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 

Are Muslims and Christians at war? The data says no

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(CNN)The bombings on Easter Sunday of eight sites in Sri Lanka, including three churches, seemed designed not only to inflict mass casualties but also to send a message.

Initial investigations showed the chain of bombings was carried out by “a radical Islam group,” perhaps as retaliation for mass shootings in March at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sri Lanka’s state defense minister, Ruwan Wijewardana, said Tuesday.
ISIS has reportedly taken credit for the slaughter in Sri Lanka but did not immediately offer proof of its involvement.
To some, the bombings, carried out on the holiest day in the Christian calendar, has fed a narrative of religious war. Christians and Muslims, this theory goes, are increasingly at odds and willing to strike at each other’s spiritual hearts — sanctuaries.
To be utterly clear: Any attack on any house of worship is heinous and should be unequivocally condemned. In too many parts of the world, Christians are attacked by Muslims and vice versa.
But taking the long view, the data on terrorist attacks does not support a narrative of incipient religious war or sanctuaries facing increasing threats.
From 1970 to 2017, attacks at houses of worship comprised just 1.45% of all terrorist attacks worldwide, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism(START) at the University of Maryland.

Who are Sri Lanka’s Muslims?

file-20190422-191664-dnk6u6Nearly 300 people have now been confirmed killed in the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka. And several sources are now suggesting a domestic Muslim Islamist group may have been linked to the atrocity – although no group has yet claimed responsibility.

Sri Lanka’s Muslim community is spread across the country, but they make up 9.7% of the island’s population. Even though most Sri Lankan Muslims are Sunni, it is a diverse community, with some following the mystical form of Islam, Sufism. Linguistically, most have Tamil as their mother tongue, often leading them to be categorised as part of the island’s Tamil minority, alongside Hindus and Christians. There are, however, Muslims who speak the majority Sinhala language.


Read more: Sri Lanka attacks: government’s social media ban may hide the truth about what is happening


The origins of Sri Lanka’s Muslim community can be traced back to the historic trading routes between South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Traders from the Middle East (Arabs and Persians) developed commercial interests in southern India in the seventh century, which also spread to Sri Lanka. These Middle Eastern merchants married Tamil and Sinhalese women and settled in the east of the island around Batticaloa and Ampara.

The Portuguese, who started to control Sri Lanka in the 16th century, used the term “Moor” to describe the island’s Muslims (as they did other Muslim communities they encountered throughout the world). As a consequence, a local “Moorish” identity was established. In the early 20th century, some Muslims promoted this as a unique “Ceylon Moor” racial identity (the island was called Ceylon during the colonial period). They presumed an Arab heritage, which distinguished them from the local Tamil community, which has its origins in southern India and northern Sri Lanka.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION (UK) 

Deadly attacks in Sri Lanka tap into global anxiety about Christian-Muslim violence

QNVVPQTE3YI6TJUYFKHYBDE47MThe Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, a Buddhist-majority country not known for religious violence or intolerance, are tapping into global worries about safety.

Experts who study long-term trends of religious intolerance and violence disagree, however, on whether things are getting worse, better or generally have remained level.

Even so, religious leaders say the attacks have come at a fragile time.

Religious institutions are losing power, and anger, tribalism and controversy boil away online every minute of the day. It’s hard to gauge or stop tensions from ballooning, they say, and the Sri Lanka attacks are a reminder of the risks.

Sri Lankan officials — with help from the FBI — Monday said the attacks were carried out by the National Thowheed Jamaath, a local Islamist militant group, with suspected international assistance.

“Here’s a nation that has pluralism and yet still had religious terrorism. It reminds you there isn’t one solution, no one safe place. It’s surprising,” said Ed Stetzer, who holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church, Mission and Evangelism at Wheaton College and has trained evangelists across the world.

The attacks in Sri Lanka come as other incidents are fresh in memory. Those include the killings of 50 people at a New Zealand mosque last month, the October 2018 killing of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the deaths of at least 45 people during twin Palm Sunday bombings in Egypt in April 2017.

