisia.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

The business case for diversity in the workplace is now overwhelming

large_5qTS_vTGVk31qCPmnd5S7JbF8v9Vjk4qLZwTuLVqIcE.jpgWe live in a complex, interconnected world where diversity, shaped by globalization and technological advance, forms the fabric of modern society. Notwithstanding this interconnectedness, there is also growing polarization – both in the physical and digital worlds – fuelled by identity politics and the resurgence of nationalist ideals.

Not surprisingly, our workplaces tend to mirror the sociocultural dynamics at play in our lives outside work. Having built and scaled a multinational enterprise over nearly two decades, I’ve learned that diversity in the workplace is an asset for both businesses and their employees, in its capacity to foster innovation, creativity and empathy in ways that homogeneous environments seldom do. Yet it takes careful nurturing and conscious orchestration to unleash the true potential of this invaluable asset.

In this era of globalization, diversity in the business environment is about more than gender, race and ethnicity. It now includes employees with diverse religious and political beliefs, education, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientation, cultures and even disabilities. Companies are discovering that, by supporting and promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace, they are gaining benefits that go beyond the optics.

 

Business has the transformative power to change and contribute to a more open, diverse and inclusive society. We can only accomplish this by starting from within our organizations. Many of us know intuitively that diversity is good for business. The case for establishing a truly diverse workforce, at all organizational levels, grows more compelling each year. The moral argument is weighty enough, but the financial impact – as proven by multiple studies – makes this a no-brainer.

FULL ARTICLE FROM WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM 

How Western attitudes towards Islam have changed

BUSHLess than a week after the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on 11 September 2001, US President George W. Bush gave a remarkable speech about America’s “Muslim Brothers and sisters”. “These acts of violence,” he declared, “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.” After quoting from the Quran, he continued, “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.”

This speech is remarkable, not only for its compassion towards Muslims in the face of the attack on the US, but also because Bush was contradicting what has been, since the beginnings of Islam, the standard Western perception of this religion – namely that it is, at its core, a religion of violence.

Since its beginnings in the Arabia of the 7th century CE, the religion of Muhammad the prophet had pushed against the borders of Christendom. Within 100 years of the death of Muhammad in 632 CE, an Arabian empire extended from India and the borders of China to the south of France. Militarily, early Islam was undoubtedly successful.

Since that time, for the Christian West, regardless of the Islamic precept and practice of religious tolerance (at least as long as non-Muslims did not criticise the prophet), Islam has remained often threatening, sometimes enchanting, but ever-present. Indeed, the West created its own identity against an Islam that it saw as totally other, essentially alien, and ever likely to engulf it.

Thus, from the 8th century to the middle of the 19th, it was the virtually unanimous Western opinion that Islam was a violent religion whose success was due to the sword.


Read more: In spite of their differences, Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God


That Islam is, at its core, a violent religion is an attitude still present among some today. In the aftermath of the horrific murder of 50 Muslims in Christchurch by an Australian right wing nationalist, the conservative Australian politician Fraser Anning declared (straight out of the West’s medieval playbook), “The entire religion of Islam is simply the violent ideology of a sixth century despot masquerading as a religious leader, which justifies endless war against anyone who opposes it and calls for the murder of unbelievers and apostates.” Any violence against Muslims, he suggested, was therefore their own fault.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION (AUSTRALIA) 

Don’t blame Sharia for Islamic extremism – blame colonialism

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Warning that Islamic extremists want to impose fundamentalist religious rule in American communities, right-wing lawmakers in dozens of U.S. states have tried banning Sharia, an Arabic term often understood to mean Islamic law.

These political debates – which cite terrorism and political violence in the Middle East to argue that Islam is incompatible with modern society – reinforce stereotypes that the Muslim world is uncivilized.

They also reflect ignorance of Sharia, which is not a strict legal code. Sharia means “path” or “way”: It is a broad set of values and ethical principles drawn from the Quran – Islam’s holy book – and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. As such, different people and governments may interpret Sharia differently.

Still, this is not the first time that the world has tried to figure out where Sharia fits into the global order.

In the 1950s and 1960s, when Great Britain, France and other European powers relinquished their colonies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, leaders of newly sovereign Muslim-majority countries faced a decision of enormous consequence: Should they build their governments on Islamic religious values or embrace the European laws inherited from colonial rule?

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION

Anti-Muslim prejudice puts secular societies in a bind

http___com.ft.imagepublish.upp-prod-eu.s3.amazonawsThe Easter bombings in Sri Lanka were a stark reminder that we live in a world defined increasingly by ethnic and religious hatred. The terrorists who slaughtered at least 250 innocent people in churches and luxury hotels were deliberately targeting Christians. Whether or not the local jihadi group explicitly wished to replace the caliphate lost by Isis, there is no doubt that this was an attack on Judeo-Christian values. Secular governments are often irritated and bewildered by the resurfacing of old prejudices. But they must grapple with them. According to the charity Open Doors, 245m Christians worldwide face persecution. In India, the ultranationalist Hindu message of Narendra Modi’s government suggests that both Muslims and Christians are, at best, second-class citizens. In the UK, nine MPs resigned from the Labour party this year partly over concerns at the growing tide of anti-Semitism in its ranks. The Conservative party ran a London mayoral campaign in 2016 with unpleasant overtones against the Labour candidate Sadiq Khan, who is Muslim.

The first time a moderate, educated Muslim woman told me about the hatred she felt from fellow bus passengers, I was shocked. Since then, I’ve heard many similar stories. Ugly prejudice is on the rise. The UK is also struggling with growing sectarianism, illustrated by religiously motivated murders such as that of Asad Shah, an Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper in Glasgow, by a Sunni Muslim taxi driver. Hand-wringing will not solve this. But I am troubled by the recent drive to persuade the British government to introduce a legally binding definition of “Islamophobia”.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE FINANCIAL TIMES 

Sri Lanka’s Christians and Muslims Weren’t Enemies

SRI LANKA-ATTACKSIn November 2016, Sri Lanka’s justice minister announced to Parliament that 32 locals from four families had joined the Islamic State. Given the minister’s ties to some anti-Muslim Buddhist prelates, his claim was quickly dismissed as opportunistic­—even racist. Since then, however, credible evidence has backed him up. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the deadly Easter Sunday bombings that killed around 360 people, including nearly 40 foreigners.

To be sure, the Islamic State has a reputation for taking credit for terrorist acts it had nothing to do with. Its claims must therefore be treated skeptically. At the same time, however, there is no gainsaying that Islamist terrorist groups in South Asia and elsewhere support the Islamic State’s vision for a caliphate and crave alliance with it. And these groups, in solidarity with the Islamic State, have in the past targeted Christians on Easter. One such group is Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which killed 75 people in Lahore, Pakistan, in March 2016.

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Yet the specifics of the Sri Lankan case make it unusual. For one, given the planning, sophistication, and scale, the attacks there on April 21 rank as one of the worst terrorist acts recorded. But more importantly, the relationship among the country’s Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims makes the targets the attackers picked somewhat strange. After all, why would the Islamic State or those allied with it go after the Christian minority when it is the radical Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists who have perpetrated violence against the island’s Muslims in recent times?

FULL ARTICLE FROM FP

Faith and Values : Muslims, Christians have much in common

wk25-jan-muslim-christian-zayed-vaticanAll months tend to bring to mind the special events that occur within them; for the month of April, it is Spring and Easter.

Muslims also believe in Jesus, the son of Mary. As a matter of fact, from the 114 chapters that consist in the Holy Qur’an, the 19th one is named after his Mother, Surah Maryam, or Chapter Mary.

Within this chapter, the story of Jesus’s miraculous birth is told. He is mentioned many times throughout the Holy Qur’an. Millions of Muslims are also named after the son and mother, which is Isa and Maryam in Arabic. Thus, if studied, one will find many similarities with the Christian faith when it comes to Jesus, from his virgin birth to his miracles, i.e. curing the lepers and bringing the dead back to life.

The main differences between Muslims and Christians about Jesus regard his divinity and his death. Muslims honor Jesus as a great prophet of God who was not crucified, but taken to the heavens alive, and that he and will reappear during the end of time, the Second Coming of Christ.

A very interesting note is that Easter this year will be on April 21, 2019, which will fall on the Islamic date of the 15th of the month of Shaban, the birth anniversary of the 12th Imam, Muhammad al Mahdi. He is the great-grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MORNING CALL