Catholics are often surprised to learn that the church has formal teaching about Christian and Muslim relations. It is set out in the Second Vatican Council’s “Nostra Aetate,” which says:
The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God…who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God…. Christians and Muslims, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.
Three features of the teaching are particularly salient today.
First, Muslims worship God. Often, this is doubted or denied by Christians—even some Catholics. But the church herself unambiguously affirms it. Of course, as “Nostra Aetate” notes, Islam and Christianity differ in important ways in how they understand God. Christians believe God is a Trinity of persons. Muslims do not. Christians believe Jesus is God—the second person of the Blessed Trinity. Muslims do not. Still, the God whom Muslims (and Jews) worship is the true God.
Second, the church has esteem for Muslims. One cannot hold in contempt those for whom one has esteem. Catholics are enjoined to eschew hatred for Muslims and oppose discrimination against them. We must recognize that most Muslims are decent, honorable people. Yes, there are evildoers who claim to act in the name of Islam while committing atrocities—and they must be resolutely opposed by all legitimate means, including the use of force. But we must not tar innocent Muslims with responsibility for their crimes.
FULL ARTICLE FROM AMERICAN MAGAZINE
Story by Lilly A. Fowler | Photos by Matt M. McKnight
They’re not the sort of couple one is likely to encounter in many parts of the country: a hijab-wearing Muslim woman with a Harvard law degree and a white Lutheran pastor. Yet dozens of Washington state residents — in urban centers and in small rural towns — have witnessed Aneelah Afzali and Rev. Terry Kyllo preach together in churches. Turns out, Afzali and Kyllo have one profound thing in common: a passion to fight against Islamophobia.
Although the duo has held an event in Seattle, Afzali and Kyllo have generally reserved their sermons for smaller, more conservative towns filled with voters who support President Donald Trump and who may have never personally met a Muslim. Towns like Mt. Vernon, with a population of 35,000. Situated just 60 miles north of Seattle, Mt. Vernon is the largest city in Skagit County. In last year’s presidential election, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by fewer than 2,000 votes in the county.
On a recent Monday evening in Mt. Vernon, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Afzali addressed a small crowd. She was dressed in a purple suit and hijab, and she was flanked by American flags and a Christian cross. As wind and rain pounded the chapel’s windows, she shared what had inspired her and Kyllo to organize the talks, which they’ve dubbed the “Faith Over Fear Roadshow.”
“I am so extremely bothered by what I see happening around us today, the growing divisiveness, polarization, hate and even violence,” Afzali said.
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24 May 2012, Paris, France — Inter-religious meeting in a church — Image by © Pascal Deloche/Godong/Corbis
There are many people today who argue Islam and Christianity are locked in a civilizational war, a view that has become a rationale for a number of the Trump administration’s policies.
This argument, however, is an inaccurate and simplistic assessment of the relationship between these two faiths. Quite distinct from the apocalyptic struggle many espouse, an examination of the foundations of the Islamic faith shows respect for Christianity.
Islam is part of the same Abrahamic tradition as Christianity. Key figures within the Bible — Abraham (Ibrahim), Moses (Musa), Mary (Maryam), and Jesus (Isa) among others — are all respected prophets and figures within Islam. There is a chapter in the Quran about Mary and, within the Quran, Jesus is the only person who can perform miracles.
Within Islam, Christians and Jewish people are therefore treated as “People of the Book” whose rights and religious traditions were to be fully protected as monotheistic faiths with revelations understood to be earlier versions of the same revelation to the Prophet of Islam.
The United Arab Emirates unveiled plans this weekend for an interfaith complex in Abu Dhabi that will unite a church, a synagogue and a mosque.
The announcement of the three houses of worship, collectively known as the “Abrahamic Family House,” follows Pope Francis’ February visit to the UAE, the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula. During the visit, Pope Francis and the grand imam of al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb, signed a declaration to form an interfaith council called The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity.
The Abrahamic Family House, set to be completed on 2022, is the first initiative by the new committee, according to media reports.
The Abrahamic Family House to be built in Abu Dhabi, UAE. (PRNewsfoto/The Higher Committee for Human Fraternity)
“The formation of the Committee has come at an important time and has required all peace lovers to unite and join the efforts to spread coexistence, brotherhood, and tolerance throughout the world,” Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, committee member and former advisor to el-Tayeb, said in a statement.
