The Apocalypse as an ‘Unveiling’: What Religion Teaches Us About the End Times

For people of many faiths, and even none at all, it can feel lately like the end of the world is near.

00VIRUS-APOCALYPSE-palehorse-superJumboShamain Webster, who lives in the suburbs outside of Dallas, has seen the signs of a coming apocalypse for a while now, just as the Bible foretold.

Kingdom would rise against kingdom, Jesus taught his disciples in the Book of Luke. Ms. Webster sees widespread political division in this country. There will be fearful events, and great signs from heaven, he said. She sees biblical values slipping away. A government not acting in the people’s best interest. And now this — a pandemic.

But Ms. Webster, 42 and an evangelical Christian, is unafraid. She has been listening online to one of her favorite preachers, who has called the coronavirus pandemic a “divine reset.”

“These kinds of moments really get you to re-evaluate everything,” she said. As everyone goes through a period of isolation, she added, God is using it for good, “to teach us and train us on how to live life better.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

 

How coronavirus challenges Muslims’ faith and changes their lives

5e5fc86cfee23d229f525014As the world faces the greatest disruption of our lifetimes, Muslims throughout the world are also grappling with the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the Islamic cultural, spiritual and theological dimensions offer Muslims myriad ways of coping.

Adapting to new social norms

Muslims have relatively large families and tend to maintain extended family relations. Prophet Muhammad encouraged Muslims to keep strong family ties. The Quran inspires Muslims to be generous to kin (16:90) and treat the elderly with compassion (17:23).

These teachings have resulted in Muslims either living together as large families or keeping regular weekly visits and gatherings of extended family members. Many Muslims feel conflicted about the need to apply social distancing on one hand and the need to be close to family and relatives for comfort and support. Tighter restrictions on movement in some parts of Australia (NSW and Victoria) mean Muslims, like everyone else, are not allowed to visit extended family anymore.


Read more: What actually are ‘essential services’ and who decides?


One of the first changes brought about by social distancing has been to the Muslim custom of shaking hands followed by hugging (same gender) friends and acquaintances, especially in mosques and Muslim organisations. After a week or two of hesitation in March, the hugging completely stopped, making Muslims feel dismal.

Visiting the sick is considered a good deed in Islam. However, in the case of COVID-19, such visits are not possible. Checking up on those who are sick with phone calls, messages and social media is still possible and encouraged.

Cleanliness is half of faith

One aspect of coronavirus prevention that comes very naturally to Muslims is personal hygiene. Health organisations and experts promote personal hygiene to limit the spread of coronavirus, especially washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.

Islam has been encouraging personal hygiene for centuries. The Quran instructs Muslims to keep their clothes clean in one of the earliest revelations (74:4), remarking “God loves those who are clean” (2:222).

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION 

 

Islam Is Plural Those expecting Muslims to denounce China’s oppression of Uighurs presume that all Muslims believe the same things.

Guy Sorman
Winter 2020 
The Social Order

china muslims

Muslims are experiencing persecution and cultural genocide in China and being wiped out in Yemen; yet the Muslim world is largely silent. Why? Probably because, despite claims to the contrary, there is no single “Islam.”

Before 9/11, the term “Islam” was rarely used in the West. Instead, we spoke of Muslims in their diversity, or we designated Muslims by their culture of origin: Moroccan, Pakistani, Mauritanian, or Bengali. In the early 1950s, when I was growing up in a Paris suburb where half the population came from North Africa, we called these migrants “Arabs” because this is how they described themselves—by their language, ethnicity, and culture, not by their religion. The fact that all Muslims are now grouped together under a single term is, in fact, Osama bin Laden’s greatest victory. It is he who convinced Westerners—but not Muslims—that he was making war on the Christian and Zionist West in the name of Islam and that all his fighters and associates should be considered Islamists.

Al-Qaida’s accomplices and successors insist on the unity of Islam and have tried to create, as in the time of Muhammad and his followers, a caliphate that commands the temporal and spiritual allegiance of all adherents. So far, they have failed. As the Algerian sociologist Mohammed Arkoun explains, a unitary Islam does not exist; there are only Muslims. Each individual Muslim enters into direct relation with God by the intermediary of the Koran. Islam, says Arkoun, is thus what Muslims make of it.

Naturally, every Muslim practices his or her religion within the cultural context in which he or she lives. This explains the striking diversity of Islam observed when one travels in Muslim countries—say, from Morocco to Indonesia. Some venerate local saints, while others do not; some are organized into a community around a religious leader, while others are more individualist. The diversity of the Muslim world goes well beyond the distinction between the two main branches, Sunnis and Shias. This reality largely explains the absence of solidarity among Muslims from one region to another, despite the Koranic imperative that Muslims are supposed to belong to a single community—the Ummah, which is like a body or family.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CITY JOURNAL 

 

Muslim Literature: The Pros, The Progress, And The Pitfalls

kimberly-farmer-lUaaKCUANVI-unsplash-2048x1362The burgeoning field of Muslim literature, and Muslim fiction, in particular, is an exciting development for the English-speaking Muslim community. However, it is necessary for Muslim writers to seriously consider the quality of their work.

