Students’ Muslim Center visit offers interfaith experience

ct-ctlfl-mgc-muslim-center-poetry-pals-3-20180117Jack, a sixth-grader from Chicago’s Bernard Zell Jewish Day School, threw himself like a rag doll onto the rubber gym floor of the Muslim Community Center Academy in Morton Grove Thursday, pantomiming a Christmas tree being felled by a gang of Irish-dancing squirrels.

The 11-year-old’s theatrics drew giggles from the dozen other pre-teens in his group — some wearing hijabs, others plaid skirts — who were brought together by the Olive Tree Arts Network and tasked with combining their imaginations into a single, wacky story.

Jack’s group was among 150 students brought together by the network’s Poetry Pals program, which every year has students from Catholic, Muslim and Jewish Day schools participate in a shared curriculum focused on creative expression and cultural learning.

Getting the students to act out fantastical stories based on their religious customs is a subtle way of building tighter bonds across faiths, according to Ilene Siemer, director of the arts network.

“This is a really important stage in kids’ lives, because they don’t really have pre-seeded notions of each other yet,” Siemer said. “So we’re able to effectively convey how much we all have in common without having to deal with any of the baggage that many adults may carry.”

Earlier this year, students from Bernard Zell and the Muslim academy visited St. John Fisher School in Chicago’s Morgan Park neighborhood, where students led presentations on Catholic rituals and beliefs.

On Thursday, it was the Muslim students’ turn to educate their peers.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

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EGYPT: “NO SINGLE MINUTE IS INVESTED IN VAIN” – HOW A DOCTOR PROMOTES RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE VIA HEALTH WORK

Freddy_ElbaiadyFreddy Elbaiady has made history as a politician. But what counts most for the 46-year-old Egyptian doctor is his work at the Salam Medical Center (SMC) in El-Qanatir, north of Cairo. The bridges between Christians and Muslims that are built through this work are sustainable even in times of crisis.

Dr Elbaiady has many professions and ministries. He is a respected radiologist in Cairo, runs a medical centre in his hometown El-Qanatir, is a member of the local church council, and is involved in evangelical church politics in his capacity as one of the members of the Supreme Council of Protestant Churches in Egypt. To the wider public he became known in 2013, when he accepted an offer to join the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament as one of the few Christian members. TV news programs were and still are happy to invite him for discussions on interreligious coexistence, the role of the churches in Egypt and politics in general. No doubt, this man has influence and prestige. But if asked to talk about himself he remains reticent.

His office in the medical centre has surprisingly very simple decor. No thick desk, no leather furniture to receive guests. Dr Elbaiady receives visitors in a small room. In the rear part there is an examination table for consultation. He is content with the front as his office. Only the wooden nameplate on the small desk reveals his role as CEO. Dr Elbaiady works at a large private hospital in Cairo, where he chairs the radiology department. From there, he arrives at SMC by around 3pm, where he works until after midnight, often into the early hours of the morning. “I get along with little sleep”, he says matter-of-factly.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SIGHT MAGAZINE

With rare Israel visit, Bahraini delegation seeks new dialogue for coexistence

6-1024x640In a strikingly rare instance of a visit to Israel by representatives from an Arab country without diplomatic relations, a delegation of religious figures from the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain traveled to the Jewish state last month “to send a message of peace” from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

“Our message is peaceful coexistence with no government involvement,” said Betsy Mathieson, president of the Bahrain-based nongovernmental organization “This is Bahrain,” who led the delegation.

In an exclusive Times of Israel Persian edition interview with members of the delegation in Jerusalem, Mathieson said that her seven-year-old NGO “celebrates religious freedom and peaceful coexistence by sharing the centuries-old humble Bahraini way of life, where people of all faiths live together in the spirit of mutual respect and love.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 

Muslims Join Christians in New Year Celebrations in Iran

Christians and Muslims get together in Christian New Year celebrations in Iran in a show of solidarity and rapport between followers of the two religions.

 iran

A ceremony marking the beginning of the New Christian year was held in Iran, bringing together a host of high-profile Muslim and Christian officials.

