National ‘Meet a Muslim Day’ aimed at building acceptance

sjm-meetmuslim-0312-01SAN JOSE — With signs that read “Ask me anything” and “Meet a Muslim,” dozens of young Muslim men and boys in the Bay Area and beyond stood in public places Saturday in hopes of combating Islamophobia simply by talking with people.

The first “Meet a Muslim Day” was held in at least 50 cities and 120 locations nationwide. In the Bay Area, Muslims participated in San Jose, Antioch, Mountain View, San Francisco, Pleasanton, Berkeley and  Pleasant Hill. The event was organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association USA, a Maryland-based group that works with an estimated 5,000 Muslim boys and men spread across 70 chapters nationwide.

It was something Iftikhar Khan had never done in his life. The 38-year-old San Jose resident brought his son, Rizwan, 10, and neighbor, Raees Qadir,14. The trio stood on Paseo de San Antonio near the Fairmont Hotel downtown.

“A large percentage of America has never met a Muslim before. And the perception of Muslims is that we’re violent and dangerous — and people are afraid of us,” Iftikhar Khan said. “It’s not surprising, to be honest, that people have that perception because there is a lot of violence in the world, and a lot of it is perpetuated by Muslims. But the vast, vast majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world are peaceful. Our religion means peace. Literally, the word Islam means peace.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM MERCURY NEWS

I’m So Tired

cropped-capa-blogNote:  This is from a blog  I just discovered challenging stereotypes about Muslims and other minorities.    Good place to visit often. 

“What do you think of ISIS?” Smile. Be calm. Be gentle. “Don’t Muslims believe you’re supposed to kill Christians and Jews?” They don’t mean any harm. They don’t know any better. “Do you shower with that on?” Laugh. Take it in stride. “Does your husband make you wear it?” It’s ok. It’s just a question. “I’m not islamophobic. After all, I’m friends with you!” Smile, laugh. Be quiet. You have to give a good impression. You’re the token Muslim, whether you like it or not. These are my thoughts when my dignity is taken away.

It’s so tiring to always be representing 1.6 billion people from all over the world. As soon as people find out I’m Muslim, which generally is pretty quickly because I wear the hijab, they think they have the right to ask me invasive questions. Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about friends who ask sincere, curious questions hoping to learn more about me and my faith. I’m talking about random strangers who interrupt my meal in a restaurant to demand information in an accusatory tone. There is a huge difference between the two.

A good example of this is my friend K. She and I often have conversations about faith and culture. She asks a million questions, and they’re all sincere and respectful. She often reminds me that if I don’t feel comfortable answering, that’s ok. THAT is actually wonderful. She wants to understand me. I love answering her questions.

On the flip side, there’s an incident that happened yesterday. I went to a local gyro joint for a nice Arab meal. The cashier, who I later found out was the owner, asked me why I was wearing a headscarf. I told him I was Muslim. He said he was an Egyptian Christian. I said “Assalaamu alaikum,” and he said “wa alaikum salaam.” We exchanged smiles. I took my food and found a seat. I dug in. A few moments later he pulled a chair up to mine and my husband’s table. He started by asking me why I converted, and I gave him the condensed version of the story. He proceeded to tell me I didn’t understand Christian theology, I didn’t know God and couldn’t know Him or love Him. He told me that ISIS were Muslims, the Quran teaches violence, and Islam is a cult. I patiently gave him simple but logical refutations to his horrible comments. He went on and, during our entire meal.  My husband, I should add, stood up for me and told him off. But I knew I couldn’t say anything.

FULL BLOG FROM GENUINEGEMSWRITING 

Jewish, Muslim volunteers using ‘Mitzvah Day’ to do good deeds, give Christians a Christmas break

mitzvah_day_in_metro_detroit_0_51742004_ver1-0_640_480DETROIT (WXYZ) – While many Christians will celebrate Christmas with church, presents and a family dinner there are thousands of people in the metro Detroit area that will get the day off, but have little to celebrate.

It’s why for several decades people of the Jewish faith have taken advantage of the day to step up volunteer efforts during what’s now called “Mitzvah Day.” They have also joined together with those of Muslim faith to give back.

“It’s a day we’re proud of,” said David Kurzmann, a member of the Jewish Community Relations Council and AJC. “It’s a day that, for decades now, has become a family tradition.”

Nearly 1,000 Jewish and Muslim volunteers spread themselves across Detroit on Christmas to take part in ‘mitzvahs’ — good deeds — helping Detroit area social service agencies in 51 different communities.

“We can enable the Christian employees here to take some time to be with their families and take the place of some regular volunteers from the Christian community that would regularly be here,” said Kurzmann.

