21 faith leaders for the 21st century – #Interfaith21

Dr_NAv7W4AAwbFm-1024x640Young Christians, Muslims and Jews at the forefront of interfaith cooperation in the UK are honoured today in a unique collaboration between media outlets from the three faiths.

British Muslim TVChurch Times and Jewish News, together with Coexist House, joined forces for the 21 for 21 project to identify inspiring individuals aged under 40 who are increasing dialogue and breaking down barriers – particularly as volunteers but also in their working lives.

 

It is believed this is the first time media outlets from different faiths have cooperated in such a way anywhere in the world. Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: “At a time of concerns about antisemitism and Islamophobia, this initiative between media outlets of different faiths is more important than ever.

Despite the challenges, we have much to be proud of when it comes to the depth and breadth of interfaith cooperation in this country.  It is right we should celebrate those leading the way now and in the future.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM JEWISH NEWS (UK)

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Sectarian Cinema: Oscars Highlight Muslim Defense of Persecuted Christians

81692Two years ago, the heroic actions of some Kenyan Muslims brought their majority-Christian nation together. The Oscar-nominated film depiction of that heroism may do so again—if many people watch.

Watu Wote is a fictional retelling of real-life horror. In December 2015, al-Shabaab terrorists stormed a bus headed toward the border with Somalia and demanded Christian passengers separate for targeted execution. Muslim passengers responded, “If you want to kill us, then kill us. There are no Christians here.” The Christian women were given hijabs to wear, while the Christian men were hidden behind bags.

They knew the danger. One year earlier in a similar bus attack, Muslim militants killed 28 Christians who failed to correctly say the Islamic creed.

Filmed on location in Swahili and Somali, the 22-minute film was nominated for the Live Action Short Film category at the 90th Academy Awards.

“The film captures an issue close to Kenyan hearts, that apart from religious differences, we are all Kenyan,” said Timothy Ranji, bishop of the Anglican diocese of Mt. Kenya South. “The downside is that it will be watched by very few Kenyans.”

Access to film is limited in Kenya. The nation ranks 77th worldwide in terms of cinemas per capita, according to UN data. Radio is a far more effective means of communication in the East African nation, Ranji said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

Children’s Books in Interfaith Education

599744d122000015001a6b6eHow do we educate interfaith children about the various religions in the family tree? These days, a child may have a Jewish father, Hindu mother, Buddhist uncle, and Christian step-grandparent. Such children benefit deeply from understanding the religions they encounter at home and at family gatherings. And many interfaith parents are on the lookout for supportive tools for interfaith education.

PJ Library, a program providing free Jewish children’s books, turns out to be a great educational resource for any family with Jewish heritage. Created by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in 2005, PJ Library has now delivered more than 10 million free Jewish children’s books to homes in the US and Canada, with 88 new book titles each year. And a survey of PJ Library subscribers, released in May of this year, found that 42% of the families in the program had a family member who did not grow up Jewish. “I think it’s a very welcoming program,” explains Foundation president Winnie Sandler Grinspoon. “The books we select and the reading guides that are part of the book flap are accessible to any family.”

The PJ Library survey sought to measure, among other things, the Jewish engagement of subscribers. The first marker of engagement was whether a family is raising children as either “Jewish or Jewish and something else.” The second marker was whether parents “believe it is very important that their children identify as all or partially Jewish.”

It is encouraging that a major Jewish funder such as PJ Library understands that families providing interfaith education to interfaith children are engaged with Judaism. The program does not screen out families based on how they should engage with Judaism, or whether or not they are exclusively or “authentically” Jewish. PJ Library’s approach is inclusive, and I hope that other Jewish funders and institutions will begin to appreciate that many of the families providing interfaith education to interfaith children are serious about engaging with Judaism, even if this engagement is not exclusive.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

Muslim and Christian leaders in Cairo to discuss ways to promote social harmony

egyptCAIRO // Muslim scholars and Christian leaders from 50 countries, including the UAE, will issue a declaration on Muslim-Christian coexistence after a two-day conference.

As they hold discussions on Tuesday and Wednesday, religious and political experts will explore ways to promote social harmony for all faiths living within Arab and Muslim nations.

In the Egyptian capital where terrorist attacks on churches have taken place, those taking part will discuss recent experiences and what needs to be done to embrace diversity and integration.

The conference is organised by the UAE’s Muslim Council of Elders and Al Azhar, the global seat of Sunni Muslim learning, based in Cairo.

Muslim and Christian religious figures need to lead by example and spend more time harmonising so members of society will follow their footsteps, said Anba Ermia, General Bishop and president of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Centre.

Bishop Ermia was speaking ahead of the conference during a visit to Saint Peter’s church, where a bombing in December killed 29 people.

 “It is in the nature of Arabs to be influenced by their religious leaders, so when they are seen together some will reconsider their rejection of the other,” he said.

When such discussions are held, the door remains open for feedback and further discussion, Bishop Ermia said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL (UAE)

I learned a lot about Islam –and biases I didn’t know I had

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I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous the first time I visited the Concord mosque.

It was a pleasant October afternoon, a Friday, and I attended the prayer service at the Islamic Society of Greater Concord to find out what Muslims thought of the 2016 presidential election.

I planned my outfit that day carefully – long sleeves and pants to cover up – and I asked the mosque president, Hubert Mask, if I should put something over my head. He said there was no need.

After parking outside the East Concord Community Center, I took a deep breath, straightened the scarf around my neck and went inside.

It was relatively empty five minutes before Jum’ah prayers began at 1 p.m., so I took off my shoes where I saw a few others lined up and went looking for Mask. He greeted me with a handshake and showed me into the prayer room downstairs, where his wife, Faizah, offered me a chair to observe from.

Several more women trickled in and took their place on the small prayer rugs angled towards Mecca. The Arabic recitations were unfamiliar to me – I tried to figure out the pattern in which the women stood up, got down on their knees, and then, in the posture so commonly associated with Islam, put their foreheads to the ground, their stocking feet poking out beneath them.

I perked up once the imam began his service, which was delivered in English. I heard ideas familiar to the ones expressed in my own church on Sunday: keeping patience through tribulation and responding to challenges with faith and peace.

They seemed particularly comforting as America navigated its way through the last month of an extremely divisive, anxiety-inducing election.

It wasn’t until the weekend after Nov. 8 that I returned to the mosque. I covered an anti-Trump protest earlier in the day, and after standing in the middle of protesters and counter-protesters shouting at each other over my head in downtown Manchester, the mosque was an oasis of quiet and warmth.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONCORD MONITOR 

Cardinal joins interfaith leaders in ‘Faith Over Fear’ walk to promote unity

walk-1-webCardinal Donald Wuerl joined Washington-area religious leaders Dec. 18 in leading an interfaith walk that organizers said was designed “to express our solidarity and our commitment to unity, understanding, and inclusion.”

The interfaith pilgrimage walk, dubbed “Faith Over Fear: Choosing Unity Over Extremism,” began at Washington Hebrew Congregation in Northwest Washington, and included stops at the National Cathedral and the Islamic Center. At each site, there was a call to prayer, a scripture reading, and a brief reflection.

“We leaders are united in our concern at the rise in hate speech, the increase in violence against racial, ethnic and religious minorities, and the ugly consequences that ensue when people’s actions are informed by inflammatory rhetoric, misinformation and careless slander,” Cardinal Wuerl said, reading from a statement at the beginning of the walk.

Also participating in the walk were the Right Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, senior rabbi of Washington Hebrew Congregation; Imam Johari Abdul Malik of Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center; and about 200 others who came to pray and show solidarity with people of other faiths.

“We share the Abrahamic faith,” Bishop Curry said, “and the challenge before us is – out of our great diversity – to make a real tapestry.”

Cardinal Wuerl also lead the participants in reciting the prayer of St. Francis. Prior to leading the prayer, he told the gathering that during Pope Francis’s Sept. 22-24, 2015 visit to Washington, the pope “walked our streets and reminded us we have the power to make a better world – but we have to reach out to one another.”

Bishop Budde, also noting that “we belong to different branches of the Abrahamic family,” urged the participants to “come together to create a climate in which we practice hospitality, protect those who are vulnerable, defend religious freedom, engage in respectful dialogue about our disagreements, and love one another regardless of our differences.”

She added that “all have a welcome place in our land.”

Rabbi Lustig echoed that sentiment and said participants must strive to keep “America a place where people of all faiths are welcome.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CATHOLIC STANDARD 

Muslims, Jews and Christians unite to condemn murders of two Muslim men in New York

gettyimages-589921262Members of different Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith groups have banded together to condemn the senseless violence committed against two Muslim men that happened in Queens last weekend.

Last Saturday, an imam, or an Islamic worship leader, and his assistant were fatally shot by an unidentified suspect. The two men were killed in Ozone Park as they were leaving a prayer service. Police officials are still trying to determine the motive of the suspect for carrying out the attack.

Although it was not explicitly said that the murder was an act of religion-based violence, an interfaith group comprising the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, Temple Beth El of Somerset, the Somerset Presbyterian Church and Fanwood Presbyterian Church released a statement to show their support for the families of the slain victims and their condemnation of the Queens shooting.

“On behalf of a broad multi-faith coalition of more than 120 organizations throughout New Jersey, we are deeply saddened at the cold-blooded assassination yesterday of Imam Maulana Akonjee of the Al Furqan Jame Masjid in Queens New York and his assistant Mr. Thara Uddin who were wearing the traditional Muslim garments,” the statement reads.

In addition, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) also made their own statements condemning the murder of the two Muslim men.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN DAILY