Picnic at tri-faith campus in Omaha, Nebraska brings together Christians, Jews, Muslims

5b70e09f4c33a.image (1)People of all ages, shapes and sizes arrived at the Tri-Faith Picnic at Omaha’s multifaith campus Sunday afternoon carrying bowls of salads and trays of desserts, just as they would for any other picnic in any other place.

They gathered under giant tents and shared their potluck offerings alongside the usual picnic standards, with a twist — the hamburgers were halal, the hot dogs kosher.

And as they dined, the Jews, Muslims and Christians gathered there furthered the aims of the Tri-Faith Initiative that has brought them together: fostering mutual understanding, respect and friendship. More than 500 attended, according to an organizer’s estimate.

“I think it binds people here,” said Nizam Qassem, a member of the mosque that the American Muslim Institute opened on the campus in 2017. “Wherever there are people and food, there is fun.”

Hosting this year’s event was Temple Israel, which completed its synagogue on the former golf course south of 132nd and Pacific Streets in 2013. Across a creek bed is the future Countryside Community Church, scheduled for completion by Easter. A large mound of dirt marks the site of a fourth future building, a tri-faith center that is to be completed by spring 2020. Earthwork also is under way for a circular bridge that will link the structures.

Events such as the picnic, like the campus itself, offer people opportunities to mingle and learn about one another.

FULL ARTICLE FROM OMAHA.COM

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The Power of Storytelling: Creating a New Future for American Muslims

jumanna_moonBy Wajahat Ali

In 7th-century Arabia, the storyteller was valued more than the swordsman. The audience sat on the floor surrounding the gifted orator as he captivated the eager listeners with beautiful poetry narrating their history. In the 21st century, the art form may have evolved to include motion pictures, TV shows, theater productions, novels, and standup comedy, but they all serve the same function: storytelling.

Ideas and principles are most effectively communicated and transmitted when they are couched in a narrative. Stories, whether they concern the etiquette and biography of prophets or the trials and tribulations of America’s founding fathers, inform and influence a cultural citizenry of its values and identity.

Stories of the Prophet Muhammad most effectively communicate the Quran’s eloquent exhortation to tolerate and embrace diversity: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise [each other])” (49:13).  The Prophet’s cordial diplomacy and communication with the Christian, Abyssinian King yielded one of the first alliances of the young Muslim community. Furthermore, the Prophet displayed unconditional love for his diverse companions, who comprised the gamut of Arab society including former slaves, orphans, widows, wealthy dignitaries, and non-Arabs.

Similarly, the story of a biracial man with an Arabic name and a Kenyan father elected to the highest office in the land reminds the world that indeed America can live up to its cherished principles of freedom and racial equality, and her citizens are capable of reflecting a magnanimous and egalitarian spirit bereft of prejudice.

If a person were to read these stories comprising the core values of Islamic and American history, one would assume their respective cultural fabrics resemble a generous, messy, lively, colorful mosaic perpetually adding and experimenting with new colors, styles, and hues to beautify its narrative.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS

Morocco: Model Of Moderate Islam And Intercultural Dialogue – Analysis

Since tMKingSince the advent of the unfortunate events of 9/11 in New York in 2001, Islam has, duly, become an easy target for Western attacks and, as a result, Islamophobia has increased in intensity and scope and has, consequently, even turned into a kind of religion for Muslim-haters, especially those who believe, wrongly, that Islam is an insidious force and subliminal belief of hate, destruction and backwardness.

As such, today, regrettably, Islam is equated with violence, with hatred, with terrorism, with death etc., bearing in mind that those so-called Muslims who opted for extremism, for political reasons and gains, are a handful and their motives are very suspicious, secretive and totally criminal.

Indeed, such dangerous and lethal groups like: al-Qaeda, ISIS, and associated dormant cells and lone wolves, etc. can in no way represent 1.5 billion peace-loving Muslims around the globe and speak in their name, at all. But, alas, these inhuman and violent so-called Muslims have triggered  much hatred in the West towards Islam, in general. Indeed, Trump, as a US presidential candidate, vilified Muslims, at will, and as a president he signed the so-called Muslim ban, barring the citizens of some Muslim countries from entering the US.

