Picnic at tri-faith campus in Omaha, Nebraska brings together Christians, Jews, Muslims

5b70e09f4c33a.image (1)People of all ages, shapes and sizes arrived at the Tri-Faith Picnic at Omaha’s multifaith campus Sunday afternoon carrying bowls of salads and trays of desserts, just as they would for any other picnic in any other place.

They gathered under giant tents and shared their potluck offerings alongside the usual picnic standards, with a twist — the hamburgers were halal, the hot dogs kosher.

And as they dined, the Jews, Muslims and Christians gathered there furthered the aims of the Tri-Faith Initiative that has brought them together: fostering mutual understanding, respect and friendship. More than 500 attended, according to an organizer’s estimate.

“I think it binds people here,” said Nizam Qassem, a member of the mosque that the American Muslim Institute opened on the campus in 2017. “Wherever there are people and food, there is fun.”

Hosting this year’s event was Temple Israel, which completed its synagogue on the former golf course south of 132nd and Pacific Streets in 2013. Across a creek bed is the future Countryside Community Church, scheduled for completion by Easter. A large mound of dirt marks the site of a fourth future building, a tri-faith center that is to be completed by spring 2020. Earthwork also is under way for a circular bridge that will link the structures.

Events such as the picnic, like the campus itself, offer people opportunities to mingle and learn about one another.

FULL ARTICLE FROM OMAHA.COM

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Christian community to build house of interfaith dialogue to fight hatred in Berlin

2018_07_19_49512_1531963536._mediumIn Germany, followers of minority faiths have often faced the bitter experience of hatred and persecution, none more so than the Jewish community, which suffered under one of the darkest times in the world’s history. Today, Muslims are often portrayed negatively in the media, driven by narratives pushed by right-wing politicians.

A Christian community, however, has stepped in to eliminate hatred and to educate society about the peaceful nature of religion, particularly Judaism and Islam. The Berlin-based Evangelical congregation St. Peter (also called St. Mary), along with several Jewish organizations, has founded the House of One where members of different faiths can learn to live together and tackle common challenges in the secular society of Germany.

The concept of the House of One is simple. An iconic pavilion will be built in the center of Berlin, with three sections to function as a Church, Mosque and Synagogue, respectively. Each section will be connected to the others by a chamber at the center of the building where inter-religious dialogues can be held.

“We will put them [the three prayer sections] under one roof but not in one room. All three will live together like a community,” Rev. Eric Haussmann, a pastor at St. Peter, said on Wednesday to a group of visiting Indonesian intellectuals hosted by the Goethe Institut.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE JAKARTA POST 

Interfaith Dialogue – What Mary means to Christians and Muslims

img_0029Interfaith Dialogue is an opportunity to gather with people from other faiths and learn from each other on a specific topic. Four speakers from Muslim and Christian traditions spoke about the recognition of Mary and what their holy books say about her.

The night began with a Welcome to Country, and interfaith prayer for peace and verses sung from Chapter Three of the Muslim Quran:

  1. God chose Adam, and Noah, and the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran, over all mankind.
  2. Offspring one of the other. God is Hearer and Knower.
  3. The wife of Imran said, “My Lord, I have vowed to You what is in my womb, dedicated, so accept from me; You are the Hearer and Knower.”
  4. And when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female,” and God was well aware of what she has delivered, “and the male is not like the female, and I have named her Mary, and have commended her and her descendants to Your protection, from Satan the outcast.”
  5. Her Lord accepted her with a gracious reception, and brought her a beautiful upbringing, and entrusted her to the care of Zechariah. Whenever Zechariah entered upon her in the sanctuary, he found her with provision. He said, “O Mary, where did you get this from?” She said, “It is from God; God provides to whom He wills without reckoning.”

Mary in Islamic tradition

Shaikh Mohammad Hamed from the Mayfield Mosque, began by saying: “To present Mary, we need more than one lifetime.”