FULL ARTICLE FROM FOX NEWS
Islam, far from being an alien Eastern religion, is an integral part of the Abrahamic tradition that binds Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This shared heritage connects more than half of the world’s population and is a crucial tool in our efforts to increase co-existence in the world.
This makes it all the more tragic that many of the events that unite the three religions are eclipsed by divisive – or even downright racist – rhetoric pushed out by the Far Right. First amongst these events is Ashura, which falls today. This event is commemorated by Muslims and followers of other religions, even including some Hindus who are known as Hussaini Brahmins.
Ashura is the annual commemoration of the murder of Imam Hussain, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, at the hands of Yazid, an early ruler of the brutal Umayyad dynasty. It was an event that happened 1300 years ago, but many Muslims see it as the culmination of Islam’s Abrahamic heritage and a pivotal date in world history.
Ashura is a date in the Muslim tradition that has been significant in the lives of patriarchs revered in what is often termed the Judeo-Christian tradition. Starting with Adam, through to Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, all those Prophets have had, from the perspective of many Muslims, huge life events on the day of Ashura.
Both the raising of Jesus’ soul to heaven (analogous to the crucifixion in Christian belief), and the splitting of the Red Sea by Moses (celebrated by Jews during Passover) are believed by many Muslims to have occurred on Ashura, the tenth day of the month of Muharram in the Islamic calendar.
And the themes of the slaughter of Imam Hussain are universal enough that they can help non-Muslims relate to Islam in a way that can sometimes be difficult in the current climate.
FULL ARTICLE FROM EURONEWS
LINDAU, Germany (RNS) — The international interfaith organization Religions for Peace introduced its first-ever female and first-ever Muslim secretary-general at its World Assembly on Friday (Aug. 23) and unveiled a joint declaration in which attendees vowed to join forces to confront an array of the world’s most difficult problems.
The final day of the Aug. 20-23 Religions for Peace World Assembly also included an emotional farewell to William Vendley, who retired after 25 years at the helm of the organization that he helped build into a global coalition of religions that acts as a consultative body for several United Nations agencies.
The joint declaration is a dense but optimistic four-page document drafted by delegates.
It shines a light on contentious areas where, according to the declaration, “religious communities have fallen short.”
Among the areas of contention are income inequality, gender issues, violent conflict, poverty, the spread of nuclear arms, human development, education and climate change — all of these fall under the wide umbrella of the world’s “shared well-being,” which is the motto of the assembly.
FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS
“Bareer kachhe arshee nagar
shetha porshee boshot kore
Ek ghar porshee boshot kore
Ami ekdino na dekhilam tare.”
This epic refrain of Fakir Lalon rings around our collective South Asian conscience every time people of one religious identity inflicts mindless violence on the people of other faiths, like Hindus murdering innocent Muslims in Maharashtra, Buddhists pillaging Rohingya villages in Myanmar or Muslims blowing up Christians in Sri Lanka. The simple fact of life is that ethnically we are all the same or of similar ethnic mix but we hardly know our own people belonging to other faiths, living in our midst. The ethnic similarity between a Christian, a Hindu or a Muslim family in any part of the sub-continent is hidden in plain sight by insurmountable walls of religious intolerance and bigotry. Similar complexion, language, customs and culture of Muslims, Hindus, Christians and agnostics in our region somehow have given way to siloed identities belying the stark homogeneity of the people irrespective of faith. This has frustrated great thinkers and humanists for generations like Lalon, Rabindranath and Nazrul.
Interfaith tolerance is one of the fundamental tenets of Islam and, throughout history, we see numerous examples of Muslim rulers administering the vast majority of non-Muslim subjects with peace, justice and prosperity in the Mediterranean Coasts, the Middle East, the Far East and the Indian sub-continent. However, every time religious intolerance reared its ugly head, the blissful interfaith peace and harmony gave way to wars and social upheavals. While a faith-neutral Mughal Emperor Akbar built a massive empire of untold riches, his last powerful descendant Aurangzeb caused the implosion of that same empire through religious intolerance. As the British East India Company merchants in the eighteenth century gradually crept into the sub-continent by pitting one faith against another, soon the whole of India was under their iron grip. When they finally left, two centuries later, they made sure the religious divide was indelibly imprinted on the map and psyche of the Indian sub-continent. The whole region is still riveted by the anguish of people belonging to multiple faiths vicariously experiencing the murder, rape and pillage of one faith over another time and time again.