Interfaith dialogue really is relational, accessible

There 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 Press
$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 NCRONLINE.COM

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Dr. Maryam Mostoufi: Interfaith dialogue feeds the soul

interfaith1Over the years I’ve heard a number of jokes that begin — “A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim walk into a… ” It’s an effective stem for a joke because it’s based on a negative stereotype that suggests it highly improbable that the three would voluntarily associate with one another.

Yet, in Springfield we’ve been proving for 40 years that those of diverse theological backgrounds do just that.

Four religious leaders within the Springfield community — the late Rev. Dr. Richard Maye and the Rev. Mark Watkins, Rev. Andy Templeman and Rabbi Barry Marks — had a vision. They saw a possibility for entering into dialogue based on their shared values and jointly tackling community issues.

Originally, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Unitarian clergy met over brownbag lunches once a month, as we still do. What they did not anticipate was the deep respect and friendships they and future members of the Greater Springfield Interfaith Association would develop over the years. Nor could they foresee a future that included as many other faiths as it does today.

This year we developed our first logo (About time!). It illustrates our belief that all faiths grow out of a spiritual sense of mystery and thus should be held with reverence and respect. The faith symbols are representative of those in Springfield and our membership — Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Humanist, Islamic, Jewish, Native American, Sikh, Tao, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian — all of which have participated in one way or another over the years.

FULL ARTICLE FROM STATE-JOURNAL REGISTER 

Dr. Maryam Mostoufi: Interfaith dialogue feeds the soul

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Over the years I’ve heard a number of jokes that begin — “A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim walk into a… ” It’s an effective stem for a joke because it’s based on a negative stereotype that suggests it highly improbable that the three would voluntarily associate with one another.

Yet, in Springfield we’ve been proving for 40 years that those of diverse theological backgrounds do just that.

Four religious leaders within the Springfield community — the late Rev. Dr. Richard Maye and the Rev. Mark Watkins, Rev. Andy Templeman and Rabbi Barry Marks — had a vision. They saw a possibility for entering into dialogue based on their shared values and jointly tackling community issues.

Originally, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Unitarian clergy met over brownbag lunches once a month, as we still do. What they did not anticipate was the deep respect and friendships they and future members of the Greater Springfield Interfaith Association would develop over the years. Nor could they foresee a future that included as many other faiths as it does today.

This year we developed our first logo (About time!). It illustrates our belief that all faiths grow out of a spiritual sense of mystery and thus should be held with reverence and respect. The faith symbols are representative of those in Springfield and our membership — Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Humanist, Islamic, Jewish, Native American, Sikh, Tao, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian — all of which have participated in one way or another over the years.

Our monthly meetings have not been limited to chatting and chewing. We’ve used them as opportunities to educate ourselves about each other’s religious traditions, beliefs and practices and to learn about community issues and services. But we recognized early on that to be relevant, we needed to get out of our chairs and pulpits and into the larger community. We needed to literally practice what we preach.

FULL ARTICLE FROM STATE JOURNAL REGISTER 

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 

Interfaith Dialogue – What Mary means to Christians and Muslims

img_0029Interfaith Dialogue is an opportunity to gather with people from other faiths and learn from each other on a specific topic. Four speakers from Muslim and Christian traditions spoke about the recognition of Mary and what their holy books say about her.

The night began with a Welcome to Country, and interfaith prayer for peace and verses sung from Chapter Three of the Muslim Quran:

  1. God chose Adam, and Noah, and the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran, over all mankind.
  2. Offspring one of the other. God is Hearer and Knower.
  3. The wife of Imran said, “My Lord, I have vowed to You what is in my womb, dedicated, so accept from me; You are the Hearer and Knower.”
  4. And when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female,” and God was well aware of what she has delivered, “and the male is not like the female, and I have named her Mary, and have commended her and her descendants to Your protection, from Satan the outcast.”
  5. Her Lord accepted her with a gracious reception, and brought her a beautiful upbringing, and entrusted her to the care of Zechariah. Whenever Zechariah entered upon her in the sanctuary, he found her with provision. He said, “O Mary, where did you get this from?” She said, “It is from God; God provides to whom He wills without reckoning.”

Mary in Islamic tradition

Shaikh Mohammad Hamed from the Mayfield Mosque, began by saying: “To present Mary, we need more than one lifetime.”

In the Islamic tradition she is a perfect example of chastity, obedience, devotion and piety.

Chosen by Allah above all other women as the mother of the highly ranked prophet Jesus, she is the “Mt Everest” – model for all people to aspire to.

Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran and the only female to have a chapter of the Quran named for her. She is one of few characters whose life is written about in detail.

With A Passion For Interfaith Dialogue And Diversity, Joel N. Lohr Takes Over At Hartford Seminary

Joel N. Lohr, the new president of Hartford Seminary who arrived in the West End earlier this month from California, is poised to transform the small nondenominational graduate school into a more prominent trailblazer for Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations.

“My hope is to continue to raise the profile of the institution, locally here in Hartford, but also nationally and globally,” Lohr said. “I’m just delighted to be here.”

Lohr, 43, called the historic seminary a small microcosm of global life, teeming with diverse perspectives that have long stirred his passion for interreligious dialogue.

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He smiles in recounting Hartford Seminary’s storied past dating to 1834 — the first seminary in the country to admit women, to create an accredited Islamic chaplaincy program, to establish a center devoted to the study of Christian-Muslim relations. Today, the seminary has about 200 students, alongside 17 core faculty members and associates.

Lohr, who is 6 feet 8 inches tall, tucks one leg beneath the other while sitting in the seminary’s library, which recently acquired his 10 published books.

FULL ARTICLE FROM COURANT 

St. Francis, sultan set interfaith model

Painting_on_wood_depicting_Saint_Francis_of_Assisi's_visit_to_the_sultan_of_Damascus cropMore than 200 Third Order Religious Sisters and Brothers met in Buffalo, New York, June 11-14 for the Franciscan Federation Conference. I was one of them. What captured my attention was the title: “Franciscans and Muslims: Lessons from the Past & Prospects for the Future.”

I was also attracted by the reputation of the presenters. Sr. Kathy Warren of the Sisters of St. Francis and Franciscan Fr. Michael Calabria have worked for many years on interfaith issues, particularly those around Christian and Muslim faiths.

Their presentation made me ask myself what my challenge is as a Franciscan, at this time when the Supreme Court is deciding on the Muslim ban and the attorney general is using Scripture to justify ripping children out of the arms of their immigrant parents.

Next year will be the 800th anniversary of the meeting of St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Malik al-Kamil during the time of the Crusades. There is a myth that Francis wanted to martyr himself for the faith, but Warren explained that the core elements of Francis’ motivation for the visit were a call to do penance and preach the Christian faith.

He also had a vision of universal kinship and felt the call to be servant and subject to all, not to engage in argument or dispute. What Francis and the sultan really did was share their faith with each other.

Francis was impressed by the prayer lives of the Muslims. They prayed five times a day — a practice he adopted for himself. Francis’ praises of God is based on the Islamic 99 names of God. Al-Kamil recognized Francis as a man of prayer and faith. Both dialogued with each other and learned to respect one another.

I always wondered how they were able to speak with each other. I assumed they used translators as they do at the U.N. Now it is believed that Francis must have had some knowledge of Arabic, because of the trading that went on between Arabs and Italians. Francis’ father bought textiles and there is some archeological evidence that he bought from Arab traders. (The speaker showed a picture of an Arabic-style textile.) It is probable that both Italians and Arabs knew each other’s language.

FULL ARTICLE FROM GLOBALSISTERS REPORT