Muslims, Christians, Jews and others must walk forward together: A 9/11 message

In 2011, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it seemed as if we were heading in the right direction as a nation. We became wary of knee-jerk Islamophobia. We began to learn how to mourn and to heal together after the 9/11 tragedy: Jews, Christians, Muslims, members of other faiths and backgrounds. As Americans, we took pride in being one nation.

Now, as we are approaching the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders believe we must march as a nation united, shoulder to shoulder, advancing our common American ideals.

On Jan. 6, 2021, for the first time in our nation’s long proud history, we did not have a peaceful, uneventful transfer of power. Political parties no longer merely disagree about what is best for the country; they vilify one another, country be damned. We treat one another as enemies rather than as fellow citizens. Now we are testing whether our nation can endure. We have begun to hear a war of words on our television screens and other devices every evening.

We must be “dedicated to the great task remaining before us. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.” As did Lincoln, whose words we have just echoed, we three religious leaders call upon us all to rebuild and become better together.

We can still proclaim that we are a nation of immigrants and descendants of the enslaved, alongside the indigenous communities who called this place their home long before we arrived. We can declare that diversity is what makes our nation strong and ever stronger. We can celebrate our differences, rather than protest and exploit them. We call upon all of America to work as one to repair the breach. Yes, we will disagree; but we must also show common purpose to work through these disagreements.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

A Jew, a Christian, a Muslim and a Baha’i: Welcome to Abrahamic House, an interfaith living community

(Washington Jewish Week via JTA) — Picture four young adults of different faiths sharing one house for one year. That’s not the premise of a new reality TV show. It’s just reality.

Abrahamic House is an interfaith fellowship program in which four people ages 21 to 35 share a home for one to two years. In exchange for subsidized rent, the residents organize programs and community events.

It’s a concept inspired by the Moishe House group-living program, but instead of involving only Jews, Abrahamic House is home to a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim and a Baha’i.

“We are trying to build bridges,” said Abrahamic House founder Mohammed Al Samawi, 34.

At the moment, there’s only one Abrahamic House — in Los Angeles. And the inaugural class of residents moved in just before COVID-19 hit. But a second house will open Sept. 1 in Washington, D.C. Now all it needs is a (physical) house and people to live in it.

Applications for the D.C. Abrahamic House are open. Once the four fellows have been selected, they will be offered three possible sites for their house, Al Samawi said.

With Abrahamic House, Al Samawi wants to promote collaboration among adults from often hostile religions, and to challenge their stereotypes of each other. With any luck, such success will spread to the broader community.

FULL ARTICLE FROM JTA.ORG

Interfaith services pray for refugees, herald their strength, courage

WASHINGTON — On June 20, communities from around the globe celebrated World Refugee Day, established by the United Nations as an international day to acknowledge the strength and courage of people forced to flee their home countries due to conflict or persecution.

Yet, the commemoration of World Refugee Day comes at a record low for refugee resettlement.

Despite the long tradition of welcoming refugees in the United States, largely supported by faith-based organizations such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services, the number of refugees resettled in the United States was at its the lowest in 2020 since the founding of the resettlement program in 1980.

At the same time, the past year marks a record high number of people forcibly displaced around the world.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates there are currently 26 million refugees who have been forcibly displaced due to “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, or membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

In response to the current climate for refugees, World Refugee Day interfaith prayer services were organized across the United States by MRS, in collaboration with the Roundtable Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Action Directors and the Princeton University Religion and Resettlement Project, to pray publicly for the well-being of refugees in the United States, across religious and political lines.

According to Todd Scribner of MRS, one of the principal organizers of the event, part of the purpose of these nationally coordinated services was to pray with and for refugees as a way to rebuild relationships with these communities, and highlight “the religious traditions out of which many of these communities have emerged and embraced.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER

Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi to open in 2022

The cultural landmark in the UAE capital, which includes a synagogue, a church and a mosque, is meant to be a beacon of understanding and peaceful coexistence, inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity.

By Robin GomesThe Abrahamic Family House, which encloses a synagogue, a church and a mosque in a single complex, and which is scheduled to be inaugurated in 2022, is 20 percent complete, the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity (HCHF) said in a statement on Tuesday.  The  Committee, which is also supervising the project , said it is inspired by the 2019 Document on Human Fraternity.  Constructed on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, the project is closely followed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb of al-Azhar, who endorsed the design, the HCHF said.

The  Abrahamic Family House derives its name from the Old Testament biblical figure, Abraham, who is recognized and greatly revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Shared values
The Abrahamic Family House’s design, by architect Sir David Adjaye, captures. the values shared by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, through three main buildings, including a mosque, a church, and a synagogue in one place. “As such, the complex innovatively recounts the history and builds bridges between human civilizations and heavenly messages.”