The ceremony was titled “The Manifestation of Friendship and Affinity between Muslims and Christians in Iran.”

Present at the event was Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian, who said he was pleased to see such an event was being held.

“These days when New Year celebrations are being held, it is very important to remember all human beings,” he said, according to a Farsi report by the Honar Online news agency.

He then quoted verses from the holy Bible, which says humans are all brothers, sisters and friends.

“When you pray for me, or when I pray for you, in fact we are worshipping God,” he noted.

He then condemned policies adopted by US President Donald Trump, and said his unwise decisions have pushed the world toward crisis.

FULL ARTICLE FROM IFPNEWS

Shia Muslims visit Nigerian churches to celebrate Christmas with Christians

christmas-nigeria2-0Muslim community group has visited a series of churches in a major Nigerian city to show their solidarity with its Christianpopulation.

Members of the Islamic Movement, known as locally the Shia after their religious denomination, visited three major churches in Kaduna.

The city in the country’s north west, has seen widespread religious violence in the past.

Despite being part of the Muslim north, Kaduna has a significant Christian minority. The area has witnessed religious violence in the past.

Although, it remains relatively segregated after riots between February and May 2000, that began over the decision to implement Sharia law across Kaduna State.

Almost 1,000 people died in the violence, which also saw a number of homes and businesses destroyed. It only ended when the Nigerian army intervened to restore calm.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT (UK)

‘The Sultan and the Saint’ tells of breaking down the unknown

AE-BS-S&S- Day 16-2016-96 resizeWhat impact can one encounter make?

While details are scarce about the meeting between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Malik al-Kamil of Egypt in the 13th century amid the Fifth Crusade, it has become an important symbol of interfaith dialogue and the pursuit of peace, even in the midst of great conflict.

The historic meeting of the two faith leaders will receive a fresh look Dec. 26 on PBS, at 8 p.m. Eastern, in the new docudrama “The Sultan and the Saint,” which blends scholarly, documentary-style interviews with dramatic reenactments of the story and with Academy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons as narrator.

“It just seemed like this is a story for our time,” writer and director Alex Kronemer told NCR. “This idea that a simple Christian friar met with a mighty Muslim leader and together they had a relatively brief encounter that had enormous consequences.”

The story of “The Sultan and the Saint” itself began 30 years ago, when Kronemer, during a trip to Assisi, Italy, encountered a Giotto fresco depicting the meeting between Francis and al-Kamil.

“It seemed incredible that such a thing had happened, and I kind of wanted to know more about it then,” said the Muslim filmmaker, who developed the docudrama with Unity Productions Foundation.

“The Sultan and the Saint” offers a deeper exploration into a story that many Christians and Muslims may know of in passing, but are hazier about the details.

The meeting between Francis and al-Kamil took place in 1219, amid the Fifth Crusade, in Damietta, an important Egyptian port city on the Nile River where Christian soldiers were attempting a siege. At that point, the Crusades, the violent effort by Christians to recapture control of Jerusalem, had stretched more than 100 years.

There are few historical accounts of the encounter. In the film, Francis is depicted as seeking to end the Crusades through preaching the Gospel. While the meeting did not bring about peace, Franciscan historian Fr. Michael Cusato said in the film, the encounter represented a “faith exchange,” as both men testified to God’s role in their own lives and were able to “listen to the other’s perspective, allowing God to be God in the lives of both of them.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER 

Bahrain Faith Group Visits Israel Amid Jerusalem Tensions

downloadDUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An interfaith group from Bahrain is visiting Israel amid turmoil there over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital, angering some in the island nation who support the Palestinians.

The group’s trip comes after two U.S.-based rabbis have said that Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa thinks that the longtime boycott of Israel by Arab countries should end.

While organizers repeatedly described the trip as nonpolitical and unrelated to its government’s policies, the timing comes as Bahrain increasingly looks like the test case for other Gulf Arab nations in seeing what could happen if they recognize Israel.

A group of 30 people from Bahrain, including Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews and Muslims, flew to Israel for the event. They plan to visit universities and talk to officials there about topics of common interest, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

FULL ARTICLE FROM US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT