MUSLIM COMMUNITY SUPPORTS INTERFAITH GET-OUT-THE-VOTE RALLY

A large canopy tent stood Monday afternoon in a lot adjacent to Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1905 W. Wisconsin Ave. Under it stood rows of metal chairs, carefully spaced six-feet apart in every direction. A forest of red, white, and blue yard signs lined the street urging passersby, VOTE!

The scene was set for the Interfaith Candlelight Rally Kick Off for Early Voting. On the eve of Wisconsin’s two weeks of early voting (Oct. 20 – Nov. 1), a diverse group of religious and cultural organizations brought together faith leaders to “light up Milwaukee” and inspire their communities to vote.

The Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and the Wisconsin Muslim Civic Alliance lent their support to the effort as sponsors of the event.

Other sponsors included MICAH (Milwaukee Intercity Congregations Allied for Hope), Souls to the Polls, League of Progressive Seniors, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Voces de la Frontera, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Congregation Shir Hadash, Hmong American Women’s Association, MASH, Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Progressive Baptist Church, SEIU, Tikkun Ha-lr and Urban Underground.

Redeemer Lutheran Church served as host. “Redeemer is a great location and we like to host. We pride ourselves on our hospitality,” said Pastor Lisa Bates-Froiland in an interview after the event. “To remind people to vote the day before early voting starts is so close to our mission. As citizens, we are called on to live out our responsibilities as we can.”

By 5:30 p.m., when the rally started in earnest, amid a chill in the air and light snow, more than 150 people of multiple creeds and cultures joined together to share music and speeches, and to raise candles in celebration of the right to vote.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WISCONSIN MUSLIM JOURNAL

Pope, Religious Leaders Pray for Peace and Greater Care for Each Other

Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Muslim, Jewish and other religious leaders attend an encounter to pray for peace in Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome Oct. 20, 2020. (CNS photo/Paul Haring

ROME (CNS) — The only way to end war and ensure humanity’s survival is “through encounter and negotiation, setting aside our conflicts and pursuing reconciliation, moderating the language of politics and propaganda, and developing true paths of peace,” Pope Francis said.

The pope, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and an international array of other Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Buddhist leaders gathered on Rome’s Capitoline Hill Oct. 20 to affirm their community’s commitment to peace, dialogue, fraternity and assistance to the poor and needy.

Before coming together to make their peace pledge, the religious leaders gathered with members of their own faith families to pray, focusing on the theme, “No one is saved alone: Peace and fraternity.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BOSTON PILOT

France, the way to Islamic reformation is to challenge institutions — not stigmatize Muslims

Opinion by Ezzedine C. FishereOct. 20, 2020 at 2:26 p.m. EDTAdd to list

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans to regulate Islam in France and clamp down on so-called Islamic separatism. His statement drew criticism immediately, obscuring a deeper point. Recent events underscore the need for a reformed reading of Islam. But such reformation will not be brought about by stigmatizing Islam or Muslim communities, as the French president did. What is needed is to challenge Muslim institutions to take a clear position on Islamic jurisprudence justifying violence.

Macron’s speech of Oct. 2 wasn’t supposed to be a criticism of Islam. It was a policy statement about cracking down on “radical Islamist” influence among French Muslims to prevent their transformation into a “counter-republican” community. However, Macron’s bizarre remark that Islam “is in crisis all over the world today” unsurprisingly got most of the attention in the Middle East. The response was swift.

Countless voices in the Middle East and beyond decried French anti-Muslim bias, both now and during its colonial past, and warned that Macron’s remarks would trigger a far-right anti-Muslim backlash. Al-Azhar, Egypt’s leading religious authority, slammed Macron’s “racist” “hate speech” that will “inflame the feelings of two billion Muslim followers” around the world, and “block the path to constructive dialogue.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn’t miss the opportunity to belittle his French nemesis, with phrases such as “beyond disrespect,” “an open provocation” and “like a colonial governor.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

French MP warns of generalized suspicion of Muslims

Lawmaker urges unity in fight against terrorism, says terrorists aim to divide society, provoke anti-Muslim sentiments

PARIS

French lawmaker Adrien Quatennens has warned against a climate of generalized suspicion toward the country’s Muslims after the murder of teacher Samuel Paty by an extremist last Friday in the suburbs of Paris.

