16 June 2017
The newly renamed Mosque of Maryam, the Mother of Jesus, stands in Abu Dhabi.
The Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi has a new name. It is now the Mosque of Maryam (Mary), Mother of Jesus. This gesture of the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Muhammad ibn Zayed al-Nahyan, is intended to promote greater understanding and harmony between Christians and Muslims.
In fact, Our Lady plays an important role in Islam. She is the virgin mother of Jesus, although with no connotation of the Incarnation as understood by Christians. She is the one who hears God’s word and believes it. And in the Qur’an, she is the focus of Chapter 19.
When members of the early Muslim community fled to Abyssinia (ancient Ethiopia) to escape persecution, they were required by the king to explain their new faith. When he heard of the devotion they had to Mary, he immediately accepted them as protected refugees.
Two women play a major role in Islam. The first is Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad and wife of Ali bin Abi Talib. The second is Mary, Mother of Jesus. Known among Muslims as Fatimah al-Zahra, “the Illustrious,” the daughter of the Prophet is widely revered in Sunni and especially Shi’ite Islam. While it is common among Shi’ites to have mosques bearing the name of Fatimah, to my knowledge this mosque is Abu Dhabi is the first to be named after the Virgin Mary.
This is not by any means to say that Mary plays no role in the popular piety of Muslims. Although it is seriously frowned upon by the Wahhabi/Salafi theological strain in Sunni Islam, many Muslims visit Marian shrines in Ephesus, Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere.
The graciousness and breadth of spirit of Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan is to be applauded. One can only hope that it is the first of many gestures that Muslims and Christians can make to increase peace and understanding between our communities.
16 June 2017
Altar servers make their way to the Divine Liturgy at the Orthodox cathedral in Antioch. Read more about Turkey’s Melting Pot, and the many faiths that reside there, in the May 2011 edition of ONE. (photo: Sean Sprague)
16 June 2017
An Iraqi soldier escorts civilians in Mosul’s western Al-Shifa district on 15 June 2017, as they flee their homes during the ongoing offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the city from ISIS group fighters. (photo: Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)
More than 100,000 civilians trapped in Mosul (Reuters) Over 100,000 civilians remain trapped behind Islamic State lines in Mosul with a U.S.-backed government offensive to recapture the Iraqi city entering its ninth month, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday. “These civilians are basically held as human shields in the Old City,” said the presiding UNHCR representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo, referring to Mosul’s historic district where the militants are besieged by Iraqi government forces...
Iraqi leader meets with Christians (Fides) Masrour Barzani, head of the intelligence in the autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan and President Masud’s son, met with a delegation of representatives of the most rooted Churches in the region, including Redemptorist Bashar Warda, Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, and Mar Nicodemus Daud Matti Sharaf, Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Mosul on 13 June...
ACLU asks court to stop deportation of Iraqi Christians (Aleteia) The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has asked for a temporary restraining order on the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which is sending hundreds of Iraqi Christians back to a country where, many contend, they are in serious danger of being tortured or killed. The civil liberties organization filed a brief in a federal court in Michigan Thursday, days after ICE arrested a number of Chaldean Christians in and around Detroit as part of President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to enforce immigration laws...
Where an influx of Syrians is remaking Turkey (The New York Times) Turkey built this concrete wall to try to stop the flow of refugees and cut off its connection to the war on the other side. I visited this place to see how some of the three million refugees in Turkey are remaking the region...
UAE names Abu Dhabi mosque after Mary, Mother of Jesus (Newsweek) Authorities have renamed a mosque in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, after the mother of Jesus Christ. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and deputy commander of the Emirati military, said he ordered the change in a bid to build bridges with other religions...
Controversy surrounds bill to ban foreign names for Egyptian babies (Fides) Controversy and sarcasm in Egypt increase with regards to the bill submitted on Tuesday 13 June to the Egyptian Parliament to forbid the conferral of Western and “foreign” names to Egyptian babies...
15 June 2017
In the video above, Pope Francis and religious leaders from many different faiths describe why it is important to reach out to people of other religions. (video: Elijah Interfaith Institute/YouTube)
Reaching out to people of other religions can be both challenging and enriching for individuals and is the only hope for true peace in the world, said a variety of religious leaders, including Pope Francis.
