As read in last weeks Interfaith Blog, we will be exploring the different perspectives of each Monotheistic faith has to the Holy Land, Palestine. The three monotheistic faiths claim to the same area has caused a lot of tension over many years because all three faiths claim the Holy Land as theirs. This week I will explain briefly Islam’s claim to the Holy Land. Islam is the newest of the three monotheistic faiths. Islam was founded by the Prophet Mohammad in (c. A.D. 570–632) in the Holy land. When founding Islam, Mohammad incorporated the head figures of the Jewish and Christian religion as Prophets in Islam i.e. Jesus, Abraham, by Islamizing these figures the Holy Land also gained importance for Muslims. The Qur’an also mentions the Holy Land and Blessed Land multiple times. Jerusalem was originally the first direction for the call to prayer. Mohammad then changed it to the Kaaba in Mecca due to what Muslims believe was a revelation from the Angel Gabriel. The Dome of the Rock, which is the oldest Muslim monument still intact, is also located in Jerusalem. This is the spot where Muslims believe Gabriel took Muhammad ascended through the Seven Heavens. An important Mosque the al-Aqsa mosque, or the Furthest Mosque, built by ‘Abd al-Malik’s son, al-Walid I (completed ca. 705 ce). After Muhammad Islam grew rapidly and spread through out the Middle East. Until 1948, when the Jews returned to Jerusalem, Islamic Arabs had control over the area both politically and religiously.
Muslims, Christians, and Jews refer to the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea as the Holy Land. Why is it that this tiny piece of land has been the motive for so many conflicts and disputes between nations and religions among history? Even though we all are aware of the conflict, we don’t know what lies behind this obsession with the Holy Land. Because we believe the cause of the conflict often times remains in the dark, we are starting our series on the significance of the Holy Land for each of our religions of focus.
So, what is the Jews’ claim?
The Tanakh (the Bible) does not explicitly call this stretch of land “the Holy Land.” However, according to the Jewish sacred texts, this is the land given to the Israelites by God,. Most of the narratives in the Bible take place in the area, and therefore, Jews feel attached to the land where God was revealed and established His covenant with the Israelites. Many Bible promises refer to the return to Zion (Jerusalem) once the period of oppression is over. This is arguably a promise of permanent right to the “Holy Land,” the land to which the sons of Israel will inevitably return.
The highest point in Israelite history, as recorded in the Bible, happened during the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon (the only kings to rule over a unified kingdom; afterwards, Israel was split into a northern and southern kingdom.) This land is, therefore, attached to Israel’s splendor, since Jerusalem was the city where Solomon built the first temple dedicated to the One God (Yahweh). For this reason, the city has been the spiritual focus of Judaism.
In the Hebrew Bible, Jerusalem and the Land of Israel are considered inseparable parts of a divine gift, part of several covenants. In other words, the Jews feel entitled the land because their most sacred text assures them that this land is God’s gift to them, and therefore they are the rightful owners of this piece of land.
I hope this was helpful to you! If you enjoyed this blog, do not miss next week’s blog on Islam’s claim to the Holy Land.
Most Christians embrace the trinity. The Latin word “trinitas” means three in one or the number three. Many sects of Christianity believe that the Bible gives examples of the trinity’s actuality, even though it is not specifically mentioned. Tertullian (c.155-230) was the first person to use the word “Trinity” to describe God as 3 in 1. The Athanasian Creed is a traditional Christian concept of the Trinity.
So… Is the trinity a cover-up for a polytheistic faith, or is Christianity actually a monotheistic faith?
Mormons are thought of as not accepting the trinity, but Mormons recognize each of the three parts of the trinity. In the Article of Faith, a Mormon Scripture, it explains that Mormons “believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” They believe in God, the Son (Christ), and the Holy Ghost as three separate individual beings or personages, but not as three individual gods or three personages belonging to God. Although Jesus is referred to as Lord, he is their redeemer who saved them from sin and death, and is a prophet of God’s work. They believe that Jesus could heal because of God’s will, not that he was a God. The Non-Trinitarian sect rejects the trinity and disagrees with the idea that there are three distinct beings, which are unified to make up God. They believe in one God, the Father. Jehovah Witnesses and Unitarians also don’t believe that God is part of a trinity.
While there are Christian faiths that don’t agree with the trinity, most Christian faiths believe that the trinity is essential and is prominent in understanding God. Roman Catholics believe in the trinity. They see Jesus as the Son of God, having full divine and human power. It is about following Jesus’ way and word. They see God, Word, and Holy Ghost as one. Eastern Orthodox Christians also follow the ideas of the trinity. Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternal, but that the Father came first, and the other two proceeded after. Most people believe that Protestants churches believe in the trinity, but different Protestant groups have different views of the trinity.
In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 6:4, the Bible explains that there is only one God alone. This idea of God is transformed later in the New Testament, in Matthew and 2 Colossians, where God is referred with the additions of, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It was the Council of Nicaea where the doctrine of the Church decided Jesus to officially be God. While most churches believe in the trinity, they are monotheistic. The trinity is having three different parts of God come together as God, not 3 different gods. Churches do not pray to three gods, but pray to God with recognition of the trinity.
The Fellows Campus Events Committee’ at Principia College organized a fantastic discussion last week on the topic of the Palestinian bid for statehood. The discussion was very informative and it opened my eyes to the essential points of Palestine’s proposal to the United Nations (UN). It is my hope that by touching on a few of these key topics, readers will learn something new too.
The last I had heard about Palestine’s plan to request for statehood from the UN, I had understood that the two political factions, Hamas and Fatah, had put aside their differences for the moment and decided to work together for the greater good of their nation. However, the news being reported today tells a different story. The Hamas faction that controls the Gaza Strip banned any sort of celebration when the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas made his proposal to the UN. Hamas has made it clear that the recognition of a two-state solution obstructs their primal goal: to establish a Palestinian state based on the nations original boarders which encompasses all of Israel (The Daily Star). Therefore, to recognize Israel as a neighboring state would be to admit defeat. They claim that the only option moving forward is to continue violent resistance.
Even though the proposal of statehood might be a step forward, many argue that Palestine is too divided to be recognized as a state. The Palestinian Authority has significantly improved their institutions, though the divide between the political parties creates too shaky of a foundation for a stable state to reside upon. Some Palestinians argue that their nation still does not meet the necessary criteria for statehood. Palestine does not even have a national reconciliation which provides an arena for negotiations and interaction with the United Nations (Christian Science Monitor). The majority of the western world agrees that Hamas’s solution of violence is not the right answer but a politically unstable state is not the right course of action either.
As a result of increasing international pressure and conflicting allegiances, the United States began to take a back seat on this controversial matter. The US has always supported Israel and their position against Palestine’s bid. However, questions are being asked why the US supports the Arab Spring and not Palestine’s acquisition of statehood. Thought it may seem that the US is picking favorites, this may not be the case. Due to Jewish communities residing in Palestine and the instability of the Palestinian nation, the US has ample cause for denying Palestine’s request. Palestine began to set up “neighborhood watch patrols” along the edges of Jewish settlements in the west bank in order to monitor attacks toward Palestinians which have been accelerating over the past few months (Christian Science Monitor). In order to solve this dilemma, Israel and Palestine would have to work out peace among themselves. However, there is no agreement for peace in sight.
The US is the only nation that has sufficient influence to help create lasting harmony between the two nations. This is why the US’s decision to step back is the wrong one. Without their positive influence, tensions will most likely continue to amount.
There are so many misconceptions about Turbans I hope to quickly eradicate all of them in this blog.
So please read on if …
1. You have ever thought that turbans are worn solely by men.
2. You think only people practicing Islam wear turbans.
3. Or there are too many different types of turbans and religions to keep track!
Turbans can be worn by both men and women alike, but more often men are seen wearing them. In general turbans are a natural response to extremely hot and dusty weather conditions found in many parts of the world and should not be associated with any one particular religion or ethnicity. There are many different types of turbans and are very diverse. Turbans can be associated with different geographical areas, religions, caste and tribes. Here are a few examples…
Afghanistan- Turbans from Afghanistan are also known as Lungee. There are many types of turbans worn by different tribes and political groups. Some turbans are long or two are worn together during the reign of the Taliban it was mandatory that all students wear turbans to school. Some men don’t even wear turbans but distinct hats.
Islam- Many people of the Islamic religion wear turbans but there is no exact requirement. Usually geographic area or social status determines what kind of turban they wear. In the Shi’a Islam they often wear a white cap with a black head wrap. This usually indicates that they have status as a decedent of Muhammad. Many times a black turban indicates a person who is educated.
Sudan- Long white headdress are often worn by Muslims in Sudan. These turbans indicate high social standing.
Kurds- A Kurdish turban also known as a Jamadani is worn by different tribes for instance the Barzani tribe wears a red turban.
Iran- Leaders in this country are Shi’a Muslims and wear black or white turbans in a flat circular style.
India- Men in India can wear turbans that are elaborate to signify their caste, religion or high social status.
Sikhism- In the Sikh religion both men and women can wear turbans but it is mandatory if you are a part of the Khalsa order. A Sikh turban is also known as Dastar or pagri, Khalsa Sikhs wear this because they do not cut their hair due to respect for God and His creation.
The Kaffieyh- Is not exactly a turban but a head cloth. It is worn in Palestine, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but is typically worn by Arab men. Yasser Arafat has made this turban popular since the 1960s. These scarves have also become popular in the United States.
There are many different types of turbans, head scarves and they cannot be generalized on one specific race, ethnicity or religious group. Terrorism or racial profiling cannot occur based on the turban because turbans are popular all over the world for a variety of reasons!
It’s easy to be bogged down after reading the news. Even scanning the latest headlines from any major news source—revealing cases of famine, conflict, corruption, and injustice—is enough to deeply depress any compassionate individual. But what can be done about it? News reports would say that the world’s problems are too big, too scary, too overwhelming. These stories are told and retold around the world, and despite what I watch in Hollywood films, the bad guy appears to be winning in real life. So, you might as well bury your head in the sand and pretend that nothing’s wrong, right?
