Jun 25, 2015

Inclusion & Dialogue During Ramadan

By Saadia Faruqi
The holy month of fasting for Muslims, called Ramadan, is finally here and there has never been more media publicity about it. Have you noticed how even mainstream news publications are writing about Ramadan these days? From photo essays of fasting scenes around the world, to op-eds about what it means to fast and how the act of fasting can bring everyone closer together, everyone seems to be writing about Ramadan.

Jun 17, 2015

Faith Behind Bars

By Alex Hannaford
Thomas Whitaker grew up in his parents’ devout Christian faith, but after eight years on death row, he’s rejected the religion he followed for 27 years. In fact, he’s rejected any belief in a divine power at all. Whitaker was sentenced to death in 2007 for organizing the murder of his family in order to collect an inheritance of $1.5 million, prosecutors said. Fueled by what they described as an “irrational hate,” he paid his roommate, 21-year-old Chris Brashear, to carry out the shooting of his brother, mother and father. Whitaker’s dad was the only one who survived.

Getting to Know Our Neighbors

By Nancy Agafitei
About five years ago, I was visited at the library by Saadia, one of the Muslim ladies in our community who used the library with her young children. She came with a request to hold a book fair at the library. She wanted to display books that informed people about her faith, and to offer short talks that addressed topics of current interest about Islam. I think she expected me to decline, or at least debate, her request. For me, though, it was a simple choice -- public librarians are all about giving people access to all kinds of information. I got out the calendar and booked a room for them on a Saturday afternoon.

May 25, 2015

The Seeds of Intolerance

By Saadia Faruqi
Source: Tikkun Daily
Hate disguised as free speech is a particularly ugly thing. Google Maps labeling the White House as N****r House is no less disgusting than a French magazine drawing the Prophet Muhammad in a stereotypical or untrue sketch. As I see the intolerance among us grow and ultimately divide us, I fear for the world we will leave our children and grandchildren in. Instead of learning to live in peace and love, we still think of ourselves as Muslims, Jews, Christians, white, black, brown, Israeli, Palestinian.

May 19, 2015

Taboo Topics

By Saadia Faruqi
Source: State of Formation
I’ve been working in the field of interfaith dialogue for more than a decade. On good days it’s a lot of fun, and I really see the benefit. On bad days, it’s nothing but headache and heartache. Why? Maybe because there are some topics that are off-limits, and so become the elephant in the room in a very difficult way.

May 14, 2015

Racism Masquerading as Environmentalism

By Stephen Fuqua
A disturbing thing happened at Earth Day Texas – racists and nativists showed up masquerading as environmentalists. A tweet from the Southern Poverty Law Center alerted me that anti-immigrant groups with white supremacist ties would be out at Earth Day Texas. Seeing one of their (unmanned) booths was, therefore, not a surprise. But being verbally accosted at my own booth was.

Quba Islamic Institute Rebuilding

By Bishop Michael Rinehart
WithImamsAs you may recall, on February 13 a fire was started at the Quba Islamic Institute in Houston. Christians and Jews rallied around leaders at Quba, who eventually asked for the charges to be dropped. 

May 7, 2015

Just Perish: Faith & Social Advocacy

By Felicia Woodard
Source: Girl Learns World

The story of Esther is one of the most popular stories in the bible, especially for young women.  It has been extremely romanticised and even commercialized in movies, Pinterest quotes, & used for every women's conference to motivate women to "receive their breakthrough" & "prepare to meet their king".

Apr 29, 2015

Nepal Earthquake and an Interfaith Response

By Jessica Nguyen
The news coming from Nepal is truly horrifying. An earthquake that started out small has now engulfed entire cities in tragedy, and thousands are feared dead. It is distressing that the poor keep bearing the brunt of nature's fury, and many in the faith community ask why? Why do the poor suffer and what can we do to help our brothers and sisters in need?

Apr 17, 2015

A Muslim's Reflections on Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Saadia Faruqi
Source: Tikkun Daily
Shalom and Peace! Today on Holocaust Remembrance Day I would like to share a recent experience that changed my perspective in an unexpected way. My perspective about Jews, about the Holocaust, about myself. Sounds mysterious? I didn’t mean it to be. Let me go back a couple of weeks and start again.

Apr 13, 2015

Religious Responses to the Death Penalty

By Adam Santosh
The death penalty is a huge and often contentious issue today, and Texas with its capital punishment laws is at the forefront of all discussions. I recently reviewed an important document by the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy, which offered some points to ponder from a multi-faith perspective.

Apr 7, 2015

Lent from an Atheist's Perspective

By Shannon Smith
This year, as Lent comes to a close, I am writing a confession. This year, Lent was a fulfilling and spiritual experience for me. For millions of Americans who participate in Lent in some form or the other, I am sure this is not news. They experience Lent by fasting or giving up something else of value, each year for the sake of a higher power. Not so for me. The reason why observing Lent was a confession for me, is that I'm not a Catholic, or even a Christian. I am a proud atheist.

Mar 27, 2015

Celebrating Women's Interfaith History

By Saadia Faruqi
Source: State of Formation

March is women's history month and usually that means a celebration of women from a national or cultural perspective. In the United States that implies celebrating American women of independence, courage and fortitude, whether they are white, black or Latina. More importantly, however, I believe that we must also celebrate women from an interfaith perspective, because the female gender has so much to offer in that field.

Mar 16, 2015

Education Can Win the Hearts and Minds of the People

Source: Dialogue Institute Southwest
Sister Martha Ann Kirk has spoken publicly about her trips to Iraq and her time in that beleaguered country — where so little hope seems to exist, especially for educational opportunity for girls. But this time she was on a panel at the United Nations, where she was invited to speak about her research on the ground.

Feb 25, 2015

Landmark Ruling Nets First Sikh Officer with Turban, Beard in Harris County

It was a matter of pride for the 50 or so members of the local Sikh community who had gathered in the Officer’s Dining Hall of the Harris County Sherriff’s Administrative Offices on 701 N. San Jacinto St, next to Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston.  They came to celebrate not only one of their own becoming a police officer, but to witness history in making as one more visage of mainstream rule crumbled to the power of the diversity that is the cornerstone of this region’s appeal.

Feb 18, 2015

SermonSlam shakes up Interfaith Dialogue

By Sonia Zuniga
Source: The Cougar
Being true to themselves while expressing their beliefs courteously to members of another faith was the challenge six students faced at UH’s first SermonSlam Tuesday in the Student Center Legacy Lounge, part of A.D. Bruce Religion Center’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Feb 16, 2015

Can We Just Love Each Other?

By Saadia Faruqi
Today is Valentine’s Day and as a Muslim I’m expected to write terrible things about it. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that the whole concept of sexual promiscuity dressed up as “love” is pretty awful and sends a very negative message to younger generations. I’m appalled at the seasonal displays at Wal-Mart and CVS and all the other stores where alcohol, chocolate and sexy nightwear jostle for space as if one cannot be used except with the crutch of the others. I am horrified when my five year old daughter comes home from kindergarten telling me some boy is always trying to kiss her but she’s not interested because he’s not handsome. Yet today all the parents of my children’s classmates sent home 26 Valentine’s Day cards and candy and little hearts because it’s so cute.

Feb 2, 2015

Americans Know Nothing about Sikhism: Study

Although more than half a million Sikhs live in the US, a majority of Americans are unaware of what Sikhism is and some admit wariness when seeing their Sikh neighbors, according to new study. Conducted by Washington-based Hart Research Associates, the study released here Tuesday, shows that there is enormous potential to increase awareness and enhance positive sentiments toward Sikhism within the broader American public.

Jan 26, 2015

Terrorism is a Matter of Privilege

By Daniel Johnson
Source: Free Thoughts
As I watch the latest episode in international terrorism play out and the inevitable blaming of Islam for extremist behavior, I wonder if we will ever see the same blaming of Christianity for its extremist activity. As it currently exists, the discussion of terrorist actions can only apply if you are a Muslim or a person of color, or by some happenstance both at the same time.

Jan 19, 2015

What the Interfaith Community Can Learn from MLK

By Saadia Faruqi
Today (January 19th) is Martin Luther King Day, celebrated by millions across the United States. We all know Dr. King very well, of course, and although his courageous efforts were for the betterment of the African American community, he has now become a national icon – a symbol for freedom, civil liberties and justice. He is not just a man but an image standing for the downtrodden sections of society and demanding their rights.