Archive for Synagogues

Synagogue Donates to Burned California Mosque

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on December 5, 2011 by loonwatch

‘Brothers in faith’

by Roger Phillips

Oldest synagogue in East Bay reaches out to Stockton mosque

STOCKTON – Worshippers at the Masjid al Emaan mosque congregate in a nondescript office park on Pershing Avenue in north Stockton. The mosque has been around for only a few years, and its small membership has diminished in the aftermath of an unsolved arson fire seven months ago.

Temple Sinai in Oakland is the oldest synagogue in the East Bay, dating back more than 130 years, with nearly 1,000 member families. In terms of its history and size, it would seem to be much farther from Masjid al Emaan than a mere 75-minute drive.

And yet, when members of Temple Sinai learned of the fire that damaged Masjid al Emaan, they were moved. Recently, the temple donated $100 to Masjid al Emaan. Mosque officials say it is the only contribution they have received from outside the Muslim community.

“That’s wonderful,” said Basel Karabala, the mosque’s vice president and treasurer. “It’s a beautiful gesture. Unfortunately, people don’t know the history behind that. You had Jews and Muslims and Christians living side by side for thousands of years. The flare-ups have only been in the last 60 or 70 years. Before that, for eons, we had been living in peace.”

The temple’s rabbi, Andrew Straus, also noted the relationship between Jews and Muslims. Straus said that in making the contribution, his congregation was saying, “Yes, there have been strains and challenges, but like us, you were created in God’s image, and when one suffers tragedy, one forgets the strains in a relationship and says, ‘You are our brothers.’ ”

Masjid al Emaan’s 60 members worship in office space in the same office park that housed their previous facility, which was destroyed by the fire. Mosque officials are looking for a more permanent rental site with the long-range goal of purchasing a facility.

They do not plan to apply the temple’s donation to rent and also said there are no plans to put the $100 into a fund to be applied later toward purchase of a facility because Muslim religious law forbids investing money for interest. Instead, the mosque plans to make a donation of its own.

“Maybe we can use that money and feed the poor, maybe in the Bay Area or in Stockton,” Karabala said.

Straus said, “I was not aware of that. That’s a decision for them to make. We’re saying, ‘Losing a building in a fire, with the emotional and physical harm that causes, we want to help you.’

“We wanted to reach out to the Muslim community and say, ‘We are brothers in faith. We’ve been there. We remember and we want to reach out to you.’ ”

Contact reporter Roger Phillips at (209) 546-8299 Visit his blog at

PolitiFact: Most Muslim countries allow churches, synagogues

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2010 by loonwatch

PolitiFact: Most Muslim countries allow churches, synagogues

The statement

In most Muslim countries, “We can’t have a church. We’re not able to build synagogues. It’s forbidden.”

Franklin Graham, Sunday, on ABC’sThis Week

The ruling

On ABC’s This Week, host Christiane Amanpour held a town hall debate on whether Americans should fear Islam. Naturally, the so-called Ground Zero mosque came up. She asked the Rev. Franklin Graham about his comments after 9-11 that Islam is a “very evil and very wicked” religion, and that prompted this response:

“I understand what the Muslims want to do in America,” said Graham. The push for mosques is driven by a desire to “convert as many Americans as they can to Islam,” he said. “I just don’t have the freedom to do this in most Muslim countries. We can’t have a church. We’re not able to build synagogues. It’s forbidden.”

We spoke to experts on religion and government in Muslim countries. The consensus: There are churches and/or synagogues in almost every Muslim country.

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic relations, said Graham was incorrect. “There are lots of Christian churches and synagogues in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, Indonesia, Qatar, Kuwait. … If you go to any number of so-called Muslim countries you will see thriving Christian and Jewish populations.” One member of the Iranian Parliament is Jewish, Hooper noted. “The only one where you don’t see it, where you can’t have a Christian church or synagogue is Saudi Arabia,” Hooper said.

The cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia are the two holiest cities in Islam, said Akbar S. Ahmed, chair of Islamic Studies at American University. So no churches or synagogues are allowed there. He compared them to the Vatican.

Graham was speaking in the context of Muslims building mosques in order to convert people to Islam, and on that point, he is on firmer ground.

A 2007 Council on Foreign Relations “backgrounder” on religious conversion and sharia law said, “Conversion by Muslims to other faiths is forbidden under most interpretations of sharia and converts are considered apostates” sometimes regarded as treason and punishable by death. Experts told us there was an ongoing debate in Islam about this question.

In sum, we think Graham erred when he said that in most Muslim countries, “We can’t have a church. We’re not able to build synagogues. It’s forbidden.” That’s demonstrably false. The construction of churches is not forbidden in most Muslim countries, only Saudi Arabia. And so, on balance, we rate Graham’s comment False.

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