Learning to Love Your Muslim Neighbors

downloadIn America and Europe, learning to love your (Muslim) neighbor.

Often when I’m reading I come across a passage that makes me want to fling the book across the room. I almost never do this—I handle books with an almost superstitious reverence—but at least I can groan or shake my head.

I did a lot of head-shaking and some groaning while reading Matthew Kaemingk’s Christian Hospitality and Muslim Immigration in an Age of Fear. Sometimes that was prompted by an excruciatingly pedantic sentence, like this one on page 224: “Music is a powerful sonic medium for liturgical formation.” Sometimes it was in response to the author’s failure to live up to the very principles he eloquently puts forward, as in his caricature of Ayaan Hirsi Ali (no measured critical engagement here; we’ll return to this point later). More often, though, I was scribbling appreciative comments on Post-It Notes and wishing that a friend or two would drop by so we could talk about this book immediately and at length.

Kaemingk’s book should move to the top of the reading list for participants in four distinct but often overlapping conversations: (1) on Christian-Muslim interaction generally, post-9/11, and the “framing” of this subject in the West; (2) on Muslim immigrants to the United States; (3) on the “hegemony” of liberalism in modernity; and (4) on Abraham Kuyper’s theological case for genuine pluralism, with particular reference to the stance that evangelical Christians in the United States should take (admirers of John Inazu’s Confident Pluralism will be particularly interested in this thread). Throughout, Kaemingk’s narrative focuses on the Netherlands, asking what can be learned from the experience of Muslim immigrants there and from the failure of Kuyper’s pluralist project; in addition to Kuyper, he draws on the Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck and the pastor-theologian Klaas Schilder.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WEEKLY STANDARD

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Why are Muslims fasting? What you need to know about Ramadan

Waht-is-RamadanIn a few days, millions of Muslims around the world will recognize Ramadan with prayer and dawn-to-dusk fasting for a month.

Here’s what you should know about the Islamic holy time.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a month when Muslims fast and pray to grow closer to Allah. It’s a time to improve moral character and focus on positivity. Observance is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

When is it?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It can last between 29 and 30 days.

The dates vary each year, depending on a moon-sighting methodology. This year, Ramadan will begin May 15 or May 16 and end between June 14 and June 16.

What can Muslims eat or drink?

Nothing, during fasting hours. A single sip of water would break the fast. Muslims can eat a pre-dawn meal (usually packed with power foods like fava beans, dates, potatoes or yogurt) to get them through the day. After sunset prayer, Muslims are also allowed to eat and drink as part of iftar, a feast with family and friends.

FULL ARTICLE FROM USA TODAY 

More than a headscarf: Forum takes aim at misconceptions about Muslims

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Sameena Zahoor has been wearing a hijab since she was in college studying to be a doctor and she is aware that non-Muslims often have questions — and misconceptions — about the headscarf commonly worn by Muslim women.

Zahoor, a family physician from Canton, said it is not much different than coverings donned by nuns or members of religions outside of Islam.

“Yes, my experience being a Muslim woman has a lot to do with me wearing a headscarf,” Zahoor said. “No, I don’t think I’m a better Muslim because I cover — versus a person who does not cover. Yes, I do have hair underneath (my hijab). No, I don’t wear it when I go home, sleep in it or shower in it. Yes, it makes me feel hot and sweaty when I wear it in the summer. No, I was not forced to wear it and no I am not oppressed.”

It was that kind of open discussion — intended to break down barriers and spread understanding of Islam — that highlighted the Building Bridges: Getting To Know Our Muslim Neighbors event hosted Sunday by The Waterford Refugee Welcome Alliance and held at the Christ Lutheran Church in Waterford.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DETROIT FREE PRESS 

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 

Are you afraid of Muslims? This pastor says ‘Islamophobia’ is dangerous

Hate groups in the U.S. spend millions of dollars each year whipping up anti-Muslim sentiment through websites, videos, white papers and the like, a Washington pastor said.

That industry — the “Islamophobia industry” — is a dangerous thing, Pastor Terry Kyllo kyllotold the Herald.

The Anacortes man is working with a Muslim leader from the west side to fight it. They’re bringing their “Faith over Fear: Standing with our Muslim Neighbors” event to Pasco on Tuesday.

Kyllo, a Lutheran pastor and founder of the group Neighbors in Faith, will speak alongside Aneelah Afzali, founder of the American Muslim Empowerment Network.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TRI-CITY HERALD 

 

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 

Jordan’s Muslims and Christians unite to celebrate Virgin Mary

A13AMMAN – In a call for peace, love and harmony among religions, known as the Amman Message, Muslims and Christians came together to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation in Jordan.

Organised by the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media (CCSM), under the patronage of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Prime Ministry Affairs Jamal Sarayreh, the March 25 event was hailed as a symbol of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

“This is the first event that joins Muslims and Christians together in celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation. It aims at reasserting the deep values of the brotherly relations between Muslims and Christians in Jordan, a country of peace and understanding,” said CCSM Director Father Rif’at Bader.

“The event represents a continuation of the Amman Message, the Common Word Initiative and the World Interfaith Harmony Week. It sends a clear message to the world that religion, with its values of love, can really contribute to peacemaking and stability, as well as to the restoration of cohesion and harmony.”

The Amman Message was released by Jordanian King Abdullah II in 2004 focusing on what “Islam is and what it is not” and “what actions represent Islam and what actions do not.” King Abdullah said its goal was to “clarify to the modern world the true nature of Islam and the nature of true Islam.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ARAB WEEKLY