Rise of the Muslim Bishop

2015_9$largeimg04_Sep_2015_000746270It was not for nothing that detractors called Archbishop Josiah Idowu Fearon of the Anglican Communion a Muslim Bishop: he is a bishop, no doubt; but obviously, he is not a Muslim, even though he knows the religion better than many Muslims.
Once His Grace was invited to one of those many unending Northern meetings to give a talk appropriate for the occasion. Given the choice of theme and topic, he chose what in the circumstance he considered was the most important one facing the peoples of the North – the disappearing unity, equality and essential oneness of its people. He chose to reunite them under God.

As he rose to begin his lecture in Transcorp Hilton’s Congress Hall, he raised his hands as if in prayer – and at that moment you could see it all: here was this unassuming, unpretentious and self-effacing tender of the vineyard who possessed nothing besides his ecclesiastical collar exuding such moral presence as dominated all that was before him.
He chose to give an exposition of the meaning of Surat at-Ikhlas, the 112th chapter of the Holy Quran.
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim    

Qul huwallahu ahad

Allahus samad ….

Beginning as every Surah does – in the Name of God, and in anticipation of His mercy and grace, Bishop Fearon articulated the Quranic concepts of the unity and the uniqueness of God; and drew the attention of the audience especially to the implications of this for them. It was a long and meaningful talk; and here Fearon was the restorer of the Christian ethic and raison d’etre of love even in pain, and he was acting as a reminder to Muslims and enforcer of their forgotten duty of pan-Abrahamaic brotherhood and fellowship.


Christian, Muslim and Jewish artists unite in prayer for the world

[Episcopal News Service]

ens_101614_caravan-500x581The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler grew up in Senegal, a predominately Muslim country in West Africa where his father was a minister.

Throughout his childhood he observed the tension between Muslims and Christians.

“I thought there has to be a better way. Most of my best friends were Muslims, and today still, Muslims number among my closest friends,” the Episcopal priest said, sitting on a wooden bench at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. He answered logistics calls and texts on his cell phone while taking a break from working on the 2014 CARAVAN Exhibition of Visual Art, “AMEN: A Prayer for the World.”

Open to the public until Nov. 23, the art show embodies Chandler’s lifelong mission: to ease that religious and cultural tension by focusing on commonalities rather than trying to overcome differences. With religious extremism and persecution so prevalent and interwoven so thickly with politics, especially in the Middle East, this mission is needed now more than ever, he said.


Muslims seek refuge in Central African Republic church

164-onLGU.AuSt.55CARNOT, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC — The Christian militiamen know hundreds of Muslims are hiding here on the grounds of the Catholic church and now they’re giving them a final ultimatum: Leave Central African Republic within a week or face death at the hands of machete-wielding youths.

On Monday, some of the 30 Cameroonian peacekeepers fired into the air to disperse angry militia fighters congregated outside the concrete walls of the church compound. The gunfire sent traumatized children running for cover and set off a chorus of wails throughout the courtyard.

The peacekeepers are all that stand between nearly 800 Muslims and the armed gangs who want them dead. Already the fighters known as the anti-Balaka have brought 40 liters (10 gallons) of gasoline and threatened to burn the church to the ground.



A Look at Muslim-Christian Relations in Ethiopia

1390326813014The Muslim-Christian relationship in Ethiopia has a mixed historical background. Ethiopia is located on a religious fault line, although the relationship between the two religions has been reasonably cordial in recent decades.

Christian rule has prevailed in the Ethiopian highlands since the early 4th century. Early in the 7th century a group of Arab followers of Islam in danger of persecution by local authorities in Arabia took refuge in the Axumite Kingdom of the Ethiopian highlands. As a result of this generosity, the Prophet Mohammed concluded that Ethiopia should not be targeted for jihad. Not all Muslims took this message seriously and subsequent contact was less cordial. In the late 15th century, Islamic raids from the Somali port of Zeila plagued the Ethiopian highlands. In the first half of the 16th century, the Islamic threat became more serious when Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al Ghazi rallied a diverse group of Muslims in a jihad to end Christian power in the highlands. The Ethiopians finally defeated this threat by the middle of the 16th century.

Although Wahhabi missionaries from the Arabian Peninsula made efforts to penetrate Ethiopia beginning in the 19th century, they had little success until recent decades. During the first half of the 1800s, Egyptian/Ottoman power in neighboring Sudan made periodic incursions inside Ethiopia. In 1875, the khedive of Egypt tried unsuccessfully to conquer Ethiopia entering from the Red Sea. The last major organized threat from Islam occurred in 1888 when the forces of the Mahdi in the Sudan sacked the former Ethiopian capital of Gondar and burned many of its churches. Subsequently, both the Ethiopians and the Mahdists harbored rebels opposed to the other side, creating a tit-for-tat situation that has periodically continued to the present day.


Central African Republic (CAR) Muslims, Christians Sow Peace Hopes

CAR-Muslims,-Christians-Sow-Coexistence-HopesBANGUI – As sectarian violence rips Central Africa Republic, some regions in the capital Bangui remain as oases for coexistence and hope for an inclusive future for Muslims and Christians in the war-torn country.

“Here, we have a mixture of populations that do not exist in other areas,” Bash, a 28-year-old Muslim resident who wished to be identified only by his nickname for security reasons, told France 24 on Tuesday, December 17.

“This diversity has prevented us from sinking into violence.”


As Bangui descends into chaos with the recent wave of religious conflict, areas Boulata and Ramandji neighborhoods were still save from divisions.

The neighborhoods, where a mixed population of Christians and Muslims co-habit, have remained calm over the past months.

“We grew up together, people have intermarried,” Bash explained.

“Here, you can find a child with a Muslim name in a Christian home because the father is Muslim,” he added.

At least 450 have been killed and hundreds more injured since the beginning of December when Christian militias, loyal to the CAR’s ousted President Francois Bozize, launched multiple attacks from the north, according to the UN humanitarian office.

The country has been thrown into violence after President Michel Djotodia declared himself the country’s first Muslim leader after ousting Bozize on March 24.

Taking the helms of power, Djotodia has struggled to rein in members of the now-dissolved Seleka group that swept him to power nine months ago.

According to news reports, rogue former rebels turned warlords have set up little fiefdoms and sown terror in villages.


Murder In Zanzibar: Christians, Muslims Struggle To Keep The Peace In Tourist Hotspot

zanzibarFather Evarist Mushi was on his way to lead a service at the Betras Catholic Church in Mtoni — an area not far from Stone Town, a World Heritage Site — when assailants cornered and killed him. The incident echoes a similar attack in December, when attackers shot and seriously wounded another Catholic priest in the Tomondo area to the south of Stone Town.

Mushi’s death spurred condemnation from security officials on the island, who urged calm and vowed to apprehend the perpetrators.

“We understand that these crimes are being propped up by some bad elements under the pretext of politics, religion or economic reasons, though no religion or political grouping supports violence in principle,” said Said Mwema, the Tanzanian inspector general of police, according to the Tanzania Daily News.

Despite these assurances, the death of Father Mushi is sure to unsettle Zanzibar’s Christians, who are vastly outnumbered on the archipelago. Tanzania as a whole is 60 percent Christian and 36 percent Muslim. But in Zanzibar, more than 95 percent of residents follow Islam.

Religion is integral to Tanzanian society; a full 95 percent of both Christians and Muslims said that faith was a very important part of their lives, according to data from a comprehensive 2010 poll conducted by the The Pew Forum. Of Tanzania’s Muslims, 86 percent said the Quran should be taken literally; 78 percent of Christians said the same of the Bible.

A division between the country’s two largest religious groups is evident. Though the survey found that 95 percent of both groups said religiously motivated violence could not be justified, a majority of Muslims said they knew little or nothing about Christianity, just as the majority of Christians said they knew little or nothing about Islam.


Sectarian Violence in Nigeria is Spinning out of Control

Nigeria has suffered from sectarian, ethnic, and tribal violence for quite some time. 
As in many African countries, there are political, economic, and social issues at work, a shortage of resources, unfair distribution of wealth, tensions between settled and nomadic groups, etc.  Often whatever violence is carried out is defended as being “retaliation” or “revenge” for some previous act carried out by the other group.  Extremists (like Boko Haram) take advantage of the situation by attempting to provide phony religious or nationalistic justifications for why a particular group must carry out such acts of violence in “self defense”.  Attempting to oversimplify what is happening, or to depict the violence in Nigeria as being a religious war, does a disservice to all of the people.

Most often, attacks by Muslims on Christians get the most press here in the U.S., but the reality is that the violence is carried out by members of all groups.  Since many people in the U.S. are unaware that this is not as simple as Muslims being a “problem” wherever they live, here are a very few examples of such acts of violence carried out by Christians against Muslims:

In 2011, Christians attacked Muslims praying at a mosque on Eid in Jos The mosque had been burned in previous religious violence.  In 2011, Christian youths attacked a car full of Muslims returning from a wedding in central Nigeria, killing seven people inside the vehicle and sparking retaliatory violence that left one other person dead.  In 2006 Nigerian Christians defended aseries of attacks on Muslims in Onitsha that left two mosques destroyed and at least 42 dead.  Nigeria has seen at least 20,000 deaths from political, ethnic and religious violence.

Nigeria is home to more than 200 distinct ethnic groups drawn together in a volatile mix by European colonial mapmakers in the 19th century.  …  Though the city is considered part of the homeland of the heavily Catholic Ibo ethnic group, thousands of northern Muslims, mostly members of the Hausa ethnic group, have moved here in search of work.


Christians, Muslims unite at Nigeria protest

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A human wave of more than 20,000 surrounded the Muslim faithful as they prayed toward Mecca Friday, as anti-government demonstrations over spiraling fuel prices and corruption showed unity among protesters despite growing sectarian tensions in Africa’s most populous nation.

While violence sparked by religious and ethnic divisions left about 1,500 people dead last year alone in Nigeria, some hope the ongoing protests gripping the oil-rich nation will bring together a country that already suffered through a bloody civil war.

“It shows that Nigeria is now coming together as one family,” said Abdullahi Idowu, 27, as he prepared to wash himself before Friday prayers.

Labor unions, meanwhile, announced Friday they would halt their five-day strike for the weekend, allowing families stuck largely inside their homes to go to markets and rest. Union leaders also plan to meet President Goodluck Jonathan and government officials on Saturday for new negotiations, just ahead of a promised labor shutdown of Nigeria’s oil industry.