King of Jordan wins Templeton Prize for fostering Muslim cooperation

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(RNS) — King Abdullah II of Jordan has won the 2018 Templeton Prize for promoting dialogue and cooperation between Muslims of differing traditions.

Abdullah, king of Jordan since 1999, “has led a reclamation of Islam’s moderate theological narrative from the distortions of radicalism,” the John Templeton Foundation said Wednesday (June 27). The annual prize honors “a person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works,” the foundation said in a statement.

Among Abdullah’s contributions to religious understanding is his 2004 “Amman Message,” which “articulated a clear understanding of the central elements of Islam, and affirmed that terrorism and violence have no place in the religion,” said the foundation.

That message, developed when the Iraq War worsened relations between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, was expanded the next year when the king invited 200 Islamic scholars from 50 countries to Jordan. From those consultations emerged “Three Points of the Amman Message,” which recognized the validity of all eight of Islam’s legal schools and explicitly forbade declarations of apostasy, the foundation said.

Abdullah has also been a strong supporter of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, in Amman. The institute, established by Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, promotes scholarship with the aim of fostering understanding and cooperation among Muslims.

RELIGION NEWS SERVICE 

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Indonesia combines Islam with environmental activism

44032295_303Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), together with Greenpeace and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and Environment are cooperating on an awareness campaign during Ramadan to solve the problem of plastic waste in Indonesia.

Read more: Jakarta restricts nightspots during Ramadan

Together, they have a mission to promote the use of reusable bags to cut plastic bag use in Indonesia. The Indonesian government and clerics from the country’s largest Muslim organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah are seeking to influence the consumer behavior of the groups’ combined 100 million followers.

NU and Muhamadiyah, together with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and Environment, announced the Plastic Waste Reduction Movement in Jakarta on June 6.

According to Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, the waste management director at the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the amount of plastic garbage in Indonesia is continuing to increase significantly.

“We want to encourage citizens to start from small things like carrying a tumbler, instead of disposable plastic bottles, or using non-plastic shopping bags,” she said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM DW

Religion isn’t going anywhere, but the demographics are shifting dramatically

Religious_demographicsReligion is still an integral part of many modern societies, influencing laws and people’s behavior, as well as the way adherents relate to others in the world. Are religions going away any time soon? Despite what some decry, there is little evidence of that. What is changing is the composition of the world’s believers.

Christianity has been the world’s largest religion for millennia but its reign might come to an end sometime during the current century, overtaken by Islam. Muslims are the world’s largest growing religious group, according to Pew Research,increasing twice as fast as the world population. While the world’s population will likely increase by 32% in the ensuing decades, the number of Muslims will possibly grow by 70%, rising from 1.8 billion in 2015 to around 3 billion in 2060. That would make this group 31.1% of the world’s population rather than the 24.1% that it is currently.

FULL ARTICLE FROM BIGTHINK.COM

Is there room for critical thinking in Islam?

d14150e136344df48b102a37b8d09699_18Nothing is more satisfying than the conviction that your enemy lacks the ability to think critically. What could be more gratifying than the idea that the person you are fighting is trapped in an airlock of unreflection? It blesses your struggle, redeems your cruelty, legitimises your violence. If a definition of humanity is the ability to think for oneself, then what could be wrong with fighting the unfree?

The modern pairing of Islam with the incapacity for critical thought is a fairly old gesture – the Enlightenment philosopher Leibniz said Muslims were so fatalistic they wouldn’t even jump out of the way of carts. Over the past fifteen years, however, the internet has enabled and amplified a panoply of voices with this view.

From the digital rooftops, a thousand voices are shouting down Islam as a space inimical to any form of rational reflection: millionaire right-wingers masquerading as free-thinkers such as Bill Maher, Eton-educated “voices of the people” such as Douglas Murray, sophisticated hate-distillers such as Ann Coulter and her not-so-bright British version, Katie Hopkins … even Greek classics professors-turned-Islam experts such as Tom Holland have joined the fray.

Some of the historical acrobatics involved in this gesture are awe-inspiring. Any academic would be laughed out of the room if they suggested St Augustine was somehow complicit in the bombing of abortion clinics, or that the medieval Hohenstaufen culminated in the Third Reich, or that the Renaissance never happened. Almost on a daily basis, however, confident, context-defying lines of continuity are drawn for Islam across centuries and continents, monocausally linking the Ottomans to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), or seventh century theology to attacks on shopping malls. In these re-writings of history, contrary or problematic episodes (such as the vast contribution of the Islamic world to geometry, astronomy and the vocabulary of science in general) are not just left out – anyone even trying to mention them is mocked as a naive, idiot liberal. It’s a wonderful age to be alive.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

Strengthening the family and nation

An interview with an American imam

1024x1024Background: He was born and raised in Ghana’s capital city, Accra. He graduated from the Say Islamic University in Niger and came to the United States in 1998 to study at the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Leesburg, Va., where he received a master’s degree Islamic law with a concentration in marital affairs in a joint program with Howard University. He is the imam of the Islamic Center of the Capital District in Colonie and a chaplain at Washington County Correctional Facility in Comstock. He and his wife, Khadijah, live in Clifton Park and are the parents of daughters Ubaidat, a University at Albany graduate now studying for the MCAT medical school entrance exam; Hawwa, a junior at UAlbany; Rahimat, a Shenendehowa High School senior who will attend UAlbany in the fall; and Summayyat, 14; and son Rayyan, 12, who are middle school students in Clifton Park.

How did growing up in Ghana shape your world view?

My parents were practicing Muslims, and so was I, but in our part of the world, we lived side by side with Christian people and others. They were my friends and neighbors. I went to the Christian Mission Grammar School while, simultaneously, taking classes at a traditional Islamic School. I learned the importance of balancing Islamic theology and other sciences and disciplines. That foundation aided me in my transition from West Africa to the United States both on an intellectual/Islamic level and in understanding the new culture.

 

False Assumptions About Muslims in the Age of ISIS

By Todd Green 3-28-2016

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In the aftermath of the Brussels and Pakistan attacks, we once again find ourselves in a heightened climate of panic and anxiety. The widespread fears emanating from these attacks, while understandable, nonetheless can get the best of us, tempting us to buy into deceitful propaganda that views all Muslims as enemies.

The Christian tradition calls its followers not to bear false witness. So how do we live out this calling? What does it mean not to bear false witness against Muslims in the age of ISIS? Here are three false assumptions, if not outright lies, often repeated about Muslims and terrorism, along with some facts that can help us have more honest conversations about our Muslim neighbors and about the violence we encounter in western nations.

1. Muslims do not condemn ISIS or terrorism.

The problem with these calls is that they ignore the many instances in which Muslims have condemned ISIS and terrorism. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Al-Azhar’s Grand Mufti, the Arab League, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, and the Muslim Council of Britain have all condemned ISIS in no uncertain terms. More than 100 Muslims scholars signed an open letter to al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliph, to condemn his interpretations of Islam.

Muslims ‘are very misunderstood today’ — this Florida college will try to change that

Florida International University is getting a spanking new center dedicated to all things Muslim.jaffer-400x280

Philanthropists Mohsin and Fauzia Jaffer, longtime supporters of Middle Eastern studies and other programs at FIU, donated $2 million to make this educational facility a reality.

The Center for Muslim World Studies, the first of its kind in South Florida, is being created to promote greater understanding of the global Muslim community. Its official name will be the Mohsin and Fauzia Jaffer Center for Muslim World Studies and it will be housed within the Steven J. Green School of International and Public AffairFU

“This center will advance the understanding of Muslim history and culture, promote interfaith dialogue and illuminate issues affecting Muslims worldwide,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “FIU is the perfect home for an international solution center dedicated to Muslim world studies.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MIAMI HERALD