The Temple of Understanding joins colleagues in horror over the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the travel ban targeting Muslims. This is so outrageous that we all need to voice our objection to the court’s blatant Islamophobia. We agree with dissenting Justice Sonia Sotomayor that this is “motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith.”
The Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters campaign of the Islamic Networks Group writes:
This decision sets a dangerous precedent by upholding a government policy directed against adherents of a specific religion — a policy that targets Muslim-majority countries for religious discrimination. [link]
They call on the interfaith community to increase interfaith engagement, dialogue with our neighbors, engagement with Muslims and their faith, and coming together to uphold our values, including respect for “the principle of justice, religious liberty, and equality in word and deed.”
Valarie Kaur, Esq., founder of the Revolutionary Love Project, writes:
History will remember this decision as among the most shameful rulings in the history of the Supreme Court: It upholds a ban that indefinitely separates U.S. citizens from their Muslim families. It sends a message to the world that America will discriminate against entire groups of people based on their faith. It emboldens the Trump administration to continue policies that enact cruelty, racism and xenophobia toward immigrants and refugees at the border and our airports. [link]
She reminds us to reach out, march, vote; Breathe and Push.
URI Community Responds to Supreme Court Travel Ban and offers ways to resist:
The best way to resist the harmful, isolating effects of fear and division is by reaching out and making a human connection. We suggest taking actions, such as:
- Reach out to comfort a friend or colleague from a community targeted by this ban.
- Raise your voice on social media.
- Join with others in your community to demand policy change and show public support for Muslim families.
Grove Harris represented the Temple of Understanding at this High Level Forum at the United Nations on January 17, 2017.
A few key themes were discussed throughout the day.
There was a clear recognition of the rise of anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred in many parts of the world. The global migration crisis, the rise of xenophobic movements, identity politics, the spread of violent extremist ideology, and terrorist attacks around the world, along with misinformation and negative stereotypes disseminated through various forms of media, have contributed to the challenge.
Many speakers underscored the connections between anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred and other forms of racism, xenophobia, and intolerance, including Antisemitism and anti-immigrant discrimination. In discussing possible solutions, there was broad recognition of the need to address all forms of discrimination and hatred, in particular on the basis of religion or belief, in all parts of the world by applying universal standards to provide equal protection to all individuals.
There was widespread consensus on the need for a concerted effort by all sectors of society to focus on solutions to this growing challenge. Three expert panels focused on key mechanisms to address this issue: i) Government Policies to Combat Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Hatred; ii) Civil Society Coalition-Building; and, iii) Positive Narratives to Promote Pluralism and Inclusion.
Grove took the opportunity to share Chicago Police Diversity Training Videos with Mr. Treene. These online videos include an overarching one on Security, Diversity, Respect, as well as brief videos on the following traditions:
Eastern Orthodox (https://archive.org/details/
The Alliance of Community Trainers has launched this campaign on CAUSES:
In this dire moment, we need to send a strong message that we will not let prejudice and hatred prevail. We call on every person of good heart to join us, to hold the vision that this country can yet become a place where we value diversity, cherish the freedom to believe and worship as we choose, and counter fear with courage and love.
Muslim Americans are showing solidarity and raising funds for the Standing Rock Sioux in their fight against the Dakota Access pipeline. Click the image below to view the video and share on Facebook.
Via The Guardian, February 2016:
Women lead Friday prayers at Denmark’s first female-run mosque
Imam of Mariam mosque in Copenhagen says aim is to challenge patriarchal structures and inspire other women
A little bit of history was made in Copenhagen this week with the first Friday prayers led by two female imams, marking the official opening of the first female-led mosque in Scandinavia, and one of only a handful worldwide outside China.
More than 60 women crammed into the Mariam mosque above a fast-food outlet in a city centre street. Volunteers had worked late into Thursday night to put the final touches on the premises’ refurbishment. Cream curtains with a subtle mosaic-motif trim had been hung, a calligraphed verse from the Qur’an displayed, flowers and candles arranged.
Sherin Khankan and Saliha Marie Fetteh, the mosque’s two imams, shared the ceremony. Khankan sang the adhan and made an opening speech, and Fetteh delivered the khutbah, or sermon, on the theme of “women and Islam in a modern world”.
Only a passing mention was made of burkinis. To laughter, Fetteh told the worshippers that, according to newspaper reports, there was not one burkini to be found in shops across Europe, after a series of bans in French cities and resortshad prompted Muslim and non-Muslim women to buy them in acts of solidarity.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation, a peace and justice organization active since 1915, has been pressuring Speaker Paul Ryan and other leaders to end Islamophobia through the #GiveRefugeesRest campaign!
As reported by Yes Magazine:
It’s a message of compassion, scribbled in marker on a pillowcase: #GiveRefugeesRest.
This pillowcase symbolizes the peace Syrian refugees need. The more than 4 million people fleeing the ongoing war in Syria constitute the world’s largest group of refugees. Many have been seeking asylum in countries such as the United States and Canada, while others have escaped into the neighboring countries of Greece, Turkey, and Iraq, often risking their lives in the process.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation, an interfaith organization established in the early 1900s, is urging people to join its campaign and send the message-scrawled pillowcase and a letter to their governor or to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan—after, of course, taking a photo with the pillowcase and posting on social media.
The campaign has been ongoing for several months, but you can still design and send your own pillowcase or hold a pillowcase-making party! Check out www.giverefugeesrest.com for more information.
The Temple of Understanding mourns the violent deaths of Iman Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin in Queens, New York. In solidarity with these organizations devoted to interfaith education, we would like to share the statements offered by Cordoba House and Tanenbaum.
From Cordoba House:
Cordoba’s statement on Sad News of Shooting of Imam Akonjee and Thara Uddin
“Remain patient in adversity just as all of the apostles, endowed with firmness of heart, bore themselves with patience.”
(Quran: 46 – 35)
We are deeply saddened to hear about the tragic shooting of our brother, Imam Maulama Akonjee, and his assistant, Thara Uddin, as they were leaving Al-Furqan Jame Masjid in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, where Imam Akonjee was the mosque leader.
Imam Akonjee, originally from Bangladesh, was 55 years old, and moved to Queens only two years ago. He leaves behind his wife and three children. It has been reported that he was a devout Muslim, and a highly respected and humble man. We understand that he had done some important work to help cultivate peace in his diverse and multi-faith neighborhood.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and community of Imam Akonjee and his assistant, Thara Uddin, who was 64 years old.
The NYPD has reported that the investigation into the motive for the shooting is still ongoing. It is important for Muslims to exercise patience and endurance, and not make any assumptions on the cause of this murder.
The Quran reminds believers of how to react in times of an attack. “…If you are patient during times of trial and conscious of Him, and an attack (or an enemy) should fall upon you all of a sudden, your sustainer will aid you (for your patience and endurance) with the aid of five thousand angels.” (Quran 3:124)
As an American Imam in a pluralistic and great nation, I call upon people of all faiths to work together to spread peace, tolerance, and understanding within our communities.
Please join me in praying for Imam Akonjee, Thara Uddin, and their families.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
Founder, Cordoba House
Religious leader Imam Maulama Akonjee and his associate, Thara Uddin, prayed together at the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque in Queens before walking outside into the sunlight. Minutes later, they were executed, leaving a community, and a nation, in fear, anger and mourning.
We can’t begin to imagine how a person becomes a cold-blooded killer, possessed by such hatred that they are brazen enough to execute people on a summer afternoon. We may never understand the real motive, but we know the heart-wrenching impact that the deaths of these two men is having on our community.
Not only were they abruptly taken from their families, neighbors and the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque, but the horrific crime is fueling anxiety in Queens and across the nation. Everywhere you look, people are on edge because of rhetoric in the media, hate crimes and acts of terrorism (perpetrated by individuals of varied religions and beliefs). The result is mistrust and division.
This is where we all need to step in, to stand together and not allow fear to break our neighborhoods apart. As a unified group of individuals from different religious and belief traditions, cultures and ethnicities, our call for justice is louder than the fear. It’s time to stand tall and be loud!
Joyce S. Dubensky
Mark E. Fowler
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum
From Shoaib Daniyal:
Could the attack, then, have been driven by Mateen’s sexual orientation and the shame associated with homosexuality amongst Muslims today – rather than Islamist terror? “Transgressive sexuality and conservative religion can be a toxic mix,” writes David Shariatmadari in the Guardian. “If Mateen felt conflicted about his interest in gay men, it could have been because he believed his faith would condemn him for it”.
While a clear motive is yet to be established, it is a fact that modern Muslim societies condemn and shame homosexuality. In most Islamic countries, Muslims cannot come out as gay without risking stigma and bodily harm.
It is, however, important to point out how recent this homophobia is. For much of history, Muslim societies have been incredibly permissive of same-sex love.
Orlando: Love as an Act of Defiance
Multifaith leaders from across the country come together to mourn, pray, and organize after the mass shooting in Orlando. Hosted by Rev. Paul B. Raushenbush, Senior VP of Public Engagement at Auburn Seminary. #LoveAsDefiance #LoveisLove #PropheticGrief
The Religious Institute, working with partner organizations, has drafted a statement for people of faith to show their support and solidarity with the LGBTQ, Latinx, and Muslim communities as well as those living with mental illness. You’re invited to sign this statement to express your solidarity and support.
The Huffington Post:
Muslims in NYC Remember the Lives Lost in Orlando
United Religions Initiative:
“Why Mourning Orlando in Diverse Communities is Powerful and Necessary“, with links to many communities’ interfaith gatherings.
I’m Done Accommodating Religious Hatred Toward Queer Lives – By Paul Raushenbush, Senior VP of Public Engagement at Auburn Seminary
For too long I have tolerated “Setting a big tent” and “Allowing many points of view” and “Dialogue” when talking about LGBT people as if our lives are up for debate and as if the jury is still out on our humanity, our dignity, or our being made beautifully in God’s image…. All I hear in these conversations now is death.
KAICIID Board of Directors Statement:
“In this deeply painful moment, we extend our prayers and condolences to the families of the victims and those injured in the Orlando attack. This deliberate and merciless massacre is a hate crime that we denounce. We reject violence, in particular when it is perpetrated in the name of religion.
We pledge in the face of this hatred and violence to support those who build bridges of understanding that bring together all communities in respect and understanding and pray they never cease their good works in this supremely important task.”
KAICIID is an intergovernmental organisation mandated to promote dialogue among different religious and cultural groups to promote justice, peace and reconciliation and to counteract the abuse of religion to justify violence. The Centre is governed by a multi-religious KAICIID Board of Directors, consisting of representatives of five religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.
Via Democracy Now!:
IMAM DAAYIEE ABDULLAH: …one of the issues I think is very important, in many communities of color, there’s a stigma about mental health. And in my pastoral counseling that I provide to not only LGBTMuslims, but also young Muslims, interfaith couples, older Muslims who are now in a different culture, we find that the shaming that comes from acknowledging that one may have some issues that may relate to mental health, often people are not willing to go and seek additional help because of that shaming or that cultural stigma that’s associated with it. And I think that we need to make this change in how people approach mental health, so that people can be helped much earlier in the process if they should exhibit certain issues or certain ways of—in which we show there’s some mental illness issues.
Via Global One:
Global One supported by Eid Charity has piloted a first of its kind Islamic Farming project that combines a rich Islamic tradition of innovative agriculture and conservation techniques with Islam’s core environmental principles to improve food sovereignty, livelihood opportunities, and the increased learning and participation of women in this sector in Kenya, East Africa.