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Travel As An Interfaith Act
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do so, to learn about other
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“ In every man there is something
wherein I may learn of him, and in
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Muslim fundraiser for burned black churches close to $100,000 goal
Campaign, which has raised nearly $90,000, closes Friday at the end of the Muslim holy month of
July 16, 2015 5:00PM ET
A coalition of U.S. Muslim groups behind a fundraiser to rebuild black churches targeted with arson
in the aftermath of the Charleston, South Carolina shooting say they are nearing their goal of raising
The fundraiser launched on July 2 has raised nearly $90,000 and ends on Eid - the holiday
celebrating the end of Ramadan, a Muslim holy month of fasting - at 3:45 a.m. Friday morning,
Their initial goal was to raise $10,000 for the churches. But after the fundraiser went viral, the group
increased that target to $100,000.
the organizers, Namira Islam, executive director of MuslimARC - a Muslim anti-racism group - said
the impetus to help came largely because of the racist nature of the attacks.
UmmahWide, a Muslim digital media startup, and the Arab American Association of New York, a
group aimed at empowering Arab Americans, also helped organize the fundraiser.
The church burnings across the South occurred in the weeks following the killing of nine African
“We’re in a state of shock,” Brandon Reeves, a member of God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon,
Georgia, said on July 9. The church, founded by his great-grandmother, Lillie Powell, was destroyed
by fire on June 23. “With all these other churches in flames, I can’t help but think it might have been
a hate crime.”
“Helping a church burned down out of hate is something we need to take action on,” Islam said.
“Raising money was one tangible way of doing that.”
Muslims have faced similar discrimination in the U.S. as blacks, although African Americans have
undoubtedly experienced more racism and racist violence than American Muslims, the Muslim
In addition to challenges the groups both face in the U.S. today, Christians and Muslims have an
intertwined history, Islam said.
“In the time of the prophet (Muhammed), peace be upon him, there was a really strong history of
Muslims working with Christians very closely - some of the first Muslims were sent to seek shelter
under a Christian king in Ethiopia,” Islam said. “That connection has always been there.”
Islam said the coalition has reached out to two of the four churches targeted by arson attacks:
College Hill Seventh Day Adventist in Knoxville, Tennessee, and God’s Power Church of Christ in
Macon, Georgia. The coalition hopes to help rebuild the churches with money from the fundraiser.
The groups hope to distribute the money they raised next week, Islam said, and have reached out to
best way to help all four of the churches burned in arson attacks.
Leaders from the targeted churches have been “really, really gracious,” Islam said.
“They were really just pleased hearing about the fundraiser and we really talked and connected
over the fact that mosques have also been the targets of arson as well,” Islam said.
Islam said she hopes the campaign will lead to more interfaith cooperation between Muslims and
Christians in the U.S., especially in the face of hateful attacks on places of worship.
“It is a new chapter, and we’re excited to move forward and make new relationships and have a
greater sense of connection with each other,” Islam said.
Great Visions - TV
Guests are: Swami Satchidananda &
the Rt. Reverend Dean Parks Morton
Limited Editions Gallery
Umrah - Jordan
Embrace Sacred Places
Monastery of Bahira - Syria
Embrace Foundation Universal
Monk Reading - Ethiopia
Embrace Foundation International
This Muslim woman shuts down haters by donating $1 to UNICEF for
every hate tweet she receives
November 15, 2015
BY: KASSANDRA DZIKEWICZ
She is a sociologist with a PhD at Monash University, but her intellectual level doesn’t stop people
from undermining her based on her religious status. Susan Carland converted to Islam at the age of
19, and at the age of 34 she receives a ton of hate tweets from close-minded anti-Islamic bigots.
The online hate comes in many forms. She is insulted based on her appearance and her hijab,
accused of being a jihadist planning to take over the world, and even receives death threats. She
tried to ignore the hateful messages but did not feel satisfied by avoiding the problem.
She decided the best way to resolve the issue was to take the hateful messages and make
something positive of the situation. She came up with the concept of donating $1 to UNICEF every
time she received a hateful message. Carland told The Age “I’d tried blocking, muting, engaging and
ignoring, but none of them felt like I was embodying the Koranic injunction of driving off darkness
with light, I felt I should be actively generating good in the world for every ugly verbal bullet sent my
way. And so the idea of donating $1 to UNICEF for every hate-filled tweet I received came to me.”
She added, “As I sat in front of my laptop one day, reading the merry stream of
toxicity directed towards me, I wondered what the most edifyingly Islamic response
I could give would be.”
“The Koran states: ‘Good and evil are not equal. Repel evil with what is better.’”
She is shocked at the response her actions have caused. The hate of others has made her more in
touch with her religious beliefs and self-identity.
Her actions have inspired others to join in on her kindness and positivity.
“These children seemed like the natural recipients for the antidote to hate; donating to them every
time I was abused felt like tangible good in response to virtual hate.”
“Their hate doesn’t define me; my beliefs do. And so what my response should be is
African Christians & Muslims Stand United - Show Americans How NOT to Let
has carried out murderous attacks in neighboring Cameroon. The advertised purpose of that
onslaught, in which more than 1,100 people have been killed, is to turn the country into an “Islamic
“I feel frustrated seeing my brothers and sisters dying,” explained Klofou. “I must act while praying to
God to send his angels and warriors to fight Boko Haram because He is the merciful God of armies.”
Referring to Boko haram as “a group of bad people,” Djafarou Alamine of Cameroon’s central
mosques declared that “Islam condemns all that they have been doing to both Christians and
Muslims who are all God’s creatures even though they have religious differences.”
This inter-faith cooperation is not unusual in Cameroon, contends Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of the
country’s Far North region.
“Cameroon is a country where priests and imams both go to churches and mosques to preach and
Although the inter-communal self-defense project has been applauded by government officials, it is
an entirely private initiative in which neighbors of different religious backgrounds organize to protect
each other without the state’s involvement. All of this offers a striking and instructive contrast to the
conditions that prevailed in Rwanda that led to the genocidal massacres that descended on that
nation twenty-two years ago. Up to 1.1 million people were annihilated by government-backed death
squads over the course of roughly one hundred days. Most of the victims were part of the Tutsi
ethnic group while the government was in the hands of people identified as Hutus.
Rwanda is a country in which ninety percent of the population, at the beginning of the 1990s,
late 19th and early 20th Centuries colonial administrators had created a political system in which the
churches were treated as adjuncts to the government - and all positions of public influence were
defined by a racial caste system. Rwandans considered to have more “European” features were
labeled “Tutsis,” and given access to power. Those with what the colonialists regarded as less
desirable physical traits were called “Hutus” and saw their once-autonomous tribal leadership
abolished - relegating them to second-class status. This led to decades of intermittent ethnic
warfare, which in turn entrenched the politics of ethnic collectivism in Rwandan society - including
the Christian churches.
“The leaders of the Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches were all close
associates” of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimama, and many had key positions in his “Hutu
Power” government, Longman points out. In 1993, the Hutu Power regime organized a plan to
massacre Rwandan Tutsis and Hutus who were seen as traitors. Weapons were cached, and death
the death of President Habyarimana in a suspicious plane crash.
When the death squads began their rampage, terrified Tutsis sought sanctuary in churches - only to
find no refuge.
Church leaders in Rwanda “helped make genocide possible by making ethnic violence
understandable and acceptable to the population,” Longman writes. This was “not simply because
church leaders hoped to avoid opposing their governmental allies but because ethnic conflict was
itself an integral part of Christianity in Rwanda. Christians could kill without obvious qualms of
conscience, even in the church, because Christianity as they had always known it had been a
religion defined by struggles for power, and ethnicity had always been at the base of those
struggles.” (Emphasis added.)
This was why machete-wielding death squads “attended mass before going out to kill,” or, if the
victims had been cattle-penned in a church, the killers would pause “during the massacres to pray at
the altar.” Like the Aztec priests who personally slaughtered an estimated 30,000 victims during the
1487 dedication of a temple to Huitzilopochtli, the devout murderers in Rwanda “felt their work was
consistent with church teachings.”
Acting as palace prophets on behalf of the political elite, Rwanda’s churches made the slaughter
“morally permissible,” Longman continues. Some individual congregants and clergy “took
courageous stands, even risking their lives to save those threatened, but the majority of people in
the churches gave tacit or even open support to the genocide. Church officials lent credibility to
those organizing the genocide by calling on their members to support the new government.”
Jean-Pierre Sagahutu, a Tutsi who saw his father and nine members of his family butchered by
fellow Christians, was offered refuge by a Hutu Muslim family.
“I know people in America think Muslims are terrorists, but for Rwandans they were our freedom
Muslims, my whole family would be dead,” agrees Aisha Umwimbabazi, who was struck by the fact
that mosques, unlike churches, rejected the state-defined ethnic categories and social divisions.
Rwanda’s Hutu Muslims refused to allow the government to depict their neighbors as their enemies.
people consumed by `ancient tribal hatreds,’” but rather the result of “the deliberate choice of a
modern elite to foster hatred and fear to keep itself in power.”
