Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Interfaith Christmas: Making God Boundless

Mike Ghouse

No matter what faith you belong, the Interfaith Christmas can offer everything you had always wanted and more: To live in peace with fellow beings without feeling apprehension, discomfort or the fear of the other.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rumi commemorated in Konya with a Seb-i Arus ceremony

A Seb-i Arus ceremony took place in the central Anatolian province of Konya on Monday in order to commemorate Jalal al-Din Rumi.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How Christians Have Almost Destroyed the Season of Advent

The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel*

Advent is one of my favorite times of the church year. It is the beginning of the year for us, different from the “new year” in our secular calendar. Advent is a time of quiet preparation and expectation. I think it is less penitential as it has been, and still is, practiced in some churches.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How the Quran and Islam Honors Mary

Hesham A. Hassaballa

The story of Mary is one spoken with great reverence in the Quran, for she is a woman like no other.

...centuries ago, there was a devout woman in Palestine who made an appeal to her Lord:
O my Lord! Behold, to You do I vow [the child] that is in my womb, to be devoted to Thy service. Accept it, then, from me: verily, You alone art all-hearing, all-knowing!

Monday, December 10, 2012

President Gül issues message to mark Jewish holiday

President Abdullah Gül honored the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, or Festival of Lights, on Friday and stated that he sincerely welcomes the holiday.

In a message released by the Presidency Press Center, Gül sent greetings to Turkish Jews as they began the celebration of Hanukkah, an eight-day religious holiday.

Eboo Patel explores religious pluralism

Manya A. Brachear

Honor religious freedom by respecting the red, white and blue, says Patel

Eboo Patel (Photo: Armando
L. Sanchez, Chicago Tribune)
Eboo Patel is an idealist. A hopeless romantic. A dreamer. The Chicago-based founder of the Interfaith Youth Core and one of President Barack Obama's faith advisers doesn't believe people of different faiths should just all get along. They should work together. But there's another attribute that has grounded Patel's optimism and led him to develop one of the nation's leading non-profits devoted to interfaith cooperation. Eboo Patel is a patriot. If pairing a so-called “foreign” name with the concept of American loyalty makes some bigots cringe, Patel's latest book will make them cringe cover to cover. In “Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice and the Promise of America,” Patel confronts the challenges of living up to America's high ideals, takes on the bigots and explains how he briefly lost hope for his cause, only to find it once again.

Friday, December 7, 2012

All Saints Church, Hosting Muslim Public Affairs Council Convention, Receives Threats, Hate Mail

For the first time in its history, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) is holding its annual convention at a Christian church. But now the council's host, All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Calif., is facing vitriolic backlash.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Our History of Religious Intolerance Must Come to an End

Rev. Gary R. Hall,
Amb. Thomas R. Pickering,
and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf*

Although religious freedom is enshrined in the Bill of Rights, religious intolerance still exists in this country. Thanksgiving reminds us that the Pilgrims came to America to escape religious persecution. But the Puritans did not welcome other religions into their colony. All through American history, most religions arriving on our shores have had to fight suspicion and intolerance.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bah humbug and God bless every one

Charlotte McPherson*

Around this time of year, many university students will be having some reverse culture shock as they return home to family and friends for Christmas and New Year holidays. Of course, most will be glad to be “home,” but you will find it different from when you were living at home before going abroad.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

‘Wedding’ excitement in Konya

“Brother, do not come to my grave without a ‘def’ [old Turkish percussion instrument]; it does not suit you to stand joyless in the presence of Allah...”

Rumi's Tomb, Konya, Turkey

Monday, November 26, 2012

U.N. chief says crises show need for interfaith amity

Tom Heneghan

KAICIID opening ceremony, Nov. 26, 2012
REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
VIENNA (Reuters)- The violent crises in Syria, Gaza and Mali show how important it is for different religions to work together to promote understanding rather than sow hatred, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said on Monday.

Addressing the opening of a new Saudi-backed interfaith centre in Vienna, he said the Syrian conflict was "taking on troubling sectarian dimensions" and "unrest (continues) between Israelis and Palestinians."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On Thanksgiving, Jews And Muslims Volunteer Together Despite Middle East Violence

It's an idea that feels particularly poignant this Thanksgiving: American Jews and Muslims banding together to help the homeless and other needy people.

The interfaith collaboration has been going on for five years, but the recent exchange of rockets between Gaza and Israel is weighing especially hard on both communities this week. That's why a joint session of sandwich making or a group visit to a nursing home has taken on added significance.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sikh religion joining California universities' curriculum

Lee Romney

The first slide professor Nirvikar Singh flashed on his PowerPoint showed the faces of six Sikh worshipers gunned down the previous month in Oak Creek, Wis., by a man with white supremacist ties.

Interfaith harmony between metro Detroit Jews, Muslims during tough times

Niraj Warikoo

Imam Abdullah El-Amin,
head of the Muslim Center of Detroit,
greets Rabbi Dorit Edut of
the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue
Detroit Free Press
Jews and Muslims across metro Detroit are forging close ties in a series of events to promote harmony between the two groups amid growing tensions in the Middle East this week as fighting escalates between Israel and Gaza.

Jews are visiting mosques and Muslims are visiting synagogues in an effort organized by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a New York City-based group that's behind similar events this weekend across the U.S.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Muslims, Jews gather at Denver mosque to help feed the hungry*

Electa Draper

(Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
Local Muslim and Jewish groups worked together Sunday, November 18th, 2012, to make roughly 1,000 peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches to hand out to Denver's homeless and hungry at the Northeast Denver Islamic Center.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Study Shows How Prayer, Meditation Affect Brain Activity

Jahnabi Barooah

How do prayer and meditation affect brain activity? Dr. Andrew Newberg, MD, is the Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomson Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College, and he has studied the neuroscientific effect of religious and spiritual experiences for decades.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Commemorating International Religious Freedom Day

Katrina Lantos Swett *

Across the globe, religion and belief continue to matter deeply in the lives of people and their cultures. From worship to prayer, births to funerals, weddings to holy days, almsgiving to thanksgiving, religion is a central source of identity, meaning, and purpose for billions of human beings.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

iReporters: 5 life lessons from the Hajj

Sarah Brown

(CNN) – Millions of Muslims began the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, which represents one of the largest annual human gatherings on the planet.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, a journey every Muslim is expected to take in his or her lifetime if the person is physically and financially able.

Our iReport team asked pilgrims who have performed the Hajj about how the experience changed them - and for their advice to those undertaking the pilgrimage for the first time.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Southern California priests participate in landmark trip to Turkey

Paula Doyle

Twelve archdiocesan priests are exploring ancient Christian sites and visiting Catholic faith communities in Turkey this week, as part of a trip organized exclusively for Catholic clergy by an organization of Turkish-American Muslims that promotes intercultural and interreligious awareness.

Father Alexei Smith, archdiocesan director of ecumenical/interreligious affairs, and Msgr. Thomas Welbers, pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Beverly Hills, are co-leading the trip, which is being sponsored and organized by the Pacifica Institute.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hope at Lambeth Palace

Akbar Ahmed *

The proximity to a great spiritual master is always inspiring. And perhaps there are few masters as eminent as the archbishop of Canterbury.

Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, addresses the theology think tank Theos in London on Oct. 1, 2012.  (REUTERS)
On Oct. 8, 2012, my daughter Amineh Hoti and I had been invited to participate in what was probably the last major public event of the Most Rev. Rowan Williams during his ten-year engagement with Muslims as the archbishop of Canterbury. The event was held at Lambeth Palace, the archbishop’s London residence. The who’s who of Britain was there including the archbishops of Wales and Ireland, several bishops and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first-ever female chairman of the Tory Party. Also present was my dear friend James Shera, MBE, a Pakistani Christian, the first Pakistani mayor of Rugby and the only Pakistani in the United Kingdom with a road named after him.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Whatever Your Religion, We Are All One Family

Rev. Ed Bacon

A couple of years ago, my church invited a local physician to come talk to our congregation. Aisha is a practicing Muslim.

During her talk, in a soft and patient voice, Aisha explained the pillars of Islam and why Muslims pray five times a day. She said, "Because we kneel and touch our heads all the way to the floor when we pray, for us practicing Muslims that is symbolic of the kind of God-consciousness we are trying to form within us -- that of being a servant to God."

Monday, October 8, 2012

The five biggest misconceptions about secularism

Jacques Berlinerblau *

As far as the Republicans are concerned, President Barack Obama is secularism’s go-to guy in Washington. Newt Gingrich refers to him as a “secular-socialist.” Mitt Romney charges that his opponent advocates a “secular agenda.” And Rick Santorum frets that Obama is imposing “secular values” on “people of faith.”

The president, however, seems not to have received the whole him-being-a-secularist memo. American secularists have thrown up their hands in frustration over his supersizing of George W. Bush’s Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. They roll their eyes at his God talk. As for his recent call for days of “prayer and remembrance” to commemorate 9/11, well, would the late Rev. Jerry Falwell have done it any differently?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Power of Healing in Interfaith Relations

Najeeba Syeed-Miller *

The Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) said, "There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment" (Hadith).

Often when I reflect upon this Hadith I think of the role of brokenness/healing, not just of the human body but also the capacity of a believer to be an agent of change for healing in his/her community and for his or her speech, conduct and action as ways to spread goodness in the world.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

New York Peace Walk: Religious, Interfaith Leaders March To Promote Harmony In The Middle East

Jahnabi Barooah

In a world fraught with violence, is it too bold to say that peace is possible between people of different religious, national and ethnic backgrounds? One group of religious leaders and peace activists does not think so.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Investing in Faith: Religion May Help Retirees Stay Mentally Fit

David Briggs

Retirement planning is not all about the money.

It may be just as important for aging Baby Boomers to have invested in their spiritual lives as in their 401K plans, new research shows.

The benefits of increased spiritual activity range from battling loneliness through personal faith and church, synagogue and mosque attendance to reducing death anxiety through religious music, the studies indicate.

And just as financial planners urge their clients to be prepared for living into their 90s, religious leaders can also make a case that a strong spiritual life provides a powerful foundation for coping with the trials of outliving our ability to care for ourselves.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yom Kippur 2012: The Day Of Atonement Explained

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is observed in 2012 from sundown Sept. 25 to nightfall Sept. 26. The Hebrew date for Yom Kippur is 9-10 Tishrei 5773.

The Day of Atonement -- also known as the Sabbath of Sabbaths -- is the most important day of the Jewish year. More people go to temple on Yom Kippur than any other holiday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Real Muslims Cannot be Terrorists

Fethullah Gulen

Islam literally means "surrender" Islam is the religion of contentment, secrity, and peace. These principles are so commonplace in the lives of Muslims that when they once start to perform the prayer they cut off all ties with the world, bow and prostrate before God and then stand with their hands clasped in respect. When they leave the prayer, it is as if they have started a new life. They end the prayer by greeting those to their left and right and wishing them health, security and peace, then go and join other people.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fasting can help protect against brain diseases, scientists say

Robin McKie

Fasting for regular periods could help protect the brain against degenerative illnesses, according to US scientists.

Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore said they had found evidence which shows that periods of stopping virtually all food intake for one or two days a week could protect the brain against some of the worst effects of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other ailments.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What Catholics can learn from the Qur'an

Kathleen K. Duff *

This year during Ramadan -- the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar when Muslims believe the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad -- I was in solidarity with my Muslim sisters and brothers throughout the world by reading the Quran. But here's the thing: I am a Roman Catholic.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

ASEAN Religious Leaders Visit Conflict Zone and Form a Multi-religious Network

More than 200 religious leaders, representatives of interreligious councils and peace scholars from the Association of South Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states convened in Bangkok and Pattani, Thailand on 17-19 September 2012, to address the role of religion and interreligious cooperation in resolving conflicts and building peace in the ASEAN region.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pope arrives in Lebanon with message of peace

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Lebanon on Friday to urge peace at a time of great turmoil in the Middle East, saying the import of weapons to Syria during the country's civil war is a “grave sin.”

The three-day visit comes at a time of turmoil in the region -- the civil war in neighboring Syria and in the aftermath of a mob attack that killed several Americans in Libya, including the US ambassador.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Middle East attacks show the desperate need for interfaith understanding

C. Welton Gaddy *

Each year on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 I pause and think about how much the world has changed since that heartbreaking day, and not so much for the better. This sentiment was illustrated with tragic clarity this year as I watched attacks on the American Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The results were immediately the death of the U.S Ambassador to Libya and three members of his staff, new protests in Yemen, and increased tension between the U.S. and the Arab world.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

World religious leaders’ appeal from Sarajevo

Hajrudin Somun *

More than 200 religious leaders of all faiths and representatives from the worlds of politics and culture met in Sarajevo earlier this month for a three-day interfaith conference.

One of the participants said the city of Sarajevo symbolized contemporary history due to the three terrible wars it witnessed in the last century. Many conference-goers recognized that the city has been a symbol of religious coexistence, and sent out a message of tolerance to different faiths and cultures. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said the Balkans have always been a place where different religions and cultures mixed and that “Sarajevo was globalized before Europe.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

Armenians hold third religious service at Akdamar church

Armenians from around the world flocked to the Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on the island of Akdamar in the eastern province of Van on Sunday, lighting candles and praying for victims killed by last year's earthquake in Van and for Syrians killed during clashes in their country.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

European imams, rabbis pledge zero tolerance for hate preachers


Seventy European Muslim and Jewish leaders pledged on Wednesday to show “zero tolerance” to hate preachers of any faith including their own ranks, citing what they called rising religious intolerance on the continent.

Religious leaders attend a gathering of Jewish and Muslim leaders. (Photo: Reuters)
Imams, rabbis and community leaders from 18 countries agreed to jointly counter bigotry against Jews and Muslims and combat legal threats to common religious practices such as circumcision of boys and the kosher and halal ritual slaughter of animals.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Contribution of Fethullah Gulen on Christian-Muslim relations

Mustafa Erol *

Dialogue has been the buzz word for around a century especially during the last 3-4 decades to improve the relationship between individuals and communities especially members of different faiths. Dialogue is still the work of people who are overwhelmingly either member of a religious faith or work of a religious institution. One important individual from an Islamic background who has contributed on this issue positively has been Fethullah Gulen. His followers who subscribe themselves to his approach have established many dialogue institutions, over 130 different countries to implement his philosophy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How Can American Muslims Approach Muslim-Jewish Dialogue?

Kemal Argon

American Muslims interested in dialogue with Jews actually do exist. Muslim-Jewish dialogues should be attempted, even if these seem difficult at times and even if there are people in both Muslim and Jewish communities who don't believe in Muslim-Jewish dialogue. The potential short-term and long-term benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

Friday, August 10, 2012

We Are All Muslims: A Sikh Response to Islamophobia in the NYPD and Beyond

Sonny Singh *

As a brown-skinned Sikh with a turban on my head and a long beard on my chin, I deal with my fair share of racist and xenophobic harassment regularly, including in my home of New York City, the most diverse city on the planet. It usually takes the form of someone yelling or perhaps mumbling at me: Osama bin Laden/terrorist/al Qaeda/he's going to blow up the [insert location]/go back to your country/etc. Less often, someone might threaten me, get in my face, or in one case, pull off my turban on the subway.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Representatives of non-Muslim foundations gather at iftar in Ankara

Non-Muslim foundations hosted an iftar (fast-breaking) dinner on Tuesday in the Turkish capital of Ankara, with Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik in attendance.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ramadan tent set up in Russian capital to promote dialogue

A Ramadan tent set up in the Russian capital of Moscow started to offer iftars (fast-breaking meals) on Monday and festive Ramadan activities for locals and Muslims who live in the city.

The Ramadan tent was set up for the first time in 2006 and in time has grown and become an example for similar projects in other parts of Russia. The tent is largely seen as a symbol of peace and tolerance in Russia. It is also supported by the Moscow municipal administration.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ramadan, interfaith dialogue, tolerance

Fatih Harpci

Going back to approximately 14 centuries ago, one of the last nights of the Arab month of Ramadan, maybe August in the year 610 C.E., we witness a caravan traveler, merchant, husband and father named Muhammad [pbuh].

Friday, August 3, 2012

Jewish community hosts iftar at Neve Shalom Synagogue

The Turkish Jewish community hosted its annual iftar (fast-breaking) dinner on Wednesday at the Neve Shalom Synagogue in İstanbul.

Monday, July 30, 2012

From Ramadan to Elul: A spiritual journey

By Andrew Friedman, FTA

Image by Carlos Latuff
For Lee Weissman, a Breslov Chasid in Irvine, the recent onset of Elul caps a spiritual journey he began a month ago with the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Weissman, a teacher at the Tarbut v’Torah Community Day School in Irvine and a scholar of Southeast Asian religions, says similar themes run through Ramadan and Elul, the Hebrew month of repentance, charity and extra prayers leading up to Rosh Hashanah and the High Holy Days. And he says his close ties with local Muslims have helped put him in the “correct” frame of mind to begin his own month of penitence and prayer.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An Interfaith Easter in Sacramento California

The Sacramento Bee reports that hundreds of worshippers in Sacramento, California, were able to celebrate this Easter Sunday together thanks to a local Muslim organization that let the Christians hold services in their mosque.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Turkey should do more to protect its Christians

Turan Kayaoğlu, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center and a visiting professor at Qatar University, wrote an article that appeared in Today’s Zaman about Turkey’s responsibilities towards its minorities.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Regeneration Concert for Possibility

(c) Yuval Ron Music
On Sunday March 18th, Regeneration organized their “Regeneration Concert for Possibility“. The concert was held at the Temple Emanuel and it was cosponsored by All Saints Church, Islamic Center of Southern CA, Temple Emanuel and Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

President Obama’s Interfaith Dialogue & Community Service Challenge

Last spring (2011), the White House announced the establishment of the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, aimed at strengthening the relationships among diverse faith groups and promoting interfaith service efforts that benefit the broader, collective community. UCI was honored to be selected to participate in the challenge. More than 200 campuses across the country are participating in the President’s Initiative, including a number of other UC campuses.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Education and Dialogue in the Gulen Movement

James Harrington speaking at
Pacifica Institute, Salt Lake City
On Feb. 25, 2012, James Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project and Adjunct Professor at the School of Law in the University of Texas, Austin spoke at the Pacifica Institute for the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable’s Interfaith Month celebrations. Mr. Harrington spoke about the Gulen Movement and how to build civil society. James Harrington is also the author of Wrestling with Free Speech, Religious Freedom, and Democracy in Turkey: The Political Trials and Times of Fethullah Gulen, This event was covered in detail by the Hizmet Movement Blog and can be read in its entirely here.

Fethullah Gülen added to Peace Curriculum

“Peace Learning Center in Eagle Creek Illinois is teaching thousands of young people on how to be peacemakers. [Amongst the leaders they learn about are] Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King and now the Peace Center has added Fethullah Gülen.”
The Executive Director of the Peace Learning Center, Mr. Tim Nation says, “Fethullah Gülen’s work promoting interfaith dialog and community service make him an excellent peace maker.”

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Interfaith Journey Across the United States

Christopher P. Scheitle and Roger Finke took a trip across the 50 United States in an interfaith journey of self-discovery. The two talk about their travels and share some beautiful photos in the Huffington Post here. A belief that “underneath this veneer of homogeneity lies a rich and varied topography of American religion” led them to this journey.

On their journey they realize:

Immigration has understandably had a persistent role in shaping America’s religious geography. Catholics began arriving in large numbers by the middle of the 19th century and settled in Boston and other East Coast enclaves, while Chinese and Japanese immigrants began to shape the religious composition of San Francisco and other West Coast communities. Religious innovation and creativity has also played its part in America’s geography.

These changes continue into the present day. We have all experienced these changes in our daily lives but this journey made by two Americans and their reflections on this journey remind all of us the importance of not only accepting the different religions in our communities but to also experience them, and to learn about them.

These changes are continuing and we need to become not only more tolerant but more open minded and embracing. As the two point out in this piece these changes in American religious topography is continuing to change:

Hispanic immigrants, not to mention Asian, African and Middle-Eastern immigrants, are reshaping the religious landscape once again. Religious groups are also still innovating, establishing megachurches and so-called ‘parachurch’ nonprofit organizations.