The World Faith Blog

World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

Sam Harris, Will You Visit A Mosque With Me? 3 May , 2012

Filed under: News — Nele @ 10:00 am
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Sam Harris–I know you’re a busy man, but I’d like to ask you out. Will you go to mosque with me?

I’m not trying to convert you to Islam. Like you, I’m not a Muslim. Like you, I don’t believe in any gods. I’m happily, openly atheist. A queer atheist, even. Like you, I have many significant concerns about Islamic beliefs and practices. But still, I want to visit a mosque with you.

We don’t have to go alone–we could go with Mustafa Abdullah, a young community organizer in Winston-Salem, North Carolina who is currently campaigning against the state’s proposed anti-gay Amendment One. We could attend with Najeeba Syeed-Miller, a teacher and activist who has dedicated her life to peacebuilding initiatives. Or we could go with Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, who is committed to promoting pluralism and opposing bigotry, and who regularly speaks up for atheists as a religious minority in the United States.

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Ground Zero Imam Champions Church-State Separation 11 August , 2011

WASHINGTON — The imam who has faced resistance for plans to build an Islamic community center near Ground Zero said Tuesday (March 1) that pro-democracy movements across the Arab world need to be open to all faiths.

“Government’s coercive powers should not be used against one religion,” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said at a panel on “Religion in American Politics and Society” hosted by Georgetown University.

Rauf spoke alongside Asma Uddin, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Islamic gender issues website altmuslimah.com, and Ed Husain, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

 

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Curiosity May Be Hard on Cats, but It’s Great for Interfaith Friendships 4 August , 2011

The youngest member of my family is our one-year-old cat, Margery. She is a most inquisitive creature (my wife thinks she has attention deficit disorder). Curiosity may have killed the proverbial cat, but this feline hasn’t been deterred. She gets into everything — to the point where my wife and I have spray-bottles at strategic locations throughout the house, just to remind our kitty that some locations are off-limits. We’ve had to put a bit of lemon in the water to make the “punishment” more truly unpleasant to her; getting squirted with plain water just wasn’t enough of a deterrent to slow her down.

I write about this like it’s a bad thing, and sure, we get annoyed when we find her perched on the dining room table, blissfully drinking out of one of our glasses. But in truth, her eager exploration is rather inspiring to me. I like how every corner of the house represents a new frontier for investigation, learning, and insight. In fact, I think her inquisitive nature is a good model for me — and for all of us, living in this age where people of different cultures and faiths live as next-door neighbors.

 

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Local colleges join White House interfaith/community service initiative 3 August , 2011

When President Barack Obama kicks off his national Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge today in Washington, D.C., the Rochester area will be well represented. Officials from State University College at Geneseo, The College at Brockport, and Monroe Community College will be among the estimated 400 leaders from about 200 institutions of higher education expected to attend.

Muhammad Shafiq, executive director of Nazareth College’s Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue, could not go, because it would be difficult to travel during the Ramadan holy season. He fasts from dawn to sunset.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges are also participating in the initiative, but aren’t sending anyone to the summit.

The White House initiative hopes to bring together people from different religions and backgrounds to tackle community problems. Obama believes that American colleges are fertile ground for this work because they typically stress both community service and religious tolerance and cooperation.

“I think this gives a national perspective on what other universities are up to. We may pick up some ideas — and incorporate them into our planning,” said Tom Matthews, director of leadership education, development and training at Geneseo, who is attending this morning’s kickoff.

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An Interfaith Generation Unwilling to Wait 2 August , 2011

When religious tension between Muslims and Christians rocked northern Nigeria on Jan. 8 of this year, the refrain of religiously fueled violence sounded so much like it had before. The “other” was at fault for the problems of a region, country and world. But when the tensions boiled over and violence broke out, resulting in burning down of churches and mosques and the death of more than 100 people, the response was profoundly different.

This time, young volunteers from World Faith Nigeria took action. Responding to a distress call, they rescued 72 passengers from a bus that was set on fire by young attackers. On both sides were young adults taking action. But this time one set of young adults was responding to save lives and, ideally, prevent future violence.

Nigeria, like many countries around the world, hosts interfaith dialogues marked by the convening of religious leaders to counter acts of violence. While this work is groundbreaking and necessary, it alone is not enough to turn the trends of religious violence. Violence perpetrated by youth can best be countered by equally motivated youth working toward the greater good.

 

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On the Cutting Edge of Interfaith Work: An Open Thank You Letter to the Sultan of Oman

Your Majesty, The Sultan Qaboos bin Said,

As a participant in the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme (CIP) Summer School, I thank you and the other generous donors for making this program possible. You have done so without fanfare, but I feel it is important for the whole world to know that Oman has chosen to support some of the most cutting edge interfaith work I have ever encountered.

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Being With the Dalai Lama 21 July , 2011

I was honored to be invited to be on a panel with the Dalai Lama this week in Chicago. This is the third time I’ve been invited to be on a panel with him, and by now he recognizes me. His first words when we embraced yesterday were: “Last time your kippah was red, now it’s white — but very nice!” He was referring to the head covering that religious Jews wear on our heads, also known as “yalmekah” or skullcap. He had his usual twinkle in his eye and smile on his face. This great spiritual leader is renowned for his impish qualities, his humility, and his smarts, and all were in full view both Sunday, July 17th, when he addressed some 8,000 people in a huge auditorium in Chicago, and on Monday when we sat together on a panel in a smaller venue of 1,500 seats, every seat filled, and discussed interfaith connections.

Unlike Sunday, when the sound system was imperfect and it was sometimes hard to make out what he was saying, on Monday July 19th, it was impossible to not be astounded by the Dalai Lama’s combination of cleverness and spiritual depth. His themes are well known, and he returned them over and over again: the need for compassion, the importance of recognizing that all religions are pointing to the same realities, the centrality of non-violence in changing the world, and the need to work on one’s own spiritual life simultaneously with any work in changing the world.

 

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Getting Stuck in Clay: An Interfaith Reflection

This is my first trip to Europe. I’ve had the chance to rent a bike and tour around the beautiful English countryside that surrounds Madingly, a small town (there is only a few homes, a pub, town hall and a church) right outside of Cambridge, England.

One day when biking I pulled off on a “public bridleway.” This is a new and fascinating phenomenon for me as a person from the United States; these pathways criss-cross through otherwise private fields and property, connecting for the public small towns and roads that can be reached by foot and often by bike. After about 100 yards of bumping down the path, the bike refused to move any further.

 

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Dharmic Seva and Vivekananda: The Catalyst to Building Pluralistic Communities

The Dharmic American community has an immense, untapped potential to serve at home and abroad. Dharmic Seva can become a catalyst to strengthening and building pluralistic communities. Our ancient expression,Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The Whole World is One Family) is a key principle driving Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC) as we prepare for the first historic briefing at the White House, followed by the conference at Georgetown University.

The theme of the event is “Energizing Dharmic Seva (Service): Impacting Change in America and Abroad,” and is designed to inspire all toward community service. We will explore ways to further strengthen America through service and honor those within our community who have served, are serving and will serve. We have an impressive slate of speakers coming to share their perspectives.

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His Holiness and the Art and Science of Interfaith Cooperation 19 July , 2011

What’s the Dalai Lama’s secret? He’s got over two million Twitter followers, people buy his books in droves, his speeches sell out stadiums. In a highly cynical age, he’s held the public’s attention for over two decades with some pretty elementary ideas: the essence of human nature is to be happy, human beings are happiest when they help others attain happiness, all major religions nurture the most basic ingredient of happiness, namely compassion, but you don’t have to be religious to be compassionate, you just have to live up to the basic goodness of your human nature.

Like Socrates saying “I know that I know nothing”, it’s not just the simplicity of the message that attracts people, it’s the remarkable journey of the man who is articulating it. The story of his escape from Tibet into India, his successful establishment of a government in exile, his continual advocacy for peaceful negotiations with his Chinese occupiers even while the culture and lives of his people are crushed day after day — these things are well known, and more than enough to command admiration and attention


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