FULL ARTICLE FROM EUROASIA REVIEW 

Christian community to build house of interfaith dialogue to fight hatred in Berlin

2018_07_19_49512_1531963536._mediumIn Germany, followers of minority faiths have often faced the bitter experience of hatred and persecution, none more so than the Jewish community, which suffered under one of the darkest times in the world’s history. Today, Muslims are often portrayed negatively in the media, driven by narratives pushed by right-wing politicians.

A Christian community, however, has stepped in to eliminate hatred and to educate society about the peaceful nature of religion, particularly Judaism and Islam. The Berlin-based Evangelical congregation St. Peter (also called St. Mary), along with several Jewish organizations, has founded the House of One where members of different faiths can learn to live together and tackle common challenges in the secular society of Germany.

The concept of the House of One is simple. An iconic pavilion will be built in the center of Berlin, with three sections to function as a Church, Mosque and Synagogue, respectively. Each section will be connected to the others by a chamber at the center of the building where inter-religious dialogues can be held.

“We will put them [the three prayer sections] under one roof but not in one room. All three will live together like a community,” Rev. Eric Haussmann, a pastor at St. Peter, said on Wednesday to a group of visiting Indonesian intellectuals hosted by the Goethe Institut.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE JAKARTA POST 

Michigan likely just elected the first Muslim congresswoman — and she was once booted for heckling Trump

5b6ad3917708e9061c41ec41-960-480Rashida Tlaib on Tuesday won the Democratic nomination for the US House of Representatives in Michigan’s 13th District, putting her on track to become the first Muslim congresswoman in US history.

She will run unopposed in November, as the Republican Party has not put forward a candidate to contest the seat.

Tlaib is poised to take the seat previously held by John Conyers, the Democratic congressman who left his seat in December followingmultiple sexual-harassment allegations . Conyers had been in Congress representing various Michigan districts since 1965.

Tlaib had won 33.2% of the votes as of early Wednesday morning, The New York Times reported, with 96% of the votes counted. The first runner-up, Brenda Jones, trailed her by more than 3,000 votes.

The 42-year-old progressive candidate, who was born in Detroit to Palestinian immigrants, isn’t new to politics. She was a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 2008 to 2014, when she hit her term limit.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THIS INSIDER

Lebanese bishop praises courage of Muslim Grand Mufti in defending Mideast Christians

lebanese-christian-maronites

A Lebanese Maronite bishop in Paris has praised the grand mufti leading Sunni Muslims in Lebanon for defending the importance of Christians in the Middle East and condemning attacks on them as a crime against the entire population.

The words of Grand Mufti Abdel Latif Derian of Lebanon are “more than courageous,” they are a “valuable” act that fits “with the spirit” of an apostolic exhortation of the late Pope John Paul II, says the Lebanese Maronite bishop in Paris.

Monsignor Maroun-Nasser Gemayel, bishop of the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Paris, was referring to the Apostolic Exhortation A hope for Lebanon by John Paul II of 1997 when he spoke to Asia News.

Abdel Latif Derian, the Sunni authority in Lebanon had reminded Muslim students of the importance of the Christian presence in the region.

He said attacks against them are a crime against the entire population, noting that Muslims and Christians share “the same fate.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM ECUMENICAL NEWS 

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

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.

There is a particular urgency for Catholics to become participants in dialogue with Muslims who are being attacked for their faith in the U.S. and abroad. Duffner succinctly explains how very real and damaging anti-Muslim prejudices in the U.S. are, noting, “In recent years, people have broken into mosques and ripped up Qur’ans, spray-painted vulgar language on the exterior of buildings, shot bullets into signs, and left pig heads, bacon and even feces on the property.” These acts are accompanied by threats of other violence, arson attacks on mosques and even murder.

What has the Catholic response been to these evils? Unfortunately, dialogue and solidarity with our Muslim siblings is largely absent, despite being a mandate of discipleship. A report from The Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University, which researches Islamophobia, found 70 percent of U.S. Catholics do not know a Muslim personally and just 14 percent have a favorable view of Islam. Few Catholics grasp what the magisterium actually teaches about Islam and about interfaith dialogue generally. As Islamophobia soars in the U.S., the people of God remain collectively silent.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER