Dec 21, 2012

An Interfaith Christmas Story

By Saadia Faruqi
My first grader came home yesterday with news about his school Christmas performance. Tentatively he informed me that his class would be singing “Deck the Halls” in front of all the parents a couple of weeks from now. I say tentatively because I think he wanted to see my reaction and to give him some answers. At 6 and-a-half he is starting to become aware of the differences between “us” as Muslims and the majority of his school as Christians. It’s nothing new of course: this time every year, in schools and workplaces everywhere, Muslims, Jews and Hindus start feeling slightly uncomfortable during a holiday they cannot identify with.

Dec 13, 2012

Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes Remain High

Source: Hatewatch

Hate crimes against perceived Muslims, which jumped up 50% in 2010 largely as a result of anti-Muslim propagandizing, remained at relatively high levels last year, according to 2011 hate crime statistics released today by the FBI.

Dec 7, 2012

When A Religious Home Is Defiled We Stand Together in Love

By Rev. Ellen Cooper-Davis

Source: Keep the Faith

There is a reason we refer to our churches, temples, mosques, chapels as sacred space. They are earthly containers of the holy, homes for the deep bonds of human community, centers for setting aside the demands of modern life and settling into prayer or praise or petition. Beauty, awe, wonder, joy and sorrow all reside here. It is to these sacred spaces we bring our children to be blessed, it is in these spaces we celebrate milestones of a human lifetime, it is in these spaces that we mourn our dead. This time of year, many people will enter their sacred spaces for festivals and holidays. They will go to celebrate miracles, to seek the light, to mark the birth of a Prince of Peace.

Dec 5, 2012

Religious Tolerance Wins Big in the Elections

By Saadia Faruqi
Last week, after a fortnight of legal wrangling, House Republican Allen West finally conceded defeat in the race against Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida. Despite spending $17 million in his campaign as opposed to Murphy’s $3.6 million, it seems that the people of Florida have spoken. They no longer want an Islamophobe representing them in Congress.

Dec 2, 2012

Subject: Fwd., Fwd., Fwd.

By Rev. Nell Green
In general I don’t like emails that have been forwarded a dozen times. However, I do usually have a look at what I have been sent unless I have reason to suspicion a virus or such. Why take the time? It gives me a glimpse into how others are thinking about politics, faith, or daily living. Like social media, it is a tiny window into thoughts, ideas, concerns and sometimes prejudices and fears. Unless asked specifically to do so, I rarely answer these forwards.

Nov 30, 2012

Interfaith Thanksgiving Services at IID Houston

Source: The Institute of Interfaith Dialog

The Institute of Interfaith Dialog organized an Early Thanksgiving Dinner on November 17, Saturday, 2012. The Institute hosted more than 250 guests from all walks of life including congregation leaders, academics, city officials, neighbors of the Turquoise Center, teachers, students, and members of different faith traditions.

Nov 22, 2012

From Seeds of Love, Acceptance and Respect

By Jean Thomas

An Interfaith Thanksgiving Service was held November 15, 2012 at Plymouth United Church of Christ. The program for the evening was “From Seeds of Love, Acceptance, and Respect To a Harvest of Thanksgiving” with clergy and laypeople of the Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist faiths participating. Readings were given in original languages followed by a short explanation in English.

Nov 8, 2012

Where's the Line Between Church and State?

By Saadia Faruqi
Today is Election Day: a day when millions of Americans of all colors, religions and ethnicities are taking pride in standing in line waiting to cast their vote. For those like myself – who come from countries where voters are intimidated, entire groups are not allowed to vote at all, and multiple generations live under military rule without seeing even one Election Day – today is a great day indeed! Immigrants from all parts of the world who now call America home proudly and seriously consider voting not just a right but an obligation. 

Nov 5, 2012

Gratitude versus Thanksgiving

By Kristen Adams

Turkey dinners being cooked in haste. Weary travelers stuck at airports. Moms crafting plans for  the best Black Friday sales. That's what the American thanksgiving has become. But this thanksgiving, I'm not content to just eat dinner and say polite thank yous. I want more. I want to feel real gratitude.

Sep 28, 2012

Free Speech Should be Responsible Speech

By Saadia Faruqi

Freedom of Speech is such a uniquely American right. It's the foundation of this great country of ours, one of the mighty pillars keeping the United States strong and upright. Yet after the events of the last few days, when an offensive movie trailer "Innocence of Muslims" led to an uproar in the Muslim world, I am having serious doubts about whether the founding fathers meant the First Amendment to be taken as a free pass to offend, insult and hurt others.

Sep 18, 2012

Muslims Give Blood to Save Lives

By Shahina Bashir
Source: Examiner

It is said that time is the greatest healer. Perhaps it is the only way that man can survive the reality of tragedies and loss. It is hard to believe that the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 is upon us. Though the pain maybe lessened but the day will forever be etched in our hearts. President Obama today signed a proclamation which designates the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 as Patriot Day and National Day of Remembrance.

