Archive for Imam

Nigeria: The Imam and the Pastor by Journeyman Pictures

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2012 by loonwatch

Imam_AlShafa_Pastor_James_Wuye

Pastor James Wuye and Imam Al-Shafa

In the past year Nigeria has been the scene of much religious and sectarian violence. We have commented on this violence in the past, as well as the efforts to transcend the violence through inter-faith dialogue and action, Nigerians Want to Transcend Sectarian and Ethnic Violence.

Below is a heart-warming story of a Muslim scholar and a Christian priest who both headed militias that were involved in sectarian violence but transformed themselves into peacemakers. (H/T: AMTR)

In the 1990s, Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye led opposing militias in Northern Nigeria. Now the men work together bridging religious conflicts between Christians and Muslims that have killed thousands.
‘My hate for the Muslims then had no limits’ states Pastor Wuye, whose militia killed Imam Ashafa’s spiritual leader and two cousins. Ashafa spent 3 years planning revenge, until one day, a sermon on forgiveness changed his life. The men met and are now working on a peace accord. Imam Ashafa explains, ‘even though we differ in some theological issues, we will make the world a safer place’.

The Imam and the Pastor:

Both Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye are still working hard to try and combat violence and hate. Recently they sent out an appeal for help:

NIGERIA under siege – an appeal to the global community

Today, our beloved country Nigeria is passing through a turbulent period of insecurity and desecration of places of worship and human life is no more sacred.  People are living in a state of fear and uncertainty of what would happen next.

We need the support of people of good will to salvage our nation from bloodletting, wanton destruction of lives and properties and the consequent threat to our nascent and fragile democracy and the nation’s survival.

We appeal to global citizens on behalf of widows, orphans, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable people who are victims of this inhumanity to support us and other peace ambassadors with relevant resources, materials that would facilitate a process of sincere dialogue to restore sanity, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence in our country, Nigeria.

Pastor Dr. James M. Wuye/Imam Dr. Muhammad N. Ashafa

Imam, Priest, Rabbi Work Together to Educate in Q-C

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2012 by loonwatch

Imam, priest, rabbi work together to educate in Q-C

Being in a place such as the Quad-Cities, where most residents tend to be tolerant and some are interested in the world’s major religions, makes it possible to host joint classes on Islam, Judaism and Christianity in a special three-week series, a local religious leader said.

“I feel we have a unique situation here, among the United States,” the Rev. Mike Schaab from St. Pius X Catholic Church in Rock Island said. “People of different faiths in other parts of the country and the world would be loath to walk down the street with one another.”

The Inter-religious Dialogue sessions begin Thursday and will be led by Schaab, Imam Saad Baig from the Islamic Center of the Quad-Cities in Moline and Rabbi Tamar Grimm of the Tri-City Jewish Center in Rock Island.

“Seeing what is beautiful about another faith tradition is a life skill,” said Grimm, who also appreciates the fact that the Quad-City community is a place where such lessons can be held openly and celebrated.

This area is a very good location for interfaith dialogue, Baig agreed.

“We are blessed to have people from every walk of life here in the Quad-Cities,” he said. “We try to inform those individuals who come and who see value and potential in this kind of program.”

A rarity at first

Such cooperation between faiths was a novelty when it began many years ago. But it has evolved over time, Schaab said, including special commemorations of 9/11, and the recent 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, an event that attracted an overflow crowd to Augustana College in Rock Island.

The interfaith sessions are designed with a tone free from politics.

“Our goal is to educate, to give people information,” Grimm said. For example, the first session will be on the separate calendars, holy days and celebrations of the three faiths. It will take place at the Islamic Center.

Grimm intends to talk about the cycle of the year in Judaism and how it begins in the autumn. She also will speak about symbolism in the Jewish holidays. Catholics are on the Gregorian calendar, Schaab said, while many Muslims follow a lunar calendar.

A tour that will wrap up the first event at the Islamic Center will include time to witness Muslims in prayer, Baig said. Visitors will see inside the building, its special setting, and then be invited to watch as evening prayers are conducted.

The classes should be appealing, Schaab said. During the Feb. 16 session, visitors will see an actual Torah scroll at the Tri-City Jewish Center, and they will be able to view a copy of the Koran, the Muslim holy book.

“Looking at sacred scriptures will be very interesting to many Christians,” Schaab predicted.

“Each one offers something unique,” Grimm said. “But at the same time, it amazes me how much we share, in every one of our traditions.”

Schaab, the Catholic priest, believes that knowledge gained from the Inter-religious Dialogues deepens faith. “We want to be supportive, appreciative and sensitive to one another,” he added.

