At Muslim Sunday school, learning about Islam — and correcting misconceptions

muslim_sunday_school-2-mansoorOff a highway in central Connecticut is the mosque with a 400-student Muslim Sunday school.

More guards are on patrol these days. And for the older students in the transition class, talking about Islamophobia is not only welcomed, but encouraged. The teenagers are in their final years of high school and will be heading off to college soon.

So before they head out into the “real world,” they aren’t just learning the tenets of Islam, said Dr. Reza Mansoor, their teacher on a recent Sunday. He’s coaching them on how to defend their faith from misconceptions.

“By the way, As-Salaam-Alaikum,” Mansoor greeted them. “If you use an Arabic term and you don’t translate, dinged one point, OK? So As-Salaam-Alaikum means God’s peace be with you all.”

Mansoor is president of the mosque, called Islamic Association of Greater Hartford, and he is big on translating Islamic phrases and words. Take jihad, for instance. It means a struggle — usually a personal, spiritual one — but if you hear jihad in the media, he said, it’s almost always associated with extremists who commit violence in the name of Islam, like the 9/11 terrorists.

“If you use jihadist for terrorist, you unfortunately give the terrorists… a position much higher than what they are,” Mansoor told his students.

People tend to fear what they don’t know. And when Islam is viewed as a threat, that makes Muslims a target.

“Just imagine someone calling you a terrorist and telling you to go home,” Aissa Bensalem, 17, said during the class. “I had one of my friends say that they were scared to come to the masjid because they were afraid that they were going to be shot on.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CTMIRROR.ORG

This building will be a church, a mosque and a synagogue under one roof

Yassmin-Recovered2Imagine a place where Christians, Muslims and Jews can come together to pray. This is not the start of a utopic story but an actual plan in progress. A building that was once a church which was destroyed in the Second World War is being transformed into what they want to call ‘The house of One’.

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The house of One

The main goal of this project is to bring people together regardless of their religion, says the theological speaker for the House of One. Besides having three separate praying rooms they also want to have a table in the former parking lot where people can come together, have a conversation, share a meal and just sit with each other.

To enforce the idea of uniting people they want to have one entrance where the different believers have to walk through to get to their praying room. This way Christians, Jews and Muslims can meet each other as they walk to the common room before heading to the separate spaces.

Since this is still a project in progress the minister along with an imam and a rabbi have launched a competition to decide how the building will be designed. The idea is to have one common room where the different believers enter together, with three different doors of the same height that lead to the praying rooms of the different religions.

FULL ARTICLE MVSLIM.COM

‘A place where we can be safe’: Women’s Mosque of Canada opens in Toronto

17_Jan30-vigil-316In the face of increasing Islamophobia, a group of Muslims in Toronto is vowing to reclaim the mosque as a sacred and safe space for women.

The Women’s Mosque of Canada marked its first prayer meeting in Toronto Friday, in an effort to build an inclusive space for Muslim women to practice their faith, and heal from Islamophobic attacks that organizers say plague the community daily.

“There are women, including myself, that have experienced gender islamophobia and been attacked,” Farheen Khan, co-founder of the Women’s Mosque of Canada, told CTV News by phone shortly before the organization’s first prayer began at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church.

By offering bi-weekly Friday prayers—for women, by women  —Khan says organizers hope to create a community that not only supports its members’ faith, but breaks down social barriers that fuel anti-Muslim sentimentsas well.

The efforts come after several prominent attacks on mosques, including the deadly attack in New Zealand last month, and the Quebec City mosque attack in 2017.

“It feels like there has been an attack on the sanctity of the mosque,” Khan said of the violence.

The most recent data released by Statistics Canada shows that although hate crimes had increased by 47 per cent in 2017, incidents targeting Muslims had increased by 151 per cent.

The biggest increases were seen in Ontario and Quebec where police-reported hate crimes involving Muslims increased by 207 per cent and 185 per cent, respectively.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CTV NEWS

I wanted to kill Muslims, too. But then I saw the light.

cbb0caf2-1a98-46f1-8dab-02ce26762196-Richard_MacKinney_1When news broke about the attacks at mosques in New Zealand, it felt horribly familiar to me. That’s because several years ago, I aspired to bomb a mosque, and I came close to doing it.

