Jew, Christian, Muslim: ‘See the Beloved everywhere’

jew christian muslimNothing in my uber-Catholic background (weekly Mass and confession, memorizing the Baltimore Catechism, strict nun teachers) could have prepared me to participate in a zikr at which Muslim, Jewish and Christian people chanted the name of God, while the imam sang a melodic line over the chant.

Some of the women draped in scarves swayed back and forth, we all felt held by the chanting, and I began to understand why it is a component of much of the world’s worship. The dictionary definition of zikr is a form of remembrance “associated chiefly with Sufism, when the worshiper is absorbed in the rhythmic repetition of God’s name or attributes.”


Much of the imam’s initial talk resonated with what I already believed. “See the Beloved everywhere,” he encouraged. “Be so crazily in love you’re like the besotted 13-year-old who, asked about ice cream, sighs, ‘My favorite flavor is chocolate.’ ”

His words about God’s spark within being the source of human dignity touched a familiar chord — as a Catholic, I’d heard that message, named Divine indwelling, often. Muhammad said, “Wherever you turn, there is the face of God.” In the Jewish kabbalah or mystical teaching, God hurled forth the holy in countless sparks at the beginning of time; it whispers to us from all created people and things. When we descend to the deepest underground stream, all religions echo similar truths.

I’ve learned this firsthand from my interfaith group of five Muslim, five Jewish and five Christian women who meet monthly, taking turns in their homes.

A typical gathering starts with a potluck of snacks and informal conversation. Then after prayer, a facilitator (a rotating role) lays groundwork for the theme of the evening. We’ve discussed threads common to all traditions, like various religious holidays, the importance of pilgrimages, communal and individual prayer, action for justice, and environmental protection. There’s strong consensus that we must, in whatever small ways we can, offset the current government’s antipathy to Islam and hostility to refugees. After both January Women’s Marches, we shared our experiences and chortled at our favorite signs.


Muslims, Jews and Christians Participate in Day of Fast for Peace Between Israel and Gaza Strip


Smoke rises following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike on a house in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip July 14, 2014. Israel said it shot down a drone from Gaza a week into its offensive on Monday, the first reported deployment of an unmanned aircraft by Palestinian militants whose rocket attacks have been regularly intercepted.Al-Mezan, a Gaza-based Palestinian human rights group, said 869 Palestinian homes have been destroyed or damaged in Israeli attacks over the past week. More than 166 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed, Gaza health officials said, in seven days of fighting that has shown no sign of ending. Israel says its offensive is intended to halt rocket fire at its cities from the Gaza Strip.

Muslims, Jews and Christians across the globe designated Tuesday as an international day of fasting to encourage peace between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, as the two areas continue to exchange rocket fire in the wake of the death of three kidnapped Israeli teens.

Tuesday falls as a fasting day for both Muslims and Jews, as it is the 17th of the month of Tammuz on the Hebrew calendar, as well as the month of Ramadan, where Muslims fast during daylight hours each day.

The Twitter campaign and subsequent day of fasting began in Israel and gained momentum in the United Kingdom and the United States. Yachad, a pro-Israel, pro-peace group based in the U.K., was one of the main promoters of the international fast day.

The Twitter campaign and subsequent day of fasting began in Israel and gained momentum in the United Kingdom and the United States. Yachad, a pro-Israel, pro-peace group based in the U.K., was one of the main promoters of the international fast day.

Hannah Weisfeld, director of Yachad, told The Telegraph that her group promoted the fast day with the hope of encouraging peace between Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. “Through the fast, British Jews want to loudly and clearly call for de-escalation, return of calm, return to the negotiating table and the creation of two states for two peoples, the only way that can guarantee stability and security in the long run.”


Canadian Islamic Group Accuses Jewish School of Using Racist Textbook

A Canadian Islamic organization is accusing a Toronto-area Jewish day school of using a textbook that vilifies Muslims.

In a Nov. 19 letter to Jewish groups, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR-CAN, charges that a textbook used at the Joe Dwek Ohr HaEmet Sephardic School employs “inflammatory and hateful terms in describing Muslims.”

CAIR-CAN alleges the book, “2000 Years of Jewish History,” describes Muslims as “rabid fanatics” with “savage beginnings.”

“The entire chapter devoted to Islam presents a pernicious and extreme portrayal of Muslims and the Islamic faith. The material further denigrates the Prophet Muhammad as a ‘rabid Jew-hater,’ and falsely portrays Islam as inherently anti-Semitic and devoted to hating Jews,” the group said in its letter to the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center For Holocaust Studies and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, or CIJA.

It said the text is used in grade 7 and 8 girls’ classes at the Orthodox Jewish day school and “leaves impressionable young Jewish readers with a sense of suspicion and even intolerance towards their fellow Canadians.”


Jewish, Christian, Muslim musicians use music as bridge

Put an Israeli Jew, an Australian Christian and a Turkish Muslim together in a recording studio (or more accurately alone next to their own computers with file-sharing capabilities), and it may sound something like Three Waves Under the Bridge, the group effort of Ittai Shaked, Andy Bussuttil and Umit Ceyhan.

The bridge of a musical composition often connects disparate sections or ideas resulting in a cohesive whole. But the international trio’s Bridge Project takes that concept one step further by integrating musicians from diverse backgrounds resulting in a musical blend spiced by Middle Eastern instrumentation, Turkish rhythms, some Balkan beats and even a touch of klezmer.

According to violinist Shaked, the project’s lynchpin, what started out as an informal exercise with his fellow musicians does more than cross a chasm, it eliminates it entirely.

“We just wanted to show that you can bridge gaps, and thatmusic is stronger than anything else,” the life-long musician said last week from his Tel Aviv office at Waves, a successful Grammy Award-winning startup that develops audio mixing software for the digital age for sound engineers and producers. Shaked’s role at the company as a quality assurance coordinator played a pivotal role in the genesis of The Bridge Project.


Jews, Christians, Muslims meet to promote neighborliness

More than 200 people from the Presbytery and other Christian denominations, the Multi-faith Peace and Justice Alliance, several Muslim mosques, and Jewish temples from the area participated.

Rev. Dr. Thomas T. Peters, First Presbyterian Church of Stirling, Imam Adel Barhoma of the Islamic Center of Morris County in Rockaway, and Rabbi Benjamin Adler of White Meadow Temple offered opening prayers.

There were presentations on “What is Neighborliness and Being a Good Neighbor” by Imam Mohammad Qatanani, Islamic Center of Passaic County, Guillermo Lopez-Acosta, commissioned lay pastor atRidgefield Park Presbyterian Church and WhartonUnited Community Church, and Rabbi Adler.

The crowd attended the dinner in the Fellowship Hall, broke bread together and chatted. The menu included 15 types of soup, bread, salad and main dishes to accommodate all three faiths.

The purpose of the dinner was to give participants the opportunity to network and develop relationships showing that their faiths encouraged loving one another.


The Observations of a Jew Who Converted to Islam

by Jeremy Greenberg (comedian)

Have you ever wondered exactly what it is to be an American Muslim? Are they human? How exactly to do they plan on killing us all and turning the United States into a Muslim nation ruled by a galactic caliphate? And how have they learned to pretend to enjoy living here in the United States even though we all know they consider this country to be the great Satan?

Hello. My name is Jeremy Greenberg, and I am here to help you better understand the truth about American Muslims. Although my opening questions are clearly sarcastic, I, like many Americans was largely ignorant about what it’s like to be Muslim in America. That is, until last March when this Jew walked into a mosque in Louisville, Kentucky, a city in which I was performing for the week, and converted to Islam. I am now alternatively known as Assad Ibrahim, or “Lion of Abraham.”

Why did I convert? Simple. I wanted to better understand the life of Muslims in America, and what their growing presence means for the rest of us. I didn’t trust how politicians and the media were playing the issue, and I didn’t want any second-hand information. The only way I truly felt I could know American Muslims was to become one.


Initiative launched to share Christian, Jewish, Muslim pulpits

WASHINGTON – It will happen for just one Sunday in June, but on that day, dozens of houses of worship across the United States will open their pulpits to clergy from the other two Abrahamic faiths to read from their scriptures.

The project, called Faith Shared, is set for June 26. A few synagogues and mosques are among those that have signed up for the initiative, as well as Christian communities across the denominational spectrum, including one Catholic church in North Carolina.

“Just having something public is not going to be a big, big deal here, but to have someone come in and read from the Quran and to recognize publicly the existence of Islam and to reverence and respect is a good thing for the church to do,” said Jesuit Father Pat Earl, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Charlotte, N.C.

The project is co-sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First.