Interfaith

timesofisrael.com
Norwegian Muslims volunteer to protect synagogue

After deadly attack at prayer site, activists intend to form a human ‘peace ring’ of protection after weekend services

These are the kind of stories I want to read. When it feels like Jews and Muslims all over Europe are being pitted against one another, it’s great to read articles like this (and this one, too, in which Jews in the UK refused the support of an Islamophobic nationalist group) where we come together to tell the people who want to exploit hatred and violence that we’re not interested in being their pawns. 

Jews and Muslims refuse to be enemies.

Twas the night before Christmas...

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the nation
the Christians were having a grand celebration.
They left their offices early and closed all the shops,
and it seemed almost as though the whole world has just stopped.

But hidden away, tucked far out of sight
The Others were having a less silent night.
They emerged from their houses in frolicsome fleets,
Shouting with glee as they danced through the streets:

“Now Muslim! Now Jain! Now, Buddhist and Hindu! 
On, Jewish! On, Pagan! On, Bahá’í and Shinto! 
And all other faiths, and all nonbelievers! 
Get ready for Dim Sum, get ready for movies!”

And so off they went, the whole ethnic flock
to India Palace and Mandarin Wok.
They stuffed themselves silly on dumplings and kheer
only stopping to watch the movies premier

Then they all stayed out late because
none of them had to get home for Santa Clause.
And at the end of the day they said with delight:
"Merry Christmas to some, but to all a good night!”

Muslim Groups Have Raised Over $52,000 to Repair Black Churches

“As Muslims we know the importance of protecting the vulnerable and respecting people who call on God in their various tongues. We want for others what we want for ourselves: the right to worship without intimidation, the right to safety, and the right to property. We must always keep in mind that the Muslim community and the black community are not different communities. We are profoundly integrated in many ways, in our overlapping identities and in our relationship to this great and complicated country. We are connected to Black churches through our extended families, our friends and teachers, and our intertwined histories and convergent present. Too often cowards inflict us with a crippling fear, but with encouragement and support from likely and unlikely places fear cannot stop us.”

Read the full ColorLines story: http://ow.ly/Ppjjl

“It would be a challenge to do right, but I wish Disney would show an interfaith couple as the main couple in one of their movies. My mother is Muslim and my father is Asatru, and growing up I always kinda wanted to see a family like mine. My parents and Disney are why I believe in true love, after all! I think Disney could help show how love doesn’t have the religious boundary people think it does, and it’d be beautiful.”

5

This morning I went to the #StPetePride interfaith service at Trinity Lutheran. It was most dope. Lots of good stuff came out of it and I met some cool people. 

If you’re at #StPetePride, let me know. Let’s be friends! I’ll be at the parade later today wearing my ‘& counting’ black lives matter tee with rainbow socks cause intersectionality is cool. 

Anyways, hope y’all are having a great weekend! 

youtube

In Berlin something unique is being created, the House of One. 

The world´s first common house of prayer and learning build by Jews, Christians and Muslims - synagogue, church and mosque under one roof.
A house in which a shared central space gives room for encounter and discussion.
A house of dialogue, understanding and peace.

Lately I have been thinking about those of us who are Jewish but have (at least) one parent who was raised with another religious or cultural background and how it factors into our upbringing. About how while maybe we acknowledge that side of our family history, it can be difficult to come to terms with. Like for example, my dad was raised Catholic and he had several relatives who were priests and nuns, however we never, ever really talk about them. Or how when one parent is raised differently but is now choosing to raise their children within Judaism, they face this sort of interesting dichotomy.

For example, my dad he has all this knowledge rooted in Catholicism but when he married my mom and they had my sister and I he had to learn a whole new set of codes, languages, and cultural ways. And it seems like there must be an enormous set of pressure for those who are raising Jewish children (when not Jewish themselves) or converting to Judaism to ‘master’ these things, whether it is put on by their spouses family or by the community they have joined (unfortunately, I think a lot of it comes from the community as not everyone is welcoming of interfaith marriages/families). Which is why in part I think my dad is always the first to jump in when we say the blessings during Shabbat or Hanukkah, there must also be this constant need to “prove himself”, to show not only us, his Jewish daughters, but those in the Jewish community, that he has learned about our ways. And perhaps, even more than that, he respects them. By making the choice to be active in our religious education and life he would take us to Hebrew School classes every Wednesday night, he stood next to us when we had our Bat Mitzvah’s, he cleans the Menorah every Hanukkah, he would sometimes attend Shabbat services at our Synagogue, he made the best damn latkes (even better than my mom), etc. My dad did a lot in order to be a part of our religious/ethnic/cultural life. And I have the utmost respect for that as it couldn’t have always been easy, as he had to learn about a whole new set of vocabulary and way of being, and he had to interact with people for whom much of this was second nature to them having been raised within the Jewish community themselves, while he was still learning. Not every parent raising a Jewish child makes such an effort (and I can’t speak to whether this is wrong or right, but I do think actively being involved is a sign that you embrace this aspect of your child, you don’t ignore it). But I think of not only my dad, but all of my friends who come from interfaith marriages, and how the parent that is the “other” often makes just as much an effort, or sometimes even more of an effort, than the spouse who is raised within the Jewish faith. So many of my friends have told me, “oh my mom converted and she was the one who thought it was important for me to Bar/Bat Mitzvah,” “my non-Jewish parent wants me to visit Israel,” “my parent is taking Hebrew classes,” etc. etc. etc. And while we should have pride and love for our Jewish faith, we should also have pride and love for our interfaith families for showing us that you can come from a blended background and be proud of it. And while I will always maintain that I have never once felt Catholic in my life, I have so much love and respect for where my dad came from and for him honoring my mom’s choice to raise their children as Jewish, honestly, what a mensch! 

Ma’at

So whenever I get exposed to a new religious system, I like to look at the rules for being a good human and see if they align with my current morality, the philosophy that I have already taken the time to suss out. Kemetic Ma’at is new to me and I’d love for you all to help me learn a little bit more about it, to help me interpret these Laws and show me how they are practiced in modernity. I’ve taken a quick look, and as a chaos magick hedge witch, kinda looser folk witchery, and more nihilistic Buddhist, I don’t think they work for me. But maybe I can still learn from them and fold in some better ideas and hear Thoth’s voice stronger through better knowledge of Kemeticism.

I’ll post my own little interpretation of a few each day, and you can add on your own views on it and how you practice that principle.

The 42 Divine Principles of Maat in Budge’s native English follows:

  1. I have not committed sin.
  2. I have not committed robbery with violence.
  3. I have not stolen.
  4. I have not slain men or women.
  5. I have not stolen food.
  6. I have not swindled offerings.
  7. I have not stolen from God/Goddess.
  8. I have not told lies.
  9. I have not carried away food.
  10. I have not cursed.
  11. I have not closed my ears to truth.
  12. I have not committed adultery.
  13. I have not made anyone cry.
  14. I have not felt sorrow without reason.
  15. I have not assaulted anyone.
  16. I am not deceitful.
  17. I have not stolen anyone’s land.
  18. I have not been an eavesdropper.
  19. I have not falsely accused anyone.
  20. I have not been angry without reason.
  21. I have not seduced anyone’s wife.
  22. I have not polluted myself.
  23. I have not terrorized anyone.
  24. I have not disobeyed the Law.
  25. I have not been exclusively angry.
  26. I have not cursed God/Goddess.
  27. I have not behaved with violence.
  28. I have not caused disruption of peace.
  29. I have not acted hastily or without thought.
  30. I have not overstepped my boundaries of concern.
  31. I have not exaggerated my words when speaking.
  32. I have not worked evil.
  33. I have not used evil thoughts, words or deeds.
  34. I have not polluted the water.
  35. I have not spoken angrily or arrogantly.
  36. I have not cursed anyone in thought, word or deeds.
  37. I have not placed myself on a pedestal.
  38. I have not stolen what belongs to God/Goddess.
  39. I have not stolen from or disrespected the deceased.
  40. I have not taken food from a child.
  41. I have not acted with insolence.
  42. I have not destroyed property belonging to God/Goddess

Got this list from maatlaws.blogspot.com. Let me know if there is a better translated list around that might help in my endeavor. Starting off with a good translation would be a good start.

What Non-Muslims say about Islam

Those who listen to the word and follow the best of it; those are the ones whom God has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding
(Qur'an 39:18)

This is a collection of short quotations from a wide variety of Non-Muslim notables, including academics, writers, philosophers, poets, politicians, and activists belonging to the East and the West.  To our knowledge none of them ever became Muslim.  These words, therefore, reflect their personal views on various aspects of the religion of Islam.

Bertrand Russell
(1872-1970) British philosopher, mathematician, and Nobel laureate, whose emphasis on logical analysis greatly influenced the course of 20th-century philosophy.

“Our use of the phrase ‘the Dark Ages’ to cover the period from 699 to 1,000 marks our undue concentration on Western Europe… From India to Spain, the brilliant civilization of Islam flourished. What was lost to Christendom at this time was not lost to civilization, but quite the contrary… To us it seems that West-European civilization is civilization; but this is a narrow view.”
[History of Western Philosophy, London, 1948, p. 419]


 

Hamilton Alexander Roskeen Gibb
(1895-1971) A leading orientalist scholar of his time

“But Islam has a still further service to render to the cause of humanity. It stands after all nearer to the real East than Europe does, and it possesses a magnificent tradition of inter-racial understanding and cooperation. No other society has such a record of success uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavours so many and so various races of mankind … Islam has still the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever the opposition of the great societies of East and West is to be replaced by cooperation, the mediation of  Islam is an indispensable condition. In its hands lies very largely the solution of the problem with which Europe is faced in its relation with East.”
[Whither Islam, London, 1932, p. 379.]

“That his (Muhammad’s) reforms enhanced the status of women in general is universally admitted." 
[Mohammedanism, London, 1953, p. 33]


 

James A. Michener
(1907-1997) Leading American writer; recipient of honorary doctorates in five fields from thirty leading universities and decorated with the Presidential Medal of freedom, America’s highest civilian award.

"No other religion in history spread so rapidly as Islam … The West has widely  believed that this surge of religion was made possible by the sword. But no modern scholar accepts that idea, and the Qur'an is explicit in support of the freedom of conscience.”
[Islam - The Misunderstood Religion, Readers’ Digest (American Edition) May 1955]


 

Edward Gibbon
(1737-1794) Considered the greatest British historian of his time.

“'I believe in One God and Mohammed the Apostle of God,’ is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honours of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue, and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion.”
[History Of The Saracen Empire, London, 1870, p. 54.]

“More pure than the system of Zoroaster, more liberal than the law of Moses, the religion of Mahomet might seem less inconsistent with reason than the creed of mystery and superstition which, in the seventh century, disgraced the simplicity of the gospels." 
[The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 5. p. 487]


 

Jared Diamond
Professor of Physiology at the UCLA School of Medicine; recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1998.

"Medieval Islam was technologically advanced and open to innovation. It achieved far higher literacy rates than in contemporary Europe; it assimilated the legacy of classical Greek civilization to such a degree that many classical books are now known to us only through Arabic copies.  It invented windmills, trigonometry, lateen sails and made major advances in metallurgy, mechanical and chemical engineering and irrigation methods. In the middle-ages the flow of technology was overwhelmingly from Islam to Europe rather from Europe to Islam. Only after the 1500’s did the net direction of flow begin to reverse.”
[Guns, Germs, and Steel - The Fates of Human Societies, 1997, p. 253]


 

Annie Besant
(1847-1933) British theosophist and nationalist leader in India. President of the Indian National Congress in 1917.

“I often think that woman is more free in Islam than in Christianity. Woman is more protected by Islam than by the faith which preaches Monogamy. In Al-Quran the law about woman is more just and liberal. It is only in the last twenty years that Christian England, has recognized the right of woman to property, while Islam has allowed this right from all times." 
[The Life and Teachings of Muhammad, Madras, 1932, pp. 25, 26]


 

Sarojini Naidu
(1879-1949) A writer, poetess and one of the most visible leaders of pre-Independent India. President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman governor of free India.