FULL ARTICLE FROM WXYZ NEWS

Two Tragedies Underscore Need for Christian-Muslim Dialogue

Two criminal tragedies in two different places underscore the need to work harder than we are on developing better relations between Christians and Muslims:

A HATE CRIME IN CALIFORNIA

Man stabs worshiper at Simi Valley mosque in hate crime, police allege

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A 29-year-old Simi Valley man has been arrested and booked on suspicion of committing a hate crime after he stabbed an apparent worshiper near a mosque, authorities say.

About 11:15 p.m. Saturday, Simi Valley police received reports of people fighting in a shopping center parking lot in the 1800 block of Erringer Road, said Sgt. Adam Darough. The shopping center is “adjacent” to a mosque, Darough said.

 After officers arrived and separated those involved in the fight, police discovered that a man had been stabbed, Darough said.

“During their investigation, [officers] discovered a suspect had confronted a worshiper from the mosque, and after a verbal altercation, they began to fight,” Darough said. “During the fight, [the suspect] stabbed the victim.”

FULL ARTICLE IN LA TIMES 

TERRORISTS KILL 25 IN EGYPTIAN CHURCH

On Muhammad’s birthday, bomb kills 25 at Coptic church in Egypt

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A bomb ripped through Cairo’s Coptic cathedral complex during Sunday Mass, killing at least 25 people and injuring 49, and delivering the bloodiest attack on Egypt’s Christian minority in recent years, according to Egyptian officials and Christian community leaders.

The explosion unfolded inside St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral at the 100-year-old Botrosiya Church, also known as the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, shortly after the 200 or so worshipers had stopped reading Bible verses and the priest was getting to ready to start his sermon, witnesses said.

About 9:45 a.m., “everything turned black suddenly,” Qelliny Farag said.

As of Sunday evening, there had been no claims of responsibility. But suspicion immediately fell on Islamist extremists, including Egypt’s Islamic State branch, who have staged numerous attacks across the country this year targeting soldiers, police and government officials. Sunday’s carnage came less than 48 hours after a bomb killed six police officers and injured an additional three on a road leading to Egypt’s famed Great Pyramids complex.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

 

 

Muslim in America: The Gray Area

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Every day from elementary school to high school, these words echo over the speaker systems of every school in America. These are words that define America and its principles, and words that every American can recite from memory. These words that we have been taught to believe in talk about freedom and justice for everyone, regardless of race, religion or gender.

Every American would like to believe that not only are these values we preach, but they are also values we incorporate into our actions. However, since Sept. 11, 2001 and perhaps even more since election proceedings began, the majority of Americans have ignored the belief which our country was founded on: All men and women are created equal. They have taken to social media and news media to give America the villain it has hated for 15 years: Muslims. Muslims have become a scapegoat for the country to turn to every time something goes wrong. Muslims live in fear that today is the day someone is going to come and ask them to wear badges of crescent moons and stars and walk them out the door and out of their lives. My name is Komal Surani, and I am an American Muslim woman.

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A group of people is often easily defined as one unanimous being, made of people who are alike in every way, who all think the same, act the same and believe exactly the same things. All feminists are man haters. Every Southerner is a racist. And of course, all Muslims are terrorists. All 1.5 billion of them, that is. The media reports on it every minute of every day, always painting Muslims as a group of terrorists simply waiting for the opportunity to blow America apart. Muslims have easily slid into the role of scapegoat. The media and even most of America can’t fathom the idea that Muslims do not think alike, nor are they all alike. Muslims are individuals from varied communities and homes. They are elderly and middle-aged and fresh out of college and high school graduates and kids in classrooms and babies born in a world where they are hated from the moment they open their mouths and begin to wail. They are all of these people, but America prefers to wear rose-colored glasses. It is easier for every Muslim to be a criminal than to fight the Islamophobia that has taken over our country.

FULL ARTICLE FROM DAILY NEXUS 

What Happened When Christian Writers Watched an All-Muslim Movie?

timbuktuHave you seen Timbuktu?

All of this movie’s main characters are Muslims. In fact, the screenplay’s deepest wisdom is spoken in a mosque by a passionate imam. But when I showed it to a room full of Christian writers, what followed was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had at the movies.

Last January, at a conference center on Whidbey Island, The Chrysostom Societyretreat organizers asked me to share movies with the group of writers that had gathered together. This year, Timbuktu lifted us from our soggy Pacific Northwest surroundings and set us down at the edge of the Sahara. When the movie was over, we sat in a heavy hush, reflecting on what we had seen.

Consider this: A 99% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes. A Cannes Film Festival Ecumenical Jury prize. An Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Top honors from the Africa Movie Academy Awards.

Yet, like so many world-class films, Timbuktu remains almost unknown to American moviegoers. It’s subtitled, after all. It’s foreign. It doesn’t star familiar names and faces.

In a recent promotional video, a Christian filmmaker declared with confidence that he would give Christians what they want to see:

  • A Christian worldview on the screen (not somebody else’s).
  • Two hours without any risk of being offended.
  • Entertainment!

Christians gave him a lot of money, and his film was widely distributed.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY