Christians, Muslims again top list of faiths facing hostility worldwide

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Christians top the list for countries where they face either governmental or social hostility, according to a new report issued Nov. 10 by the Pew Research Center.

Christians have topped the list each year since Pew started collecting data in 2007.

The number of countries where Christians face some form of hostility rose from 143 in 2017 to 145 in 2018, the latest year for which statistics are available. Christians were followed in order by Muslims, Jews, “others,” folk religions, Hindus, Buddhists and the religiously unaffiliated.

Out of 198 nations studied, Christians faced government harassment in 124 countries, second to Muslims’ 126, and social harassment in 104 countries, one more than Muslims’ at 103. In some nations, both governments and private groups place restrictions on religious adherents.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CATHOLIC REVIEW

Islam for children: themed books and crafts are all the rage among modern Muslim parents

My toddler’s favourite toys include a mobile phone that plays the (frankly nauseating) track Baby Shark and an interactive Dora the Explorer book. She’s learning her ABCs, but eventually I’d like for her to learn the Arabic alphabet – the foundation of the Quran. And while she toddles around my prayer mat and babbles something that vaguely sounds like “Bismillah,” I’m eager for her to grasp the meaning of the word.

Islamic education should be on a par with everything else that children are learning. It should be joyful and engaging

So when I came across a colourful image on Instagram of The Bismillah Book for children – an under-the-sea-themed sing-a-long publication – I was intrigued. Evidently, I’m not the first parent to search for accessible tools that will help teach the values and pillars of my faith to my child. It turns out that a number of UAE entrepreneurs are at the forefront of a burgeoning books and activities market centred on making Islam relatable and enjoyable for young Muslims.

Islamic books and crafts for children

“The need of the hour definitely points towards value-based content based on a spiritual upbringing,” Mehnaz Anshah, co-founder of Bismillah Buddies, which produced The Bismillah Book, tells The National. “We’ve found a great community of like-minded parents who share our concerns regarding the future of our children and the world they are growing up in.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL.AE

He Loved Muslims Because He Loved Jesus. The Bible Showed Him How.

Remembering the pilgrimage and legacy of Rick Love, who founded Peace Catalyst after years as international director of Frontiers.

ck Love loved Jesus above all else. He loved the Bible as God’s Word.

Rick’s love for Jesus led him to love Muslims. But his love for Scripture eventually changed his mind about how to love Muslims.

Rick, who passed away on December 29, did not always love Jesus. In a candid confession in his book, Glocal: Following Jesus in the 21st Century, Rick describes how in his youth he “embraced the ‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll’ lifestyle of the sixties.” After partying through the night of his 18th birthday, he woke up in the morning thinking, “There has to be more to life than this, and I’m going to find it.” It was of the 1970s Jesus Movement he would later write, “I encountered Jesus, and my life radically changed.”

From the start, Rick’s faith was all about following Jesus, which he distinguished from the cultural trappings associated with “Christianity” and traditional ways of “doing church.” It was certainly not about a heretical fusion of Christianity with American nationalism, that he believed has tragically damaged the witness of American Christians.

The other element at the heart of Rick’s faith was the authority of Scripture. Not content with merely upholding inerrancy as an abstract doctrine, he would steep himself daily in the biblical text, allowing it to guide his life. His wife Fran describes how day after day she witnessed Rick holding up his hands in prayer and worship as he studied the Bible.

From Scripture, Rick understood early on that God cared about all nations and cultures. This moved him to care about Muslims. For decades, he assumed this meant he should become a missionary in the traditional sense. He and Fran went to Indonesia to serve Jesus. Later Rick was asked to lead Frontiers—one of the largest evangelical organizations worldwide dedicated to reaching out to Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY

Scapegoating Muslims

A Religious Studies student brought a dish to her mother at work one day. She and a friend had been visiting a local mosque. The dish consisted of goat meat, rice, and cheese. Everyone working the shift that night sampled it. We all agreed it was delicious. She talked about how hospitable the Muslim community was. She and her friend had a good experience and intended to return.

When Was This?

This took place during the year 1997.  Up till then, most of us had negative views about Islam and Muslim countries. All of us were old enough to remember the hostage crisis involving the US embassy in Iran. We remembered the 1991 Gulf War. We forgot that most Muslim countries were allied with the US. The first attempt on the World Trade Center had been made in 1993. And some of our coworkers remembered the Black Muslim movement.

We knew the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) kept raising the price of oil causing gas prices to soar. Since we lived in the southeastern US, we heard about how Israel was always under threat from “Arabs.” We knew very little if anything about Arab Christians.

The 1995 bombing was first blamed on “Islamic terrorists” before it was learned that it was done by neo-Nazi terrorists. The primary suspect Timothy McVeigh was a Gulf War veteran. He murdered 168 people.

A Convenient Scapegoat

September 11, 2001 brought about more scapegoating of Muslims. President George W. Bush attempted to differentiate between “radical Muslims” such as Osama bin Laden’s Al Queda network and Muslims who wanted nothing to do with such groups. And then in 2003, President Bush initiated the War with Iraq as an extension of “The War on Terror.” All of his attempts to differentiate between Muslims evaporated in people’s minds.

Muslims are a minority in America. Islamic culture is definitely foreign. European history is rife with stories of conflicts with Muslims. The Song of Roland begins with a description of Muslim leaders in Spain as the real enemy. Muslims have played the role of “the other” in the minds of Americans due to this heritage from Europe.

Government officials try to make distinctions between Muslims that are neighbors and Muslims that are enemies. It is not working. The reason for that is very simple. The problem is fundamentalist Christianity.

Scapegoat Theology

The scapegoat is the person who takes the blame but doesn’t deserve it. In our usage it is synonymous with the “fall guy” in scandals. Leviticus 16 mandates a dual sacrifice for the Day of Atonement. Two goats are chosen. One is slaughtered as a “sin offering.” The next goat is the sins of the people and driven into the wilderness “for Azazel.” The latter is called “the scapegoat” in early English translations of the Bible.https://9f3de2b157f5773035d07814e8d39e24.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlDriving the animal into the wilderness is supposed to be mean it has no place in the community. By being run off, the goat takes the sins away. What’s more is the goat doesn’t belong to the community either.

Fundamentalist Christianity looks for a clearly defined manifestation of the Enemy (Satan). It developed looking for enemies. There were no shortages of enemies. Evolution, Communism, Labor Unions, Feminism, Women Suffragists, and alcoholic beverages took their places in Hell’s kingdom. Why is Islam viewed as an enemy?

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS

Sri Lanka: Muslims face extra threat as coronavirus stirs hate

Sri Lanka makes cremations compulsory for COVID-19 victims, but Muslims and activists urge authorities to allow burials.

BURIALThe grief-stricken family of Zubair Fathima Rinosa in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo is demanding justice and explanation after tests, released two days after her body had been cremated, showed that the 44-year-old Muslim woman did not die from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Mohammed Sajid, one of Rinosa’s four sons, said his mother was cremated on May 5 as part of Sri Lanka’s controversial policy of mandatory cremation of all coronavirus victims in violation of traditional Islamic funeral practices.

More:

He says his brother signed a consent form for cremation under duress from authorities.

However, two days later, Rinosa’s test results showed she did not die of coronavirus. “On May 7, we learned through a media release that there had been an error in the initial testing of my mother for the virus. She did not die of COVID-19,” he said.

Sajid said his father cried “painfully” after it emerged that his mother was “wrongfully” cremated.

“My father was crying nonstop. He kept saying: ‘I can accept someday that she is gone, but not that she was cremated.'”

‘Against basic religious right’

Four of the nine who have died from the disease were Muslims. All of them were cremated, which goes against the Islamic tradition of burying the dead.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

Muslims Around The World Face A Different Kind Of Ramadan

ramadan 2As the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims begin observing the holy month of Ramadan, traditionally a time of dawn-to-dusk fasting, festivities and communal prayer, an unprecedented global pandemic is changing the celebration this year in equally unprecedented ways.

Mosques usually brimming with the faithful during Ramadan are closed, including in Saudi Arabia, home to Mecca and Medina, the holiest cities in Islam. The kingdom has some 14,000 confirmed cases, with more than 120 deaths from COVID-19, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Ramadan, the month that Muslims believe God revealed the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, officially begins at the first sighting of the waxing crescent after the new moon, leading to different countries declaring its start a day or two apart.

In Saudi Arabia, the start of the holy month began Friday. In Egypt, it began Thursday. And in Iran, Ramadan begins Saturday.

In a statement, Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud lamented the necessity to maintain social distancing to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus and the damper it would place on this year’s celebrations.

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FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR 

One year after Christchurch we seek solace in community and being unapologetically Muslim

2500In many ways, life has not changed for many of my Muslim friends and me because the world has not changed. However, hope exists

A body on the floor of a place of worship is still a body
The fall, and the thump, and the snap
There is nothing beautiful about the way the blood sprays the sacred walls
The way it hangs itself a tapestry of death and despair

And we dig deep
We try to find the beauty in tragedy

Iman Etri, Bankstown Poetry Slam, March 2019

The scars of the Christchurch massacre linger. Time has carpeted the pain. Slowly but surely, the shock recedes until all we feel is the echo of the tragedy. One year on after Haji Daoud Nabi walked out of the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch and uttered the words “Welcome, brother” only to be met with bullets in response.

“Al Noor” is an Arabic term which means “the light”. In the Qur’an, the term is used to describe the divine light of God. A light that a man filled with hatred tried to extinguish when he opened fire on dozens of innocent people in their place of worship on their holiest day of the week.

At the start of this month, I felt a sense of anxiety. I thought it was just me. In preparing to write this piece, I started reaching out to my Muslim friends to check in with them and ask how they were feeling with the one year anniversary of the tragedy fast approaching. The responses have been similar in many ways – united by a common thread of sadness, fear, frustration, and a deep sense that pain is still felt.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)

Muslim Literature: The Pros, The Progress, And The Pitfalls

kimberly-farmer-lUaaKCUANVI-unsplash-2048x1362The burgeoning field of Muslim literature, and Muslim fiction, in particular, is an exciting development for the English-speaking Muslim community. However, it is necessary for Muslim writers to seriously consider the quality of their work.

Once upon a time, it was extremely difficult for English-speaking Muslims to find good books – fiction and non-fiction alike – that was catered to their demographic. Fiction, in particular, was scarce, for both young children as well as teens. Much of it was poorly written, filled with atrocious spelling and grammar, and stilted from beginning to end.

It was not an enjoyable reading experience.

Alhamdulillah, the Muslim literary scene has evolved significantly since the early 90s. Today, we have award-winning Muslim authors such as Na’ima B. Robert, whose excellent YA novels have been published through mainstream publishers and numerous emerging writers whose debut novels are wonderful contributions to the existing body of modern Muslim literature.

Muslim publishers such as Kube PublishingDaybreak Press, and Ruqaya’s Bookshelf are taking the lead in producing and distributing stories by and for Muslims. In addition, the publishing company Simon and Schuster launched an entire division dedicated to books by Muslim writers. Hena KhanS. K. AliKaruna Riazi, and Mark Gonzales are just some of the authors whose Muslim-centered stories have been published through Salaam Reads and made accessible to schools, libraries, and the general public. The We Need Diverse Books movement has also played a significant role in promoting multicultural and marginalized voices within mainstream publishing, and the results are wonderful.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MUSLIM MATTERS

Muslim nations reject Trump’s Mideast plan in Saudi meeting

MUSLIM COUNTRIESDUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Days after Gulf Arab states expressed their support for President Donald Trump’s efforts at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, representatives from these same countries and other Muslim nations gathered in Saudi Arabia and rejected the White House’s plan as “biased.”

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the kingdom backs efforts that push for negotiations, but said such initiatives must reach a fair resolution that ensures the rights of the Palestinian people “through the creation of an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

He spoke at a gathering in the Saudi city of Jiddah for the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which denounced Trump’s plan.

The formal rebuke by the OIC comes just days after Arab League nations unanimously rejected the White House’s proposals at a meeting in Cairo, where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to cut security ties with Israel and referred to White House adviser Jared Kushner, the chief architect of the plan, as simply Trump’s son-in-law.

The White House plan heavily favors Israel and ignores many of the Palestinians’ core demands by keeping some 750,000 Jewish settlers in place, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty of the strategic Jordan Valley, and asserting Jerusalem as the “undivided capital” of Israel.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Muslims to gather Wednesday at Kentucky (USA) Capitol

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Muslims from across the state will gather in Frankfort on Wednesday for the inaugural Muslim Day at the state Capitol.

People of the Islamic faith will tour the Capitol building, meet and speak with legislators who represent them, receive training on how to advocate for issues affecting the Muslim community, listen to guest speakers, including state legislators and national representatives of the Council on American Islamic Relations, and have a silent prayer in the Capitol rotunda.

The free event starts at 9 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m. It’s sponsored by the Kentucky Chapter of CAIR and multiple city partners in respective Muslim communities. Lunch will be provided by the Islamic Center of Frankfort.

Ashiq Zaman, president of the Islamic Center of Frankfort, says he’s “very excited about the first statewide Muslim gathering in our capital city.”

“Muslim communities have organized locally in almost all corners of Kentucky for a while,” he said. “We find Muslim-owned businesses and restaurants serving halal (permissible) food pretty common.

“Muslim communities run Islamic centers, charitable organizations and even Islamic schools are becoming common in major cities in our state. However, I am not aware of any attempt to organize Muslims statewide.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM STATE JOURNAL (KENTUCKY)