The pope and his friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka appear in a video montage and together in their own video as part of the “Make Friends” initiative coordinated by the Elijah Interfaith Institute, which has offices in Israel and in Dallas.
The video series, posted on YouTube 14 June, also includes Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran leaders, Jewish rabbis, Sunni and Shiite Muslim clerics, Buddhist monks and nuns, and Hindu and Sikh leaders.
In their video, Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka talk about how their own religious convictions led them into conversations with each other, and how those conversations not only increased their understanding of God and formed the basis of a television series and book, but also led to true friendship.
Pope Francis and Rabbi Abraham Skorka discuss their friendship in a special video for the Elijah Interfaith Institute. (video: Elijah Interfaith Institute/YouTube)
When sending emails back and forth, “because we still have projects going on,” Rabbi Skorka said, they address each other as “‘Dear brother,’ and it’s not just a saying. We have such open, deep and affectionate conversations. We understand each other.”
As they met and held discussions in Buenos Aires, Argentina, “the friendship grew, always retaining our respective identities,” the pope said. “‘Brother and friend’ — those are my feelings for him.”
Explaining the “Make Friends” initiative, the Elijah Interfaith Institute said, “Friendship and getting to know one another are the antidotes to negativity and divisions in society, enhancing understanding and unity.”
Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein is the founder and director of the institute.
You can read more about the initiative at this website.
15 June 2017
Svetlana Kikadze, 70, receives physical therapy for her rheumatism at the Caritas clinic in Tbilisi, Georgia. The clinic seeks to help elderly pensioners who have fallen through the cracks — those abandoned by family and friends and who are often homeless and displaced. Read more about how the church cares for those who are Penniless, Bruised and Sick in the November 2008 edition of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)
15 June 2017
Refugees Husam Al Dakhil and his cousin Bahaa Hraiz serve a Syrian buffet at an Ottawa parish, which has now found sponsors for their parents and siblings.
(photo: Deborah Gyapong/Canadian Catholic News/Catholic Register)
Indian Christians demand justice for nun who was harassed by police (Vatican Radio) Christians of central India’s Bhopal city have demanded justice for a Catholic nun who had been detained under the false charge of forcibly converting four tribal girls. Sister Bina, of the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa (CSST), was arrested at Satna railway station while travelling with four girls on board a train from Jharkhand state...
UN: U.S.-led airstrikes caused ‘staggering’ civilian deaths (The Washington Post) Airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition have caused a “staggering” loss of civilian life in recent months around the Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, a United Nations investigative body said Wednesday. A U.S.-backed ground force entered the city with the help of coalition air raids last week, three years after the area became a hub from which Islamic State leaders planned expansion throughout the region and attacks around the world...
Canadian parish sparks giant family reunion for Syrian refugees (Catholic Register) Holy Redeemer, a parish in the Ottawa archdiocese, didn’t stop at bringing in one Syrian refugee family. They brought in three — and plan to bring in three more. In addition to the three original families — all blood relations — the parish has been instrumental in bringing in two young nephews of the families, who now have sponsors for their parents and siblings...
Study says warmer climate could cause malaria to spread in Ethiopia (AFP) Cool, high-lying areas of Ethiopia hitherto shielded from heat-loving malaria mosquitoes are increasingly exposed to the disease as the climate warms, researchers said. Most Ethiopians live in the country’s highlands, and have long enjoyed natural protection against mosquitoes carrying the malaria-causing parasites Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivid. But the buffered area has been shrinking since 1981, scientists reported in the journal Environmental Research Letters. About six million people live in the newly-vulnerable regions...
14 June 2017
Eucharist and study are central in the lives of Coptic Catholic seminarians at St. Leo the Great, located in a Cairo suburb. To learn more about the Coptic Catholic Church, check out this profile in the September 2007 edition of ONE. (photo: Mohamed El-Dakhakhny)
14 June 2017
Tags: Egypt Coptic Catholic Church Egypt's Christians
One of the young residents who fled Raqqa, Syria, arrives in Jarablus on 26 May. Thousands of residents remain trapped in the city as the battle to retake Raqqa from ISIS rages. (photo: Huseyin Nasir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
U.S.-backed forces battle ISIS outside Raqqa (The Washington Post) As U.S.-backed forces press farther into Raqqa, the Islamic State’s stronghold in Syria, human rights groups pleaded Tuesday for the safety of thousands of residents still trapped in the city…
For Christians in Egypt, building a new church can set off violence (NPR) Christians in Minya province have faced long-running tensions with their Muslim neighbors over an issue central to their survival as a community — whether they can build churches…
Caritas Jordan providing iftar meals for Syrian refugees (Vatican Radio) Most of the 657,000 registered Syrian refugees in Jordan are Muslim. That’s why the local Caritas campaign, especially launched for the holy month of Ramadan, aims both to support those in need and to live the spirit of the month in mercy and fraternity. This year, the campaign is rooted in Caritas’ aptly named Mercy Restaurant, which prepares iftar, or evening meals for its fasting brothers and sisters…
Turkey opens Syrian border crossings for Ramadan (AP) Thousands of Syrian refugees are returning home for a visit during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, after Turkey temporarily opened two border crossings with its war-torn neighbor…
India commits to pacts on eradicating child slavery (Vatican Radio) India on Tuesday ratified two key global agreements on eradicating child slavery, committing the country to adopting international labor standards on the employment of minors and allowing it to be subjected to scrutiny by other nations. India’s census found there were more than four million laborers aged between 5 and 14 in 2011 out of 168 million globally, but activists say millions more are at risk due to poverty…
United Nations: Ukraine conflict enters fourth year with ‘no end in sight’ (UN.org) Warring parties in eastern Ukraine have repeatedly failed to implement ceasefire agreements, allowing hostilities to escalate and the cumulative death toll to exceed 10,000 as the conflict entered its fourth year, a new United Nations report reveals…
13 June 2017
Tags: Syria India Egypt Ukraine
Chaldean-American Lavrena Kenawa cries during a 12 June rally outside the Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield, Michigan. Her uncle was among dozens of Chaldean Christians who were arrested by federal immigration officials over the weekend in the Detroit metropolitan area, which members of the local church community said left them sad and frustrated. (photo: CNS/Rebecca Cook, Reuters)
It happened over the weekend. Details, from Catholic News Agency:
Dozens of Chaldean Christians were arrested by federal immigration officials over the weekend in the Detroit metropolitan area, leaving the local Church community with sadness and frustration.
“Yesterday was a very strange and painful day for our community in America,” Bishop Francis Kalabat of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle of Detroit stated Monday in a Facebook post.
“With the many Chaldeans that were awakened by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and consequently picked up for deportation, there is a lot of confusion and anger,” he added.
The Rev. Anthony Kathawa of St. Thomas Chaldean Church in West Bloomfield, Mich., told CNA 12 June that “As a community, we’re all suffering seeing the loss of our loved ones.”
The Detroit Free Press noted:
Martin Manna, an Iraqi-American Christian advocate who is president of the Chaldean Community Foundation based in Sterling Heights, said he’s getting information from family members of those arrested, many of who live in Macomb and Oakland counties.
“Most of the arrests of the 40 or so were all done today,” Manna said, adding people on a final order of removal were targeted, most of whom have a criminal record.
Sending them back to Iraq, he said, “is like a death sentence.”
A spokesman for ICE declined to comment on any specifics.
“ICE regularly conducts targeted enforcement operations during which additional resources and personnel are dedicated to apprehending removable aliens,” spokesman Khaalid Walls said in a statement Sunday evening.
Catholic News Service added some context from Bishop Kalabat:
A bill passed by the U.S. House 6 June “to protect Christians,” Bishop Kalabat said, “goes against this very thing.” He was referring to the bipartisan Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act that would provide humanitarian assistance to Christian and other religious minorities suffering genocide at the hands of Islamic State militants.
The bishop acknowledged it “will take a lot of effort” to work on behalf of those who have been taken into custody, “but acting in disrespectful ways in front of the federal building (will) only bring harm and not good.”
“We understand the pain that many members of our community are going through but emotional outbursts will not bring change,” he said, and urged them to get official statements from the eparchy about efforts being made on behalf of the detainees. He added: “Let’s pray for God’s blessings to rain down on us.”
Read more here, here and here.
13 June 2017
Tags: Iraq Catholic Chaldeans
Pilgrims scale the cliff to enter Ethiopia’s Debra Damo Monastery. To learn more about Ethiopian monasticism, check out Relevant or Relic? In the November 2010 edition of ONE.
(photo: Sean Sprague)