I’d rather not, so I have a more constructive question to offer: what if there was a different model for telling the news? Instead of getting suckered into the feelings of helplessness and fear that common news stories invoke, what if we felt better about the world after reading the news? What if the news inspired us to do better, to be better people in our daily lives? Is that even possible?
I think so! And what’s encouraging to me is evidence that this is already happening. When I sit down to be informed about what’s going on in the world, my favorite place to start is with a special section of The Christian Science Monitor, titled “People Making a Difference.” Every week, the Monitor profiles an individual or non-profit organization dedicated to serving and blessing humanity. These are not celebrities, but average citizens who are doing extraordinary work in their local communities.
In respect to the Middle East, I recently read a Monitor article called, “After 9/11: A rabbi, pastor, and imam join hands to oppose extremism.” These three religious leaders, known as the “Interfaith Amigos” from Seattle, came together for the purpose of understanding and appreciating one another. Shortly after 9/11, they held meetings on a regular basis and found that many of their notions about Christianity, Judaism, and Islam were simply misconceptions. Each leader has gained a new respect for the other faiths, building trust that helps the collective religious community move beyond the pain of such a devastating event. (Read the full story.)
It’s important to note that this is not an isolated event. Interfaith dialogues have been initiated across the United States and are proving to change the thought of hatred and resentment to one that is hopeful of a peacefully coexistent future.
Another change agent, Mahmoud Jabari, is a 21-year-old Palestinian, who learned to see both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict after attending a summer camp in Maine called Seeds of Peace. He is now committed to eliminating the vicious cycle of hatred between the two ethnic groups by working with youth to develop empathy for “the enemy.” (Learn more)
Events like these are happening across the globe whether we hear about them or not. TheChristian Science Monitor is taking a refreshing stand by highlighting the good through these articles. It’s clear that the Monitor isn’t going to run out of philanthropists to write about either. It seems obvious, since we don’t often run into terrorists and villains in our daily lives, that these people comprise a mere minority of the population. Most people are, in fact, honest, trustworthy, and want to help improve the world. In this sense, the happy Hollywood ending is not totally unusual. Of course, we can’t deny that there are serious problems that need to be solved. But the news doesn’t have to make us miserable. We can choose how we respond, whether for better or for worse. I don’t think that looking for this kind of “good” news is just blind optimism or wishful thinking. I believe it is powerfully transforming. The more good that we recognize, the more good that we can expect to experience.
So, now my question for you is this: what kind of news will you be reporting? I hope you’ll join me in contributing to the pool of thought that blesses those around you by telling them the good stories from your day. It’s a small, easy step we can all take to have a big, worldwide impact.
Hear Euphrates’ founder Janessa Gans Wilder talk about how the Euphrates Summit: Our World Beyond 9/11, taking place October 27th and 28th in Elsah, IL at Principia College, will engage the moderate middle ground on Middle East issues.
Get a handle on the historical, geographical, and political context necessary to discern the key trends and developments unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa this year, popularly referred to as the Arab Spring.
This class will focus on the uprisings in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and especially Egypt—the Arab world’s most populous country and a key bellwether for the outcome of revolutions elsewhere in the region.
How could something like this happen? What were its true motivating causes? Get up to date on the current changes and understand where this is likely to lead.
Christa Case Bryant is currently Middle East editor at The Christian Science Monitor. Her extensive travel and reporting from different parts of the world supplements her degree in global perspectives from Principia College. During the recent events of the Arab Spring, she has worked daily with Monitor correspondents on the front lines.
While most learning occurs independently, this class meets online for one hour once a week on Thursday evenings at 9:00 p.m. eastern time (6:00 p.m. Pacific time).
This past week, on September 29th and 30th, Jews all around the world celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the New Year according to the Jewish calendar. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, “Head of the Year.” This is the first of the High Holy Days, and is celebrated on the first and second days of the month of Tishrei. This holiday commemorates the creation of Adam and Eve (the birthday of mankind) and is therefore a special day to remember the special relationship between God and mankind. This means that, according to tradition, five days earlier was the day of the creation of the universe (on the 25th of the month of Elul).
For Jews, RoshHashanah also marks the Day of Judgment, and is therefore a time of reflection over human experience, and penitence. There are ten days –called the ten days of repentance—between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the day when the verdict of God’s judgment is finalized. A very important part of this tradition is making amends for past sins, and seeking forgiveness from people who might have been wronged by one’s actions.
A significant symbol of the holiday is the shofar, a wind instrument often made out of a ram or a goat’s horns. The instrument is such an important symbol of the holiday that another name for Rosh Hashanah is Yom Teruah, or “day of the shofar blast” in Hebrew. The sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah is meant to wake up soul and turn its attention to the important task of repentance and reflection. The sounds of the shofar are also associated with the breath of life, which God gave to man on the day when Adam was created. The use of the shofar is rooted on many stories from the Torah, such as the capture of Jericho, when the city walls crumbled at the sound of the trumpet.