Jews, Christians and Muslims make holy ground in America’s heartland

170616134549-03-tri-faith-initiative-exlarge-169Omaha, Nebraska (CNN) When most people think of Omaha, they imagine sizzling steaks, billionaire Warren Buffet or even former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning calling out before the snap. (Remember “Omaha-Omaha”?).

But if a group of clergymen have their way, Nebraska’s largest city will soon also be known as the home of interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding.

A rabbi, a reverend and an imam (no, it’s not a setup joke) are partners in a decadelong quest to bring together the three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — to share and worship on the same property.

It’s called Tri-Faith Initiative.

The $65 million project, launched in 2006 and funded through donations, may be the first time in US history that the three faiths intentionally build their houses of worship side by side.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN

In Germany, a new ‘feminist’ Islam is hoping to make a mark

Inside the red-brick building that now houses the German capital’s newest and perhaps most unusual mosque, Seyran Ates is staging a feminist revolution of the Muslim faith.

“Allahu akbar,” chanted a female voice, uttering the Arabic expression “God is great,” as a woman with two-toned hair issued the Muslim call to prayer. In another major break with tradition, men and women — typically segregated during worship — heeded the call by sitting side by side on the carpeted floor.

Ates, a self-proclaimed Muslim feminist and founder of the new mosque, then stepped onto the cream-colored carpet and delivered a stirring sermon. Two imams — a woman and a man — later took turns leading the Friday prayers in Arabic. The service ended with the congregation joining two visiting rabbis in singing a Hebrew song of friendship.

And just like that, the inaugural Friday prayers at Berlin’s Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque came to a close — offering a different vision of Islam on a continent that is locked in a bitter culture war over how and whether to welcome the faith. Toxic ills like radicalization, Ates and her supporters argue, have a potentially easy fix: the introduction of a more progressive, even feminist brand of the faith.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

‘Of course they’re worried’: Triangle faith groups react to Trump travel order, Canadian mosque attack

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In the face of President Donald Trump’s order that would shut down travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, and an attack last month on a mosque in Quebec, faith communities in the Triangle are working together to promote unity and peace.

Trump’s executive order Jan. 27 temporarily barred immigrants, refugees and some U.S. citizens from seven countries from traveling to the United States, sparking protests across the country – including at least two in the Triangle. A federal judge in Seattle stayed the order on Feb. 3, and three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday on whether to lift the stay.

But the on-again, off-again order, as well as anti-Muslim sentiment and the attack on the Canadian mosque, has some Triangle refugees and Muslims concerned. Members of other faith communities also are worried.

“As Jews, we are deeply concerned about the current actions on immigration,” said Carin Savel, chief executive officer of The Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary. “These statements severely restrict immigration and instill fear among existing immigrant populations.”

The Jewish Federation, a national organization, has received bomb threats against its branches across the country. The Raleigh-Cary center has not received a threat but is on alert.

“As always, safety is the top priority, and we are following security protocols to coordinate with local law enforcement to ensure the safety of all members and visitors to our JCC,” Savel said.

Va. mosque sees outpouring of support as state fights Trump travel ban

mcauliffemosque5Ashburn resident Amr Said came to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque in Sterling to pray on Friday, seeking to restore his spirit a week after the unveiling of a Trump administration ban on travel that is keeping hundreds of fellow Muslims from entering the United States.

As he walked up the center stairs amid scores of other immigrants, Said, 35, saw a crowd of about 100 people holding signs that read “We are here for you” and “You belong.”

Inside, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark R. Herring delivered essentially the same message. Herring had come from the federal courthouse in Alexandria, where a judge agreed earlier Friday to move forward with a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the executive order that put the travel ban in place.

“We are here to send a message to President Trump that we will not stand by and allow his unlawful, unconstitutional and morally repugnant executive order,” McAuliffe, like Herring a Democrat, bellowed to the cheering worshipers after they had finished the midday prayers.

His remarks, and the demonstration outside, filled Said with hope. “It makes a lot of difference, a lot of difference,” said Said, a software engineer who is originally from Egypt and who shook hands with several of the sign holders while exiting the mosque. “I feel that [the ban] is not going to continue if everyone speaks up.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Christians And Jews Team Up To Help Muslims After Texas Mosque Fire

mosqueChristians and Jews in a small Texas town reached out to help their Muslim neighbors after a fire destroyed a local mosque.

“Jewish community members walked into my home and gave me a key to the synagogue,” Dr. Shahid Hashmi, a cofounder of the Victoria Islamic Center, told The New York Times.

In addition, at least four churches offered space for the Muslims to hold their services.

Victoria is a small city about 125 miles southwest of Houston with a population of about 65,000.

Everyone knows everybody,” Robert Loeb, the president of the town’s Temple B’Nai Israel, told Forward. “I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them.”

On Wednesday, children from a local Catholic school marched to the mosque to form what the Islamic Center called “a human chain of love and peace.”

They are literally our neighbors,” Gretchen Boyle, an English teacher at St. Joseph High School, told the Victoria Advocate. “We are responding to the call, ‘Love thy neighbor.’”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

More than 200 at interfaith forum hear update on Islamic Center blaze (Texas)

newsengin-17440728_dyc-islamic-center-03Investigators offered new details Sunday about the investigation of the blaze that leveled the partially constructed Islamic Center of Lake Travis in Hudson Bend last weekend. The fire harmed no one but has left the area’s Muslim community on edge.

The update on the investigation, which authorities described as an around-the-clock affair, came during an afternoon interfaith forum hosted by a nearby church. The event sought to promote greater understanding and dialogue between Christians, Muslims and Jews.

“We’re truly after the truth at the end of the day, regardless of what that truth is; that’s what we owe to you in the community,” Travis County Fire Marshal Tony Callaway said.

The investigation is ongoing, Callaway frequently noted, limiting what he could tell the crowd of more than 200 people at the forum. The official cause of the blaze remains undetermined.

RELATED: Fire destroys partly built Islamic center near Lake Travis

However, Callaway told the audience that his office has sent nearly a dozen pieces of evidence to the lab for testing, is reviewing security tape footage and is interviewing potential witnesses.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MY STATESMAN (AUSTIN, TEXAS) 

Muslims And Christians Unite To Win Backing For New Jersey Mosque

computer-rendered-plans-for-the-4250-square-foot-islamic-mosqueMuslims have won a lawsuit granting them the right to build a mosque in a town in New Jersey.

Unusually, they had the backing of influential evangelical Christians including Southern Baptists.

District Judge Michael A Shipp ruled in favour of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge and against the township of Bernards, The Christian Post reports.

Planners in Bernards rejected the mosque application in 2015.

Judge Shipp ruled this to be a violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act which codifies some “narrow” exceptions such as a nondiscrimination provision.

Shipp said the planning refusal constituted “impermissible discrimination on the basis of religion”.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY