Annual Dialogue of the Interfaith Center of USA

On July 12, 2017, IRFWP director Frank Kaufmann attended the Annual Dialogue of the Interfaith Center of USA.

The event was convened and moderated by Guruji Dileepkumar Thankappan, and addressed with a keynote by Allama Sayed Arshad Madani

Dr. Kaufmann offered brief words on interfaith, offered prayers for peace, and received certificate of recognition, (as did several at the gathering)


Further images from the event are here

Caregivers Need Spiritual Support Too

A gentle and helpful article from guest contributor Sally Perkins

Looking after an elderly loved one is without any doubt a labor of love. While the love aspect goes without saying, it is all too easy to fail to give the word “labor” enough attention. Being a carer is physically hard work and spiritually draining, particularly if you are witnessing the mental or physical deterioration of a loved one.

As a caregiver, you are neither being fair on yourself nor on the person to whom you are providing care if you fail to look after your own spiritual wellbeing. Many carers find themselves struggling to find the time to pray, attend their place of worship and call on the other support aspects of their faith, right at a time when they need it most.

With this in mind, it is essential to make use of the help and resources that are available. While the wish to take full responsibility  for your loved one is understandable, the fact is that more seniors enter long term care because of caregiver burnout than because of their own deteriorating condition.

It is therefore essential to find the right balance between caring for your loved one and taking the time to maintain your faith through active prayer, social interaction and other activities, to keep your own batteries fully charged.

Avoiding burnout

So how can you avoid becoming another statistic? Here are some tips:

  • Find out what services are available in your local area to provide the help you need.
  • Make a habit of taking time for your spiritual wellbeing, through prayer, music or fellowship. Attend your place of worship as usual, no excuses!
  • Listen to other family members and accept their help and support. They  offer it because they want to give it, do not shut them out.
  • Have a regular schedule, particularly when it comes to mealtimes – that means you, not just your loved one!
  • Plan ahead, and include enjoyable pastimes in your schedule.
  • Monitor your own health and take regular exercise, even if it is just a walk round the block.
  • Focus on the positives. There will always be times of adversity, but by meeting the challenges head on and with a smile, you and your loved ones will come out with strength and grace.
  • See things from the other side. How would you feel if someone was caring for you? Chances are, you would be horrified if you thought your carer’s spiritual health was suffering.

Faith and courage

Taking care of an elderly family member with deteriorating health can be one of the most painful and difficult challenges, yet is is something all of us face at one time or another. This is a time when your faith and spirituality  is more important than ever. Meet the challenge with faith and courage, to make sure those final years are filled with memories that everyone can treasure.

Religious scholars issue unanimous fatwa declaring suicide attacks Haram

The News International

Religious scholars issue unanimous fatwa declaring suicide attacks Haram

ISLAMABAD: Religious scholars from all schools of thought on Saturday issued a *fatwa (religious decree) that declared suicide attacks, armed insurgency against a state and use of force in the name of imposing Shariah as ‘Haram’ or forbidden in Islam.

The fatwa carrying signatures of 31 noted scholars was released at a seminar “’Reconstruction of Pakistani society in the light of ‘Mithaq-e-Madina’ (Charter of Madina) and announcement of ‘Paigham-e-Pakistan’ (Message of Pakistan). The event was organised by the Islamic Research Institute of the International Islamic University Islamabad.

Read the entire article here 

*A fatwa is a ruling on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized authority. (ed)

Toronto to Host the 7th Parliament of the World’s Religions

This sketch of the then new Art Institute of Chicago was drawn in 1893, the same year it was used as the site for the first World Parliament of Religions. – Photo: Wikimedia

Toronto has been chosen as the host city of the 7th Parliament of the World’s Religions, to be convened in November 1-7, 2018.

the 2018 Parliament, which will last for seven days and comprise more than 500 programs, workshops, and dialogues, alongside music, dance, art and photography exhibitions, and related events, presented by the world’s religious communities and cultural institutions.

Read the entire announcement here

Al-Azhar committee to draft law on countering hatred, violence committed in the name of religion

Egypt Independent

Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb decided to form a committee to draft a law on countering hatred and violence committed in the name of religion to be headed by Mohamed abdel Salam, al-Azhar’s legislative and legal advisor.

Abdel Salam said several meetings will be held to propose the initial ideas on Tayyeb, who ordered intensive work over the coming few days to draft the law which will be reviewed by Parliament.

In remarks on Sunday, Abdel Salam added that the bill aims to criminalize the incitment of hatred and forms of violence practiced in the name of religion, which comes within al-Azhar’s efforts to fight extremism and spread enlightened discourse and a culture of tolerance among people.

He added that legal systems usually trickle down into a society’s culture a while after application.

Muslims and Jews Break Bread, and Build Bonds

New York Times

This seems premature to warrant a major New York Times article that consists of nothing more than two dinners, and “my hope is that.” But there it is. More about things that appeal to the New York Times, than about significant interfaith progress.

That said, the wisdom of quiet,, intimate, enduring trans-religious relations cannot be underestimated, and further the hope or dream of a “constellation of homes” investing in these challenges is an admirable aspiration.

With two rounds of dinners so far, the project is one of many interfaith efforts going on in the New York area and nationally to promote Jewish-Muslim relations. But unlike a large event at a synagogue or mosque, these meals distinguish themselves by their intimacy, with no more than six guests in a Muslim or Jewish home. Guests can linger over dessert and tea as they move from easy conversations to more sensitive themes.

“My hope was if you were to look at New York City from above, there would be a constellation of homes where these dinners were all happening, and like a secret sense of unity between people who are all taking part,” Ms. Firestone said.

Read the entire feature here

A Catholic World Fades Over a Lifetime

This first appeared May 5, 2017 in the Wall Street Journal. No hyper-link is provided due to WSJ’s pay wall

Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The IRFWP mission to create harmonious relations among religions and religious believers involves posting news of interfaith activity and developments. Part of interfaith however also involves growing in one’s understanding of “other” religions (not only my own), and so IRFWP posts these sorts of informational and educational pieces as well. 

Here is an elegant and lilting piece that captures a profound reality in contemporary North American Catholicism [ed]

Early last month I attended my Uncle Joe’s funeral Mass at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary—the same Morristown, N.J., Catholic church in which he had been baptized 89 years earlier. In an ancient tradition meant to recall baptism, his casket was covered with a white linen pall, blessed with holy water by a priest, and positioned in the sanctuary before the Paschal candle. Decorated with the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Alpha and Omega, the candle denotes our fundamental belief in the resurrection of the body made possible by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

The mourners that day were few. Uncle Joe had simply outlived a lot of people. Of the 50 or so friends and family assembled to pray for the repose of his soul, only a handful seemed familiar with the liturgy. A regular Sunday Mass-goer couldn’t help but notice: Almost no one knew what to say and when to say it, or what to do and when to do it.
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