On Richard Dawkins, church bells and the adhan

dbdea9d3b5be49baa7c385989d8561e1_18The sounds of the adhan and the church bell are both beautiful – but one drives the Islamophobes berserk.

I don’t think Richard Dawkins can help himself. He is afflicted with two incurable diseases: He is a racist Islamophobe and he is an exhibitionist. He cannot keep his racism to himself – he must exhibit, stage, and flaunt it. He probably takes some perverted pleasure out of the act. I am only guessing.

In the most recent flare up of his symptoms, Dawkins felt obligated to interrupt a lovely outing he had in a beautiful sunny day at the glorious Winchester Cathedral to tweet: “Listening to the lovely bells of Winchester, one of our great medieval cathedrals. So much nicer than the aggressive-sounding “Allahu Akhbar.” Or is that just my cultural upbringing?”

What sick person would do anything like that – and manage to misspell the thing he wants to insult? Forget about the original Arabic: at least have the decency of spelling the Latinised “Allahu Akbar” properly.

You are on an outing, it’s a beautiful day, indeed the “lovely bells” of a monument to human dignity are in your ears, and you interrupt all of that to stab Muslims on the side and insult their equally glorious acts of worship and call it violent? 

Just a while ago we also learned the equally racist Zionists (but I am being redundant) in Israel did not like the sound of the Adhan either and had ordered Muslim Palestinians to be quiet when they pray to their own God in their own country now under military occupation. Imagine that: In a land Muslims believe their prophet came to ascend to heavens to meet their creator, these barefaced European settlers have the audacity to tell Palestinians not to pray the way they think best!

But why these European racists do such things – and why do they dislike the Adhan? Is that a “European” thing or is that just a plain old racist disease?

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA 

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Japan: Moving mosque welcomes Muslims

As Japan prepares for 2020 Summer Olympics, Tokyo company creates mosque on wheels to welcome Muslim visitors.

463a2a79271a402ab9305183dabe223b_18A large white-and-blue truck pulls up outside a stadium in central Japan and slowly expands into a place of worship.

Welcome to the Mobile Mosque.

As Japan prepares to host visitors from around the world for the 2020 Summer Olympics, a Tokyo sports and cultural events company has created a mosque on wheels that its head hopes will make Muslim visitors feel at home.

Yasuharu Inoue, CEO of Yasu Project, said the possibility there might not be enough mosques for Muslim visitors in 2020 was alarming for a country that considers itself part of the international community. His Mobile Mosques could travel to different Olympic venues as needed.

“As an open and hospitable country, we want to share the idea of ‘omotenashi’ [Japanese hospitality] with Muslim people,” he said in a recent interview.

The first Mobile Mosque was unveiled earlier this week outside Toyota Stadium, a J-League football venue in Toyota city, which is also the headquarters of the car company with the same name.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

Texas Man Found Guilty Of Hate Crime For Burning Mosque

mosque-rebuild-aa052964077e259defdb641448063bba291890c6-s800-c85A federal jury has found Marq Vincent Perez, 26, guilty of a hate crime in the arson attack on a mosque in Victoria, Texas, in January 2017. Perez, who is set to be sentenced in October, faces up to 40 years in prison.

When fire devastated the Victoria Islamic Center last year, an outpouring of support followed, with neighboring Jewish and Christian congregations offering to host Muslim services in their buildings.

“Hate crimes are not only an attack on a specific victim, they threaten the cornerstone of diversity that America was built upon,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner said of the case, according to a Justice Department release. “Perpetrators of hate crimes, like Perez, aim to chip away at our nation’s foundations by instilling fear into entire communities with violence.”

More than $1.1 million was donated to help rebuild the mosque, with the bulk of that money coming just days after the blaze. The mosque’s congregants were also embraced by the small Texas city, as the community held rallies and prayer vigils to reject hate.

According to recent postings on its Facebook page, the mosque has been nearly rebuilt and the new facade around the main entrance includes granite display blocks from the original building.

“Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we’ve received,” wrote Omar Rachid, who attends the mosque, on the fundraising campaign’s webpage. “The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands and the financial contributions are examples of the true American Spirit and Humanity at its best with donations coming in from all over the world.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR 

LOST ANCIENT MUSLIM CITY DISCOVERED IN ETHIOPIA COULD REVEAL DETAILS OF ISLAM’S HISTORY IN AFRICA

harla-mosqueA lost city thought to be more than 1,000 years old has been discovered in Ethiopia and may offer insight into Islam’s origins in the country.

The settlement, located near Ethiopia’s second largest city of Dire Dawa, in the east of the country, consisted of buildings constructed with large stone blocks, which gave rise to a local myth that giants lived there. Researchers believe it may date back as early as the 10th century.

Archaeologists discovered a 12th-century mosque in the settlement at Harlaa, as well as evidence of Islamic burials and headstones. The team, from the University of Exeter and the Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, also found artifacts from as far afield as India and China, suggesting that the region functioned as a hub for foreign traders.