Quatennens, an LFI Party member of the parliament hailing from the Nord Department, appeared on franceinfo television Tuesday morning and in his appearance called for unity in the fight against terrorism. He said he believes that terrorists have a goal to divide the French society, and that they aim “a cleavage between Muslims and the rest of the population.”

At the same time, Quatennens recognized the peril in making sweeping conclusion on the matter.

“This cleavage must therefore be refused. We must fight against Islamist terrorism, but not have a logic of generalized suspicion,” he added.

“When attacks like those in Conflans are committed, millions of our fellow citizens suffer to see that this barbarism is committed in the name of their god.”

Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old father who taught history and geography at Bois-d’Aulne College in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine in the Yvelines north of the capital, was decapitated Friday by Abdoullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin. The suspect was gunned down by police.

The teacher, during one of his classes on freedom of expression, had shown controversial cartoons depicting Muslim Prophet Muhammad, according to the reports.

Muslim leaders across France have condemned the murder, stressing that extremists abuse religion for their goals and their actions cannot be justified through Islam.

Community leaders expressed their concern that the recent attack would again stigmatize French Muslims and increase Islamophobic views.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AA.COM

Yusuf Cat Stevens on Islam, the fatwa and playing guitar again

The singer-songwriter tells Desert Island Discs about walking away from his fans, and the difficulties of following a spiritual path

The singer-songwriter now known as Yusuf Cat Stevens has spoken of the pain of his decision to leave music behind in 1977, when he first converted to Islam, and of the difficulty of being used as a representative of an entire faith.

“It was a hard tug. I felt a responsibility to my fans, but I would have been a hypocrite. I needed to get real. So I stopped singing and started taking action with what I now believed,” he said. The singer, who first performed as Cat Stevens, adopted the name Yusuf Islam when he changed faith. He now uses both first names.

Stevens said he had originally wanted to serve as a bridge between two great cultures, yet, while Islam welcomed its famous convert, western audiences were hostile. “On the other side, people said, ‘He is a bit of a traitor’. He has ‘turned Turk’, if you like. So I was often used as a bit of a spokesman, and I was useful for certain occasions.”Yusuf Islam AKA Cat Stevens to lead BBC Ramadan seriesRead more

The 72-year-old British musician, still internationally famous for songs such as Father and Son, The First Cut is the Deepest, Moonshadow and Wild World, said he had hoped fans would understand that he felt he had found something more important than music, but he was wrong.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)

From mute to menacing: why TV’s portrayal of Muslims still falls short

Though representation has increased, Islam on TV is still largely centred around terrorists and oppressed women. What we need is more complexity – and fewer dangerous cliches

In 2017, Emmy-winning actor and activist Riz Ahmed gave a speech in Parliament about diversity on screen. “Representation is not an added thrill [because] what people are looking for is a message that they belong,” he said.Soon after, the Riz test – the equivalent of the Bechdel test for the representation of Muslims in the media – was established. Its criteria ask whether the characters in a TV show or film are identifiably Muslim, and then whether they are a terrorist; irrationally angry; anti-modern; a threat to western values; or a misogynist (or in the case of a female character, oppressed by male characters). If any of the answers are yes, the test has been failed.

In his speech, Ahmed went on to ask: “Where’s the counter-narrative? Where are we telling these kids that they can be heroes in our stories, that they are valued?” While more Muslims are represented on our TV screens than ever, it seems that representation isn’t the easy utopia that many imagined it would be. Nuance is lacking, and the representation that does exist leans towards a male-oriented presence. As diversity boxes are ticked, and hijabs scattered here and there, the nuance of Muslim identities is strangled further.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)

What are Christians, Jews and Muslims doing to get out the vote?

Faith-based initiatives to get out the vote are rooted in Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions and range from phone calls, handwritten letters, and online educational events to knocking on doors

nIn a normal election year, the Rev. Salvatore Sapienza would be running a voter registration drive in the fellowship hall behind the United Church of Christ congregation he leads.

But a pandemic means the “new normal.” So the Rev. Sapienza and church members have had to innovate in 2020.