I’m a white American. I grew up in the rust belt, attended church camp, joined the Marine Corp after high school, and ultimately retired from the Army. I fought around the globe, including in the Middle East and Somalia. I decided my enemy was Islam. I’m proud of my service, but I’m not proud of everything I did. There comes a time when you’ve seen and done too much to let it go. After my final deployment, it seemed like vodka and my hatred for Muslims were what was keeping me alive.

So I devised a plan: Build a homemade bomb and set it off outside the Islamic center in my hometown of Muncie. In my hate-fueled mind, this was the final thing I would do for my country. I knew I would face the death penalty, but I didn’t care.

FULL ARTICLE FROM INDY STAR

Within hours of the Christchurch mosque attacks, people of various faiths rallied around Muslims

190315124115-church-of-england-nz-super-tease(CNN)Churches are opening their doors after mosques were told to close for security issues in the wake of the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attacks. Mosques are receiving messages of solidarity and flowers. A fundraiser for the victims is nearing $400,000. And a UK-based national forum for Christian-Muslim engagement is calling on Christians to go along to Friday prayers at their local mosques — a call the archbishop of Canterbury endorsed.

These are only a few examples of how people and institutions are showing solidarity and offering help to Muslim communities all over the world after Friday’s shooting attacks on two Christchurch mosques that killed at least 49 people and seriously injured 20 others.
In some of the worst terror attacks and mass shootings of recent years, Muslim communities have stepped up to help in different ways. In the aftermath of October’s Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, for example, the Muslim-American nonprofit groups CelebrateMercy and MPower Change launched a crowdfunding appeal that raised thousands for the victims.

New Zealand mosque attacks and the scourge of white supremacy

546765b6b5814223a6ecb13543c999ec_18Today’s New Zealand mosque shootings, which killed at least 49 people and were allegedly carried out by white supremacists, are only the latest on a long list of recent acts of white supremacist terrorism. Despite the growing and constant threat, Western governments have failed to adequately address the danger of white supremacy.

An abbreviated list of recent acts of white supremacist terrorism includes Robert Gregory Bowers’ killing of 12 Jewish worshippers at a Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2018; Alexandre Bissonnette’s massacre of six Muslims in the Quebec City mosque in 2017; Dylann Roof’s murdering of nine black Christian parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015; and Anders Behring Breivik’s slaughter of 77 people in Norway in 2011.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, numerous other white supremacist plots, including some that planned to kill as many as 30,000 people, have been foiled by law enforcement in the United States. Just last month, the American FBI arrested Christopher Paul Hasson, a white supremacist and lieutenant in the US coastguard, for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks against black and liberal politicians and media personalities.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA 

Hong Kong Muslim group in new push for mosque as community grows

asia-china-hong-kong-skylineThe Muslim community in Hong Kong has so far amassed about HK$300,000 (US$38,200) in a drive to build a mosque project that has been held up for over a decade.

“We are slowly but surely accumulating the amount we need,” she said.

The association sought to collect HK$10 million (US$1.27 million) within this year, the figure needed to initiate construction in Sheung Shui, in the New Territories, where the local Muslim population has been growing and no mosque exists.

“With the influx of migrants and more Muslims in Hong Kong, it is really necessary to have a place of gathering not only for religious reasons but also for social reasons,” Castro said. “We are a service-orientated organisation. We have schools, elderly homes … services that the Muslim community in Hong Kong has long been involved in. This is why this project is important. It’s not only a mosque but also a social centre.”

There are an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 Muslims in the city. Many hail from countries such as Pakistan, India and Malaysia, with domestic workers from Indonesiarepresenting a large portion. Ethnic Chinese Muslims are believed to account for about 40,000.

Hong Kong currently has five permanent mosques and a temporary one, along with dozens of madrassas – Islamic learning centres – spread across the city. The lack of proper spaces has led many Muslims to pray in makeshift mosques.

The idea of the Sheung Shui project emerged in the 1990s. The association in 2006 bought a plot of land from the government for HK$9.8 million (US$1.24 million), and was expected to complete the project by 2011.

However, the mosque ended up never getting off the ground due to a lack of funding and struggles within the association. Meanwhile, local officials have imposed high fines on the group for not building the project within the agreed time.

Saudi Arabia in 2009 pledged to finance its construction. But about two years ago, the country claimed it could not support the project after a fall in global oil prices.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SCMP.COM