May 4, 2006

In this Issue:
  • Director Diana L. Eck’s Comments
  • Living 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... Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak
  • Voices of Liberal Islam in Indonesia
  • Screenings of “Divided We Fall” at Harvard
  • American Made Premieres on Television
  • Survey on the National Day of 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. 2006
  • Building the Interfaith Youth Movement: Beyond Dialogue to Action
  • The Armenian, CopticThe Coptic Church is the ancient and still vibrant church of Egypt, an autonomous Christian church which dates its origins to Mark the Evangelist in the first century. It continues to be led today by a patriarch called a Pope; its liturgical life is condu..., Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syriac, and Indian 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 ... in America
  • Religious Diversity News: Top Headlines
  • International News: Top Headlines

Director Diana L. Eck’s Comments

On April 21-22, I participated in “The MosqueMasjid (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... in the West” symposium sponsored by the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT (AKPIA). I was asked to present an introductory paper on “Muslims and 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... in America — Visible and Vulnerable.” For me, however, the most interesting part of the symposium was the opportunity to hear from several of the architects who have been involved in the design of Islamic institutions in North America: Gulzar Haider who designed the Bait-ul-Islam mosque in Toronto and the ISNAThe Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) was established in 1982 to serve as an umbrella organization for Sunni Muslim student and professional groups across the country. ISNA, with national headquarters in Plainfield, Indiana, sponsors national and re... headquarters in Plainfield, Indiana; DavidDavid was the King of Israel (c. 1000 BCE) credited with uniting the many tribes of Israel into a centralized kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital. David is said to have planned for the Temple in Jerusalem, which was subsequently built by his son Solomon... Donnellon who designed the new 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 America in Dearborn, Michigan; and Gregg Cribb, whose firm has designed the Islamic Society of Boston in Roxbury. If you are not familiar with Omar Khalidi’s work at AKPIA, be sure to look at the website for images of these mosques.

Islamic Architecture

Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak
[ Image: Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur, Diana Eck, and Sarah Eltantawi ]
On May 2, 2006, Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur and Sarah Eltantawi joined the Pluralism Project for a luncheon discussion. Abdul-Ghafur is the editor of LIVING ISLAM OUT LOUD: American Muslim Women Speak which features 15 American Muslim women dealing with the complexities of forging their own identities while contributing powerfully to public life. Sarah Eltantawi contributed to the book and is a cofounder of the Progressive Muslim Union of North America and from 2001-2004 served as Communications Director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington, DC. The speakers drew out a lively discussion among the large group convened to hear from and about Muslim women who “don’t remember a time when they weren’t both American and Muslim.” As Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur put it, “Now more than ever, the world needs to hear our voices.”
LIVING ISLAM OUT LOUD

Voices of Liberal Islam in Indonesia
[ Image: Rodney Yeoh introduces Ulil Abshar Abdallah ]
On April 17, 2006, the Pluralism Project sponsored a luncheon discussion titled “Voices of Liberal Islam in Indonesia” with two young and prominent Islamic thinkers, Ulil Abshar Abdallah and Sukhidi Mulyadi. Abdallah is the founder of Liberal Islam Network, a leading Islamic organization which promotes the notion of a liberal Islam in Indonesia. In 2002 Abdallah and members of the organization were given a fatwa death sentence by Javanese clerics due to their writings on pluralism. Abdallah is currently pursuing graduate studies at Boston University. Mulyadi is an affiliate of the Liberal Islam Network, and he is currently completing his MTS degree at Harvard Divinity School. Mulyadi has published extensively in Indonesian as well as international journals. Their presentations provoked lively discussion that touched upon topics like the role of shari’ah and the state, the role of Islam in Indonesia, and religious pluralism.
Liberal Islam Network

Screenings of “Divided We Fall” at Harvard

Student Affiliate Valarie KaurAll Sikh women who have joined the Khalsa assume the name Kaur, “Princess.” is currently working on the director’s cut of her documentary film, “Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath.” As writer and producer, Kaur sets out to tell the story of how she responded when a 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... man from her community was murdered in the aftermath of September 11. The film weaves expert analysis into a cross-country road trip that confronts the forces dividing Americans in times of crisis. The Pluralism Project will sponsor a director’s cut screening at Harvard University in Cambridge on Sunday, May 7 from 7-9 p.m. at the Harvard Film Archive, main auditorium ($8 regular admission, $6 students, Harvard faculty & staff, senior citizens). The film will also be highlighted on Saturday, May 6 at 2:30 p.m. in Room B04 as part of the Harvard ARTS FIRST Performance Fair.
[ Image: Arts First logo ]
Divided We Fall Website
ARTS FIRST Performance Fair Schedule
Harvard Film Archive Schedule

American Made Premieres on Television

This short film, directed by Sharat Raju, will premiere on public television in May. “When a Sikh American family’s car breaks down en route to the Grand Canyon, their only hope of escape is the remote desert highway and the occasional passing car. When car after car fails to stop, family members are forced to confront their notions of faith, conformity, tradition, and sacrifice — and question what it means to be ‘American’ today.”

American Made Broadcast Schedule

Survey on the National Day of Prayer 2006

The Pluralism Project is conducting research on National Day of Prayer events in May 2006. If you attend an event, please take a few minutes and fill out our online survey. Thank you!