Prophet Muhammad died in the mid-seventh century, and Islam is thought to have spread to the East African coastline sometime in the eighth century. But an earlier tradition holds that the Prophet Muhammad sent some of his first followers to Abyssinia—modern day Ethiopia—in the early seventh century.

In These Sacred Spaces, Judaism, Islam And Christianity Intersect

ShowImageChristians in Muslim countries face violence and harassment. The same goes for Muslims in Christian countries and Israel. And, as Tom Lehrer sang, “everybody hates the Jews.”

This isn’t new information, and many before me have pointed out the irony that the three main Abrahamic religions are so often at each other’s throats. Even if the confrontations are not, as some believe, constant and apocalyptic, it’s certainly reasonable to see Christianity, Islam and Judaism as a kind of Venn diagram of grievances.

It’s reasonable but not entirely correct. As the new “Shared Sacred Sites” exhibition at three New York venues demonstrates, there is no shortage of places where followers of these religions intersect in fellowship and peace.

As its title makes self-evident, “Shared Sacred Sites” is an exploration of places of worship. It’s also about overlapping themes and figures. The exhibition bills itself as “a contemporary pilgrimage,” as it is spread across three sites in midtown Manhattan: the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library (aka, the place with the lions); the James Gallery at the CUNY Graduate Center; and the Morgan Library & Museum.

Despite the enormity of the subject matter, “Shared Sacred Sites” is charmingly modest. In the Schwarzman Building, it occupies a smallish room on the ground floor. This part of the exhibition explores the past: the “shared” city of Jerusalem and the shared scriptural figures of Abraham, Moses and Elijah.

The objects are interesting if not mind-blowing: There are medieval maps and a few of the photographer Félix Bonfils’s wonderful albumen silver prints from the 1870s and 1880s — one of the Western Wall and another of Mary’s Tomb near the Mount of Olives. I particularly enjoyed the compare-and-contrast of the Annunciation. In a pristine 16th-century Book of Hours, Mary appears calm as Gabriel breaks the news. In the gorgeously lettered 16th-century Muslim commentary on the Quran, Mary’s incredulousness is endearingly human: “How can I have a son,” she asks, “when no man has ever touched me and I am not an adulteress?”

A few blocks south of the New York Public Library and the Morgan Library & Museum, at CUNY Graduate Center’s James Gallery, the focus is more contemporary. This part of the exhibition leans heavily on the work of Manoël Pénicaud, a talented French ethnologist who studies and documents interreligious relations across Europe and the Mediterranean.

You can watch Pénicaud’s short films on “Interfaith Bridge Builders,” such as “The Last Rabbi of Crete,” an interview with Nicholas Stavroulakis, the recently deceased Greek-American preservationist of Crete’s Etz Hayyim Synagogue.

Stavroulakis speaks of his well-earned pride in creating “the only synagogue in Europe that has its doors wide open” to people of all faiths, or even no faith at all. The only criterion is the shared values of “pity and compassion for the world.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM FORWARD 

Scotland’s Evangelical Island Gets Its First Mosque

81854Despite its size and location, the Isle of Lewis off the northwest coast of Scotland occasionally makes national news in the United Kingdom because of its conservative religious practices—including the strict observance of the Sabbath by many on the island.

 Lewis was the site of the UK’s last great revival—beginning in 1949 and carrying on for three years—and remains one of the most devout parts of the country.

Over the years, there have been controversies relating to the operation of ferries to the mainland on Sundays. More recently, a movie theater has opened seven days a week, while a leisure center maintains its Sunday closure. All have drawn media coverage with quotes from Christian spokespeople reported as being “outraged” by the proposals.

The latest twist in religious affairs has occurred in Stornoway, with 8,000 people the largest town in the group of islands. However, it doesn’t involve Christians outraged about Sunday openings, but that a Free Church of Scotland minister was not outraged by plans to build the first mosque on the largely evangelical churchgoing island.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

Mosque open houses combat negative stereotypes of Muslims

920x920When the Bear Creek Islamic Center recently held an open house, more than 100 Christians and residents living near the mosque were able to pose questions about whether Islam considers Jesus a God, fosters terrorism and views women as a lesser gender.

“People live with opinions formed from sound bites,” said Kate Sunday, who is a Methodist and came with her husband. “We have dear Muslim friends who go to the mosque, and we wanted to experience what they experience. We differ when it comes to our prophet. But we are all children of God.”

GainPeace, a Chicago nonprofit established to promote better understanding of the Islamic faith, local mosques and other Islamic groups, has held more than 3,000 open houses during the past four years to combat negative stereotypes of Muslims and the Muslim faith.

Open houses have been held in nearly every major U.S. city, with a quarter of mosques holding at least one open house annually in recent years, said GainPeace executive director Sabeel Ahmed.

“We have felt that there are many barriers between Americans, and these barriers are giving rise to Islamophobia,” said Ahmed, a physician, who spoke at the Bear Creek Islamic Center open house. “This event helps us connect as humans. At the end of the day, we find that we have so many things in common.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE