Pakistan: Christians and Muslims commemorate 800th anniversary of meeting between St Francis and Sultan

1547598434YEbClpnGgPjD1Vh9X3S6oFazi7wtHs.pngTo commemorate the historic encounter between St Francis of Assisi with the Sultan of Egypt, AL-Kamil in the year 1219, Christians and Muslims held a special ceremony launch a year of events to promote tolerance, dialogue and a common commitment to peace.

The National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Pakistan, organised the meeting with eminent Muslim scholars to inaugurate the activities that, in 2019, will commemorate the event in Pakistan 800 years ago, in the name of Islamic-Christian dialogue.

Franciscan Sebastian Shaw, Archbishop of Lahore and President of the Commission, presided over the ceremony, held on January 12 in Lahore. Fr Francis Nadeem, Custodian of the Capuchin Friars in Pakistan, Executive Secretary of the Commission also lead the event. Franciscans, nuns, priests, lay people and eminent Muslim scholars from Sialkot, Gujranwala and Islamabad came Lahore for the occasion.

Fr Nadeem said, the two great leaders, Francis and Al-kamil, “spoke up for peace and tolerance amid the atmosphere of war and conflict during the crusades. They gave an example of interreligious dialogue and mutual understanding.”

At the beginning of the ceremony a painting was unveiled that depicts the encounter between St Francis of Assisi and Al-Kamil, while the doves were released, symbolizing the hope of spreading the message of peace in Pakistan and especially in the areas in which there are religious and political conflicts.

Capuchin Friar Shahzad Khokher OFM Cap then presented the background, the historical context and the significance of this historical meeting, and Archbishop Shaw encouraged everyone present to “be ambassadors of peace, inspired by the example shown by these great leaders”. “I admire the passion and courage of Francis of Assisi, who wanted to go to the Sultan during the war”, he said, reiterating that “this event drives us all to live in peace, harmony, tolerance and solidarity.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM INDCATHOLICNEWS

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Covenantal Theology: Can Muhammad’s Ancient Promise Inspire Muslim-Christian Peace Today?

85674Christians esteem the biblical progression of covenants—Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic—finalized by Jesus as he ushered in the New.

But for the sake of religious freedom in the Muslim world, should they embrace a further covenant: Muhammadian?

Modern scholarship suggests the Muslim Prophet’s Christian covenants could offer contemporary guidance; they already influenced a favorable verdict in the case of Christian Asia Bibi in Pakistan.

After eight long years on death row, Bibi was acquitted of blasphemy by the Muslim nation’s Supreme Court in late October. The Christian mother of five had been sentenced for uttering contempt for Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, while attempting to drink water from a well.

The three-judge panel ruled that contradictions in accuser testimony and Bibi’s forced confession by a local cleric rendered the charges invalid.But in the official court document, one justice went as far as to partially base his judgement on how Bibi’s accusers violated an ancient covenant of Muhammad to the Christian monks of Mount Sinai—“eternal and universal … not limited to [them] alone.”

“Blasphemy is a serious offense,” wrote judge Asif Khosa, “but the insult of the appellant’s religion … was also not short of being blasphemous.”

He referenced a 2013 book by John Morrow, a Canadian convert to Islam. The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World is an academic study of six treaties commanding the kind treatment of Christians, reportedly dated to the seventh century.

Each similar in scope, they command Muslims not to attack peaceful Christian communities, to aid in the construction and repair of churches, and even to allow self-regulation of tax payments.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

True Islam Does Not Kill Blasphemers

21AKYOL-2-superJumboThe agony of Asia Bibi, a 54-year-old Roman Catholic and mother of five, shows there is something rotten in her country, Pakistan — and in the broader world of Islam.

She was arrested for blasphemy in 2009 after Muslim co-workers on a destitute farm denounced her for merely drinking from the same cup and, during the subsequent quarrel, for “insulting Prophet Muhammad” — a charge Ms. Bibi always denied. Yet she was convicted in 2010 and spent the next eight years in solitary confinement, on death row.

Luckily, Pakistan’s Supreme Court last month saved her from execution, clearing her of the charges and also setting her free. But Pakistan’s militant Islamists, especially those in the notorious Tehreek-e-Labbaik religious party, which is obsessed with punishing blasphemers, were enraged. They forced the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan to accept a court petition to reverse the case and bar Ms. Bibi from leaving the country. She and her family, fearing vigilante violence, went into hiding.

I am hoping that the traumatized family will be able to leave Pakistan safely, to find asylum in some free nation. As a Muslim, I feel ashamed of the cruelty they have suffered at the hands of people who act in the name of my faith.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

Christians, Muslims and Hindus together celebrate Diwali, the ‘festival of lights’

PAKISTAN_-_1108_-_Diwali_2Some 50 Christian, Muslim and Hindu activists took part in the event (photos), around oil lamps, opened with a prayer recited by a pandit (Hindu priest).

One of the participants was Aroon Kumar, a 24-year-old university student and resident in the capital of Punjab. The former coordinator of the Pakistani Hindu Council told AsiaNews that “the event is slowly becoming a cultural event in Pakistan, a country with an overwhelming Islamic majority”.

In light of the tensions in the country over Islamist protests against Asia Bibi’s acquittal, the young man suggests that “the city administration should sponsor this holiday,” which “can help society strengthen the values ​​of the family”.

For Rawadari Tehreek chairman Samson Salamat, the interfaith event was deliberately kept low key. “We did not advertise it on social media because our hearts are sad,” he said. “In recent riots, people suffered serious losses.”

Speaking about the unrest cause by radicals, Salamat stressed that “what happened on the streets across Pakistan is contrary to the teachings of Islam. Someone is using religion to incite violence. The ‘festival of lights’ represents hope, as well as an opportunity to bring together people from all religions.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM ASIA NEWS (ITALY)

Pakistan’s High Court Acquits Asia Bibi, Christian Woman On Death Row For Blasphemy

asiaPakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday announced the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy in a case that has roiled the country.

In the courtroom, it took less a minute for the chief justice, Saqib Nisar, to upturn a series of legal rulings that had kept Bibi on death row for eight years.

In terse remarks to the hushed, packed courtroom, he said that Bibi’s conviction and sentence had been voided.

In a 56-page verdict issued after the ruling, the three-judge bench appeared to side with Bibi’s advocates. They have maintained that the case against the 51-year-old illiterate farmhand was built around a grievance by her fellow Muslim workers, who appeared angry that she might drink from the same vessel as them. She was ordered by a local landlord to bring water to the women on a day while they were picking berries.

The judges cited the Quran, Islamic scholars and Shakespeare in their impassioned verdict, arguing that blasphemy allegations had led to vigilante killings. In Bibi’s case, they wrote, her accusers had not conclusively proved her guilt.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR

Muslims in Town Adopt a Sacred Hindu Tenet So They Won’t Hurt the Feelings of Their Religious Neighbors

Pakistani-Cow-Farmer-Public-DomainSome people might think that it’s difficult for two separate faiths to coexist peacefully – but this Pakistani province has used food to go above and beyond the concept of respecting their neighbors.

Food is one of the best ways of bringing people together, but in this case, it’s rather the act of NOT eating which keeps the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority in the East-Pakistan province in such a peaceful state.

Cows are sacred to Hindus, and after generations of living together, their Muslim neighbors have stopped eating cows as a means of respecting their Hindu community members.

Despite cows being much less expensive to buy, the Muslims of the Tharparkar district spend their holiday of Eid al-Adha eating goats instead of cows so they won’t hurt Hindu feelings.

FULL ARTICLE FROM GOOD NEWS NETWORK 

Islam’s contribution to Europe

akbar-ahmedThere is a widespread belief, especially among right-wing politicians in Europe, that Islam is incompatible with Western civilization and has contributed nothing to it. The Dutch politician Geert Wilders captured this perception when he described Islam as a ‘culture of backwardness, of retardedness, of barbarism.’ It is worth our while therefore to investigate whether this assertion is, in fact, correct. If it is not, the basis of the Islamophobia of Islam’s critics like Wilders collapses like a house of cards. They will then have to use some other arguments against Islam or their racial prejudices will stand exposed; they will be naked without benefit of a niqab to cover their modesty.

The impact of Muslims on European culture is deep and extensive. I will use material from my book Journey into Europe to illustrate the assertion over the next few weeks. Perhaps Islam’s greatest contribution was to introduce the idea of a unified understanding of our spiritual universe, which was reflected in the art, architecture, literature, and society in Andalusia based in religious pluralism and acceptance, one that valued learning and the ilm ethos. It is this society that produced an Ibn Firnas, who attempted flight, and religious philosophers like Maimonides and Averroes, who sought to balance reason and faith. Andalusian society, in turn, sowed the seeds for what would become the European Renaissance, which would lead to the Enlightenment and go on to shape our modern world.Ahmed-Krausen_Cordoba_940

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY TIMES