Monday, January 11, 2016

What to do about Islamophobia

Hi Katalusis friends,

I've sat through far too many arguments between secularists and those who follow the teachings of a particular religion, and the accusations of one group toward the other sometimes get ugly. For example, a secularist might label his or her adversaries as irrational or worse.  In response, a religious fundamentalist might warn the secularist that it can get mighty hot where he or she is headed. At this point in my life, I mostly get bored with that kind of talk.

I'm better off, I've concluded, to spend my time reading material such as the Charter for Compassion's newsletter, which hit my inbox today with a comprehensive guide to Islamophobia. The pdf version of the guide is 90 pages long, so I've only had time thus far to scan pages of immediate interest. Thanks to Karen Armstrong's input, those pages include intelligent, well-informed discussions of the differences between secularism and religion.

The initial email message is from Marilyn Turkovich, Director of the Charter for Compassion International:

Dear Friends,
A Happy New Year!  It just doesn't seem proper without stating those words and realizing beneath the surface that the majority of us are hoping for a year that will be filled with peace.  In a 1992 lecture, writer Susan Sontag asserted that “a writer is someone who pays attention to the world…[someone who is] a professional observer.” Let us assume that we are all writers and it is our task not only to observe the world but work, even in the smallest ways, on behalf of humanity in 2016. In today’s newsletter there is information about wishing for a new approach to the year, observances on what is happening within our communities regarding the rise of Islamophobia, and suggestions for taking our observances and acting with hope and determination to put our positive marks on each new day.  As always, we’d like to hear what you are doing and what our compassionate cities and communities are working on.  Let us know how you are paying attention to the world.
With much gratitude to each of you for your work.

And here's a specific word or two from the Charter for Compassion on Islamophobia that offers a link to the online version of the Guide:

Islamophobia Guide
At the end of 2015 the Charter set out to assemble a Guide Book on Islamophobia. The Guide Book will be updated again by mid-January and added to monthly. In this document you'll find a variety of resources—some are opportunities to reflect, others are more prescriptive. We recommend you browse the full document so you get a sense of what's available—contextual framing from Karen Armstrong, guidance for Muslims by Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, an overview of Islamophobia from Barbara Kaufmann, and links to resources by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others—many geared toward educators. Finally, you'll find a reflective article by Cambridge Muslim College dean, Abdal Hakim Murad and a list of resources for your further study.  You can access the Guide on the Charter’s website and a PDF link is available at the end of the Introduction section of the Guide

We will be announcing our efforts to create similar guidebooks in the next few months.  Please let us know where you think we should be putting our efforts and if you are willing to help prepare additional documents.

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