Christians and Muslims join forces to feed homeless in downtown Montreal


On the third Saturday of every month, members of St. George’s Anglican Church and the Imani Community Centre in Little Burgundy come together to fill brown paper bags with homemade shawarma, oranges and bottles of water.

Then the volunteers walk around the downtown core, handing out meals to the city’s homeless.

It’s an initiative that was born out of a shared desire to do something good and foster an interfaith connection, said Rev. Steven Mackison.

Meals to the street

Dozens of volunteers from both the Muslim and Christian communities in Montreal come together once a month to make food and serve it to the city’s less fortunate. (CBC)

His description of the early interactions between the two faith groups conjures images of a nervous first date.

The congregation of St. George’s invited members of the Imani Community Centre over for a get-together.

“We met for the first time here, all on pins and needles, trying to be our best and most polite possible selves,” he said, “And it went very well.”

The Imani Community Centre reciprocated, hosting the Anglican worshippers. By pure happenstance, it was the same day as the Quebec City mosque shooting that killed six men.



Promoting interfaith peace beyond the rhetoric

shutterstock_66952828.jpgBetween February 5 and February 7, I had an opportunity to join approximately 400 other faith leaders at a conference in Washington, D.C., called “Alliance of Virtue for the Common Good.”

The organization “Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies,” whose president is His Excellency Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, sponsored the conference. In January 2016, Shaykh bin Bayyah issued “The Marrakesh Declaration,” a document signed by 350 Muslim leaders and scholars, as a way of supporting efforts toward building peace and coexistence with minority populations living in Muslim majority lands. At that initial document signing, a handful of leaders from other faiths were present.

Saudis dedicated to enhancing role of dialogue to combat violence in name of religion

1098101-1650648600JEDDAH: The Secretary-General of the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muammar, affirmed the center’s commitment to enhancing the role of dialogue in combating violence in the name of religion.

Muammar was addressing an audience at the International Conference on “Tackling Violence in the Name of Religion” held in Rome on Saturday, in the presence of a number of religious, political and intellectual leaders from around the world to discuss best practices to activate the role of individuals, leaders and religious institutions in this field.

He pointed to the importance of the Vienna Conference, which was organized by the center under the title “United against violence in the name of religion,” explaining that the outcomes of that conference were the basis of the center’s future strategy and played an important role in the formulation of the United Nations Plan of Action for the year 2015 to combat violent extremism leading to genocide.

Mummar added that the center’s strategy of activating the role of religious individuals, leaders and institutions is based on making them key partners, working side by side with policy makers in effectively addressing the multiple threats to peaceful coexistence and tolerance that extremist groups are involved in.



The Relationship Between the Muslim World and the United States and the Root of Islamophobia in America


EDITOR’S NOTE:  In the next few postings we will be publishing articles written for Fuller Theological Seminary’s ground breaking initiative on bringing Muslims and American Evangelicals together in dialogue.  This first installment was written by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative and author of several books on Islam.  It first appeared in the 2016 edition of Fuller’s Journal. 

I appreciate the invitation to this important gathering of Evangelical and Muslim leaders who are committed to combatting human hatred and Islamophobia in particular. In the name of the one God that we both—Christians and Muslims—worship, recognize, and submit to, we beseech God to bless and guide us and to inspire us with God’s wisdom, compassion, love, mercy, and the ability to overcome the satanic or demonic forces that have created so many problems both within and between our faith communities.

To begin, I first say that, unless we understand a problem and fully fathom it, there is no way we can solve it. One of the most important lessons I have learned came from a teacher who said, “Understanding a problem is 90 percent of solving it.” Part of the problem that I believe has happened in this country, certainly before 9/11 and in its immediate aftermath, is that many of the people who are responsible for shaping American policy did not fully understand the problem that they were dealing with. This is particularly an issue for numerous members of our leadership, including many members of Congress, which has been most frustrating to me and others who are trying to help the situation.

As we all know, the prime reason for hostility in much of the Muslim world toward America has nothing to do with American values or American business—much of which is very popular throughout the Muslim world and in the majority of Muslim countries. The hostility is completely due to the very heavy footprint of American foreign policy, including its military power that the United States has in various parts of the Muslim world.




