A Muslim and a Christian take a Muslim Roadshow to rural Washington

Story by Lilly A. Fowler | Photos by Matt M. McKnight

McKnight_MuslimRoadShow_31They’re not the sort of couple one is likely to encounter in many parts of the country: a hijab-wearing Muslim woman with a Harvard law degree and a white Lutheran pastor. Yet dozens of Washington state residents — in urban centers and in small rural towns — have witnessed Aneelah Afzali and Rev. Terry Kyllo preach together in churches. Turns out, Afzali and Kyllo have one profound thing in common: a passion to fight against Islamophobia.

Although the duo has held an event in Seattle, Afzali and Kyllo have generally reserved their sermons for smaller, more conservative towns filled with voters who support President Donald Trump and who may have never personally met a Muslim. Towns like Mt. Vernon, with a population of 35,000. Situated just 60 miles north of Seattle, Mt. Vernon is the largest city in Skagit County. In last year’s presidential election, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by fewer than 2,000 votes in the county.

On a recent Monday evening in Mt. Vernon, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Afzali addressed a small crowd. She was dressed in a purple suit and hijab, and she was flanked by American flags and a Christian cross. As wind and rain pounded the chapel’s windows, she shared what had inspired her and Kyllo to organize the talks, which they’ve dubbed the “Faith Over Fear Roadshow.”

“I am so extremely bothered by what I see happening around us today, the growing divisiveness, polarization, hate and even violence,” Afzali said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FEATURES CROSS CUT 

What Christianity and Islam have in common

Inter-religious meeting in a church

24 May 2012, Paris, France — Inter-religious meeting in a church — Image by © Pascal Deloche/Godong/Corbis

There are many people today who argue Islam and Christianity are locked in a civilizational war, a view that has become a rationale for a number of the Trump administration’s policies.

This argument, however, is an inaccurate and simplistic assessment of the relationship between these two faiths. Quite distinct from the apocalyptic struggle many espouse, an examination of the foundations of the Islamic faith shows respect for Christianity.

Islam is part of the same Abrahamic tradition as Christianity. Key figures within the Bible — Abraham (Ibrahim), Moses (Musa), Mary (Maryam), and Jesus (Isa) among others — are all respected prophets and figures within Islam. There is a chapter in the Quran about Mary and, within the Quran, Jesus is the only person who can perform miracles.

Within Islam, Christians and Jewish people are therefore treated as “People of the Book” whose rights and religious traditions were to be fully protected as monotheistic faiths with revelations understood to be earlier versions of the same revelation to the Prophet of Islam.

Ashura reminds us that Islam is an integral part of the Abrahamic tradition ǀ View

file-20190903-175673-8bwl2vIslam, far from being an alien Eastern religion, is an integral part of the Abrahamic tradition that binds Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This shared heritage connects more than half of the world’s population and is a crucial tool in our efforts to increase co-existence in the world.

This makes it all the more tragic that many of the events that unite the three religions are eclipsed by divisive – or even downright racist – rhetoric pushed out by the Far Right. First amongst these events is Ashura, which falls today. This event is commemorated by Muslims and followers of other religions, even including some Hindus who are known as Hussaini Brahmins.

Ashura is the annual commemoration of the murder of Imam Hussain, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, at the hands of Yazid, an early ruler of the brutal Umayyad dynasty. It was an event that happened 1300 years ago, but many Muslims see it as the culmination of Islam’s Abrahamic heritage and a pivotal date in world history.

Ashura is a date in the Muslim tradition that has been significant in the lives of patriarchs revered in what is often termed the Judeo-Christian tradition. Starting with Adam, through to Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, all those Prophets have had, from the perspective of many Muslims, huge life events on the day of Ashura.

Both the raising of Jesus’ soul to heaven (analogous to the crucifixion in Christian belief), and the splitting of the Red Sea by Moses (celebrated by Jews during Passover) are believed by many Muslims to have occurred on Ashura, the tenth day of the month of Muharram in the Islamic calendar.

And the themes of the slaughter of Imam Hussain are universal enough that they can help non-Muslims relate to Islam in a way that can sometimes be difficult in the current climate.