Baig, a Muslim imam, said such education teaches respect for all faiths. There also is value in seeing leaders of these faiths together on one stage, he pointed out. Baig cited a phrase that he believes is central to the outreach effort: “The more you sweat in making peace, the less you will bleed in war.”

Grimm, who took over her part in the forum from her predecessor, Rabbi Michael Samuel, hopes to find continuing acceptance for the lessons.

“People are curious, people want to know and people want to understand,” she said.

NYTimes: Imam Behind Islamic Center Plans US Tour

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by loonwatch

Imam Plans US Tour

by Paul Vitello

The controversy over plans to build an Islamic center in downtown Manhattan subsided in November, almost abruptly, with the end of an election season that amplified its most emotional underlying issues.

But the imam behind the project has decided to risk reigniting that opposition by setting out on a nationwide speaking tour next month to promote the planned center and to foster dialogue about Muslim life in America.

“Controversy has never been a problem for me,” said the imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, whose proposal to build the high-rise community center and mosque two blocks north of ground zero made him the prime target last summer of opponents who viewed the plan, known as Park51 for its address on Park Place, as a Trojan horse for Muslim triumphalism. “I think the controversy of last summer helped initiate a discourse that has been very good for the country. I’m an American, and I believe that Americans are problem solvers. So I believe further discussion can only be good.”

The tour, which he described in an interview on Wednesday, is scheduled to begin in Detroit, the city with the largest Muslim population in the United States. It will include stops in Chicago, Washington, San Antonio and several college campuses, starting with Harvard, Yale, Georgetown and the University of North Carolina.

Because of death threats that the imam has received, none of his addresses will be open to the general public, though the local news media in each place will be invited to attend, and to ask questions afterward, he said.

Some of the project’s most outspoken opponents welcomed the imam’s plan for a speaking tour, though for reasons of their own.

“I think this will help to revive the opposition, not only from Americans in general but from Muslims in this country, who don’t want this thing built,” said Ryan Mauro, a conservative blogger and the producer of a documentary about the planned community center.

The film, “Sacrificed Survivors: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Mega-Mosque,” focuses on opposition by some families of 9/11 victims.

Pamela Geller, another conservative blogger who organized many of the public demonstrations against the center last summer, said she planned to marshal protests when the City Council meets next month to review Wal-Mart’s proposal to open a store in Manhattan. “Christine Quinn is against Wal-Mart, but she’s in favor of the megamosque. Typical liberal elitist thinking,” she said, referring to the City Council speaker.

Ms. Geller also predicted that the imam’s speaking tour would serve the opposition. “The opposition has never gone away, and will never go away,” she said.

At the height of the controversy over the summer and fall, Mr. Adbul Rauf was on a scheduled speaking tour in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The tour was sponsored by the State Department’s cultural exchange bureau, known as the Department of Public Diplomacy.

He considered canceling that trip in order to confront the opposition and rally support at home to his cause — a job that fell for the most part to his wife and partner in interfaith work, Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement.

“But in that environment, I realized that no matter what I did or said, I would be accused of something,” he said. And as it turned out, he added, the reaction of Middle Eastern Muslims to the controversy over Park51 was encouraging to him.

The idea that in the United States there could be a discussion, even an angry one, about building a mosque that some considered to be too close to ground zero — “that was an amazingly positive thing to people I met in the Middle East,” he said.

“The idea that the Jewish mayor of New York would be our most outspoken defender,” he continued, referring to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, “well, I think that really touched people. It was very positive ‘optics’ for the international Muslim audience, as they say in the State Department.”

If Mr. Abdul Rauf ever entertained thoughts of moving the planned center to a less contentious site — as he has admitted in interviews — Mr. Bloomberg’s support for Park51 has since made that unthinkable.

And to do so now would be “a betrayal of this great opportunity,” he added, referring to the discourse about relations between Muslims in the United States and their fellow Americans, which he plans to take on the road from mid-January until the early spring.

 

NYDailyNews: Imam Attacked on Subway in Hate Crime

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2010 by loonwatch

Hate? Islamophobia? Oh no, it doesn’t exist! This Imam had it coming because he dared to be a Mooslim!

Two men accused in subway imam attack hit with hate crime charges

(NYDailyNews)


Two men accused of attacking a Muslim religious leader in a Manhattan subway station were the targets Thursday of a hate-crimes investigation.

The unidentified imam claimed the two men called him a “terrorist” and yelled ethnic and religious slurs when they assaulted him at the Canal  Street station early Wednesday, sources said.

Eddie Crespo, 28, of Staten Island, was charged with third degree assault as a hate crime and two counts of second degree robbery, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said.

Albert Melendez, 30, of Manhattan, is expected to be arraigned later Thursday.

The incident happened at 3:25 a.m. on the northbound A-train platform, prosecutors said.

csiemaszko@nydailynews.com