A Priest, a Rabbi, and an Imam Walk Into a Church in Dallas

interfaith-panel-2-677x451Amid a vexed political and social climate, three religious leaders in North Texas—a priest, an imam, and a rabbi—proved it’s possible to come together in times of division. The Rev. Dr. Chris Girata, Imam Omar Suleiman, and Rabbi David Stern gathered at Saint Michael and All Angels Church in Dallas last Thursday to discuss where their respective faiths diverge, and where they unite. The panel discussion, presented by the Women of Saint Michael and moderated by the Rev. Amy Heller, drew in people of all backgrounds.

The three panelists, who talked like old pals, helped facilitate a light-hearted environment. As religious leaders they have met before on more somber occasions. Suleiman and Stern, for example, both spoke at a vigil at Thanks-Giving Square following the shooting of Dallas police officers in July 2016. It was refreshing to see these men converse candidly, in more relaxed circumstances. The solidarity shown by the priest, imam, and rabbi enlightened and inspired many of the hundreds of people gathered at the church.

Sandra Klingeman, who has belonged to an interfaith group for a number of years and attended the discussion, said she has heard the three leaders speak before, and knew they were among the best faces of each of their religions.

“I think I learned more about their relationship with each other and their sense of humor about this,” Kingeman said. “Because, you know, I don’t know all of the details of Islam or Judaism but I have friends in all of them.”



A conversation on why Catholics need to dialogue with Muslims


“It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God,” Pope Francis said early in his pontificate. “But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people.”

Many U.S. Catholics have not only ignored their Muslim brothers and sisters but harbor discriminatory views about Muslims at alarming rates.

Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, “a multi-year research project that connects the academic study of Islamophobia with the public square,” released a report in 2016 that documented how U.S. Catholics view Muslims. America’s national correspondent, Michael O’Loughlin, reported then:

When asked, “What is your overall impression of Muslims?” 30 percent of those Catholics polled said they held unfavorable views, 14 percent said favorable and 45 percent said they held neither favorable nor unfavorable views… Forty-five percent of Catholics said that Islam encourages violence more than other religions while 24 percent said it encourages violence as much as other religions.

Jordan Denari Duffner, an associate at the Bridge Initiative and author of the new book, Finding Jesus Among Muslims: How Loving Islam Makes Me a Better Catholic, joins us on this week’s episode of Jesuitical. Jordan discusses why she felt called to work in Catholic-Islamic dialogue, and why it’s an essential part of the Christian vocation.



Senegal, where Christians and Muslims live together in peace

15114530511516878353By Cristina UguccioniI
“If relations between Christians and Muslims in other countries were as serene as those living in Senegal, there would be more peace on earth. Here the cohabitation between the faithful of the two religions is neither a theme nor a motive for discussion since it is lived as a fact”. These are Flavio Facchin’s words, a 55 years old priest, belonging to the Congregation of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, he is currently the treasurer of the Senegalese missions. He arrived in this country 20 years ago and for a decade he led the parish of Maria Immacolata, the only parish in Parcelles Assainies, a large suburb of Dakar where most of the population is of Islamic faith (95%, as in the rest of the country).

The gift of a crucifix
On July 16,2016, during a solemn ceremony, Moussa Sy, the Muslim Mayor appointed Father Flavio honorary citizen and gave him the keys to the city because of the many works that the missionary, together with the parish, promoted for the benefit of the whole community.

“I remember that the mayor wanted to give me a personal gift on that day,” Father Flavio says. It was a painting that portrayed the crucifix. I was moved by the gift and surprised by the choice: I was expecting it to feature the Virgin Mary as Muslims take Her very much into account and even come to church to pray before the statue of Our Lady. Instead, the mayor chose the crucifix, which in Muslim culture is little understood. I remember that in his speech he said, “My second religion is the Church. For him Christianity identified with the church he had had the opportunity to know. We have been working together for many years looking for the best solutions to help the population and there has always been great understanding among us”.