Peace be upon you

Lakad-sa-Kapayapaan-Iwaksi-ang-Karahasan-Solidarity-Walk-February-3-2019-004So why are we, a predominantly Christian nation where 86 percent of the population professes to be Catholic, celebrating a Muslim holiday today?

Last week, President Duterte signed Proclamation No. 729 declaring Eid al-Fitr a national holiday, to give “the entire Filipino nation… the full opportunity to join their Muslim brothers and sisters in peace and harmony in the observance and celebration of Eid al-Fitr… and bring [its] religious and cultural significance to the fore of national consciousness.”

Eid al-Fitr means the “festival of breaking the fast,” a Muslim holiday that marks the end of the month of Ramadan when believers of the faith refrain from eating, drinking and intimacy with their spouses from sunrise to sunset. The evening, when fasting gives way to enjoying a communal repast, is also reserved for prayers in the mosque.

Muslims believe that, having felt what it was like to go without food or drink for 12 hours, people who fast are bound to become more sympathetic to those less fortunate than them. Such voluntary deprivation, in turn, should cause people to be more generous to help end hunger among the poor.

Aside from fasting, many Muslims spend Ramadan in sincere devotion—giving to charity, refraining from evil thoughts and performing good deeds as a way to draw themselves closer to Allah. As these acts of devotion are done collectively for a whole month, Ramadan is often considered a high-intensity period of expressing the faith, much like the Christian Lenten week when sacrifice and prayers concentrated within a few days are expected of the faithful.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INQUIRER (PHILIPPINES) 

 

Pakistan honors priest for promoting Christian-Muslim dialogue

ucanews.com reporter, Lahore 
Pakistan 
May 29, 2019
5ceceeb91d395_600A Catholic priest has been honored by the Pakistan government for his “exemplary services” to promote interfaith harmony and peace in his own country and worldwide.
Father James Channan, a Dominican who has spent 50 years following the spirituality of St. Dominic, received an award at the Interfaith Conference 2019 in Lahore on May 17 that was attended by more than 300 people including Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs.Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, Pakistan’s federal minister for religious affairs and interfaith harmony, presented the award.
“Many people helped me to reach this place. I praise God, the Church, my community of Ibn-e-Mariam Vice Province of Pakistan, and all my friends,” said Father Channan.“I especially thank my Muslim friends who always supported me and my work and keep on appreciating me to continue my mission to promote peace and harmony among the people of Pakistan.“I am actively serving in this mission to build bridges between Christians and the people of other religions, especially with our Muslim brethren, but still I see there is an urgent need for interfaith dialogue.”
Father Channan said his work to promote peace and interfaith harmony brings him peace and mental satisfaction.“I keep on thinking about ways to bring people of various faiths together, to help them to nurture and strengthen peace among them,” he said.“Everybody is my neighbor, and being a follower of Jesus Christ I have to love everybody — it keeps me motivated and zealous. We always have to share this message that we are one human family, following different religions and faiths but living our faiths we have to promote love, unity and peace.”Father James Channan (right) with Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, Pakistan’s federal minister for religious affairs and interfaith harmony, at the Interfaith Conference. (Photo courtesy of Father Channan) 

Christians and Muslims ‘inseparable brothers’ in Kurdistan village

Christianvillage646KRE (Kurdistan 24) – Nuhava is a village near the Kurdistan Region’s city of Akre, where both Muslim and Christians have coexisted in peace and harmony for centuries.

The relationship between the followers of the two different faiths is known to many as the shining example of pluralism in the Kurdistan Region, with bonds so strong the residents go out of their way to help each other, especially during their respective religious events.

On Monday, Issa Toma, a Christian villager, went out to help his Muslim neighbor tend to his farm as the man is fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“I am a Christian, and my Muslim neighbor is fasting. I came to help him to make him feel comfortable with his fasting,” Toma told Kurdistan 24.

For some two hundred years, Christians and Muslims have lived together in peace in this village, according to Toma.

Yousuf Yelda is another elderly Christian man. He noted the residents always respect each other’s religions and extend a helping hand.

“During Ramadan, we as Christians don’t drink or eat in front of them while they are fasting. We also avoid smoking. That’s for Ramadan in particular. For other normal days, we are always there to go help each other if there is any work,” Yelda told Kurdistan 24.

The village is home to both mosques and churches, with worshippers of both religions congratulating each other during religious occasions, events, and feasts, according to the villagers.

FULL ARTICLE FROM KURDISTAN24

Extremists Won’t Hinder Interfaith Dialogue

shutterstock_560746489-1In this edition of The Interview, Fair Observer talks to Leonard Swidler, professor of Catholic thought and interreligious dialogue at Temple University, Philadelphia.

Interfaith dialogue is a necessity in our age. In a world suffering from armed conflicts, diplomatic standoffs and trade wars, cooperative and constructive interaction between people of different religious traditions is fundamental to solidifying peace and stability, and stemming racism, xenophobia, radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism.

Interreligious dialogue is about encounters — it drives respect, mutual understanding and appreciation for common values. Interfaith dialogue helps debunk the myths and eradicate the stereotypes about religion that politicians abuse to further their (often populist) agendas.

The 1893 Parliament of World Religions at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, is often referred to as the birth of the modern interfaith movement, even though interfaith dialogue has ancient roots. There have been notable examples of collaboration between the devotees of different religions in the far past. In the 16th century, the emperor Akbar the Great encouraged tolerance in Mughal India where people of various faith backgrounds, including Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Christianity, lived.

It’s also narrated in the Bible that Cyrus the Great, the king of Persia, allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and ordered a temple to be built in Jerusalem upon a decree from God in the first year of his reign. It is for this reason that Cyrus is talked of favorably in the Bible and loved by the Jews.

While such plagues as Islamophobia and anti-Semitism continue to spread intolerance and mar relations between Muslims, Jews and Christians, faith leaders have a crucial responsibility to preach engagement, interaction and peaceful dialogue among their followers to prevent these social gaps from widening further.

Leonard Swidler is professor of Catholic thought and interreligious dialogue at Temple University, Philadelphia. He is the co-founder and director of Global Dialogue Institute and is a major figure in the scholarly study of interfaith dialogue. In this edition of The Interview, Fair Observer talks to Swidler about interreligious dialogue and the major obstacles blocking successful cooperation between the leaders and adherents of the world’s many faiths.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FAIR OBSERVER

How Mary can be a bridge between Christians and Muslims

lewis-westwood-flood-1436858-unsplash.jpgHe said, ‘I am but a messenger from your Lord, [come] to announce to you the gift of a pure son.’ She said, ‘How can I have a son when no man has touched me? I have not been unchaste.’

—Qur’an, Sura 19:19-20

It might surprise some Christians to learn that the excerpt from the Annunciation narrative above comes not from the Gospel of Luke but the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. In fact, the Qur’an contains not one but two Annunciation stories. (The other is in Sura 3.) Mary, the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an, has an entire chapter named after her (Sura 19, “Maryam”) and is honored by Muslims as the Virgin Mother of Jesus.

In an era when Islamophobia is on the rise, it seems especially important for Catholic Christians to know that in addition to sharing our belief in the one God, Muslims also share a reverence for Mary. While contrasting ideas about Jesus have long been a dividing line between Christianity and Islam (Christians call him the Son of God, while Muslims call him a prophet), his mother Mary can more easily be seen as an interreligious bridge.

This is exactly how she is viewed in the Second Vatican Council’s document on the relationship between the Catholic Church and non-Christians, “Nostra Aetate,” which explicitly mentions Mary as a point of agreement between Catholics and Muslims: “[Muslims] also honor Mary, [Jesus’] Virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM AMERICAN MAGAZINE 

Ramadan unites Christians and Muslims in Egypt

A group of Muslims and Christians have come together in Egypt to give their time to help the needy of society.

In the Cairo district of Masr El-Qadima, they are putting together Ramadan boxes, filled with basic food items and provisions, which have been donated by volunteers.

Volunteers preparing Ramadan boxes

For the past three years, landlord Atef William has been hosting the activities of an organization called “Helm Establ Antar”, meaning the dream of Establ Antar, the area where it takes place.

“We are all equals, we are Egyptians,” he says. “I was brought up not to differentiate between people on the basis of religion.”

Atef William

Much like Masr El-Qadima, the middle-class district of Shobra is considered to have a high level of social coexistence with friendly residents.

Gamil Banayouty is a Christian. He organises an iftar tent that has been set every Ramadan for the last 40 years. He works alongside elderly men who were teenagers when the activity first started.

Gamil Banayouty

“Our Ramadan table is called the National Unity Media, and it’s open to everyone – Muslims, Christians, we don’t differentiate,” he explains. “As for me, I’ve been attached to the month of Ramadan since the October War [1973 Arab–Israeli War]. I was an officer, and we were fighting during Ramadan, and I could not not fast with my soldiers. ”

Banayouty and his neighbours are very proud to have kept the iftar activity going for such a long time and they continue to reap the reward of the unity it brings between their community.

FULL ARTICLE FROM EURONEWS

Faith and Values : Muslims, Christians have much in common

wk25-jan-muslim-christian-zayed-vaticanAll months tend to bring to mind the special events that occur within them; for the month of April, it is Spring and Easter.

Muslims also believe in Jesus, the son of Mary. As a matter of fact, from the 114 chapters that consist in the Holy Qur’an, the 19th one is named after his Mother, Surah Maryam, or Chapter Mary.

Within this chapter, the story of Jesus’s miraculous birth is told. He is mentioned many times throughout the Holy Qur’an. Millions of Muslims are also named after the son and mother, which is Isa and Maryam in Arabic. Thus, if studied, one will find many similarities with the Christian faith when it comes to Jesus, from his virgin birth to his miracles, i.e. curing the lepers and bringing the dead back to life.

The main differences between Muslims and Christians about Jesus regard his divinity and his death. Muslims honor Jesus as a great prophet of God who was not crucified, but taken to the heavens alive, and that he and will reappear during the end of time, the Second Coming of Christ.

A very interesting note is that Easter this year will be on April 21, 2019, which will fall on the Islamic date of the 15th of the month of Shaban, the birth anniversary of the 12th Imam, Muhammad al Mahdi. He is the great-grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MORNING CALL