When Muslims come to the Jewish-Christian table

study-862994_1280-771x514(RNS) — I spent the 16th anniversary of 9/11 at the 16th annual meeting of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations, held under the joint auspices of the Union and Jewish theological seminaries in New York City. Appropriately, the central question before the group was how best to expand long-standing Jewish-Christian interfaith encounters in America to include Muslims.

My assignment was to discuss the use of “Judeo-Christian” language to reinforce the idea of a clash of civilizations. As in when Tony Perkins said on the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” in 2014, “We are a nation that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, that’s the foundation of our nation, not Islam, but the Judeo-Christian God.”

Or when, last year, retired Air Force Col. Tom Snodgrass, a contributor to a website called Right Side News, referred to “the overt and covert war being conducted by the political forces of Islam in order to subjugate the Judeo-Christian religions and their societies.”

A fellow panelist was Columbia’s distinguished Middle East historian Richard Bulliet, who spoke about his “Islamo-Christian” conception, first published in 2004 as “The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization.” Bulliet’s idea is that theologically, doctrinally, and historically, Islam and Christianity have far more in common than most adherents of either faith tradition realize.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGIOUS NEWS SERVICE 

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Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus Walk for Unity

B2C36025-6EDD-4F4A-A15B-29BBFAD24264_cx0_cy10_cw0_w1023_r1_sIn a Washington synagogue, Susan Katz Miller sat beside an atheist, a Muslim and a Christian on Sunday.

No joke.

After listening to a Zoroastrian prayer, Miller – a Jew from an interfaith family – and two friends (an atheist and a Muslim), walked down leafy and elegant Embassy Row in Washington. They paid their respects at various churches, broke for an Indian lunch at the Sikh Gurdwara temple, and wound up at the Islamic Center of Washington, where they heard remarks by Imam Abdullah Khouj and listened to the famous Hindu “Gayatri Mantra.”

Close to a thousand people – members of different faiths, most of them residents of Maryland, Virginia or the nation’s capital – joined Miller and her friends at Unity Walk 2017, an annual celebration of diversity and culture held in Washington for the past 12 years. They carried a message of solidarity, caring and inclusiveness on this sunny Sunday afternoon.

“We want to model that people do care about each other and want to learn about each other,” said Rabbi Gerald Serotta, executive director of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.

“We believe God intends us to learn from each other,” he said.

According to Rasit Telbisoglu, program director at the Rumi Forum, a cosponsor of the DC Unity Walk, the event will help open eyes to the plight of others.

“These events are actually helping us build trust in each other,” Telbisoglu said. “You slowly build up a relationship. … When you do that, it’s hard to harbor prejudice against another community.”

Music director David North conducts interfaith singing group Mosaic Harmony at closing ceremony for Unity Walk 2017 on Sunday 09/10/17 in the U.S. capital. (B. Bradford/VOA)

Music director David North conducts interfaith singing group Mosaic Harmony at closing ceremony for Unity Walk 2017 on Sunday 09/10/17 in the U.S. capital. (B. Bradford/VOA)

 

Hundreds of Jews, Christians and Muslims unite against racism, anti-Semitism

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A diverse and growing coalition of New York City religious clergy and faith organizations called people of faith to gather, in the face of the emboldened racism and resurgence of anti-Semitism in America, for “Yes to Love, No to Hate” Interfaith Solidarity, Hope and Action, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, at the Fourth Universalist Society, 160 Central Park West.

Organizers Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann (Society for the Advancement of Judaism), the Rev. Dr. Nigel Pearce (Grace Congregational Church), Rabbi Shuli Passow (B’nai Jeshurun), Rabbi Joy Levitt (JCC Manhattan) and the Rev. Shuyler Vogel  (Fourth Universalist Society) see this event as the spark to empower faith communities to take part in ongoing action to dismantle white supremacy in New York and around the country.

Soon after the plans were announced, interested co-sponsors began to pour in from all over the city. More than 60 organizations signed on to be part of the evening’s program, which featured music from different religions, as well as speakers Imam Shamsi Ali, the Rev. Brian Gibbs-Ellis, Rabbi Roly Matalon and the Rev. Chloe Breyer, who emceed the program.

Despite the diverse landscape of religion, race and ethnicity represented by the sponsors, the communities of faith share a common set of values and morals:

• The belief that all people are created equal in the image of God. All God’s children are worthy of love, respect, safety and security.

• Rejection of white supremacy, in all of its forms, and commitment to standing up for the rights and safety of people of color, Jews, Muslims, immigrants and LGBTQ individuals.

• Commitment to action, however small or large, that will reach across political, religious, denominational and racial divides in spreading understanding, acceptance, respect and love.

• The understanding that though the communities and individuals may not agree on everything—from tactic to policies—they share a vision of a future in which we are all free to live without fear and to live up to our God given potential.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NEW YORK AMSTERDAM NEWS 

‘What unites us is always stronger than what divides us’

More than 1,700 people attended an interfaith service at Temple Israel of Boston Friday evening to hear messages of unity on the eve of the controversial “Boston Free Speech” rally.

“What unites us is always stronger than what divides us,” Attorney General Maura Healey told the crowd.

 

 

The Rise of Nashville’s Interfaith Culture

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But Nashville’s interfaith culture has not always boomed. The rise of interfaith efforts only emerged in the last 15 years, and has flourished even more recently, according to members of the local faith community. It’s a development that has united people of different faith backgrounds and, as a result, helped to repair the damage from religious tension.

Interfaith work’s entrance

Lifelong Nashvillian Rashed Fakhruddin witnessed his father help found the Islamic Center of Nashville in 12 South in 1978. Today, Fakhruddin serves as president of ICN, and his long-term involvement with the mosque allows him to observe the overarching trends that have defined his congregation and others surrounding it.

Fakhruddin tagged the early 2000s as the beginning of interfaith work’s development. He said he saw a rise in the frequency of interfaith opportunities in those years — in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, religious organizations rarely broke boundaries and coordinated. As the opportunities increased, however, the ICN community was also more prepared to represent themselves.

“All of the sudden in the early 2000s, a lot of people started recognizing who we are, where we were,” Fakhruddin said. “We had more people in leadership that were engaged and could take on more interfaith roles. It’s been wonderful.”

To illustrate this growth, Fakhruddin pointed to a rise in exchange visits between houses of worship, in educational events like panel discussions and in multi-faith collaboration on service projects. All of this, he said, began to emerge around 2010.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TENNESSEAN 

Holy Land Festival unites Muslims, Christians in hope for restored peace

WASHINGTON HOLY LAND FESTIVALAlong the western banks of the Jordan River, the place of Christ’s baptism and today known as Qasr al-Yahud, numerous churches and monasteries of different religions sit vacant and silenced due to the dangerous landmines that lie beneath them.

For almost 50 years, Qasr al-Yahud has been empty due to the landmines installed during the 1967 Six Day war between the Arabs and the Israeli people.

Halo Trust, a nonprofit organization, has worked to remove the landmines in the Qasr al-Yahud area since 2012. The group is dedicated to providing save environments for those living in areas surrounded by landmines through landmine removal, as well as assisting in local community rebuilding in the aftermath of war.

Their work has brought together various religious denominations in efforts to preserve the sacred churches, such as the Coptic church, the Franciscan church and the Syrian church, that all sit on the site of Qasr al-Yahud.

“We’ve got agreements with the eight churches, we’ve got agreements with the Israeli government, and we’ve got agreements with the Palestinian authorities,” said Adam Jasinski, executive director of Halo Trust, in an interview with Catholic News Service July 15.

Jasinski spoke about the Jordan River landmine removal in a seminar at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America as part of its fourth annual Holy Land Festival held July 15.

The festival cultivates a conversation of hope around the Holy Land, with many groups coming together to engage visitors with the situation of Christians and of peace in the Holy Land.

Father Jim Gardiner, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement as well as a member of the Holy Land Committee of the Archdiocese of Washington, spoke to CNS about how the festival brought together so many different groups of people.

“Nobody knows who is Christian, Muslim or Catholic,” Father Gardiner said.

The interdenominational environment at the festival was a mere taste of what takes place at Bethlehem University, the first Catholic university in the Holy Land. Two Bethlehem University students, Lela Abu Ayyash and Lara Kasbari, spoke about their experiences living and going to school in Palestine during the Holy Land festival in a seminar.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CATHOLIC STANDARD 

Interfaith events excellent way to thwart senseless violence

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Guest columnist Zohaib Zafar is a graduate student at Cleveland State University and a member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America.

A few weeks ago, in the Portland train attacks, three people were stabbed after they tried protecting two teenage girls from a terrorist named Jeremy Christian. One of the two girls was Muslim and wore the hijab. Christian told the girls they were nothing and that they should kill themselves, and he also reportedly said, “Muslims should die.”

It took three days for any condemnation of this terrorist attack to be displayed on President Trump’s social media. Furthermore, Trump’s response was tweeted using the Twitter account that he inherited from President Obama and not his own account, thus he did not reach many of his supporters.

Trump is very quick to condemn terrorist attacks that Muslims perpetrate in the West, but when they are perpetrated by those who are not Muslim, the response is not immediate, and often there is no response at all. If Trump continues to do this, he will leave a legacy in which he was more committed to serving his political interests than the safety of Americans.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CLEVELAND.COM