FULL ARTICLE FROM EURONEWS

Interfaith group pledges to use religion’s influence to address climate change, poverty

EC68olyX4AMHqmMLINDAU, Germany (RNS) — The international interfaith organization Religions for Peace introduced its first-ever female and first-ever Muslim secretary-general at its World Assembly on Friday (Aug. 23) and unveiled a joint declaration in which attendees vowed to join forces to confront an array of the world’s most difficult problems.

The final day of the Aug. 20-23 Religions for Peace World Assembly also included an emotional farewell to William Vendley, who retired after 25 years at the helm of the organization that he helped build into a global coalition of religions that acts as a consultative body for several United Nations agencies.

The joint declaration is a dense but optimistic four-page document drafted by delegates.

It shines a light on contentious areas where, according to the declaration, “religious communities have fallen short.”

Among the areas of contention are income inequality, gender issues, violent conflict, poverty, the spread of nuclear arms, human development, education and climate change — all of these fall under the wide umbrella of the world’s “shared well-being,” which is the motto of the assembly.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS

 

 

International interfaith gathering: ‘We must work together or we will all fail’

Ring for PeaceINDAU, Germany (RNS) — The 10th Religions for Peace World Assembly launched Tuesday (Aug. 20) with calls for religious groups to take decisive action on the main geopolitical issues of the day, and ending with an unusual “statement of commitment” aimed at fostering multireligious cooperation.

Almost every religious leader who spoke at the opening ceremony called  communities of faith to look beyond their own local or church-related issues.

“Nothing can be accomplished if we work separately,” said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople.

Kosho Niwano, president-designate of the Japanese Buddhist movement Rissho Kosei-kai, praised interfaith cooperation of the past and said it should continue in the future.

“We have seen half a century of progress so far and for that to continue the only way is for us to work together.”

Cardinal John Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, agreed.

“The future depends entirely on how we address our shared welfare,” he told the more 1,000 attendees at the gathering.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE 

Why I’m taking my evangelical church to a mosque

136507_w_400I’ve been asking myself lately what it means to be a good neighbor.

I was raised in a Christian home, went to a Christian church and a Christian school, then eventually enrolled in a Christian university. I learned very well how to love and edify my Christian community. What I didn’t understand was how I was supposed to interact with those who didn’t share my theology and belief system; those who dressed, looked, and spoke differently.

What did it look like for me to love that person and edify and build them up?

I was fortunate to find that Jesus, the “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2), had much to say on the topic. When a lawyer asked Jesus how to get to heaven, Jesus responded to love God with everything and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Seeing some gray area in his response, the lawyer asked Jesus to define some terms. “Who is my neighbor?” the cunning lawyer asked. Jesus responded with a story about a man left for dead, who was passed along the road several times before he was saved by…a Samaritan?

Many Jews looked down on Samaritans (John 4:9). They were thought to be in a “perpetual state of uncleanness” (ESV Study Bible). I imagine the shock and horror on the crowd’s face as Jesus asked, “Who do you think the good neighbor was?”

The lawyer could barely muster the words. “The one who showed mercy,” he muttered. “Go and do likewise,” Jesus replied. In other words…go and emulate that guy.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST 

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

.
Questions of Faith

The question of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God has been a point of contention among different religious denominations and various scholars. It has been suggested that the sheer disparities theologically and philosophically between both religions indicate that its adherents must be praying to separate deities. It seems, however, that arguments which support differentiating the two aren’t sound.

islam-christianity

Both Islam and Christianity, just like Judaism, are monotheistic religions tracing their roots back to Abraham. While Muslims believe that the Bible has been corrupted or altered in some shape or form, they still hold that God revealed his message to the prophets like Moses and Abraham.

The Vatican II document Lumen Gentium makes this clear when it reads: “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” (16)

Distinction

But while the Church teaches that both religions worship the same God, an important distinction must be made, namely that our conception of God is different. Muslims, for example, don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God or hold to the doctrine of the Trinity. This doesn’t mean that Muslims aren’t referring to the same God, only that they have a different sense of who God is.

It’s a difficult concept to get your head around, so an analogy would best serve to elucidate the point. Suppose there’s a man called Fred who has two siblings.

One sibling sees him as charming and kind; the other views him as a cold and self-centred. Both siblings conceive of Fred in different ways, but there’s no doubt that they’re definitely referring to the same person.

Likewise, even though Muslims don’t understand God in the same way as Christians, it doesn’t mean they aren’t genuinely directing their prayers to him.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE IRISH CATHOLIC