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

Muslim Woman Devotes Her Life to Helping Christians Displaced by ISIS

dr-sarah-ahmedMany are familiar with “The Vicar of Baghdad,” Canon Andrew White, the head of one of the most prominent relief charities helping thousands of Christians displaced by ISIS, but many don’t know that much of the work White gets credit for is actually carried out by a Muslim woman.

Meet Dr. Sarah Ahmed, an Iraqi dentist who for the past few years has devoted her time to traveling all over Iraq to bring clothes, medicine, food, hygiene supplies and just about any other need imaginable to the Christians, Yazidis, Muslims, Shebeks and others who have been thrown from their homes, tortured and raped at the hands of the Islamic State.

 

“She is there protecting all of the Iraqi Christians. You never hear anything about it in the news but you hear about the work I am doing. The work that I am doing is being done by a Muslim caring for the Christians,” White, the former chaplain of St. George’s Church in Baghdad, asserted last December during a lunch visit in Washington. “We think and hear about Islamic terrorism all the time. What about Islamic people working for the protection of Christians?”

Ahmed, who is now the director of operations for the White-founded Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, spoke with The Christian Post this week from Kurdistan and detailed her experiences running all over northern Iraq to make sure that the needs of those vulnerable internally displaced persons, even on the dangerous side of Sinjar Mountain, are not overlooked.

“I am a very faithful person,” Ahmed told CP. “I believe that with all the amount of [humanitarian work] that I have been doing and have been doing out of good faith in my heart and not for fame or money or anything, just out of my desire to help, I feel that God is always there for me and kind of protecting me and being around me to be able to reach all these areas and all these people.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST 

Shedding light on Christian-Muslim Relations

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When I was a young boy growing up in Pakistan, I was surrounded by every comfort for which anyone could ask. That is one of the benefits of belonging to a prominent Shia Muslim family. What I understand now that I didn’t back then is that what is accepted by the masses isn’t necessarily all that there is. At least it wasn’t for me.

I had no doubt that my family loved me, and I knew that there were great things in store for me as a leader in our community, especially if I could strive to just be a good Muslim. I loved Islam and everything it taught me. But there was always something else tugging at me on which I couldn’t put a finger.

 Islam is a religion that calls for respect and devotion. I admire those who passionately put their faith first, making sure to closely follow the pillars of Islam. I also admire the faith of those who claim Christ as their savior, and go about sharing His message of love and forgiveness through grace, in spite of the danger they willingly place themselves in. There is no doubt that there are those on both sides that fiercely protect and defend what they know to be true. And as history has shown, that debate can lead to misunderstandings, which often produces horrific repercussions.

FULL ARTICLE FROM BELIEF NET

Can Wheaton College survive its never-ending controversy over Muslim and Christian worship?

wheatonWhen Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins stands before a group of her peers next month for their judgment, at stake will be not only Hawkins but the future of evangelicalism.

Or that’s how it can feel these days on the campus of the Illinois college sometimes dubbed “the evangelical Harvard.” Evangelical debate has been intense about whether the hijab-wearing political science professor went too far in saying Christians and Muslims worship the same God. The debate has raised larger questions: How large is the evangelical tent, and who decides who is included?

There is no official hierarchy for one of the country’s largest faith communities, and the debate over whom can be labeled an evangelical is particularly relevant as presidential candidates clamor for the “evangelical vote.”

This week, Wheaton’s faculty council, which represents the college’s 211 faculty, unanimously voted to recommend the administration withdraw its efforts to fire Hawkins and to end her administrative leave, citing “grave concerns” about the process.

The dispute is splitting those affiliated with the college, the alma mater of evangelist Billy Graham and considered one of the standard-bearers of U.S. evangelicalism. Alumni have flooded the college with letters and the evangelical magazine Christianity Today — without picking a side — warned that the issue “threatens to undo” the college.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST