Attorney with interfaith background counters myths about Islam

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GREENFIELD — Springfield lawyer Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, her head covered in a pink scarf, told a gathering of nearly 60 students and community members last week that as someone whose Lutheran and Baptist parents converted to Islam when she was a toddler, she has Christian grandparents and “was always in an interfaith setting,” including Jews in her extended family.

“We have the whole Abrahamic thing going on in our family. It was such a non-thing for me,” Amatul-Wadud told attendees of the hour-long program Thursday on “debunking common myths about Islam.”

Amatul-Wadud, who moved to Springfield from New York when she was 10 and graduated from Elms College and Western New England University, said that while she’s not a religious scholar, she’s been comfortable with interfaith dialogue for her entire life. It wasn’t until about 18 months ago that she began speaking at colleges and universities, as “an uptick” in rhetoric, as well as violence, was occurring against Muslims in this country.

“We live in this bubble and we don’t know each other,” said Amatul-Wadud, who recently helped defend a Muslim community against a planned 2015 attack by a Tennessee man convicted in February by a federal jury for threatening to burn down a mosque. “That’s not how we should exist.”

Explaining that Islam is a religion that incorporates early Jewish and Christian history, she said, “Sixty percent of Americans say they don’t know a Muslim, yet Muslims are probably the most vilified group in the past political election and definitely have been subject of some really interesting policy making post-election. Yet we don’t know what each other believes.”

Amatul-Wadud said Muslim, Christian and Jewish religions have ancient covenants with one another, promising “to always have each other’s back, to always protect each other during exercise of their religion.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE RECORDER 

Want to build interfaith friendships? Here’s how music can help

1817616SALT LAKE CITY — The sounds of booming drums, clapping hands, a South Indian flute and an ancient horn filled the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Sunday evening, as performers of all ages shared the music of their faiths.

“Sacred Music Evening 2017” showcased the talents of 10 religious ensembles, including Buddhist dancers, gospel singers and Sufi whirling dervishes. The groups took turns entertaining a joyous crowd before artists and attendees alike joined their voices to sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

 “With God, our creator, family all are we. Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony,” they sang.

The annual event, which began 15 years ago as a way to celebrate the religions represented at the 2002 Winter Olympics, brings together music lovers from Utah’s faith communities, highlighting shared values through lively songs, dances and spoken words. This year’s performers included representatives from more than a dozen congregations in the Salt Lake Valley.

Music is a powerful tool in efforts to build interfaith bonds, noted Roberta King, author of “(un)Common Sounds: Songs of Peace and Reconciliation among Muslims and Christians.” People may come to a concert feeling awkward or anxious, but soon enough they’ll be swaying and singing along.

“Music engages us almost immediately at the emotional level,” she said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DESERET NEWS

 

Reading Scripture Across Interfaith Lines

This article appeared some time ago in Christian Century.  It offers a suggestion as to how Christians and Muslims and Jews can get together in positive ways to reflect on each other’s sacred texts and the lives that are shaped by them.  Such projects are sorely needed in the current political climate in the West. 

by Jeffrey W. Bailey

Jeffrey W Bailey is a Ph.D. candidate in political theology at the University of Cambridge. This article appeared in The Christian Century, September 5, 2006 pp. 36-42. Copyright by the Christian Century Foundation; used by permission. Current articles and subscriptions information can be found at www.christiancentury.org. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


On a blustery Wednesday evening in central London, about a dozen people from different parts of the city made their way to St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. They included an attorney from a large London law firm, a political lobbyist, a corporate consultant, a Muslim college chaplain, a university professor, a female rabbi and a research scientist. After pouring cups of coffee, the group began a two-hour discussion marked by moments of intense debate as well as laughter. Conversation veered from economics to the nature of citizenship to London politics.

One might think this was a meeting of a neighborhood council or Chamber of Commerce, except for one thing: in front of each participant were selections from the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Qur’an.

After finishing its discussion of a passage from the Hebrew Bible, the group began focusing on a passage from Matthew’s Gospel in which Jesus instructs his questioners to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”

“I thought most Christians read this as justification for supporting their government’s policies,” said a Muslim participant, looking up from his text. “I was taught that in my church growing up, actually,” said one woman, a bit sheepishly.

“I wonder if Jesus isn’t saying something a bit more subversive than ‘be a good citizen,”’ suggested a Jewish participant. “Perhaps Jesus is actually making a larger point about an alternative economic system.”

This looks like a Bible study. But St. Ethelburga’s is a public space, not a church or temple, and the participants are Jewish, Christian and Muslim. Profound religious differences emerge over the course of conversation.

But the participants share one important conviction: they believe that the resolution of religiously rooted political tensions will be attained not by avoiding religion in public, but by initiating more and better religious conversations in public.