Sep 6, 2012

Houston Police Scores High on Sensitivity

By Saadia Faruqi

Last week was my last in a year-long cultural sensitivity training for the Houston Police Academy, and I have to say that I felt just a little bit sad to see the end of such a great program. Being part of an interfaith and inter-cultural panel who were willing to give of their time and expertise seemed to me, the epitome of tolerance and respect which make this city so open and inviting.

Aug 29, 2012

Bringing Youth Into the 9/11 Conversation

By Saadia Faruqi
Where were you on 9/11? It's a question most American adults can answer in a heartbeat, even though it happened eleven years ago. As a thirty-something now, I remember the fateful day of 9/11 vividly. At the time I was in college, but more importantly I was Muslim at a time when the world suddenly hated Muslims. But ask this question to a fifteen year old, even a twenty year old, and they look back at you blankly.

Aug 22, 2012

Is Mutual Respect Too Much To Ask?

By Saadia Faruqi

Over the Eid weekend, a Muslim woman made headlines by calling out the Houston Police Department for their lack of cultural awareness. She alleged that she was frisked by HPD in a way she deemed offensive. Thankfully she hasn’t sued yet (although that might change depending on who’s advising her), but once again the cultural clash between “us and them” seems more prominent than ever. Islamophobia is alive and well in the world today, but one should also carefully consider if every case is in fact one of Islam-bashing. To me, this doesn’t look like it.

Aug 6, 2012

Fasting Isn't Just For Islam

By Saadia Faruqi

The month of Ramadan is upon me, and so far it's been going well. Yes, most days I'm tired and hungry and a bit snappy with my kids. But overwhelmingly the feeling is one of happiness - the feeling that comes with being grateful for a wonderful opportunity. During my interfaith work I'm asked by several people every year why I and other Muslims fast so completely - no food or drink for the entire day every day for a whole month has got to take its toll, they think. My response: not really.


Jul 30, 2012

Asian Americans Are Hard to Pin Down Religiously

By Jessica Nguyen
The Pew Research Center this month revealed yet another interesting study, this time about the religious beliefs and practices of Asian Americans. It was an important read for me personally, of course, since I'm Asian American, but I also recommend it for those of other backgrounds. This group has grown tremendously in the last few decades, especially in the Greater Houston area.

Jun 11, 2012

Why Is Public Prayer Offensive?

By Kristen Adams

Traditionally prayer has been an important part of the American way of life since our inception. Not content to pray solely in churches, people typically have showed their devotion in public life, with public prayer being held in schools, by public officials, and before football matches. Not anymore. With the influx of a wide variety of religious groups and atheists into mainstream America, praying "in the name of Jesus" can offend some. What to do?

May 23, 2012

Local Interfaith Eco Networks

Texas Interfaith Power & Light works with local, interfaith networks around the state to articulate a religious response to shared environmental challenges. Networks are emerging in Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio - and there’s a well-established network in Austin - Interfaith Environmental Network, the Austin chapter of Texas Interfaith Power & Light. Below is some of the what and why of this work.

May 9, 2012

Being Worthy of Mother's Day

By Saadia Faruqi
This month, our nation will celebrate another Mother’s Day. Women of all faiths and backgrounds will get breakfast in bed, a day of relaxation, visitors and gifts. It is very true that mothers usually receive no thanks for the immense sacrifices they put in for their children and families on a daily basis. So a day to honor and thank them seems the least we can do.

Mar 22, 2012

Muslim Women Who Shake the World

By Umber Khan
Women have a voice, no doubt about it. What many fail to see is that they also have power and action in their hands. Thanks to the Internet, we are now able to see and expand the empowered activities of not only women all over the world but also Muslim women, who are traditionally viewed as quiet, homemaking peacemakers. Newsweek's List of 150 empowered women also consists of almost 20% Muslim women who are making a difference in politics, business and education across the world.

Mar 10, 2012

Give me a Cradle and I'll Change the World

By Saadia Faruqi

There should be no surprise in this statement: women can change the world. In the home as well as in public life, women bring a unique perspective that makes it inevitably better for all. American first lady Abigail Adams once said: “If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women.” A few days ago interfaith representatives from a multitude of religious groups got together to discuss the role of women in making a better society, and it was feminism at its best.

Feb 15, 2012

Religious Tolerance Through Social Action

By Anna Gonzales
Some people like sitting through interfaith symposiums and conferences, hearing debates about theology and comparative religions. Others like small group dialogues with facilitated discussions and a meal. For some though, it's just plain boring! They'd rather talk less and do more. Enter the new form of interfaith communications: social action.

Feb 5, 2012

Is Religious Freedom Really Just a Dream?

By Saadia Faruqi

When our founding fathers, driven by religious persecution to a new continent, drafted the constitution, it was obvious they had in mind the religious and civil freedoms of every generation that lived after them. And for a while, as long as the country was unified in religious practice, tolerance was not that difficult to achieve. But with every new wave of immigrants entering the United States, the variety of religious thought and tradition has expanded.