Serving the small, rural population of Douglas, Michigan, the Rev. Sapienza’s congregation is made up mostly of retirees who are at risk of dying from COVID-19. His older congregants need to vote by mail and still “want to feel secure in knowing that their ballot has been delivered,” he says.

So the church is coordinating volunteers who will shuttle voters — with their mail-in ballots in hand — to the county clerk’s office to submit them in person.

As in past election seasons, nonpartisan, faith-based initiatives are encouraging Americans — Christian, Jewish and Muslim — to not only get informed about the candidates and issues but to vote. A global pandemic, however, has forced religious organizations to rethink their methods and come up with creative ways to reach voters.

While volunteers from the Rev. Sapienza’s congregation are shuttling his flock to the clerk’s office, other groups around the country are holding remote voter information meetings or writing personal letters and using their phones to achieve ambitious goals of encouraging as many as one million would-be voters to submit their ballots.

FULL ARTICLE FROM DESERET NEWS

Muslim American votes may carry outsize weight in US election

By Jihan Abdalla14 Oct 2020

Fatima Salman, 43, a social worker and a Muslim American from Detroit, Michigan says she is “definitely” voting for Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee challenging the re-election of United States President Donald Trump.

“I have three children and I worry about their future if Trump gets re-elected,” Salman says. “It’s a matter of our own existence and the future of this country as a whole.”

With early voting already well under way nationwide, there is evidence that in this election, Salman’s vote and that of other Muslim Americans, are well placed to be a significant factor in deciding the winner of the November 3 United States presidential election.

There are an estimated 3.45 million Muslims in the US – only about one percent of the country’s total population – but their concentrations in key swing and battleground states, such as Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, could make their vote especially impactful.

The stakes are particularly high in Michigan, a state with 270,000 registered Muslim voters, says Mohamed Gula, organising director of Emgage, a Muslim American advocacy group. Hillary Clinton, in 2016, lost the state to Trump by less than one percentage point – a little over 10,000 votes.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

Islam for children: themed books and crafts are all the rage among modern Muslim parents

My toddler’s favourite toys include a mobile phone that plays the (frankly nauseating) track Baby Shark and an interactive Dora the Explorer book. She’s learning her ABCs, but eventually I’d like for her to learn the Arabic alphabet – the foundation of the Quran. And while she toddles around my prayer mat and babbles something that vaguely sounds like “Bismillah,” I’m eager for her to grasp the meaning of the word.

Islamic education should be on a par with everything else that children are learning. It should be joyful and engaging

So when I came across a colourful image on Instagram of The Bismillah Book for children – an under-the-sea-themed sing-a-long publication – I was intrigued. Evidently, I’m not the first parent to search for accessible tools that will help teach the values and pillars of my faith to my child. It turns out that a number of UAE entrepreneurs are at the forefront of a burgeoning books and activities market centred on making Islam relatable and enjoyable for young Muslims.

Islamic books and crafts for children

“The need of the hour definitely points towards value-based content based on a spiritual upbringing,” Mehnaz Anshah, co-founder of Bismillah Buddies, which produced The Bismillah Book, tells The National. “We’ve found a great community of like-minded parents who share our concerns regarding the future of our children and the world they are growing up in.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL.AE

First Muslim to ever present a papal encyclical praises ‘Fratelli Tutti’

“I was really very moved when I first read Pope Francis’s message. I felt that the pope is representing me in every word, in everything he said,” Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salem, a Muslim, told America in an interview after speaking at the Vatican presentation of the pope’s new encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” on Oct. 4.

He is the first Muslim ever to present a papal encyclical. Advisor to the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, he is now secretary general of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity set up to promote that historic document which the two religious leaders signed in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 4, 2019.

He views the pope’s encyclical as “the guide to putting into practice the Human Fraternity document,” and he considers the latter as “the constitution” for fostering Christian-Muslim relations. “I see both documents as a very strong barrier against hatred and racism, and evil in general,” he said. “The real Islam and the real Christianity is against intolerance and these negative forces,” he stated.

He said, “The thing that really impressed me is his talk about human dignity, when addressing the causes of migration and the displacement of people, he said that human dignity was trampled upon, lost at the border between the developed world [Europe] and the Third World.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM AMERICA.COM