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Books and Documents

Interfaith Dialogue

Should We Defend the Saudis?
Syed Kamran Hashmi

In Pakistan today, where society is overwhelmingly Muslim, Salafi ideology continues to split the nation into smaller fragments creating animosity between Shias and Sunnis, Sunnis and Wahhabis and Sunnis (Deobandis) and Sunnis (Beralvis)….

 

Catholics and Muslims: Appreciating Diversity and Contributing To Justice Inspired Peace
Victor Edwin SJ, New Age Islam

We notice that Muslims' submission to the will of God is specially noted and praised. This is certainly a theological common ground between Christian and Muslims. Finding the will of God and submitting one's will to God's will is at the heart of every Christian's way of life.....

Is Dialogue With Islam Possible?
Thomas Reese

"[Muhammad's] message too was essentially religious, the acknowledgement of the one God as against the prevalent polytheism, but it had a social dimension to it, which was to bring about the formation of a new community bound not by blood ties or tribal loyalty, but by religion: the Umma." The Umma was both a religious and a political community, and it took up arms to survive. Muhammad was both a prophet and a statesman……

 

How Should Non-Muslims Approach Islamic History?
Stephen Schwartz

Radical Islam, particularly in its Wahhabi form, as the state cult in Saudi Arabia which inspires the terrorists of al-Qaeda and its allies, treats the record of Islamic revelation as an unchanging source of authority, which may neither be interpreted nor questioned. In reality, classical Islam, prior to the emergence of Wahhabism, only 250 years ago, viewed all aspects of Islamic revelation, from the holy scripture of Qur'an to the details of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, as subject to debate.....

Mithi is as sweet as the name it has been given. Approximately 80 per cent of the population here is Hindu. It is a town where Muslims, out of respect for Hindus, do not slaughter cows; and where Hindus, out of respect for Muslim rites, have never organised any marriage ceremonies or celebrations during the month of Muharram…..

Folly of Trying to Divide France’s Jews and Muslims
Nabila Ramdani

Though he offered the token qualification, “Of course, it’s a tiny minority of the Muslim community”, Cukierman later used the term “Islamo-fascism”, and stated that Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right Front National (FN) and a white Christian, was “blameless” when it came to anti-Semitism….

 

In a world where religiously-defined communities often see themselves as God’s chosen people, laying claim to knowing the mind of God and even waging war against others on this count, such openness and humility, such eagerness to introspect, and such enthusiasm to invite constructive critique from others is, of course, rare. Yet, it is a pressing necessity in today’s world, characterized by increasing interaction as well as conflict between people who claim to follow different faith traditions....

Interpreting Islam to Muslims
Graham E. Fuller

Bush never did very well as Mufassir-in-Chief (an expert in interpretation of the Qur’an) in trying to convince Muslims that GWOT was really in the best interests of the Muslim world. Indeed, the Iranians first coined a phrase for Washington’s vision of Islam: “American Islam.” In American eyes that means “good Islam”, an Islam that encourages Muslims to be pious, righteous and pray but who would never think about any of Islam’s political or social ideals or about social justice—implications that could lead to political action, rebellion, resistance to autocracy, or opposition to western intervention....

Anjuman-i-Islam Preserves, Restores Century-Old Persian and Urdu Translations of Ramayana, Gita
Zeeshan Shaikh

The institution was recently in the news when a student of one of its colleges joined the Islamic State in Syria. The Persian books restored include a Mahabharata from 1875; Haday-Kul-Marifat, a Persian book written on the Bhakti movement and Bhushan Leela, a book on Lord Ganesha. Most of these books are by Hindu authors highly proficient in Urdu and Persian, said Anjuman-E-Islam officials. Almost all the books bear Islamic motifs, including the usage of the numerical 786.....

The 8 Most Important Interfaith Monuments in the World
Craig Considine

The eight monuments documented here stand on the Asian, African, European, and North American continents in countries such as Israel, Turkey, India, Egypt, and the US. The monuments shed light upon key figures throughout history, as well as important events which have shaped Judaism, Christianity, and Islam over the last 1,000 or so years. My focus here is on events surrounding Jews, Christians, and Muslims, however, that is not to overlook the equally important interfaith monuments pertaining to non-Abrahamic faiths around the world…..

 

Basis historical accounts, Akbar’s curiosity about different religions had caused him to invite priests from Goa. The enthusiasm of the holy fathers was high as they felt Akbar himself would convert, which would open the entire country to conversion. While the priests were received with respect by the emperor, he never converted. The emperor often held debates between the priests and indigenous religious scholars at court.....

 

The Hindu religion is taught as a compulsory subject for students from Hindu households, with textbooks comprising detailed explanations of religious rituals and their scientific basis. “Most of the families in this village [Songari] are Muslim. Yet, the madrasa offers both religions as subjects. Students learn about their respective religions and share the teachings with their classmates from the other religion in their free time. The entire experience is very enriching…

Jesus and the Muslims
Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph

Muslims will never be complete believers without putting Jesus as part of their lives. In fact, Islam teaches every Muslim to respect Jesus the same way as they should respect all prophets. Islam honours all the prophets who were sent to mankind. In other words, Muslims will never be called as such without respecting all prophets in general. In the case of Jesus in particular, most pious Muslims are so passionate in propagating respect for him. He was considered to be one of the prophets who foretold the coming of Muhammad (saw)…..

Good Morning, 2015
M.J. Akbar

Charity is a distraught term, with hints of snobbery. Islamic doctrine has a solution: charity should be anonymous, to eliminate the grating pride of ego. But if there is a proper way to give then there is also a suitable way to receive, none better than through the eyes and heart of a child. A child is wish-friendly but money-neutral. Value is judged by joy, not cost. A child, contrary to perception, is also a realist. While an adult, suborned by greed or ambition or upward mobility or downward depression, may demand a spacecraft where a balloon would serve, a child is happy to accept a balloon and turn it into a spacecraft. The finest gift for a child cannot be hung from any tree, or wrapped in a parcel: it is the gift of time…..

 

Heading for a Jew-Free Turkey
Burak Bekdil

...Are Turkish Jews Leaving?:" "We face threats, attacks and harassment every day. Hope is fading. Is it necessary for a 'Hrant among us' to be shot in order for the government, the opposition, civil society, our neighbors and jurists to see this?" 'Hrant' whom he referred to is Hrant Dink, a Turkish Armenian journalist who was shot dead in 2007 by a gang of nationalist Turks.....

 

If the why of religious diversity is a divine mystery that we are unable to fully comprehend, the how of our approach to religious diversity is something that we can definitely do something about. We can, my friend and I agreed, choose to manage our responses to religious diversity in a skilful way in order to help shape a better world for ourselves, and for everyone else, irrespective of faith….

The religion of Islam, therefore, seeks to preserve the fundamental and eternal messages brought by all those Prophets of the Almighty without exception. In fact, as far as Islam is concerned, one measure of the treasure of the religion is its refusal to seek to exclude or demean the personality or message of any of the Prophets of the Almighty. Islam is unique in affirming that all the Prophets of the Almighty were men of excellence; that they were all sent to show humanity how to rise above its infernal predilections to the ethereal, the seraphic, the spiritual and the beatific in which lies its eternal success…..

 

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan should believe in brotherhood, peace and friendship with all religions. Why then is this state complicit in the killings and discrimination of minorities, especially Christians? Although Pakistan is called the Mumlikat-e-Khudadad, which means a land given by God, the minorities are insecure in this land. Why? The answer is simple: Pakistan is a diverse society but minorities face threats from religious extremists and society’s outdated customs and traditions….

Sharing and Receiving: An Interfaith Weekend
Victor Edwin SJ, New Age Islam

Sharing and Receiving: An Interfaith Weekend
Victor Edwin SJ, New Age Islam

Through discussion, sharing and presentations the participants emphasized that India is Salad bowl and diversity marks her uniqueness and enhances her beauty. Diversity is clearly a part of God’s design and purpose for our universe and for us humans. India has the unique distinction of having had the experience of diversity of cultures and religions for several thousand years. It has led to opening many new doors and creating many opportunities for new and beautiful ways of integration and mutual enrichment.....

 

When the West Bengal Board of Madrasa Education Act, 1994, came into force, giving statutory powers to the Board of Madrasa Education, the state became the “first in India to formalize the secularization of madrasa education”, with the syllabus mirroring that of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education. With high madrasa education being treated on a par with general education, non-Muslim students began joining in greater numbers. According to WBBME secretary Syed Nurus Salam, almost 10% of West Bengal’s 512 high madrasas have Hindu headmasters; about 18% of all teachers are Hindu, while Hindu students like Haldar and her schoolmate Ruby Sarkar have been front-rankers over the years…..

 

Welcome to Turkey, Your Holiness
Mustafa Akyol

The secular mind often has a hard time in grasping the nature of the challenge, therefore often concluding, “religion is the problem.” Yet the very history of your own institution, the Holy See, is a correction to such simplistic views. There have been times when the Catholic Church, a bit like the militant Islamists of today, launched holy wars on “infidels” and punished “heretics” in brutal ways. But the same Catholic Church today opens soup kitchens for the poor and provides healthcare for children. The very history of your faith, in other words, proves that religion can be a force for both good and evil…..

It wasn’t the first time the Muslim call to prayer was echoed in the Washington National Cathedral, however, last week marked the first time a Friday prayer service was held in the church. It was a symbolic event exemplifying tolerance, coexistence and shared humanity. The cathedral is a marvellous architectural beauty; the magnanimity of its façade is complemented by the warmth of its hosting clergies’ hearts. On Friday morning, serene and inspired faces walked through the cathedral's arches, many of them Muslim women wearing their Hijabs passing the pews to the front of the grand hall where prayer rugs were unfurled facing Makkah…..

 

What’s long been an overtly political conflict with a religious shadow -- one where talk is in terms of borders, settlements, checkpoints, bombs, and nationality -- has recently flipped on its head. Debates over access to sites in Jerusalem’s Old City, where Muslims say the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven and where Jews believe their holy ancient temples were located, have spurred accusations of both sides provoking a religious war. Clergy and interfaith activists, such as Judelman, are asking how faith can play a role in easing the tensions. “Our conflict has become both a national one and a religious one. Religious extremism, with the help of the mainstream media, is carrying the day,”…..

 

Religion, according to the Quran and Hadith, is religion of self-following, that is, one should follow the teachings of Islam in one’s individual life. However, the political interpretation of Islam wrongly made religion a subject of external implementation, that is, the commandments of Islam should be implemented on others by force or by ruling over them. It is this interpretation that has led to violence. The recent violence being perpetrated by outfits such as the ISIS is an example of this misinterpretation…..

 

After prayers and a kosher-Halal lunch at a Washington synagogue, the clergy resolved to limit the feel-good dialogue and spent the afternoon trading ideas both tried and novel. Among them: joint projects to feed the homeless, basketball games between Muslim and Jewish teens, Judaism 101 courses for Muslims and Islam 101 for Jews.....

 
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