Blog Archives

What Does Our Faith Say About Power and Oppression?

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

In 2013, the Minnesota Council of Churches and the Islamic Center of Minnesota began a dialogue series called “Prophets, Patriarchs, & People of Promise!”

Over several dialogues we brought in speakers who helped us to explore and share with each other their faith tradition and perspectives on Abraham, the Angels, Adam and Eve, Jesus, Moses, David, and Prophet Muhammad, upon them peace and blessings.  For Muslims, all prophets are spiritual brothers, with Prophet Muhammad being the last and final messenger of God in this long chain of prophets.  The discussions were quite interesting and the series helped to throw a pebble, creating a tiny ripple of understanding between the faith traditions.

This Sunday, December 21st, we are moving past this series to a new dialogue:  Faithful Response:  What does our faith say about how we respond to issues of power and oppression?

I will share my perspective with another speaker, Dr. Cameron B. R. Howard, assistant professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Continue reading here…

Taking Heart: Visit a Mosque, Share a Meal

By Marcia Lynx Qualey, Engage Minnesota

From a Taking Heart picnic,
summer 2007.

Gail Anderson isn’t asking you to make a new best friend.

“I think if next Wednesday night, we get a number of Christians to walk into a mosque—
that’ve never been in a mosque before—then I think we’ve done something,” said Anderson, unity and relationships organizer with the Minnesota Council of Churches.

Anderson helps head up the interfaith project “Taking Heart,” which brings Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors together over good meals and good conversation.

The next event, set for May 14 at Masjid Ummat Muhammad, was designed for South Minneapolis residents. The program is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with two presentations: There will be a brief talk about Muslim prayer, and Anderson will discuss the Christian prayer tradition. Afterwards, free Middle Eastern food will be served, and people will be encouraged to mingle and talk.

But what if people self-segregate, and Christians sit together with Christians, and Muslims with Muslims?

“We don’t let ’em,” Anderson said, and laughed. Read the rest of this entry

Interfaith Panelists Recognize and Accept Differences

Five University Groups Discuss How They Can Work Together to Improve Humanity’s Future

By Heba Abdel-Karim and Lolla Mohammed Nur, Engage Minnesota

“Imagine a world where people from different religious backgrounds come together to create understanding and respect by serving their communities.” – Interfaith Youth Core (www.ifyc.org)

Lolla Mohammed Nur Heba Abdel Karim

On April 9, the Hillel Jewish Center, in union with the University of Minnesota’s Muslim Student Association, hosted and organized an interfaith discussion that brought together people of different faiths. The topic of the event was “humanity’s future,” and representatives of a number of different faiths spoke about how they see humanity progressing, and how our differences, as well as similarities, can better the community.

A little over a hundred people entered the room, determined to try something different: to go beyond their normal routine, talk to others of various faiths, and get to know them. Unsurprisingly, that’s what made the event—believed to be the first of its kind at the U—such a success. Attendees left politics aside and peacefully interacted with one another. In the end, they saw how similar, yet diverse and unique, we all were.

“I think that what group representatives, members, and the audience all liked the most was the atmosphere: nobody was on the defensive, nobody was being hostile, no group was being labeled with negative stereotypes,” comments EngageMN writer Lolla Mohammed Nur, pictured above to the left of Heba Abdel-Karim.

“The positive atmosphere was almost contagious!” says Mohammed Nur. “Some asked very insightful and sincere questions, and it was obvious that all audience members were there to genuinely learn about different faiths and beliefs. Everybody was there to help promote the message of religious tolerance and awareness.” Read the rest of this entry

Bridging the gap between Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors

By Heba Abdel-Karim

Heba Abdel-KarimImagine this scenario: You live in the same area with your Minnesotan Muslim neighbor. This person, his actions, beliefs, and practices seem a bit peculiar to you, as you have not encountered many Muslims. All you know about Muslims is what you hear others say, from the media and the like, but they are otherwise unfamiliar.

You wish to get in contact with him or her—even with a simple “hi”—but you may subconsciously have second thoughts because of how Muslims are negatively labeled by others. This, along with some other reasons, makes it seem like the gap between you and your Muslim neighbor is too large to even give it a try.
Read the rest of this entry