Interfaith dialogue really is relational, accessible

web RNS-Muslim women Washington stateThere is a particular urgency for Catholics to become participants in dialogue with Muslims

FINDING JESUS AMONG MUSLIMS: HOW LOVING ISLAM MAKES ME A BETTER CATHOLIC
By Jordan Denari Duffner
162 pages; Published by Liturgical Press41fbo3Fz79L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
$19.95

Earlier this year while on a train in Europe, I sat down across from an Arabic-looking man who began reading the Quran. My immediate first reaction was apprehension and fear. My immediate second reaction was to check my implicit yet real bias for what it was, Islamophobia.

Most striking to me was this incident happened just a few days after I had finished a book on Muslim-Christian relations that addressed these implicit biases to which Catholics like myself are prone. It is precisely because these biases are so ingrained and because Islamophobia is on the rise that Finding Jesus Among Muslims: How Loving Islam Makes Me a Better Catholic by Jordan Denari Duffner is such an important and timely resource.

 

Written primarily for a Catholic audience, the book explores present relations between Christianity and Islam. It does so, however, through the lens of Duffner’s lived experiences with Muslims and the ways in which encountering Islam has helped her find Jesus anew. She never intends the book to be a comprehensive analysis or work of systematic theology. Rather, in her words, Finding Jesus Among Muslims should act as a “facilitator of dialogue.” The book raises more questions than it answers, encouraging readers to go forth and learn more. The author’s rich commitment to Muslims and demonstrated courage in entering vulnerable, liminal spaces inspire readers to become active participants in dialogue.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER 

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

‘Fake news’ driving ethno-religious crisis in Nigeria

nigeria_buhariMisinformation risks worsening ethnic and religious tensions in Nigeria, media commentators and researchers say, at a time of heightened concern about internal security and fragile community relations.

The months and weeks running up to recent elections saw a slew of false claims about politicians and their parties, as part of deliberate attempts to shape the narrative before polling.

Africa’s most populous nation is often characterised as teetering on the brink.

Security threats include Boko Haram Islamists in the northeast and violence between nomadic cattle herders and farmers in central states.

The latter is primarily a battle for water and land but those involved have been polarised along ethnic, sectarian and religious lines, in a country with more than 250 ethnic groups and where identity is rarely far from the surface.
Simon Kolawole, a former editor with Nigeria’s ThisDay newspaper and founder of The Cable online news site, said manufactured lies in the guise of news was “further endangering the delicate ethno-religious fabric of Nigeria”.

It was also “hampering the credibility of news outlets in the country”, he told AFP.

Information minister Lai Mohammed said misinformation and hate speech “threatens the peace, unity, security and corporate existence of Nigerians”.

Of particular concern was the fabrication of stories pitting the country’s mainly Muslim north against the predominantly Christian south a traditional fault line often used by proponents of restructuring the current federal system and even breaking it up.

“When you go by social media, the impression you get is as if Nigeria is at war and as if Muslims are killing Christians,” said Mohammed.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FRANCE24 

Study confirms Muslims have the highest life satisfaction

12117700-0-image-a-21_1554931243403It is believed that no barometer or measuring tool can be used to quantifthe bliss a person feels in any given moment in their life. However, a new study conducted by German psychologist, Dr Edinger-Schons, found that measuring life satisfaction is as close as you can get to quantifying happiness. He found that the overarching sense of ‘oneness’ is used to envisage the overall contentment in the life of a person.  

Over 67,000 were gathered to complete a survey and after dividing the respondents by religion, Muslims were found to feel the greatest sense of oneness, leading to a greater sense of well-being. [1] 

Furthermore, a professor at the University of Illinois created a scale for happiness, or the ‘satisfaction with life scale’ (SWLS).[1] It consisted of five questions in order to determine how satisfied a person is with their life. Each question had a ranking from one to seven, and according to this, the higher the score, the more satisfied you are with your life. 

Another survey in 2016 concluded that “highly religious” people are more likely to be ‘very happy’ in life.1 90% of these ‘very happy’ people were Christians; though, now the German psychologist has concluded that the idea of oneness is the common denominator that runs through people with a higher level of spirituality in their respective faiths. 

Over 67,000 non-students were surveyed by researchers at the University of Mannheim in Germany to determine how oneness affected life satisfaction across different religions. Due to the belief that they were connected to something larger than themselves, it was found that Muslims were most likely to be the ones with a higher life satisfaction over other faiths. Oneness as a personality marker can be used to distinguish between people who seek and make more meaningful connections with others, the world around them, and the almighty entity of God. 

FULL ARTICLE FROM ISLAM21c

 

Muslims arrived in America 400 years ago as part of the slave trade and today are vastly diverse

file-20190409-2931-vj92z7Most Americans say they don’t know a Muslim and that much of what they understand about Islam is from the media.

It’s not surprising then to see the many misunderstandings that exist about Muslims. Some see them as outsiders and a threat to the American way of life and values. President Donald Trump’s controversial policy to impose a ban on Muslims from seven countries entering into the United States played into such fears.

What many don’t know, however, is that Muslims have been in America well before America became a nation. In fact, some of the earliest arrivals to this land were Muslim immigrants – forcibly transported as slaves in the transatlantic trade, whose 400th anniversary is being observed this year.

The first American Muslims

Scholars estimate that as many as 30% of the African slaves brought to the U.S., from West and Central African countries like Gambia and Cameroon, were Muslim. Among the difficulties they faced, were also those related to their faith.

As a scholar of Muslim communities in the West, I know African slaves were forced to abandon their Islamic faith and practices by their owners, both to separate them from their culture and religious roots and also to “civilize” them to Christianity.

Historian Sylviane Diouf explains how despite such efforts, many slaves retained aspects of their customs and traditions, and found new, creative ways to express them. Slave devotionals sung in the fields, for example, kept the tunes and memory of a bygone life alive well after the trauma of dislocation.

Diouf argues that blues music, one of the quintessential forms of American culture, can trace its origins to Muslim influences from the slave era. She also demonstrates how the famous blues song, “Levee Call Holler,” has a style and melody that comes from the Muslim call to prayer, the “adhan.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION 

Stoning Gay People to Death in Brunei Is an Outrage and Not My Definition of Islam

THNAKBRUNEI-RELIGION-ISLAM-LAWI WAS 13 years old when I first heard of the Sultan of Brunei. The absolute ruler of a tiny, oil-rich kingdom in Southeast Asia, Hassanal Bolkiah was the subject of a much-discussed TV documentary by the British filmmaker Alan Whicker in 1992. As a young teenager, sitting in front of the television, I was in awe of this Muslim king. He was the richest man in the world! He earned a quarter of a million pounds every hour! He owned more than 150 cars!

Today, however, I’m filled not with awe but with disgust. Brunei has become the first country in Southeast Asia to impose capital punishmentfor “crimes” such as adultery and gay sex.

LGBTQ Bruneians, who are in particular danger, have been fleeing the kingdom. Can you blame them? According to the Associated Press, “Homosexuality was already punishable in Brunei by a jail term of up to 10 years. … But under the new laws, those found guilty of gay sex can be stoned to death or whipped. Adulterers risk death by stoning too, while thieves face amputation of a right hand on their first offense and a left foot on their second. The laws also apply to children and foreigners, even if they are not Muslim.”

This is barbarism, plain and simple. How can a punishment rightly described as “cruel and inhuman” (U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet), “vicious” (Amnesty International), and “medieval” (Human Rights Watch) be considered appropriate or acceptable in the 21st century? Has the Sultan — who isn’t exactly a paragon of moral rectitude himself — taken leave of his senses?

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INTERCEPT

Dalit Christians, Muslims seek rights in poll-bound India

5c88bdd05cdfd_600Hundreds of protesting Dalit Christians and Muslims marched through India’s capital in what they said was a last-ditch effort to gain welfare benefits denied to them.Some 500 Christians and Muslims who belong to former untouchable communities came together in New Delhi on March 12, two days after the schedule for the April-May general elections were announced.

“The country is in election mood. We want to put across our demands to the government that they consider the rights of our Dalit Christian and Muslim brethren,” said Father Devasagaya Raj, secretary of the Indian bishops’ office for Dalit and socially disadvantaged people at the gathering.

Christians and Muslims of Dalit origin demand that they be given social welfare benefits meant for the uplift of Dalit people. Both communities have been denied these benefits since 1950 because the government says their religions do not follow the caste system.“Six decades is not a small period [that] we have been suffering this injustice,” said Father Raj. “There is a limit for everything. We have decided that we will support a political party who will put our demands in their election manifesto.”

The 1950 presidential order said only Dalit people of the Hindu religion can enjoy constitutional benefits such as reservations in government jobs, education institutions and financial help with studies. The order was amended twice to include Sikhs in 1956 and Buddhists in 1990.Both Buddhism and Sikhism also do not approve of the caste system, but they were included after the government accepted their argument that a mere change of religion does not change a person’s socio-economic situation.

But the same argument put forward by Dalit Christians and Muslims has not been successful in having another amendment applied. Christian leaders say political parties fear doing so because it could antagonize their majority Hindu voters.“Most of the political parties have promised to consider our demand but no one has kept their word when they come to power. We want a firm promise now,” Father Raj said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM UCA NEWS