National Day of Prayer 2006 Survey

Building the Interfaith Youth Movement: Beyond Dialogue to Action

This new book covers the growing numbers of young people of all backgrounds who are committed to interfaith understanding and cooperation. It includes concrete descriptions of various interfaith youth projects across the country — from an arts program in the South Bronx to the national Interfaith Youth Core based in Chicago. Additional chapters articulate the theory and methodology of this important new movement. Diana L. Eck wrote the preface, and GroveSacred groves have historically been among the most important sites for Pagan worship. In Druidism, trees are thought to have specific attributes that contribute meaning to the site where they grow. Contemporary Druid groups are often called “groves.”... Harris contributed the chapter on youth and the Pluralism Project. The table of contents and reviews are available online from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

http://www.rowmanlittlefield.com/

The Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syriac, and Indian Churches in America

Student Research Affiliate Michael Allen’s work on “The Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syriac, and Indian Churches in America” is now available online. His work provides an introduction to the six churches, as well as a set of research profiles from the Atlanta area. “Oriental” OrthodoxyIn general, orthodox means having a “correct opinion or outlook” and is a term used by people in many religions who claim authority for traditional views and forms of their religion. is one of the most ancient and yet least well-known communionsCommunion or holy communion—also called the Eucharist, or the Lord’s supper—is the central rite of the Christian community in which the faithful partake as a community of the sanctified bread and wine. By extension, communion is often used to refer ... within ChristianityChristianity is the religious tradition of Christians: those who confesses faith in Jesus Christ, follow the path Christ taught, and gather together in the community of the church.. Their heritage traces back to the first centuries of the Christian era and they continue to number millions of believers in their home countries; nonetheless, they are virtually unknown to many Americans, for whom Christianity means essentially Catholicism, ProtestantismProtestant is a term used for the range of reform movements that broke with the Roman Catholic Church during the period called the Reformation. There are many branches of Protestantism, including the Lutherans, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists..., and Eastern Orthodoxy. In America, these minority churches have grown remarkably over the past four decades. The Coptic 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 ..., for example, had no parishesA parish is the geographical neighborhood or area served by a church or pastor. before 1969; today it has over 180,000 members.

Orthodox Christianity: The Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syriac, and Indian Churches in America

Religious Diversity News: Top Headlines

Religious Leaders Raise Their Voices in the Immigration Debates
A diverse group of religious leaders gathered in Washington DC to raise their voices alongside thousands of other demonstrators for immigrant rights. Similar gatherings took place in cities across the country.

Santa Clara Holocaust Remembrance Event Includes Other Faiths
HolocaustHolocaust (from Greek, entire burnt offering) refers in modern times to the Nazi German campaign to exterminate the Jewish people during the 1930s and 1940s with death camps and gas chambers. Six million Jews died in this Holocaust. In Hebrew, the Holocau... Remembrance Day was commemorated in Santa Clara County for the first time in its ten-year history by people of a wide variety of ethnicities and faiths attempting to change the perception that the Holocaust is a Jewish issue.

Groundbreaking Held for New Jain Center
A Jain community in Southern California recently broke ground for a new spiritual center, cultural center, and a renovated education complex, which they hope will be completed by October 2007.

LA Mayor Sports Turban to Sikh Vaisakhi Celebration, Sikhs Donate to Food Bank
In celebration of the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi, 15,000 SikhsSikhs 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..., friends, and elected state and local officials gathered at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Rochester Second-Generation Hindus are at Home in Two Cultures
As the Indian population in Rochester grows, second-generation Hindu teenagers find themselves at a crossroads of Indian and American cultures. Oftentimes bridging the divide for older generations, these youngsters seem at home in what sometimes seems like two separate worlds.

International News: Top Headlines

Four Canadian Cities to Launch Muslim Newspaper
The Muslim Free Press was officially launched on Saturday, April 15, 2006. The paper will be distributed in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver, with the aim of increasing understanding about Islam amongst the general Canadian population. The editorial board of the paper includes Christian and Hindu members.

Renewed Faith Grows in Post-Communist China
Many Chinese people are seeking a return to religious roots after years under atheistMultivalent 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 ... Marxist ideology. Earlier this month, China’s top religious official, Ye Xiaowen, said that historically, BuddhismBuddhism is a multi-hued tradition of life, thought, and practice that has developed from the teaching and practice of Siddhartha Gautama (6th century BCE) who came to be called the Buddha, the awakened one. The three major streams of the tradition—Ther... has played a great role in “promoting a harmonious society” in China.

Hindu American Foundation Applauds Dalits Building Temple in Orissa, India
The Hindu American Foundation has issued a statement in support of a group of dalits who are building their own templeA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... in Orissa, India, after being denied entry into the local village temple by Hindus of other castesCaste comes from a Portuguese word “casta” which was used by early traders to describe India’s complex class structure of varnas. The four major inherited varnas are the Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (kings, warriors), vaishyas (merchants), and shu....

Shia Muslims Plan to Build Sikh Shrine in Basra, Iraq
A group of ShiaThe Shi’at ‘Ali (the party of ‘Ali, for which Shi’ah is an abbreviation and from which the adjective Shi’i comes) believed that the Prophet Muhammad designated his son-in-law ‘Ali and his descendants to be leader (Imam) of the ummah after his ... Muslims in India have begun a campaign to build a Sikh shrine in Basra, Iraq as a gesture of thanks to the Sikh community for turning over the shrine of the eighth imamImam means “leader,” particularly the person who leads the daily ritual prayer or, more broadly, to the one who serves as a leader of the community because of his religious learning. In Shi’i Islam, it refers to one of a succession of direct descend... at Samana, India to the Shia Muslim community.