Thursday, January 31, 2013

Building Sandwiches and Interfaith Relationships

Dionysios Koroulakis*

Once a week students from various faith groups such as the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Daughters, Jewish Student Association, Muslim Student Association, and Buddhist Meditation Sangha gather in the Village C Alumni Lounge for an industrious 40 minutes of sandwich making. The effort, producing roughly 180 sandwiches a week (at this time), is funded by those students’ own $5 contributions, a symbolic sum to highlight the necessity of personal sacrifice in service, and additional funding from Campus Ministry. Representatives of the faith groups deliver the meals to the nearby Georgetown Ministry Center—a center that cares for the needs of local homeless men and women. The center’s program director recently sent us a humbling message stating, "the sandwiches we pass out are the homeless members’ lunch... they are sometimes the only food they receive during the day," emphasizing the real and immediate difference this project can make in the lives of those without food and homes.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Freedom of Religion and the Right to Be Respected

Amb. Ufuk Gokcen

As the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, I have recently attended for the second year in a row a special commemoration event at the Park East Synagogue in New York in conjunction with the U.N. International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Every year, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the respected and veteran interfaith dialogue contributor, brings together his congregation with the members of the U.N. diplomatic community, including the U.N. Secretary General, to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, pay tribute to survivors and underline the commitment of the international community not to allow religious persecution and genocide.

Friday, January 25, 2013

On Mawlid, a new way to honor the Prophet

Mohamed Magid *

When Fatima Hamouma was just eight years old, she had to spend three hours every day walking and standing in line to get water for her family. Then she had to haul her heavy burden back home. Though most of the time, the water was dirty and not safe to drink - her family had no choice. In Niger, an African country that is 90 percent Muslim, Fatima and more than 80 percent of the population in rural areas have no access to safe drinking water. Niger has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. That’s not surprising. Around the world, the lack of safe water and sanitation is the leading killer of children, extinguishing over 8200 young lives every single day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The spiritual but not religious likely to face mental health issues, drug use, study says

Dan Merica

spirituality vs. religion
Can being spiritual but not religious lead to mental health issues? The answer is yes, according to a recent study.

The study, published in the January edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry, says spiritual but not religious people, as opposed to people who are religious, agnostic or atheist, were more likely to develop a "mental disorder," "be dependent on drugs" and "have abnormal eating attitudes,” like bulimia and anorexia.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Huntsville's Osher Lifetime Learning class offers history, culture of Islam

Kay Campbell

Gulsum Kucuksari, at left, talks with
Carol Codori and Bill McAlister after
one of the Islam: Rumor and Reality class
she taught for the Osher Lifetime Learning
Institute held in Huntsville at the
University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Kucuksari will teach the class for OLLI
again during the Spring 2013 semester.
(Courtesy of Linda McAlister)
When Gulsum Kucuksari, who was raised as a Muslim in Turkey, came to the U.S., she heard some surprising things about her faith.

“People were telling me about these 77 virgins for terrorists, and I didn’t understand it – in all my life, I have never heard this,” Kucuksari said. "The Quran does not promise virgins for terrorists."

She was describing the class on Islam she teaches for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Huntsville. “I thought it was funny.”

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Prayer Without Words

Katherine Towler

In her poem "Summer Day," Mary Oliver says: "I don't know exactly what a prayer is./I do know how to pay attention..." Simone Weil saw no distinction between attention and prayer. For her, "absolute unmixed attention is prayer."