At a time when many governments are fostering collectivist hatred and fear, officials in Cameroon
are to be commended for encouraging citizens to regard each other as neighbors and cooperate to
protect each other. Regrettably, albeit predictably, while Cameroon’s population is uniting to defend
the country from terrorism, the national government’s cross-border military operations against Boko
Terrorism is a plague cultivated, nurtured, aggravated, and exploited by political elites working
through the state, which is why the state cannot protect us from it.
ABOUT EMBRACE & SOME OF ITS’ REMARKABLE FOUNDING RABBIS, REBS
For 35 years Embrace has worked with open-hearted, open-minded Rabbis and Rebs and looks
forward to doing so for many years to come.
Founding Rabbis, like the close personal friend of the Embrace Founders, Rabbi Gelberman, were
raised in the Hasidic tradition and were even Hasidic Rabbis in Europe, before deciding to become
what might be termed “interfaith - spiritual.” This change came partially because of their desire to
share mystical Jewish teachings with interested gentiles and their determination to reach out to
people who were not Jewish to create better understanding between communities.
Rabbi Gelberman however, is one who despite losing his wife and children in the holocaust,
decided to “Embrace” love and goodness and to look forward with hope to a new kind of world with
the enthusiasm of the Besht. He was almost always cheerful. Of the Jewish Rabbis and Rebs doing
intensive interfaith work in the 1960’s and 1970’s Rabbi Gelberman and Rabbi Carlbach were
among the first and foremost. They both, especially Rabbi Gelberman contributed greatly to
Embrace. It should also be noted that these Rabbis were recommended to us early on by members
in the Sufi community who had already been doing interfaith programs with them before Embrace
was founded in 1982.
(A Note: Of all the early Religious, Spiritual leaders and Scholars working with Embrace, four were
deeply involved with interfaith work in the United States long before we were founded and all of
them were a strong foundation for our organization to build upon. - They were: Pir Vilayat Inayat
Khan (Sufi), Swami Satchidananda (Yoga, Hindu), Rabbi Joseph Gelberman (Judaism & the
Interfaith Seminary) and Rabbi Carlbach.) Also, these men were doing a lot of their work on the
East Coast of the United States, so they were easy to call upon and meet with. They all knew each
other for years and had collaborated with each other before Embrace was founded.)
It should also be noted that for many years Embrace had offices in two buildings in Manhattan, New
York where a large number of tenants were Torah Jews, (members of the Jewish Hasidic & Litvak
communities.) We grew to greatly respect and admire their unremitting adherence to “Truth” and to
their devotion to the Divine despite much unkind discrimination. The Litvak community regularly
demonstrates on behalf of Palestinian Human Rights in front of the United Nations and other
locations. All Hasidim and Litvak are peace oriented and try hard to adhere to the 10
Commandments, which the Government in the Holy Land perpetually violates especially
commandments 6, 8,9 & 10 without compunction.
To Learn More About Spiritual Judaism and Hasidic/ Litvak Judaism:
See: Ushpizin (The Guests) DVD - A Touching Story about Faith and Trying to Do the Right Thing
- All people can relate to it
Kabbalah -The Way of The Mystic, by Perle Epstein - Inspiring (Good for Beginner with Basics)
Sacred Treasure - The Cairo Genziah - By Rabbi Mark Glickman - The Embrace Founders visited
the Ben Ezra Synagogue where the Genziah is upstairs. As Rabbi Glickman muses, this is a long
period when Jews and Muslims were just normal neighbors and friends. Kept documents in the
Genziah give reference to these years. (Fine for Introduction)
The Tales of the Hasidim - Later Masters - Martin Buber - (Excellent for Introduction)
Zohar (Their are other translations) -Daniel Matt (Skylight Illuminations, Series Editor Andrew
The Essential Kabbalah - (Also other Translations) Daniel C. Matt - Intro. - Huston Smith
Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism - Gershom G. Scholem - (Scholarly)
Tree of Life - Zev Ben Shimon Halevi
Judaism - Edited by Arthur Hertzberg - George Braziller Publishers, (The Braziller family were
neighbors of the Embrace Founders for many years) (Excellent Book for Everyone) part of a series
of volumes on Buddhism, Christianity (Protestant & Catholic volumes), Hinduism, Islam & Judaism
These are just a very few we’ve pulled from our shelves.
Embrace Foundation Retreat Center
Embrace.Foundation (skype messaging) - 011+1+212.675.4500 (New York)
Click to Email Us
Photos of Mars by India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft
Indian Space Research Organization
For more recent photos of Mars, visit ISRO