In the Islamic tradition she is a perfect example of chastity, obedience, devotion and piety.

Chosen by Allah above all other women as the mother of the highly ranked prophet Jesus, she is the “Mt Everest” – model for all people to aspire to.

Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran and the only female to have a chapter of the Quran named for her. She is one of few characters whose life is written about in detail.

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

They Are All Daughters of Abraham

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About a decade ago, while a student at TCU’s divinity school, the now Rev. Dawn Anderson rolled her eyes when a Muslim woman showed up to talk to her class.

Oh no, she thought, “This woman is going to tell us about how men are better than women,” recalled Anderson, the newly appointed associate pastor at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church.

“I had no idea; I’d never met a Muslim before,” Anderson continued. “But it was quite the opposite. She started telling us about some of the feminist ideas in the Muslim religion, like how women get a lot of protections they don’t necessarily get in other religions.”

Anderson said many of her preconceived notions about Muslims stemmed from what she saw on television.

“You just assume all Muslims are like that,” she said.

Today, Anderson said her ignorance about the culture has been replaced with a kinship, a kinship that has grown through Daughters of Abraham meetings.

Daughters of Abraham is an interfaith group that formed following the Sep. 11 terrorist attacks.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PARK CITIES PEOPLE

A Look at Muslim-Christian Relations in Ethiopia

1515208296516The Muslim-Christian relationship in Ethiopia has a mixed historical background. Ethiopia is located on a religious fault line, although the relationship between the two religions has been reasonably cordial in recent decades. Christian rule has prevailed in the Ethiopian highlands since the early 4th century. Early in the 7th century a group of Arab followers of Islam in danger of persecution by local authorities in Arabia took refuge in the Axumite Kingdom of the Ethiopian highlands.

As a result of this generosity, the Prophet Mohammed concluded that Ethiopia should not be targeted for jihad. Not all Muslims took this message seriously and subsequent contact was less cordial. In the late 15th century, Islamic raids from the Somali port of Zeila plagued the Ethiopian highlands. In the first half of the 16th century, the Islamic threat became more serious when Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al Ghazi rallied a diverse group of Muslims in a jihad to end Christian power in the highlands. The Ethiopians finally defeated this threat by the middle of the 16th century.

FULL ARTICLE FROM INTERNATIONAL POLICY DIGEST 

A Mughal-era flower festival unites Delhi’s Hindus and Muslims every monsoon

Delhi-flower-marketIn 1859, Delhi’s most famous poet, Mirza Asad Ullah Ghalib, was asked what Delhi was like these days. He replied: “My friend, what a question to ask! Five things kept Delhi alive—the Fort, the Chandni Chauk, the daily crowds at the Jama Masjid, the weekly walk to the Jumna bridge, and the yearly fair of the flower men. None of these survives, so how could Delhi survive?” Ghalib’s despondency notwithstanding, the fair celebrating the monsoon, known as the Phulwalon ki sair or the Sair-e gulfaroshan, started again soon after the turmoil of the Revolt had died down and has survived until the present day.

What makes the Phulwalon ki sair such a fascinating topic for the exploration of monsoon feelings is the density and variety of commentary it brought forth over the last two hundred years. These sources range from colonial reports to the no less matter-of-fact newsletters from the Mughal court. They include memoirs and essays recalling the world lost in 1857, and texts which depicted contemporary experiences up to the present day. Songs and poems were often included in other texts, but we also have a printed poem from 1876, which praises the joys of the Phulwalon ki sair and was probably meant to be performed during the festival. Together they present a rich image from which we can reconstruct many of the basic facts of the festival, such as who the people were who went to Mehrauli and what they did there. But the sources go further. They allow us an insight into the meaning different participants ascribed to the festival, and even into their emotions. Together they help us understand why Ghalib deemed the festival so important, not only for the identity but for the very survival of Delhi.

FULL ARTICLE FROM QUARTZ