Once upon a time, it was extremely difficult for English-speaking Muslims to find good books – fiction and non-fiction alike – that was catered to their demographic. Fiction, in particular, was scarce, for both young children as well as teens. Much of it was poorly written, filled with atrocious spelling and grammar, and stilted from beginning to end.

It was not an enjoyable reading experience.

Alhamdulillah, the Muslim literary scene has evolved significantly since the early 90s. Today, we have award-winning Muslim authors such as Na’ima B. Robert, whose excellent YA novels have been published through mainstream publishers and numerous emerging writers whose debut novels are wonderful contributions to the existing body of modern Muslim literature.

Muslim publishers such as Kube PublishingDaybreak Press, and Ruqaya’s Bookshelf are taking the lead in producing and distributing stories by and for Muslims. In addition, the publishing company Simon and Schuster launched an entire division dedicated to books by Muslim writers. Hena KhanS. K. AliKaruna Riazi, and Mark Gonzales are just some of the authors whose Muslim-centered stories have been published through Salaam Reads and made accessible to schools, libraries, and the general public. The We Need Diverse Books movement has also played a significant role in promoting multicultural and marginalized voices within mainstream publishing, and the results are wonderful.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MUSLIM MATTERS

Want to know more about Muslims and Islam? We’ve got an email course for you

PF_20.01.15_miniCourseIMuslims_Islam_featured-1With an estimated population of 1.8 billion, Muslims are the world’s second-largest religious group, after Christians. But our surveys have found that about half of Americans – as well as most Western Europeans – say they know little or nothing about Islam. Try our email course on Muslims and Islam Learn about Muslims and Islam through four short lessons delivered to your inbox every other day. Sign up now!

Pew Research Center has conducted more than a decade’s worth of global research on religion, including surveys of Muslims in 39 countries, three comprehensive surveys of Muslim Americans, several demographic studies of the world’s major religions (including population growth projections), and a series of surveys that measure how people living in the U.S. and Europe view Muslims and Islam.

We have drawn on this research to answer questions such as: How differently do Muslims around the globe practice their faith? What do they believe? How are they viewed in public opinion in various Western countries? How much discrimination do they face?

FULL ARTICLE FROM PEW RESEARCH 

‘Blasphemy’ case divides France

145eacc870b740538d56473b24a14fd2_18Paris, France – Some of France’s top politicians, including President Emmanuel Macron, have defended a teenage girl who received death threats last month after posting a live broadcast on social media attacking Islam. The post has reignited a national debate about blasphemy, which has been legal in France for centuries.

“The law is clear: We have the right to blasphemy, to criticise, to caricature religions,” Macron said in an interview with Le Dauphine Libere newspaper on Wednesday. “The republican order is not a moral order … what is outlawed is to incite hatred and attack dignity.”

More:

The controversy started in late January when a 16-year-old, only known as Mila, began speaking about her homosexuality during a live makeup tutorial on her Instagram account.

Recounting what had played out later on French television, Mila says one commentator started hitting on her during her Instagram broadcast. After responding she was a lesbian and that “black and Arabs” weren’t her type, Mila received a slew of insults, with one Muslim commentator calling her a “dirty lesbian”.

In response, Mila launched a verbal tirade against Islam, stating “I hate religion. The Quran is a religion of hate.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA 

Jihad a misunderstood concept

Ramadan26-1In the Islamic tradition, jihad has several different components, including personal struggles

By Sheikh Muhammad Ali Waiswa

As we conclude the year 2019, one out of many that we celebrate and applaud are the interfaith relations under the umbrella of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), which has culminated in many achievements, especially national dialogue process, which President Yoweri Museveni gave a blessing.

In order to enhance that spirit of peaceful co-existence, I wish to address one of the misconceptions in a bid to strengthen the appreciation of diversity.

Politicians and anti-Muslim activists frequently take to audiences and websites to criticise the term jihad as a form of Islamic supremacism, oppression and violence. Muslim extremists, on the other hand, argue that jihad refers to a “holy war” against non-Muslims. Viewing the term jihad through these frameworks alone, however, would be playing into the hands of extremists, who forego the other elements encompassed by the term jihad.

In the Islamic tradition, jihad has several different components, including personal struggles, such as the fight against an addiction; social struggles, such as the struggle to become tolerant of others; and occasionally a military struggle, if and when necessary, but only in self-defence.

When asked, “What is the major jihad?” Muhammad replied: “The jihad of the self (or the struggle against the personal self).” Contrary to the rhetoric and misinformation about jihad in anti-Islam networks, Muhammad did not say that the violent struggle was the most important form of jihad.

The hysteria in the western world and other non-Muslim countries over jihad has brought me to consider the term through a Christian perspective. In this article, I hope to explore how forms of jihad are presented in Islam and Christianity. This exercise can help to find common characteristics of jihad so that Muslims and Christians can build bridges of mutual understanding and tolerance.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NEW VISION (UGANDA)