The names of the three separate iconic houses of worship in the Abrahamic Family House complex are officially unveiled as “Imam AlTayeb Mosque,” “St. Francis Church,” and “Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue”.   Moses ben Maimon was a prolific and influential Sephardic Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages.

Interfaith harmonious coexistence
Besides the 3 places of worship, the site includes a cultural center that aims to encourage people to exemplify human fraternity and solidarity within a community that cherishes the values of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence, while the unique character of each faith is preserved.

The design of the Abrahamic Family House was first unveiled by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, at a global gathering in New York in 2019, during the 2nd meeting of the HCHF. IT said the design was also presented to Pope Francis and the Grand Imam during a meeting with them in November that year.

“The Abrahamic Family House epitomizes interfaith harmonious coexistence and preserves the unique character of each religion,” said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture Abu Dhabi and an HCHF member. He said, “It personifies Abu Dhabi’s vision for human fraternity and embeds coexistence into the already diverse cultural fabric of the UAE. Overseeing the development of this iconic project is inspiring and reflective of the UAE efforts in realizing the values of the Document on Human Fraternity and fostering its lofty principles.” 

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HERALD MALAYSIA

House of One: Berlin lays cornerstone for a place for religious understanding

In the heart of Berlin, a group of Christians, Jews and Muslims is getting to work building a home where all three religions can come together. The goal is to overcome conflict and suspicion.

For years it has been just an idea. On Thursday, it begins to become reality. A cornerstone will be laid on the future site of House of One, a building project by ChristiansJews, and Muslims looking for a place to meet. Located in the middle of Berlin, the site is just minutes from some of the city’s most popular and historic areas.

“This is an important project for Berlin,” said Pastor Gregor Hohberg, who helps lead the initiative. “Jews, Christians, Muslims, as well as atheists and people from other religions, have been talking about it for at least ten years.” The city needs a place like House of One, Hohberg added, to offer the opportunity to engage one another. “It’s an extremely important symbol,” he said, calling the site a “place of peace.”

An information pavillion on the building site provided information on the project until 2019

House of One is building on 700 years of Berlin history. Its location is close to where the city began and was the site of the Petrikirche. The 13th-century church had the highest tower in Berlin, and it survived in various forms until the East German communist government tore it down in 1964. The area has been a treasure trove for archeologists, who have found remains of more than 3,000 people buried at the church, as well as ruins of other churches.

A unique project

If all goes according to plan, House of One will stand atop this history within five years. It will be home to a church, synagogue, and mosque, built around a central meeting space, to serve as a symbol of coexistence. The designs call for a 40-meter-high structure of stone and brick. The construction budget of about 43.5 million euros ($53.3 million) has been largely secured.

FULL ARTICLE FROM DW (GERMANY)

Interfaith dialogue can become a path to enlightenment, wonder and healing

“From the cowardice that dare not face new truth,

From the laziness that is contented with half truth,

From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,

Good Lord deliver me.”

—a Kenyan prayer, from “The Catholic Prayer Book”

This past weekend, I spoke via Zoom to a Lexington group called the Christian-Muslim Dialogue, which, as its name implies, is made up of Christians and Muslims who meet regularly to discuss religion and related matters.

I made a presentation to the group, and that was followed by discussion among the members and me.

I found the experience inspiring, and it reminded me why it’s important for people walking different paths to stay in touch with each other. Living in a fairly homogeneous corner of Kentucky, I don’t get to have interfaith conversations often.

In my presentation, I offered four observations about interfaith (and also interdenominational) dialogues that I think make them important.

First, if we hope to grow spiritually, it’s helpful to be able to hold more than one thought in our head at the same time. Getting to know people from other belief systems—whether we’re Muslims meeting Christians, or evangelical Protestants meeting Roman Catholics, or Mormons meeting Buddhists—introduces us to ideas, personal histories and theological traditions we might not have encountered before.

FULL ARTICLE FROM KENTUCKY.COM

Myanmar protesters bridge religious divides to counter military coup

Peter, a young father, looked out at the sea of tens of thousands of peaceful protesters surrounding him in a sit-in at a market in his hometown of Mandalay, their bright red and yellow posters condemning the Feb. 1 military coup in Myanmar.

Moments later, security forces assaulted the crowd, firing tear gas and live rounds. “They arrived as early as possible and start brutally cracking down, shooting, beating, even firing on the street,” says Peter, using a pseudonym for his protection. “A few of our friends died, and a lot were arrested.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with the toll from violence on Saturday.

WHY WE WROTE THIS

Religion has long been a divider in Myanmar – most tragically, in the persecution of the Rohingya. But the urgency of opposing a military coup has brought activists from different faiths together, protesters say.

Peter is Muslim. The friends he lost in the protest earlier this month were Buddhist. Despite Myanmar’s long history of discrimination and violence against Muslims by the Buddhist majority – tensions and fears the military junta seeks to exploit – today on Myanmar’s streets people are showing a powerful solidarity, activists say.

After the coup, different religious groups “are more unified than ever,” Peter says, speaking by phone from Mandalay.About these ads

In diverse and deeply pious Myanmar, protests by religious groups have deep resonance in challenging the legitimacy of those who hold power. Today’s cooperation among different faiths in backing a broader, youth-led protest movement against the junta reflects a decade of efforts at interfaith peace building since the country’s opening to semi-democratic, civilian rule, experts say.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

PEACE FEASTS: A NEW CONNECTION FOR MUSLIM AND CHRISTIAN COLLEGE STUDENTS

Marquette University senior Anna Buckstaff said she appreciates opportunities to meet Muslims and Christians who are interested in connecting around common core values.

The Catholic from Palatine, Illinois, who attended the Lenten Peace Feast in February with Muslims and Christians, said the experience helped her reflect and deepen her understanding of her own faith.

“I really appreciated how the faiths share an emphasis for tradition and value the time spent with family and loved ones,” she said. “I have really enjoyed being exposed to different approaches to care and value God’s creation.”

She is looking forward to the Ramadan Peace Feast, online from 2 – 3:30 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 18. College students and young professionals are encouraged to participate. Registration is now open.

Peace Feasts, new interfaith meeting experiences, offer Muslim and Christian college students in Wisconsin a chance to learn about each other’s sacred seasons, as well as to connect and build trust. The idea is for young adults of each faith to invite each other to their holiday feasts—this year during the Christian Lent and Muslim Ramadan.

The program is free to participants through financial support from Interfaith Youth Core, described on its website as “a national non-profit working towards an America where people of different faiths, worldviews and traditions can bridge differences and find common values to build a shared life together.”

IFYC was founded by Eboo Patel, a Chicago-based author, speaker and educator who said he was “inspired to build this bridge by his identity as an American Muslim navigating a religiously diverse social landscape.”

What to expect

The Ramadan Peace Feast is the second of a series. Young adults who would like to join in are welcomed, whether they attended Part I or not, said Rev. Nicole Wriedt, San Diego program director of Peace Catalyst International, who with Milwaukee-based PCI program director Steve Lied, is the Christian co-organizer for these events. They collaborate with the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition’s president Janan Najeeb.

FULL ARTICLE FROM WISCONSIN MUSLIM JOURNAL

Seattle’s religious communities find ways to celebrate holidays and grow amid social distancing

By Megan BurbankSeattle Times features reporter

For many people of faith, the recent religious holidays — Passover, Easter, Ramadan — are traditionally a time of gathering. But under stringent social distancing measures enacted to slow the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, life in the Northwest has been marked by retraction and isolation.

But even as holidays are reimagined — sometimes drastically — and services go remote, leaving houses of worship empty, local faith leaders say that interest in religious services has gone up, and congregants have found new ways to receive and share practical support and relief through their spiritual communities — maintaining a sense of connection in an otherwise dark time.

Holidays disrupted

The loss of in-person worship has come at a cost: Holidays have been disrupted or transformed, and some of the most important rituals of congregants’ lives will have to be radically altered or delayed, faith leaders said.

Hyder Ali, president of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS), based in Redmond, said it was unlikely MAPS would be able to provide full services for Ramadan, which begins April 23 this year, and is typically when the mosque brings in almost 50% of its donations — “a significant amount of our operational expenses.” He said he did not anticipate in-person services reconvening in time for Ramadan, but that MAPS would provide virtual engagements on the holiday.

He also said MAPS would be assisting the community during this time in other ways, “doubling down to do what we can to serve the community” because “churches and mosques serve as a first line of defense” for people facing fallout from the outbreak.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SEATTLE TIMES

Interfaith leaders, lawmakers, and community members respond to rise in anti-Asian violence

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —

It was an evening of mourning, recognition and healing at Sacramento’s Parkview Presbyterian Church on Friday night.

Interfaith leaders and people of all backgrounds gathered for presentations, songs, and a candlelight vigil was held to recognize the ongoing prejudice against Asian Americans and other marginalized groups.

“The other day they were talking about that killer who had a ‘bad day,'” Francisco Dominguez, who is of Native American descent, said of the fatal shooting of six Asian women in Atlanta-area spas. “I said, since 1492, there’s been a lot of bad days.”

Other participants said they appreciated the show of solidarity at the vigil.

“I’m hoping events like this is giving us the courage to talk to our non-Asian-American friends and will help us to spread the word,” Sacramento resident Kris Sazaki said.

Christine Umeda’s family was taken to internment camps during World War II. She spoke to the value of allyship, and the historical trauma shared between different communities.

“The Muslim community and the Japanese community have been allies for some time now,” Umeda said. “After 9/11, we understood what they were experiencing, because after Pearl Harbor, all the same emotions and hatred were directed towards [Japanese Americans].”

“Any hatred that’s practiced against any minority or race is an aggression against all of us,” added Imam Amr Dabour of the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM KCRA (TV STUDIO IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA)