A Muslim’s Advice To American Christians

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The opening week of 2017 saw the publication of a remarkable book, Letters to a Young Muslim, written by Omar Saif Ghobash, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to Russia. Letters is a series of reflections about Islam explicitly addressed to the author’s teenage son but also, implicitly, to the entire Muslim Ummah, or worldwide community.

The book doubtlessly will stick in the craws of Americans who persist in believing, contrary to both evidence and common sense, that Islam is a monolithic cult of hatred and violence. It will also infuriate ISIS thugs besotted by their violence-soaked vision of a resurrected caliphate.

But those who deplore the hijacking of religion by willfully ignorant and dangerously self-righteous fanatics will find Ghobash’s book a drink of cool water. In it, he struggles to rescue the essence of Islam from the distortions of it promulgated by Islamists by cogently identifying and firmly calling out the less-than-holy motives and confusions that prompt their jihads.

About halfway through my reading of Letters, it struck me that some of Ghobash’s explanations of how zealots have distorted Islam uncomfortably parallel the motives and means by which American Christianity has been hijacked by our own jihadists. I’m quite certain that Ghobash’s intention isn’t to lecture American Christians on our faith, although God knows we could use a good talking to. Nonetheless, those of us concerned about American Christianity’s malformation by zealots who mistake obduracy for purity, judgmentalism for righteousness, and political partisanship for faith can learn from Letters.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

Instead of Pitying American Muslims, Work With Them

US-VOTE-MUSLIMSDr. Robbins is the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Massachusetts.

by John Robbins

In the weeks since the election, the American Muslim community has seen a massive outpouring of support. As a community advocate, I’ve personally received hundreds of e-mails and calls from people asking how they can help, and letting me know that they’re with us and will do everything that they can to aid us during this time. People across the political, religious and political spectrums have reached out to their Muslim neighbors like never before and have offered to aid us in any way needed.

But the tone, the tenor, of these messages of support concerns me.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m extremely moved and grateful for this outpouring. But in the rush of people lining up to help the American Muslim community, many are motivated by an urge to protect those who are weaker, those who can’t help themselves.

Right now, Muslims in America are pitied. And an object of pity is not respected, valued or recognized as having strength.

Too often, the giver of aid is positioned above the receiver, so that the movement of anything of value is purely a one-directional interchange between those who have and those who don’t. When we accept this support (and I’m not saying we shouldn’t), it reinforces the idea that Muslims are in need, and that the wider—usually white—community has something to offer, but doesn’t need anything in return.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIME MAGAZINE 

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

 

 

Central African Republic Christians, Muslims unite to heal trauma

CRS | Lobaye Prefecture Emergency Food Security Project | Lobaye | Central African Republic

BANGUI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Blindfolds secured tightly, more than a dozen men and women are led by their partners around leafy plants and trees in the compound of an international charity in the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui.

The occasional stumble sends nervous laughter around the group of Christians and Muslims who have been paired up at random for the experiment – an exercise in building trust between communities torn apart by conflict.

At the end of the session, those guiding the ‘blind’ along cracked concrete and pebble paths spoke of having to be patient, responsible and compassionate.

“We all have a need for each other,” community worker Nicaise Gounoumoundjou told the group.

For a long time, Hada Katidja Siba was skeptical.

One of the participants, Siba saw her house burned to the ground in 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels toppled the government in the majority Christian nation, sparking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias.

Thousands of people were killed in the ensuing ethnic cleansing and the country’s defacto partition between the Muslim northeast and Christian southwest.

For Siba, a Muslim, seeing her home disappear in flames caused her to anger ‘very easily’, and to distrust and fear Christians.

“I would see a Christian coming toward me and I would just think: ‘What is he coming to do to me? Is he coming to kill me or to do something to me?'” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Prominent American Muslim Asssociation Opposes Confirmation of Sen. Sessions as Attorney General

Muslim civil rights group urges senate committee to question AG nominee on anti-Muslim remarks, associations with hate groups, respect for civil rights.49455988-cached

 

WASHINGTON –

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced its opposition to the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as attorney general of the United States.

“Senator Sessions’ past statements and troubling views on issues impacting American Muslims and other minority communities make him unfit to serve as attorney general,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Awad said CAIR is also calling on all Americans to urge members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to question Sen. Sessions about his past anti-Muslim statements, current associations with anti-Muslim hate groups and his views on a number of civil rights issues during next week’s confirmation hearing.

TAKE ACTION: See Phone Numbers and Call Script Below

SEE: Attorney General Nomination Hearing

CAIR has already expressed its concerns to members of the committee, and now the Washington-based civil rights organization is urging community members to do the same by contacting all members of that committee to urge that they question Sen. Sessions about the following issues of concern:

1. Question Sen. Sessions on His Support for Trump’s Religious Test to Ban Muslims Traveling to the United States

In December 2015, Sessions voted against and publicly lashed out at a nonbinding amendment seeking to prevent a religious litmus test for people entering into the United States. The amendment had been offered by ranking Senate Judiciary Committee Member Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

During that vote, Session said: “Many people are radicalized after they enter. How do we screen for that possibility, if we cannot even ask about an applicant’s views on religion? Would we forbid questions about politics? Or theology?”

FULL ARTICLE FROM COMMON DREAMS 

My Muslim Sons Will Never Learn to Hate People

Omar Saif Ghobash is the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Russia and the author of Letters to a Young Muslim

Habeebie Saif,

I remember when you realized that you were a Muslim. You were tiny. You were sweet andbook round and friendly. It was at an event at school. Your schools so far have been English-language curriculum schools, and the student body came from more than 100 nationalities. One day the students had to identify their religion, and you came back “aware” of your religious identity. You took this identity very seriously. You began to ask me what you “had to do” to be a Muslim. I explained as best as I could the simple steps of knowing that the big Guy in the sky, who created the world, was really called Allah, and that hundreds of years ago, he had sent us his Messenger Mohammed with the Quran. I told you that we prayed five times a day, and I reminded you of Ramadan, when we would not eat all day until the evening.

Soon you were coming back from school telling me what I had to do to be a “good Muslim.” It seems your Arabic teacher and his colleague, your religious studies teacher, had a better idea of what being a Muslim meant. You became a little aggressive, and I began to realize that your mother and I were not the only ones bringing you up. I saw that we had competition for your attention. I panicked a little. I had images of you running away to Syria to fight in a war where people would exploit your good nature. I imagined you cutting yourself off from us, your family, because we were not strict enough Muslims according to the standards that you had picked up from these so-called teachers of yours. I had the urge to go to your school and punch them and tell them they had no right to teach you these things.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIME MAGAZINE