In the United States, churches and mosques have begun adding security infrastructure to their places of worship. At the same time, there are high-level interfaith and pluralism efforts going on between Christian and Muslim leaders and groups that didn’t exist a generation ago. Those include the creation of international religious freedom ambassadors in several Western countries, said Rabbi David Saperstein, who held that position under President Barack Obama. They also include the Marrakesh Declaration, a January 2016 statement by hundreds of Muslim religious leaders worldwide committing to the rights of religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries. The Southern Baptist Convention, the biggest Protestant U.S. denomination, has filed court briefs in support of religious freedom for Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

At Boston Marathon bombing anniversary, local Muslims host blood drive

blood-drive_chloe_online-768x512BOSTON (RNS) – Six years after the deadly Boston Marathon bombing, a local mosque continues to host an annual blood drive in honor of those affected by the terror attack.

Monday’s 123rd running of the Boston Marathon marked the sixth anniversary of the attack, which left three people dead and more than 260 injured, as well as the first time the marathon was run on the exact anniversary of the bombing. At 2:49 p.m. — six years to the moment when the first bomb exploded at the finish line – the Boston Athletic Association held a moment of silence, and the bells at nearby Old South Church were rung.

Days after the race, as they have for six years, members of the Baitun Nasir Mosque in suburban Sharon, Massachusetts, collected more than 30 blood donations on Friday at Boston City Hall.

“(Our community) holds this special blood drive every year to honor those affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy, help humanity and to emphasize true Islam’s teaching regarding the sanctity of life,” organizer Nasir Rana said.

“We want to tell the people that the only blood Muslims shed is to help humanity,” he said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE 

Harar – the Ethiopian city known as ‘Africa’s Mecca’

_97022178_1Night falls in the ancient city of Harar, and I’m witnessing a breathtaking, if not bizarre, exercise.

A young man skewers chunks of meat onto stick, holds the stick in his mouth, and then proceeds to feed a number of hyenas who emerge from the darkness, their eyes glowing as they step into the light.

The spectacle goes down a treat with the assembled tourists.

“I do this because I like animals,” Biniam Ashenafi explains. The 32-year-old is one of several local volunteers who feed the scavengers on a daily basis.

“We don’t call them hyenas. We call them young priests. Every new year in the Arabic calendar, we have a porridge feast for them in the four corners of the city.

“If they come and accept our offer, it means we will have a good future. If they refuse, it is a bad omen.”

For centuries, people in Harar have lived side by side with hyenas – one of the world’s deadliest land predators.


Harar – a long history:

  • 7th Century: Part of Coptic Christian Kingdom of Axum, area adopted Islam
  • 1007: Harar city founded
  • 16th Century: Capital of Harari Kingdom, major centre of regional trade and Islamic learning
  • Said to be the first city Muslims migrated to from the Arabian peninsula
  • 1887: Becomes part of Ethiopia
  • 2006: Named Unesco World Heritage site

Full Ethiopian timeline

One of Africa’s best kept secrets – its history


The city’s fortified walls, built between the 13th and 16th Centuries, even have small holes in them to allow the hyenas to enter the city at night.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BBC 

How a controversial Muslim figure helped ignite the controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 comments

2e09b7d31a5f7beb9549b0a041bbbec5(RNS) — Since President Trump tweeted a provocative video juxtaposing clips of Rep. Ilhan Omar and the falling Twin Towers, Omar has faced a surge of criticism along with direct threats of violence, both online and offline.

But how did a video of Omar’s comments on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, part of a speech about how Muslims should not lose their civil liberties because of the actions of extremists, explode into such a massive controversy?

Credit a controversial Australian imam, little known in the U.S. until now.

For three weeks, the contents of Omar’s 20-minute speech at a Council on American-Islamic Relations fundraising banquet last month went virtually unnoticed.

Then a video clip about the speech landed in the path of Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who posted about it on Twitter: “First Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as ‘some people who did something’. Unbelievable.”

Crenshaw didn’t appear to have come across the clip on Fox News, which broadcast the entire speech live, nor did he seem to have come across it on a right-wing blog or news site.

Crenshaw had actually retweeted a post by Australia’s Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, who had uploaded a clip of Omar’s speech to Twitter and claimed that her speech minimized the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE