September 9, 2005

Pluralism Project Newsletter
September 9, 2005

In this Issue:
• Indonesia: Pluralism and the Fatwa Against Pluralism by Diana L. Eck
• After Hurricane Katrina
• Portland Muslim History Project
• Discrimination and National Security Initiative
• Small Grants to Foster Discussion
• Religion in the Contemporary South
• Essays on Hinduism“Hindu” was originally a word given by the Greeks, then the Persians, to the land and peoples beyond the Indus or “Sindhu” River. The term “Hinduism” came into common use only in the 19th century to describe a complex and dynamic pattern of li... in America

Indonesia: Pluralism and the Fatwa Against Pluralism by Diana L. Eck

[ Image: Azyumardi Azra, Rector of the State Islamic University, at the Jakarta book launch ]

I spent ten days in late August in Indonesia at the invitation of the U.S. State Department, giving lectures and participating in public forums in connection with the translation of A New Religious America into Indonesian (Amerika Baru Yang Religius, published by Pustaka Sinar Harapan). My visit came at a time of intense public discussion of pluralism in Indonesia and as Director of the Pluralism Project it was a wonderful opportunity both to participate in the discussion and to learn about the shape of these issues in another multireligious democracy.

[ Image: Diana and students in Padang ]

In late July, the UlamaThe ‘ulama are literally “the learned ones” or “scholars.” They are recognized scholarly authorities in Islamic law and in interpreting the Qur’an and Sunnah. In Sunni Islam, the consensus of the ‘ulama is considered by many to be final and ... Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia, MUI) issued a fatwa denouncing pluralism, secularismMultivalent terms that often are used to describe people (or their worldview) who reject the practices, dogma, and creeds of established religious traditions. Some people, on the other hand, may identify as Humanist and also consider this either a belief ..., liberal forms of IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to..., along with interfaith marriage and interfaith prayerPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not.. Yet in mid-August, Indonesia celebrated sixty years of independence as what many would call a pluralist, multireligious, multicultural state. While Indonesia is often referred to as the world’s most populous Muslim nation, it is not a Muslim state. It is, rather, a state based on the Panchasila -the basic principles or values of belief in GodGod is a term used to refer to the Divine, the Supreme being, Transcendent deity, or Ultimate reality., common humanity, the Indonesian nation, democracy, and social justice. Ten days in Indonesia gave me another glimpse of the many challenges of a multireligious democracy.

Indonesia: Pluralism and the Fatwa Against Pluralism

Notes for Talks and Discussions in Indonesia, August 2005

The photographs are of Azyumardi Azra, Rector of the State Islamic University, at the Jakarta book launch, and of Diana and students in Padang.

After Hurricane Katrina

In our online Religious Diversity News, we are documenting the many faith traditions that are responding to the devastation following Hurricane Katrina. Many Christian churchesThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ..., Buddhist and Hindu templesA Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic ..., Jewish synagoguesSynagogue, shul in Yiddish, is the most widely used term for a Jewish house of worship. Meaning a “place of gathering,” it is the central institution of Jewish communal life. The structure and role of synagogues has changed through the centuries, but ..., Muslim mosquesMasjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit... and SikhSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... gurdwarasThe gurdwara, “the gateway of the Guru,” is the place for community gathering and worship in the Sikh tradition. The Guru is the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikh tradition. Each center will include a chamber where the Adi Granth is kept, a... suffered great damage in the storm, and members of all faith traditions are rallying to raise funds and provide services in the aftermath. From a Hindu relief organization to Catholic Charities and the National BaptistThe Baptist tradition includes a variety of Christian churches which trace their beginnings to the Anabaptist reform movement that rejected infant baptism insisting on the importance of baptizing only those who are able to profess the faith as believers. Convention of America, from the massive interfaith “Operation Compassion” to a $10 million dollar pledge from national Muslim groups, from hot meals provided by the Sikh community to disaster relief teams from the Native AmericanEach of the many Native American nations has its own distinctive life-ways, although there are some widely-shared characteristics. most Native life-ways are primarily transmitted through oral traditions; they are oriented toward living in relation to a sp... ChurchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ..., people of many faiths (as well as people of no faith) are responding to the massive need in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Religious Diversity News: After Hurricane Katrina

Portland Muslim History Project

[ Image: Masjed as-Sabr, The Islamic CenterAn Islamic center will typically include a mosque, school, and area for social and cultural activities. When a new Islamic center is being organized in the United States, attention is paid to community needs, including a weekend or full-time school, indic... of Portland ]

Pluralism Project Affiliate Kambiz GhaneaBassiri is working with student researchers to document and study the American Muslim community in Portland, Oregon. A substantive set of research reports and center profiles is now available online. This photograph is of the Masjed as-Sabr, The Islamic Center of Portland.

Discrimination and National Security Initiative

The Pluralism Project is pleased to announce the new Discrimination and National Security Initiative. This research initiative, directed by Valarie KaurAll Sikh women who have joined the Khalsa assume the name Kaur, “Princess.”, a graduate student and film maker, and Dawinder (“Dave”) Sidhu, a civil rights attorney, has two goals: (1) to chronicle the mistreatment of minority communities during times of national crisis in an informational repository, and (2) to present the human consequences of this mistreatment from the perspective of these communities.

Small Grants to Foster Discussion

Religions for Peace- USA is working with The People Speak to make mini-grants available to local interfaith organizations to host discussions this fall. Topics may include 1) Poverty, Hunger, and Health; 2) War and Conflict; 3) WMDs and Terrorism; and 4) Environment. The grants will range from $50- $500 and the application process is streamlined. Application materials are linked through their website.

The full range of The People Speak dialogue events is available online and searchable by city, state, topic, and date.

Religion in the Contemporary South

Pluralism Project Affiliate Dr. Corrie Norman has co-edited the book, Religion in the Contemporary South: Changes, Continuities, and Contexts. “Religion has always been crucial to the cultural identity of the South. The field of southern religious studies is quite young, however, and most scholarship has focused on the kinds of evangelicalThe Greek word euangelion means “good news” and an evangelist is one who proclaims and shares the good news of Christ. Evangelism is the preaching and witnessing to that good news. Evangelicals are Christians who emphasize the personal experience of G... fundamentalist activity for which the phrase ‘BibleThe Greek term biblia means the “books.” Bible is used in both the Jewish and Christian traditions to refer to the book which gathers together their sacred writings. The Hebrew Bible includes the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings—a collection re... Belt’ was coined. Religion in the Contemporary South is the first book to fully address the emerging religious pluralism in the South today. ”

Essays on Hinduism in America

We’ve placed a set of essays on Hinduism in the American context on our website. These essays are a small part of the CD-ROM On Common Ground: World Religions in America, used with permission from Columbia University Press.