Former imam wants stronger relationships between Edinburgh’s Muslims and Christians

EA5ZrdFWsAAWGdoA FORMER imam said his recent trip to Ghana has inspired him to build stronger relationships between Muslims and Christians in the Capital.

Yahya Barry, originally from The Gambia but now based in Edinburgh, spent ten days with religious leaders in the West African country.

The aim of the trip was to explore Christian and Muslim relationships as, according to Dr Barry, Ghana is rennowned for fostering peaceful and close bonds between both faiths. Since returning, he said he has felt “more inspired than ever” to bring lessons from Ghana to Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland.

“It was a really motivational trip,” he said.

“The relationships between both faiths in Ghana are established and organic. In Scotland the latest statistics show the Muslim population is about 1.45 per cent, which is a very small minority. We need to factor in that this could be because of the relationships between Muslim and Christianity. Since my time in Ghana I feel strongly about the lessons I learnt and bringing them back to this city which is investing in becoming more multicultural.”

About 77 per cent of the population in Ghana is Christian, with Muslims making up a further 16 per cent, and the two groups have better relations than in many countries in West Africa, according to the PhD graduate. He said the Brexit uncertainty and the rising nationalism in the UK could divide these two faiths.

“I am not saying that the relationships aren’t already okay,” he continued, “I just think in these times of uncertainty, there is the potential that the gap could widen.”

Having recently completed a PhD at the University of Edinburgh looking at right-wing extremism in different cities, Dr Barry found the peace and amicable relationship in Ghana refreshing.

FULL ARTICLE FROM EDINBURGH NEWS (SCOTLAND)

The Christian West’s ongoing quarrel with the Muslim East

Omar-and-Tlaib-300x225In this Sunday’s (July 14) issues, two American newspapers reviewed two recent books that throw some light on the Christian West’s ongoing quarrel with the Muslim East.

One book looks at the purported violence visited by the Turkish Muslim leaders with the alleged purpose of cleansing their country of non-Muslim populations.

This occurred after the Western militaries had defeated the once-powerful Ottoman Empire. This is a cautionary tale with the not-openly-stated purpose of alerting why the West has to be mindful of the dangers posed by the growing Muslim populations in the countries of the area.

The other looks at the violence that has come to be associated with young men of colour and is committed for no particular reason. It blames society in which they are growing up for much of their behaviour.

In Trump’s America, the quarrel with Muslims and people of colour is acquiring a sharp tone. For instance on the day these reviews appeared, the US President issued a series of tweets aimed at four Congresswomen of colour who had become his vocal critics.

Two of these — Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — are Muslims. The other two — Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressely — were born in the United States in families of colour. He suggested that these four lawmakers were not needed in the United States but could well serve the countries of their origin.

They should “go back to the countries they came from, rather than loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States how to run their country”, he said in a Tweet. After they have fixed their countries, they could return to the United States, said the President.

FULL ARTICE FROM THE THE TRIBUNE (PAKISTAN)

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

How Should Christians Respond to Christchurch Mosque Massacre?

89945Eleven evangelical experts weigh in as death toll of New Zealand Muslims hits 50.

On March 15, Muslim worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, suffered a terrorist attack at the hands of an avowed white supremacist. 50 people were killed, with another 50 injured.

Prior to the attack, the citizen of Australia posted a lengthy manifesto to social media, filled with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim themes. He then proceeded to livestream the shooting. Some victims originally hailed from Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Given recent attacks on Christians in their places of worship, including many in Muslim nations, CT invited evangelical leaders to weigh in: How should Christians respond to Christchurch?

Richard Shumack, director of the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology, Australia:

The thing that came to mind immediately is Jesus’ beatitudes. How should Christians react to Christchurch? With mourning, a hunger for justice, and peacemaking. Christians must mourn with their Muslim brothers and sisters, thirst for the perpetrators of this heinous crime to be brought to justice, and put every possible effort into brokering peace in an age of furious tribalism.

I also embrace wholeheartedly the poignant wisdom of Dostoevsky quoted by the Anglican bishop of Wellington, New Zealand: At some ideas you stand perplexed, especially at the sight of human sins, uncertain whether to combat it by force or by humble love. Always decide, “I will combat it with humble love.” If you make up your mind about that once and for all, you can conquer the whole world. Loving humility is a terrible force; it is the strongest of all things and there is nothing like it.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

Is the UK still a Christian country?

_82981533_prayerAre we losing our religion? The answer for the UK seems to be “Yes”, while the answer for the developing world is a resounding “No”.

That was the conclusion of a recent analysis by the Pew Research Center in the US.

It suggests that in the UK, if current trends continue, the proportion of the population identifying themselves as Christians will fall from 64% in 2010 to 45% by 2050, while the proportion of Muslims will rise from 5% to 11%.

The proportion of the population claiming no religion in the UK – the “unaffiliated” – will also rise significantly, from 28% to 39%.

Pew’s research also suggests there are likely to be more Muslims than Christians in the world by 2070, with Islam’s share of global population equalling that of Christianity at just above 30% each by 2050.

Equally eye-catching is its conclusion that by 2050, under half of the population will be Christian not just in the UK, but also France, the Netherlands, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Australia and New Zealand, while Muslims will make up about 10% of Europe’s population, up from 6% now, thanks to higher birth rates.

However, Christianity globally will continue to grow, with the number of Christians projected to rise significantly in sub-Saharan Africa in particular.

According to demographer Conrad Hackett at Pew, in 1910 some 66% of the world’s Christians lived in Europe. Now that has fallen to about 25%.

By 2050, however, Europe will be home to just 16% of the world’s Christians, while four out of every 10 Christians globally will live in sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to high birth rates and falling infant mortality.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BBC 

5 things Christians and Muslims can agree on

20170921T1318-11715-CNS-POPE-MUSLIM_800-690x450At Acton University, Turkish Islamic scholar, Mustafa Akyol, gave multiple lectures on Islam, discussing topics ranging from its history to its controversial practices. Akyol has been speaking at Acton University for many years now and is a respected scholar in fields of Islam, politics, and Turkish affairs. He is a critic of Islamic extremism and the author of the influential book Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty.

After attending both of Akyol’s lectures, a few points stood out to me. He mentioned a few concepts in Islam also emphasized in Christianity, which often go unnoticed.

While there are undeniably a great number of fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity, there are a handful of concepts the two popular religions share.

1. Almsgiving

To both Muslims and Christians, caring for the poor is a duty bestowed upon believers. Both faiths stress the importance of donating to, praying for and protecting the needy. Furthermore, in both Islam and Christianity, it is made clear that giving alms in private is favorable in the eyes of God, as opposed to donations made in an attempt to receive praise and acknowledgement. Islam emphasizes the importance of zakatZakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, and refers to the requirement of believers to give offerings to the needy. The amount is not clear, but in general practice, one gives 2.5 percent of one’s wealth, according to Akyol. Similarly, in the Christian tradition, God commands each Christian to donate 10 percent of his or her earnings to the church, called tithes, which are used to provide for the poor.

[Al-Baqarah, 2:215] “Whatever of your wealth you spend, shall (first) be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof”

[Proverbs 19:17] “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM ACTION INSTITUTE POWERBLOG

Jordan’s Christians throw weight behind King’s pro-Jerusalem push

1christian-reactionsAMMAN — Christian religious and non-clergy figures on Monday hailed and reaffirmed the messages of church leaders conveyed during a meeting attended by His Majesty King Abdullah at the Baptism Site a day earlier.

They confirmed that the Christians of Jordan and Palestine, look at the King, the Custodian of Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem, as the protector of these shrines and the rights of Christians in the occupied city and the guarantor of an “unbreakable unity” between Muslims and Christians. 

His Majesty on Sunday met with Christian religious leaders and figures from Jordan and Jerusalem on the occasions of Christmas and the New Year at the Baptism Site (Bethany beyond the Jordan). 

The meeting, according to a Royal Court statement, also symbolised solidarity with Jerusalem and Jerusalemites — Muslims and Christians — after the churches of the holy city, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jordan decided to turn their seasonal celebrations into an expression of solidarity with Jerusalem, in rejection of the United States’ decision to recognise the city as Israel’s capital.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE JORDAN TIMES