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Books and Documents

Interfaith Dialogue

The Search For Interfaith Harmony In An Atmosphere Of Evil Inspired By Religious Conviction
S Iftikhar Murshed is the publisher of Criterion Quarterly

The discussions between the Najran Christians and the Muslims of Medina centred on the doctrinal commonalities and differences between the two religions. This was history’s first interfaith dialogue and was completely in accord with the Quranic injunction: “And do not argue with the followers of earlier revelation otherwise than in a most kindly manner-unless it be such of them as are bent on evildoing-and say: ‘We believe in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, as well as that which has been bestowed upon you: for our God and your God is one and the same, and it is unto Him that we (all) surrender ourselves.’ “(Quran, 29:46.)…

Right-Wing Religion and War on America
Rob Boston is senior policy analyst at Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Unlike secular lobbies, religious groups that work with legislators on Capitol Hill don’t have to register with the federal government and are free from the stringent reporting requirements imposed on any group that seeks to influence legislation. Religion in America would seem to be thriving in this “hands-off” atmosphere, as evidenced by church attendance rates, which in the United States tend to be higher than any other Western nation. So where springs this “war on religion” talk? …

Is Yoga Un-Islamic?
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

Is Yoga Un-Islamic?

One day recently a close relative was shocked to see me do yoga. I offer my 5-time Salah (prayer) and he thought that one who offers Salah should not do yoga because it has its origin in Hinduism. I did not argue with him and since that day I do not do yogic exercises in front of him. Another relative said: “yoga kuch bhi nhi hai, jo namaz hai usi ka copy hai” (yoga is nothing but a copy of namaz). This time I was shocked to listen. Again, I did not argue with him. …

Seeking to Clear a Path between Yoga and Islam
Sarah Maslin Nir is a writer for New York Times

“Yoga is not for Muslims,” he said. “It was forbidden.”…had his students learn yoga to help improve their concentration, three Muslim students quit after a few yoga sessions, he said, in part, he believed, because of their families’ stance toward the practice. “I am putting them in something extra that is not in the Muslim religion,” he said. “The parents did not accept it.”…

 

Take the latest inter-religious fiasco in Malaysia. The Johor Education Department organises a teacher-training seminar with an over-extended and boring title which nevertheless raised the blood pressure of many non-Muslims because it included the phrase “the threat of Christianisation to Islam”. After a public outcry, this was “resolved” by a simple title change. Now, it seems, Christianisation no longer threatens Islam, at least not in the title. …

 

Christ Was Never A Christian But He Was Tortured By Occupying Forces
Eileen Fleming, Citizen of CONSCIENCE for House of Representatives 2012

The biblical account of Palm Sunday can be found in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19. They tell the story of when Jesus entered Jerusalem; the crowds greeted him by waving and covering his path with palm branches. The story goes that immediately following this triumphant celebration Jesus began his tortured journey to the cross. The Stations of the Cross (or Way of the Cross; also called the Via Dolorosa, Way of Sorrows, or just The Way) is a series of artistic representations depicting Christ Carrying the Cross to his crucifixion in the final hours or Passion of Jesus before he died. …

Muslims Approaches to Interfaith Dialogue: The Authentic and the Apologetic
Dr. Adis Duderija is a research associate at the University of Melbourne, Islamic Studies

…one part of the ‘mainstream’ Sunni Islamic doctrine is the notion of successive nature of Prophethood which was fulfilled and completed by prophet Muhammad which renders all other existing traditions apriori as ‘incomplete’ ,’corrupted’ or ‘deviant’ . Hence, as Muslims, there is nothing we can learn from “Them”. …. one could clearly see this attitude of ‘ “you have nothing of importance to say’ manifesting itself by their poor listening and inattention as to what the Christian speaker had to say.

Is There too much God Talk in Politics?
Mike Ghouse, President, Foundation for Pluralism

Extremism in religion has always been repulsive to the general public, but seldom expressed with an equal intensity. Indeed, it was the extremism in religion that chased out many to our shores, to escape from the wrath of the tyrants. Those genes are still alive in most of the Americans who are in one way are the other value freedom. …

Strengthening Muslim-Jewish Ties in the Face of Evil
Marc Schneier and Shamsi Ali

As a rabbi and an imam, we deeply mourn the tragic loss of innocent lives in the murderous terrorist attacks in France. We express our heartfelt sympathy and compassion for the bereaved. Meanwhile, top French Muslim and Jewish leaders have vowed to stand united in opposition to acts which Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, has accurately characterized as being “in total contradiction with the foundation of this religion [Islam]."…

The Toulouse Shootings have United France in Grief
Eve Gani

Given who the victims were – Muslims in Montauban, Jews in Toulouse – we realised very quickly there was a message of racist, anti-Semitic hate, but also, because of the two institutions that were hit, the army on the one hand, the school on the other, it was clear that these were also attacks on the institutions and symbols of the republic. An assassination, not a shooting, because the aim was to kill and terrorise a whole community ….

 

An Infected Conversion

The recent rise in forced conversions, killings and kidnappings for ransom targeting non-Muslims, specifically the Hindus of Pakistan, proves that intolerance and bigotry in our society runs deeper than we’d care to admit. Whether our society has always alienated and harassed people who profess other religions or if this is a ‘trend’, a recent ‘development’ which is haunting everyone, including Muslims who demand peace and coexistence….

On The Need for Inter-Religious Dialogue
Asghar Ali Engineer is a scholar of Islam

Also, it is Allah’s will to create diversity among His creation. ALLAH SAYS IN Qur’an, “And if Allah had pleased He would have made you a single people, but that He might try you in what He gave you. So vie one with another in virtuous deeds.” (5:48) Thus diversity is Allah’s will and it is trial for us if we can live in peace and harmony with each other despite this diversity. Also, Allah wants us not to assert our superiority but to vie one with another in good deeds. …

Hindus Leaving Homeland Amid Security Fears
Ali K. Chishti is a Karachi-based journalist

"You cannot understand how much we love this land," said Ajeet Kumar. "We have been living here for millennia and are among its indigenous people. This is our land and its people are our people. We are Sindhis and have never discriminated on the basis of religion.""But due to the constant fear of abductions, we are leaving Pakistan and Sindh," …

Banning of Basant the Most Damaging Degradation of Cultural Events

Basant is significant for many reasons, not least that it is a centuries-old cultural tradition of Punjab that cuts across all lines of society, religion, caste and creed. In many ways, the universality of the festival makes it symbolic of the culture of tolerance and diversity that the subcontinent was once known for. The upkeep of this festival is particularly crucial for Pakistan and Lahore specifically. …

The Relationship between the Muslim Religious Self and the Religious Other
Dr. Adis Duderija is a Research Associate in Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne

Prophet Muhammad’s message arose within the context of well-established religious communities, most important of them being—apart from the pre-Quranic paganism—Judaism, Christianity, and Hanifiyyah.  The Qur’an itself describes several instances of the Muslim community’s attitude toward the non-Muslim Other and vice-versa. … Quranic progressive consolidation of Islamic religious identity is inextricably linked with the religious identity of the Other, notably of Jews and Christians. …

A Closer Look at Claims of ‘Persecution’ Of Christians in Kashmir
Yusuf Jameel, is journalist of South Asia

Some of these Christian may find it difficult to work among the local Muslims after openly being accused of luring the members of the majority Muslim community, mainly the youth, into Christianity by offering them “riches’ – a charge that is vehemently denied by the Christians. In fact, many Kashmiri Muslims are wary of the cleric’s moves, ostensibly both because of his wispy religious pursuits….

India, Pakistan: A growing Peace Constituency

When Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggested last summer that Pakistan should "leave the Kashmir issue alone" and focus on its domestic challenges, the comment did not elicit the customary howls of outrage in the Pakistan media. Instead, it was met with a grudging acknowledgement that this time India''s leader might be right. If such episodes reflect an incipient new national mood in Pakistan, it could well be time for India to seize the moment to build a lasting peace. …

Defending the Realm''s Faith
Sunanda K Datta Ray

Defending the Realm''s Faith

The rationale is that “being sure of who you are is the only way in which you will be more accommodating of others”. A religious monopoly doesn’t always mean acceptance of others; it leads to scriptural absolutism as under Emperor Aurangzeb when Hindus had to pay the jaziya tax. The assumption is that a minority community politician feels the route to advancement lies in being demonstrably more loyal than the king. …

 

Fighting for Faith with a Baroness

“We stand side by side with the Pope in fighting for faith”, she claims that “militant secularisation is taking hold of our societies”. Governance free from faith should not be confused with failure to recognise the rights and frankly the beauty of the multitude of faiths that exist in Britain – or in other countries....

The vast majority of the religious are Buddhists or Daoists. Estimates for the number of Christians vary wildly from 50m to 100m. Across the country, local governments have rebuilt temples and constructed new ones to capitalise on religious tourism. In rural areas, temples and churches have helped provide education and health care, with the unofficial blessing of local party chiefs. ...

 

On the arrival of the enraged horde, a Muslim leader, Haji Usman, stood between them and the church. He sensibly took a risk, even with the possibility that he would lose his life. In the end, he climbed a ladder triumphantly. The mob cancelled its plans and dismissed itself. The independence of a nation, as far as it is generically defined, must allow freedom to all parts of a society. There should even be understanding and clemency granted for all people who previously were categorized as the oppressors. -- Khairil Azhar

Wars kill in more ways than one, and the longer they go on the more do the ways multiply. India needs to do more not only because with the former hegemonic powers turning into predators a vacuum is developing from Pakistan to the Maghreb. It has a duty to do more also because it can do more. -- Prem Shankar Jha

The dialogue ended with five recommendations for future interfaith projects: The need to build trust, address issues with open transparency, acquire knowledge and understanding of the other faiths, and to come up with joint projects that can serve their communities and tackle common issues of major concern.  -- Samar Fatany

The Hindus are the first nation with a Shariah (divinely revealed way of life) and the Muslims are the last one. The wisdom of God has brought the two nations together in India. The original name of Hinduism is Sanatan dharma or Shaswat dharma. Sanatan means that which has come straight and Shaswat means that which has come down from the heaven directly. The Sanatan dharm or Shaswat dharm are the Hindi synonyms of Deen-e-Qaiyim. In Gita, the word ‘swadharm’ and Swabhawnit karm’ are used to mean one that is taught by the nature and not by parents. The Quran calls Islam the natural religion. It is our faith that every prophet presented the religion of Islam to his nation. -- Asim Sabri (Translated from Urdu by New Age Islam Edit Desk)

Are you ready for stories of violence in the Bible? The fact is that all revealed religions are just that "revealed" and therefore, open to interpretations by the adherents. It is the reason we have so many denominations in Christianity because we do not all agree on the meaning of a particular passage of our scripture. The fact remains that religion remains a source of conflict in the modern world because of ethnocentrism. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu eloquently stated in his new book, "God is not a Christian", we belong and practice a particular religion because of the accident of our birth. If our parents were born in Saudi Arabia instead of southern Nigeria, chances are that you and I will be Muslims today and how we practice that religion would depend on our level of education and socio-economic status. We have this tendency to evangelise and see our culture and religion as "the way" and all others as savages. -- Ezekiel Ette

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