Muslim World League secretary-general honored for interfaith work

  • US officials, American Jewish leaders award Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa for combatting anti-Semitism
  • He vowed that the MWL would “keep on until there is no more antisemitism and racism”

NEW YORK: Former Saudi Minister of Justice Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa was awarded the first ever Combat Anti-Semitism Award for his work in the interfaith community and his fight against anti-Semitism and religious intolerance.

The virtual ceremony on June 9 was co-hosted by the Combat Anti-Semitism movement and the American Sephardi Federation. Senior US diplomats, UN officials and leaders of the American Jewish community all hailed the interfaith work of Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL).

Al-Issa has been the MWL secretary-general since 2016 and has forged several alliances with Jewish, Christian and other religious committees across the world.

He recently led a high-level delegation to Auschwitz in January of this year and announced several historic initiatives to counter extremism, guarantee religious freedom and improve human welfare, spreading the virtues of inter-religious understanding. He has been described by the US Department of State and other major international agencies as one of the foremost proponents of moderate Islam in the world today.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ARAB NEWS

Love your neighbour: Islam, Judaism and Christianity come together over COVID-19

large_LHpCwA6CiI8io7nut4VOuBE4Uk8_yfzBvc_QIe88O8QFaith leaders from Christianity, Judaism and Islam support government efforts to control the coronavirus.

• Young men and women of faith can supply their digital know-how to build good communication during the crisis.

• Discussions are taking place about how the three religions can collaborate on charitable initiatives.

 

The COVID-19 global pandemic requires an immediate, whole-of society approach to prevent the transmission of the virus. During this time of uncertainty, faith leaders such as ourselves have turned to our religious texts and theology to find comfort for the community and encourage safe practices.

We have seen fellow prominent faith leaders from Christianity, Judaism and Islam issuing opinions, guidance documents – and even fatwas – to their communities that re-analyse religious practices and provide theological opinions on how faith practices or rituals can be adapted to meet the response of COVID-19 and implement social distancing.

Listen to all three faith leaders in conversation in this podcast

To slow the spread of the virus, we’ve taken to media, email and radio to conduct daily prayers and worship, mobilize individual volunteers to serve the elderly and at risk. We’ve engaged in discussions surrounding personal well-being and found new ways to communicate to our communities the importance of listening to the safety guidelines promoted by governments and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The ability to go to your church or synagogue or mosque in a hard time is really important to people,” empathized Rabbi Sharon Brous in the LA Times. Nevertheless, she practised social distancing and engaged with her community via virtual platforms, as recommended by medical and government authorities. She exhorted her synagogue members to find “resilience and level-headedness and kindness and cooperation precisely in their moment of greatest vulnerability”.

Lessons from the Abrahamic faiths

As some individuals may be wary of following the preventative messages pertaining to COVID-19 by government and international organizations, faith actors should utilize religious teachings to reiterate the importance of these measures for the safety of the community. The Abrahamic faiths all have teachings that profess the importance of taking action to assist others and save lives.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM 

Christmastime means good spirits for everyone. Even a secular Muslim like me.

Here in Belgium, people do not traditionally set up their Christmas trees until after the chocolaty feast of Saint Nicholas, or as he’s known in Dutch, Sinterklaas, who mutated to become the American “Santa Claus” in the melting pot of New York (formerly New Amsterdam). Not being one to stand on ceremony, my wife, who is Belgian, suggested we put out the Christmas decorations early this year to help ease the blues of our first full winter back in Europe after several years in the Middle East.
When the saintly gift-bearer (whose existence my 10-year-old son is beginning to doubt) arrived in early December, as he does in Belgium, for what might be his final visit to our house, he must have been confused to find it all done up with a Christmas tree already. On deeper reflection, I am aware of the glaring contradiction between parents telling their kids never to accept anything from strangers and then pretending it’s okay for a mysterious old man to enter their homes in the dead of night to leave treats behind.

In our multicultural, irreligious household, where we encourage our son to celebrate his dual European-Arab heritage, Christmas is the favorite festival. With how secularized it has become in the West, it is more fun than the Islamic feasts we also mark.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

In search of the Muslim Gandhi

11B-Mahatma-Ghandi_enIn Gandhi’s lifetime, there were enough Muslim Gandhis. How can their message be reclaimed in these troubled times?

Historically, however, Islam, like all other religions, including Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism, has shown both tolerance and intolerance towards other religions and communities. History provides us with many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths. For more than a century during the Middle ages, for instance, Cordoba (in Spanish Andalusia) witnessed a great flowering of religious freedom, which, while not perfect, was tolerant enough to accommodate many Jewish and Christian intellectuals, who lived and wrote and flourished side-by-side with their Muslim counterparts in a strikingly pluralistic society.

The cultural legacy of Cordoba is impressive in its scale and splendour and remains a successful model of associative reconciliation and nonviolent cross-cultural learning that we see being put into action during the Moghul period in India and later by Muslims who collaborated with Mohandas Gandhi in the Indian Independence movement.

The countries with the 10 largest Christian populations and the 10 largest Muslim populations

NIGERIA-RELIGION-ISLAM-EID“Top 10” lists can often be helpful in displaying and illuminating data. For example, the two tables of countries with the largest Christian and Muslim populations featured here reveal differences in the concentration, diversity and projected changes in the world’s two largest religions.

The two lists show that the global Muslim population is more heavily concentrated in Islam’s main population centers than the global Christian population is for Christianity, which is more widely dispersed around the world. Indeed, about two-thirds (65%) of the world’s Muslims live in the countries with the 10 largest Muslim populations, while only 48% of the world’s Christians live in the countries with the 10 largest Christian populations.

10 countries with the largest Muslim populations, 2015 and 2060To put it another way, more than half (52%) of the world’s Christians live in countries other than those with the 10 largest Christian populations, while this is true for just over a third (35%) of the world’s Muslims. In absolute terms, there are twice as many Christians (1.2 billion) as there are Muslims (609 million) living in countries that are not on their religion’s top 10 list.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PEW RESEARCH

Meet the ‘Muslim Mother Teresa’ who feeds 500 people a day!

431182_1767533_mt-1_updatesKnown affectionately as the ‘Muslim Mother Teresa’ for the noble cause she has dedicated her life towards, Montreal’s Sister Sabariah Hussein feeds up to 500 people a day.

She cooks for a total of 400 to 500 homeless, needy or lonely people with a help of volunteers.

“People who are really in dire need of company. And it’s a good thing. I saw the improvement. They’re becoming more cheerful in the company of people whose situation is almost like them, and then they enjoy the meal better,” Sabariah explains.

She adds: “I feel a little different because Mother Teresa doesn’t cook.”

However, the food that Sabariah prepares is as good as her caring nature.

“The food? I don’t know what word to explain the food. The food is delicious and it’s always good, and she always wants to make sure that you eat,” Sabariah’s colleague Angela Rashida Thomas says.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEWS (PAKISTAN)

Why I’m a Muslim

MUSLIM BRITWhen Muslims make headlines, it’s invariably for the wrong reasons. The fuss over Boris Johnson’s burka joke is a case in point: he was making an argument in defence of Muslims, but was instead condemned for attacking us. Why the confusion? Because of how little our faith is understood.

Let’s start with the burka. Islam makes various demands of its followers, but — despite what you might think from the headlines — covering our faces isn’t one of them. Based on the media’s fascination with these strange and oppressive garments, you might wonder why any modern woman would ever choose Islam. So here’s my answer.

I’m a London-born doctor, raised in a Muslim family and now working in America. While Islam always played a role in my youth, it was never something which defined me: rather a list of ‘dos’, ‘don’ts’ and cultural traditions which governed various aspects of home life. It was during an assignment in Riyadh — where I was working as a doctor — that everything changed.

Of course when you’re living in Saudi Arabia, Islam is never far away — but at first its omnipresence only served to remind me of my failings as a Muslim. To the Saudis, I knew so little about my religion I was assumed to be a convert. Thanks to Saudi law (which mandates covering of the hair — something my parents never enforced), I might have looked more Muslim — but I certainly didn’t feel it. Take the Hajj, for example — the holy pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are expected to undertake once in their lifetime, if their health and their means allow. Although many of my colleagues had jumped at the opportunity to do it, it wasn’t something I had considered.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SPECTATOR (UK)

Who gets to define American Muslim identity?

muslim_men_praying_jeansThe various groups that were drawn (or in some cases, dragged) to the United States have themselves been made up of a variety of smaller identity groups: Italian Catholics and Irish Catholics; Polish Jews and German Jews; Latinos from Guatemala and Latinos from Brazil. If, to paraphrase Walt Whitman, the poetical nature of the United States is determined by the dynamics of engagement between those identity communities, then there is also American poetry to be drawn from such dynamics within those communities.

No nation has a Muslim community that is more ethnically, racially, or theologically diverse than the United States. For many years, these various Muslim groups created separate spaces, such as mosques, schools, and community centers. Those who were less ritually observant often found no space at all. But the era of Islamophobia has forced them all together and raised fascinating questions about what it means to be American, what it means to be Muslim, and who gets to define the identity of American Muslims.

Ansari offered lessons in the science of prejudice through a set of humorous stories about Muslims. He reminded his audience that Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews. If you just changed the music on Homeland, he joked, we wouldn’t look so scary.

In a New York Times op-ed published a few months earlier, Ansari wrote on several of the same themes, but this time through the poignant story of instructing his parents not to go to the mosque for prayer lest they wind up the victims of an Islamophobic attack.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY 

UK: ‘Hello, I am Muslim’

International event aims to encourage mutual understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.

muslimsAn international event aiming to break fears and prejudices against Muslims and promote empathy has been launched in King’s Cross station in central London, the capital of Britain.

The event this week will see young Muslims promoting mutual understanding in public places in various countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, France and Austria.

‘Hello, I am a Muslim’

The Islamic Community Milli Gorus (ICMG) group said in a statement on Thursday that thousands of young Muslims living in Europe, Australia and Canada will take to the streets to deliver “their ‘Hello, I am a Muslim’ message to introduce themselves”.

“Contacting people individually is the most natural and the best way of promoting understanding and empathy,” the ICMG said.

“We have prepared the ‘Hello, I am a Muslim’ events to encourage mutual communication and cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims,” said Kemal Ergun, the group’s president.

More than 500 mosques across Europe will also take part in the initiative, according to the ICMG statement.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA 

Marvel’s Muslim Teen Girl Superhero Challenges Stereotypes

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Alongside Spider-Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow and the other superheroes of the Marvel Universe is Ms. Marvel… a shape-shifting teen-aged crusader for today’s diverse American society.

She may be a newbie in the world of Marvel superheros, but since she burst onto the comic book scene in February of 2014, Ms. Marvel has become a cultural phenomenon. She’s also the first Muslim superhero to have her own dedicated series.

“I love this comic because it is diverse, and it shows a side of America that I think comics don’t always show,” said DeeDee, a Ms. Marvel fan we met at a Huntington, New York comic book shop.

“She’s not only dealing with school sides of things, like the culture clashes, her parents want her to be more traditional,” said Lois Alison Young, a school teacher who is also a Ms. Marvel fan. “I guess it’s a big cliché but she’s really struggling because she wants to maintain her Muslim identity.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM VOA