"Sense of justice is one of the most wonderful ideals of Islam, because as I read in the Qur'an I find those dynamic principles of life, not mystic but practical ethics for the daily conduct of life suited to the whole world.”

“It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy for, in the mosque when the call for prayer is sounded and worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim: "God Alone is Great.” I have been struck over and over again by this indivisible unity of Islam that makes man instinctively a brother.“
[Lectures on  "The  Ideals  of  Islam;"  see Speeches And Writings Of Sarojini Naidu, Madras, 1918, pp. 167-9]


 

Arnold J. Toynbee
(1889-1975) British historian, Lecturer at Oxford University.

"The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue.”
[Civilization On Trial, New York, 1948, p. 205]


 

William Montgomery Watt
(1909- ) Professor (Emeritus) of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

“I am not a Muslim in the usual sense, though I hope I am a "Muslim” as “one surrendered to God,” but I believe that embedded in the Qur'an and other expressions of the Islamic vision are vast stores of divine truth from which I and other occidentals have still much to learn, and Islam is certainly a strong contender for the supplying of the basic framework of the one religion of the  future.’“
[Islam And Christianity Today, London, 1983, p. ix.]

source

Hindu-muslim marriages

Hi, again. I just want to state that this blog is an absolute life saver and you guys are amazing. I have another question for my story. This time it’s about a Hindu man marrying a Muslim woman. I’ve read up on it and I’ve seen it stated explicitly and multiple times that “It is […] not lawful for Muslim women to marry non Muslim men of any faith” [x]. I’ve seen blog posts about it, and people going back and forth debating it, citing passages from the Quran as to one side and the other, so I’m wanting to get another opinion on this. In the story, it’s an arranged marriage for the sake of an alliance between two countries. The Hindu man is a crowned prince, and the Muslim girl is the daughter of a political head. There are various rebellions and civil wars popping up everywhere, so this marriage is really done in urgency and as a last option. I’m just wondering what the most graceful way to go about this is. Really, while they are fairly important characters, they’re still just side characters. The details of their marriage never have to be brought up into explicit detail, and by the time the main story starts, they will have been married ten years. Should I even bring it up? Or would it be too much of an elephant in the room to just leave the details unsaid? I know this is a really big deal, so I have to ask.

Again… simply because a holy book says not to do something doesn’t mean that every single person who subscribes to the religion based on that book is going to obey every single rule in said book.

You’ve got political considerations here, which often outweigh religious considerations.  Muslim-Hindu marriages were commonplace during the Mughal period, particularly when a (Muslim) Mughal emperor wanted the loyalty of a local Hindu prince.  Then, marrying his daughter or sister was a common strategy.  In those cases, the woman often converted to Islam, though not always, such as when Jodha Bai married the emperor Akbar but remained Hindu.

The opposite (Hindu man, Muslim woman) is less common, but still happened.  One example is the Muslim either princess or dancer (details vary) Mastani and the Hindu general Baji Rao I.  Now, this did cause a rift in the local orthodox Hindu society and prompted a huge crisis in Baji Rao’s family, but it did happen.

When you get down to it, the most comprehensive way to look at this question is probably as one of power dynamics: Muslim rulers marrying Hindu women was more commonplace because the religious prohibition was perhaps interpreted more loosely in their favor, but also because at the time, the supreme emperors with the final say were Muslim, and much of the time it was they themselves who wanted to marry the Hindu girl, and who was going to tell him no?  The emperor’s say was final and even if the woman didn’t want to marry him, she had little recourse.  In the reverse case, if a local Hindu ruler wanted to marry a Muslim woman (usually causing a stir within his community) and she didn’t want to, she could seek recourse to the (Muslim) emperor, who would likely have ruled in her favor.

In your case, I don’t really think graceful is the way you should be seeking to handle this.  You’re always going to find some orthodox fun-killer who’ll be offended because you dared suggest that interfaith marriages were a common enough thing despite what the book(s) says. 

Strive instead for realism and historical accuracy.  

For this, I would suggest you analyze the power dynamics in your plot that lead to this marriage alliance.  Which factions have an upper hand over whom? Who needs the alliance more?  Do these married characters just see themselves as pawns in a larger power game?  The fact is that these political marriages could go either way—the spouses could simply stick it out if necessity because they have no other options, or they could find that they have some things in common (like both feeling like pawns, for instance) and end up becoming a dream team or a power couple.  You can find examples in history of either.  I would just make a final suggestion of avoiding casting either the man or the woman as more villainous than the other, thereby avoiding the insinuation that one faith or another is a domineering party in this arrangement.

~Mod Nikhil

Agreeing with what was said, I would add that the reason it is preferable (or a must, depending on who you ask in the Muslim community) for the husband to be Muslim is because since he can, in theory, take on multiple wives, this helps enlarge the Muslim community as the children will be raised Muslim. However, even Muslim men are limited to women who are adherents of Abrahamic religions (i.e. Muslims, Christians, and Jews). That adds a slight layer of complexity to the issue.

To me, since very, very few Muslim men have more than one wife today, it is a rule that I do not give much weight to; although, as Nikhil said, there will always be that one buzzkill who will get offended. I do not, and there are many others, who do not follow the Quran word for word.

As this is a writing advice blog and not the place to have a discussion over the finer points of interfaith marriage, I’ll leave it at that and a reiteration of Nikhil’s point: be realistic. Make sure you explain the reasoning behind giving away a Muslim daughter to a non-Muslim husband, explore the dynamics of the relationship, how this affects the potential children, as they are the reason the rule was created in the first place. For example, if the marriage was part of an alliance to save a Muslim community, it would make sense to reason that you are preserving the current Muslim community by allowing for the potential that some kids may not be brought up Muslim.

~Mod Yasmin

Who said Muslims and Christians can’t work together in peace? Take a look at this!

Who said Muslims and Christians can’t work together in peace? The Masjid Al-Iman mosque and the Oak Bay and St. Aidan’s united churches are working together to try and get Syrian refugees to Victoria. When the communities saw the photo of young Alan Kurdi, stranded on the Turkish beach early September, they felt like they needed to take some action. (Read more about these amazing people)

“I believe we are endowed with a faculty of discernment that guides us to seek life-giving truths. When we encounter different faiths, we know exactly how to excavate and sift to find the jewels that lie at the heart of each tradition. Every religion contains a treasure trove of wisdom teachings and transformational practices, and each one is also burdened with divisive messages and a history of violence and oppression. The gems are our birthright, and this God-wrestling process is our legacy.

Contrary to the assumption that the inter-spiritual path is for those who lack conviction—spiritual dilettantes who dabble in the feel-good aspects of religion because they’re too lazy to cultivate the discipline required for “real” religious life—it requires tremendous rigor and courage to say “yes” to the beauty wherever we encounter it, and to say “no” to whatever generates the poison of “otheriz-ing.”

There is a subtle elitism—almost a violence—in the message that we have to “pick one path and go deep,” implying that following multiple points of entry to Spirit precludes depth. My own encounters in an array of religious contexts have been anything but shallow! And I am finding more and more people like me, who seem to be temperamentally incapable of choosing one way to God, to the exclusion of all others.

My guiding value is love. Wherever I find access to the teachings and practices of love—whenever I am drawn into a field of love in the context of religion—I enter, I drink, I allow myself to be changed by the encounter. These soul visits to the holy houses of a faith tradition not my own frequently have the effect of dissolving my preconceptions; I am delighted when that happens. I cherish not-knowing!”

–Mirabai Starr , author and adjunct professor of philosophy and world religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos, on practicing more than one tradition.

From “Interfaith Crucible: A Conversation with Mirabai Starr” in our new Fall Issue on spiritual practice. 

Yesterday during the Khutba, our local Imam brought up Ferguson and how us Muslims need to be at the front line of standing up against such oppression. He also gave so much respect to Christians and Jews standing up for Palestine. And instead of teaching us to victimize ourselves, he inspired us Muslims to take action and called out our own faults. May Allah swt bless him with high levels of jannah for sharing his wise perspectives with us every Jummah.