Participants in this practice, known as scriptural reasoning, are part of a movement that wants to protect religiously plural societies while simultaneously encouraging religious people to enter more deeply into public discourse. Such aims might appear paradoxical to those who were taught that the emergence in the 17th century of secular liberalism, with its privatization of faith, rescued the West from “wars of religion.” Voices on all sides of the religious and political spectrum have begun to recognize — not least because of the increased presence of Islam in Western societies — that a purely secular, liberal approach to public discourse is not sustainable in a world increasingly shaped by religions.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION ONLINE 

 

 

I’m a Christian and an Interfaith Educator. America Needs Islam.

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Elizabeth is a Presbyterian-Quaker serving as Interfaith Engagement Fellow at Davidson College in North Carolina. 

 

I am a Christian who was raised, and now choose, to profess Christ as Lord and Savior. I was born into a white middle-class family in suburban Maryland. I was part of the majority of Americans who received little education on Islam. I didn’t know that, in addition to sharing a common humanity, we also shared core teachings of our faith. It was not until I left home, at age 17 that I even met anyone who identified as Muslim.

Now I work at Davidson College in the Chaplain’s Office, as an interfaith educator. My job includes supporting students who live faithfully according to the practice and teachings of Islam. Every day, I find that students who identify as Muslim teach me to be a better Christian and a better citizen.

Islam deeply values humility. The Arabic word Muslim means “one who submits [to God].” Submission takes many forms, including daily time for prayer and bowing oneself before God, offering hospitality to one’s family and neighbors, and cherishing peace. I learn from practitioners of Islam the teaching of Jesus that “those who humble themselves will be exalted,” for they place God before all else (Matthew 23:12). Without humility, we destroy our own social fabric.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SOJOURNER’S MAGAZINE 

 

 

Al-Azhar hosts meeting on co-existence between Muslims and Christians

e0a173f2-073c-49d2-bf68-aa095d9273b7_16x9_788x442Top Muslim and Christian clerics from the Middle East gathered in Cairo on Tuesday for a two-day conference on promoting co-existence, as sectarian conflict continues to ravage the region.

The “Freedom and Citizenship” conference is hosted by Al-Azhar, one of the leading Sunni Muslim authorities based in Cairo.

It comes as Coptic Christians in Egypt’s Sinai flee attacks by Islamic State group jihadists who are waging an insurgency in the peninsula.

“Exonerating religions from terrorism no longer suffices in the face of these barbaric challenges,” Al-Azhar’s head Sheikh Ahmed Tayeb said in a speech on the opening day, referring to regional conflicts.

Tayeb called for dispelling “the lingering mistrust and tensions between religious leaders that are no longer justified, for if there is no peace between the proponents of religions first, the proponents cannot give it to the people.”

Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II called for “fighting extremist thought with enlightened thought.”

He said: “Egypt and the region have suffered from extremist thought resulting from a mistaken understanding of religion that has led to terrorism.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL-ARABIYA 

Jews, Christians and Muslims band together to protest Trump’s immigration orders

a7fb2355a538461eb7ea3055552982c8_1486179632799_2703119_ver1-0FOX 32 NEWS – Jews, Christians and Muslims all banded together Friday to protest President Trump’s immigration orders.

The protesters formed a human chain in front of a mosque in southwest suburban Bridgeview.

The human chain in front of the mosque was a symbol of many faiths linking together to fight the president’s orders.

“These are our neighbors living in communities next to us. And they need support and encouragement to know they don’t have to live in fear looking over their shoulder,” said Presbyterian Minister Adam Malak.

“I want them to know that I’m here in solidarity with them, as my faith tradition teaches me to love they neighbor, I wanted to be here to show that support to them,” said Deacon Michael Fakete.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOX 32 NEWS IN CHICAGO

Muslim and Christian leaders in Cairo to discuss ways to promote social harmony

egyptCAIRO // Muslim scholars and Christian leaders from 50 countries, including the UAE, will issue a declaration on Muslim-Christian coexistence after a two-day conference.

As they hold discussions on Tuesday and Wednesday, religious and political experts will explore ways to promote social harmony for all faiths living within Arab and Muslim nations.

In the Egyptian capital where terrorist attacks on churches have taken place, those taking part will discuss recent experiences and what needs to be done to embrace diversity and integration.

The conference is organised by the UAE’s Muslim Council of Elders and Al Azhar, the global seat of Sunni Muslim learning, based in Cairo.

Muslim and Christian religious figures need to lead by example and spend more time harmonising so members of society will follow their footsteps, said Anba Ermia, General Bishop and president of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Centre.

Bishop Ermia was speaking ahead of the conference during a visit to Saint Peter’s church, where a bombing in December killed 29 people.

 “It is in the nature of Arabs to be influenced by their religious leaders, so when they are seen together some will reconsider their rejection of the other,” he said.

When such discussions are held, the door remains open for feedback and further discussion, Bishop Ermia said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL (UAE)