Archive for August 2010

Islam in Chile

An Arab Catholic Priest response to Pastor Terry Jones

One highlight: “My brother Pastor Terry Jones. Can you tell me, honestly, if Jesus came today, whose side would he take? Is it the side of the powerful and arrogant oppressors who dominate the world and endlessly plunder its resources, violate its laws and… international treaties, and kill people in their countries and destroy houses on top of their owners and turn them into refugees across the earth? Or is it the side of those who are oppressed, the disadvantaged, hungry, and homeless?”

A message from Father Elias Zahlawi (a Syrian Catholic priest) to Pastor Terry Jones (who is calling for the burning of the Quran in Gainesville Florida).

Respected Pastor Terry Jones,

I have read your worldwide call for the burning of the Quran on this coming 11th of September. Your message stated that you are a pastor of one of the churches in Florida in the United States of America.

As an Arab Catholic priest from Damascus (Syria), I wondered what would be your objective, as an American pastor, for such a call?

I wondered, and I ask you: What are your responsibilities as a pastor?
Are you really a Christian pastor serving God in a church in America?
Or are you merely a layperson from America who is pretending to be in the service of Christ?

Did you give in to your nationalism (Americanism) rather than giving in to your Christianity?

What is your aim with that call?

(Do you wish) to further fuel hatred among people? Is that consistent with (the teachings of) Jesus, whom you represent in your eyes and the eyes of many others?
Tell me, is there in the character of Jesus, in his words or in his actions anything that would remotely justify even a hint of promoting disdain and hatred among people?

Have you forgotten that Jesus was completely for love, forgiveness and peace? Have you forgotten what he taught us when he told his disciples and the people after them to tell God the heavenly Father of all to “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who wrong us”? You overlooked or forgot that when Jesus was hanging on the cross and being subjected to insults and vile words, he raised his voice, saying, “O Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Who, then, do you represent or who are you trying to guide with this call of yours?

Isn’t it enough what has been happening since September 11, 2001: the killing, destruction, displacement and starvation of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, from Palestine – the land of Jesus – by your leaders in particular, headed by George Bush, who was claiming direct communication with God?

Wouldn’t you agree with me that with your call (to burn the Quran), you have demonstrated that you are really unfamiliar with Jesus and that you desperately need to re-discover him again to be a true Christian pastor who calls, like Jesus, for the comprehensive love and full respect for every human being and a commitment to the full and wonderful teachings that call upon all believers, without exception, to always stand beside the poor, the oppressed and the disadvantaged?

My brother Pastor Terry Jones. Can you tell me, honestly, if Jesus came today, whose side would he take?

Is it the side of the powerful and arrogant oppressors who dominate the world and endlessly plunder its resources, violate its laws and international treaties, and kill people in their countries and destroy houses on top of their owners and turn them into refugees across the earth? Or is it the side of those who are oppressed, the disadvantaged, hungry, and homeless?

Did you forget what Jesus himself would say on the Day of Judgment to each person in front of him: “All that you did to one of my brothers, you actually did to me”?

I wonder if you have overlooked or forgotten that Jesus did not point in that speech on the Day of Judgment to the religion of any of those mistreated persons. He only referred to everyone as belonging to the human race and to his standing with the deprived, the weak, and the oppressed in this world.

So how could you as an American Christian pastor stand with the oppressors from your country whose injustice has spread around the world?

Aren’t you afraid of when you appear before Jesus on Judgment Day and you are burdened with a heavy conscience, like your leaders who are blinded by the gods of power, money, control and greed?

My brother Pastor Terry. Do you think I am being unfair if I conclude that your hatred toward Islam is what drove you to such a reprehensible call for the burning of Islam’s holy book, the Quran?

But let me ask you, as a Syrian Roman Catholic priest: What do you know about Islam? It appears to me from your call to burn the Quran that you are ignorant of Christ and Christianity, and that makes me believe that you are also ignorant of Islam and Muslims.

Believe me, it is not my intention to indict you and it is not my intention to engage with you in a religious debate about Christianity or Islam. However, after I prayed for a long time, let me suggest for both of us to make a joint effort on this coming September 11.

You might ask me what effort can we do jointly when you are in Florida and I’m in Damascus?

He is my suggestion.

I invite you to visit Syria, where you will be my guest and the guest of many of my Muslim and Christian friends. Syria is a country populated mostly by Muslims and in which Christians are indigenous to the land and have lived side-by-side with Muslims for centuries and centuries.

Come and don’t worry about anything.

Come and you will find out about Islam and Muslims what will comfort you, please you, surprise you, and even lead you, from where you are today in Florida, to invite all people to live in respect, love and cooperation among all people.

This is what people need rather than the un-Christian call to fuel the sentiment of hatred and division.

Come to Syria and you will be amazed by the good nature of people and their faith, their relations, friendly cooperation and openness toward all strangers.

Come to Damascus to witness and live an experience that is not in your mind nor the mind or expectation of all the churches of the West or their bishops, pastors, and clergymen.

Come to see and hear two choruses, Christian and Muslim, singing together during Christian and Islamic holidays to praise Allah, the One God, who created us all, and to whom we all return.

My brother Pastor Terry.

I call you my brother and I am serious about calling you brother and about my invitation to you. I await a word (of reply) from you. Trust me that you will find a brother in Damascus, actually many brothers.

Please contact me and don’t delay. I am waiting for you in Damascus.

I ask God to make our anticipated meeting the beginning of a long and interesting path that we undertake together with other brothers in Damascus and around the world.

How desperate is the need of our world for bright roads.

Come, the road to Damascus is waiting for you.

Father Elias Zahlawi

Share Ramadan videotaped by my dear Christian brother and Friend Sal

Islamophobia in America by Dr. habib Siddiqui

Islamophobia in America
8/26/2010 – Opinion Political – Article Ref: IV1008-4272
By: Dr. Habib Siddiqui

There is no doubt that Islamophobia is on the rise. It is no longer an isolated issue that is thriving in some bigotry-ridden corner in Europe. Thanks to its evil promoters, the beast has become a global phenomenon today. One such promoter is the group called Stop the Islamization of Europe (SIOE), which is led by Anders Gravers. As is evident from its motto “Islamophobia is the height of common sense,” the group doesn’t sugar-coat its bigotry. The group has its American equivalent in Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), which was created by anti-Muslim bloggers, bigots and militants Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. One may recall that in 2008, Geller announced that Barack Hussein Obama is not, as previously reported, the son of Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., but rather the illegitimate son of Malcolm X. In a 2009 blog she called for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Sadly, conservative politicians and the media in the USA continue to lend her insanity credence thereby destroying whatever slender base of credibility that they had.

Florida’s Dove World Outreach Center recently announced its plan for “International Burn a Koran Day” on 9/11, as a way to what it claims “stand up for righteousness.” These Christian bigots are emboldened by many Republican politicians who are trying to reclaim their leadership amongst the right-wing, conservative, racist and bigoted section of their support base. And for them, fascists by many counts, nothing could be more politically expedient than targeting a minority religion whose 19 members reportedly had the audacity to strike back in a classic blowback style. Obviously, when the hunter gets hunted it is no fun any more; it loses its wit and behaves like a stinking sewage rat. So, the religion of Islam, the faith of 1.5 billion Muslims, has to be evil! What else can explain the “terrorism” of those hijackers on 9/11!

Unfortunately, xenophobia sells, as it did in places like Nazi Germany some eighty years ago. With a deflationary economy that has yet to show a recovery sign from the almost-trillion dollar stimulus package and unending wars in Iraq and Af-Pak territories it is not difficult to fathom why the fascist elements within the American society are selling this poison pill of Islamophobia.

Take for instance the statements made by Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of the Representatives in the USA, in relation to his opposition to the proposed construction of a Muslim cultural center in Lower Manhattan. The Muslim site is several hundred yards away from the former WTC and yet, if you listen to bigots like Gingrich, it would seem that the proposed site is right in the middle of the Ground Zero. He has argued, among other chauvinist and highly offensive things, that the Muslim congregation shouldn’t build the center because “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington.” Just in one such xenophobic outburst he has equated American Muslims with the Nazis. For years, this immoral politician has been dreaming about a political comeback, and for him nothing could be more opportunistic than selling fear of a growing Islamic polity. Sarah Palin has weighed in, too, in opposing the “Ground Zero mosque.” The pain, she said, is “too raw, too real.” Surely, with a bastard grandchild now she ought to know this “pain” better than most American grandmas!

Every Republican now imagines to have discovered the winning formula to either get reelected or unseat their Democratic opponent in the coming elections. The message has not lost its mark amongst vulnerable Democratic candidates either. The Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, a spineless politician, had no moral qualms in opposing the endorsement of the president. Even the president himself looked less than presidential and credible with his flip-flop remarks to reporters just within 24 hours of his earlier statement in a White House Iftar party that favored the construction of the Muslim cultural center. It was a sickening display that lacked wisdom and courage!

Karl Rove, perhaps former president George W. Bush’s closest adviser in the White House, said in an interview last Wednesday on ABC News that Obama did “real damage to America’s standing in the world by this inconsistent and incoherent answer that he gave Friday night with a different answer on Saturday morning.” He is right.

The offensive statements from mainstream politicians against Islam and its people are sure to damage America’s liberal and open society image abroad. The opposition to the proposed Muslim center would be the greatest gift delivered on a platinum plate to the very al-Qaeda that America claims fighting since 9/11.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has epitomized religious tolerance with his historic speech at the Governors Island. Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler is another honorable mention in this fight against bigotry. He is New York City’s most outspoken supporter of the Muslim congregation’s right to build the center. In an interview with the Washington Post, he said, “It’s disgusting,” of the remarks by Gingrich and other Republicans who rarely expressed support for the city. “It is an attempt to exploit for purely political motives a sensitive issue. And to exploit people they obviously don’t really care about.” “It’s only a slap in the face if you think that the people in the congregation are responsible for al-Qaeda.” “Jews, of all people, should know that we have to support religious liberty,” he said. “Because if you can block a mosque, you can block a synagogue.”

The sad fact is that many minority Americans may not fathom the wisdom behind such a powerful statement from Nadler unless being victimized themselves in hate crimes. However, it would be utter stupidity to ignore lessons from history!
Many of the opponents to the Muslim project are outsiders who don’t have a clue as to how lower Manhattan even looks like. As noted by a New York columnist red cranes may slowly be rebuilding Ground Zero, but they are surrounded by a vibrant cityscape: doughnut shops and strip clubs and churches and mosques and synagogues and off-track betting parlors and podiatry centers. It would be insane to claim holiness for everything that is located within blocks of the Ground Zero.

As noted by Rabbi Arthur Waskow in a message published in The American Muslim, the Muslim real-estate developer who bought the proposed site fell in love with the patterns of Jewish Community Centers and Y’s in Manhattan. He sought land for such a center where Muslims in Lower Manhattan could reach it – and was ready to buy space on 23rd Street, till the financing fell through. He was not focused on the tip of Manhattan. But then space did become available –not, as falsely claimed by some anti-Muslim bigots, on “hallowed ground”-but two long New York City blocks from Ground Zero, and hidden from the WTC site by tall buildings in the way. Thanks to the ill-intentioned propaganda and media carelessness, no, scratch it, call it – media meddling instead, the Muslim site came to be portrayed as the “Ground Zero Mosque”; all that geography and honorable intention of a proven Muslim visionary and leader Imam Faisel A. Rauf have lost their real meanings today.

Dr Habib Siddiqui has authored nine books. His book: “Democracy, Politics and Terrorism – America’s Quest for Security in the Age of Insecurity” is available at Amazon.com.

Please help Pakistan relief effort

On Behalf of Cair Orlando , we are making an appeal to please assist those affected by the recent flood in American ally Pakistan by donaning the following items.

Mens traditional clothing
Womens traditional clothing
Mens’ western clothing
Boys’ clothes
Girls clothes
Conforters and sheets
Utensils and Toys
Shoes /footwear (pairs to be tied together)
Food

Please note that Collection will consist of 9 stations of the following categories listed above. When donating please seperate your donations into these categories and place them in a black plastic bag with labels.

All donation to be collected this coming Friday 27 of August at Islamic Center of Greater Orlando ( Masjid Jamaah )located at :

11551 Ruby Lake Road Orlando Fl 32836

On behalf of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Rachid Mahdi would like to thank in advance all volunteers and anyone who is willing to assist those in need. The more you give, the more you receive.

Islam, a way of life: Rachid Mahdi on Fox 35 debating a lawyer about Burn Qura…

Islam, a way of life: Rachid on Fox 35 debating a lawyer about Burn Qura…

Islam Guide

Empire of faith, a PBS special part1

Prophet Muhammad legacy of a prophet

Interfaith dialogue.