Young Iraqi Christians, Muslims, and Yazidis are the seeds of dialogue in a Land broken by the Islamic State

6606442621494827991ERBIL: In order to overcome the murderous madness of the Islamic State, which has covered with blood a land already brutalised by years of wars and violence, it is necessary to start with “a plan of dialogue and outreach at the local level”, involving first of all children and young people, the new generations, “who will be tasked with building life together” beyond their respective religions.

Starting from such premises, Fr Samir Youssef, pastor of the diocese of Amadiya (Iraqi Kurdistan) who has long been on the frontline of the refugee emergency, is promoting a project to transform “young Muslims, Christians and Yazidis” into “seeds of dialogue ” to breathe new life into Mosul, the Nineveh plain, and Iraq as a whole.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the priest mentioned an initiative that is in its initial stage, but one that has already garnered “the enthusiastic participation” of some thirty of kids, aged 10 to 16, from various religious background. “We started with a group of about 30-35 kids,” Fr Samir said, “but we want to increase the numbers for the summer, involving young people from high school and university.”

The aim is to find youth “eager to talk, communicate, and bear witness” that living together is possible and that from this, a model can emerge applicable across the country, and beyond.

“We have already started to meet,” he added, “although getting the first results will take some time. At the moment, the first group, the base on which to start working, has been found. It includes a dozen Christians, eight Muslims and seven Yazidis. There are also Sabians and Turkmen.”

As parish priest in the diocese of Zakho and Amadiya (Kurdistan), Fr Samir is responsible for about 3,500 Christian, Muslim, and Yazidi refugee families who fled their homes and property in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain to escape Jihadis. Since the summer of 2014 and the start of the emergency, the clergyman has played a key role. Working with him and Iraqi bishops, AsiaNews has recently renewed its Adopt a Christian of Mosul campaign to provide refugees with kerosene, shoes, clothing, and school material for children.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HERALD (MALAYSIA)

Islam, ISIS and the violence against Christianity — Syed Farid Alatas

24-Christians-AP (1)NOVEMBER 11 — Forces fighting under the self-proclaimed caliph of ISIS, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, after having captured large areas of Iraq and Syria earlier this year, not only fought against and killed Muslims who stood in their way, but also began barbaric acts of violence against Christians and other religious minorities. Many Christians were threatened with their lives for not converting to Islam. They had to endure harassment, arrests, and various forms of violence. As a result tens of thousands of Iraqi Christian men, women and children have fled what had become a genocide against an ancient Christian community. Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod of the Syriac Orthodox church said that ISIS had burned churches, old religious texts, damaged crosses and statues of the Virgin Mary, and converted churches into mosques.

How is it that a group that claims to rule in the name of Islam can be so brutal to fellow human beings? Many would claim that Islam is a religion of peace and that violence perpetrated in the name of Islam is actually due to distortions or misunderstandings of the religion. There are those, however, who would say that Islam is not innocent of its militant and murderous adherents. They often cite verses of the Qur’an such Al-Tawbah [9]:5 which says: “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)”.

To make matter worse, it is always possible to find historical cases of the brutal treatment of Christians by Muslims. A case in point is the 11the century Fatimid ruler, Abu Ali Mansur Tariq al-Hakim. Al-Hakim was known in the West as the “Mad Caliph” because of the brutal manner in which he treated religious minorities. The persecution of Christians and Jews began under his reign in 1004 AD when he decreed that Christians would no longer be allowed to celebrate Easter. Al-Hakim is also known to have forced Jews and Christians to become Muslims at the point of a sword, destroyed numerous churches and other Christian holy sites in Palestine and Egypt, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in 1009.

How do we reconcile the verses of the Qur’an that appear to support the violence perpetrated against Christians such as during Al-Hakim’s and Al-Baghdadi’s reigns?

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MALAY MAIL 

Malaysia court rules non-Muslims can’t use ‘Allah’

m_penangc2812KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian appeals court on Monday upheld a government ban against the use of the word “Allah” to refer to God in non-Muslim faiths, overruling claims by Christians in this Muslim-majority nation that the restriction violates their religious rights.

“Allah” is the Arabic word for God and is commonly used in the Malay language to refer to God. But the Malaysian government insists that “Allah” should be exclusively reserved for Muslims because of concerns its use by others would confuse Muslims and could be used to convert them.

Malaysia’s Christian, Buddhist and Hindu minorities have often complained that the government infringes in their constitutional right to practice religion freely, accusations the government denies.

Monday’s judgment in the Court of Appeals overturns a decision by a lower court nearly four years ago that ruled against the government ban. Anger over that ruling sparked a string of arson attacks and vandalism at Malaysian churches and other places of worship.

The legal dispute stems from efforts by the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia to use “Allah” in its Malay-language weekly publication.

Roman Catholic representatives deny there are attempts to convert Muslims and say the government ban is unreasonable because Christians who speak the Malay language had long used “Allah” in their Bibles, literature and songs before authorities sought to enforce the curb in recent years.

FULL ARTICLE FROM USA TODAY

Malaysian Muslims and Christians Ponder the Use of Allah in the Bible

Ya allah cry outHere we go again… Every now and then, this matter will see the light of day. This time around, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng brought it up in his Christmas message. I personally agree with his sentiment. We should all share the word Allah and make it the universal name for God. As far as the Quran is concerned, this verse explains the universality of Allah clearly.

They are those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right, – (for no cause except that they say, “our Lord is Allah”. Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause); – for verily Allah is full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will) – Quran 22:40

Then what is the real issue here? As I have written in my book ‘Can we use Allah’ in the Bible?, it is about trust. Below is the excerpt of the conclusion of Chapter 2 from my book that can be downloadedhere

“It is clear that it is only permissible to use the term Allah to refer to God in the Bible, it is exactly what the Quran wants us to do. What an irony. I would like to thank my Christian brothers and sisters in their effort to make Allah the universal name of God and wanting the name to be the preferred reference to God in the Bible. But, you must not stop there.

You must also strive hard to ensure that not just the Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia Bibles use the term Allah but all the other translations in the world regardless if they are in Japanese, English, Russian or Hindi uses the same term. Malaysian Christians can lead the world of Christianity to make Allah the universal name of God with the solid support of their Muslim brothers and sisters. Anything that can bring us closer together must be supported. A shared universal name to call our God Allah seems a most appropriate place to start.

Failing to do so will create mistrust because the correct term for God in Malay is Tuhan. The Muslims will question your consistency and sincerity. Because the real issue here is Trust. Not the technicality of the term Allah, Tuhan, Elohim, Elah, etc. This is where we need to focus. This is what we need to pay attention to.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FREE MALAYSIA TODAY