Monday, January 18, 2010

Muslim Sacred Places & Sacred Spaces

On Sunday, January 17, 2010, I was invited by Rev. Murdo Marple at Knox Presbyterian Church to share with the congregation, as part of the First Hour program, a presentation on Muslim sacred places from around the world and sacred spaces in Calgary.

After the presentation, my wife Nimira and I were invited to attend the service. During the service Rev. Marple invited me to say a few words. I took this opportunity to express my gratitude to Canada and the pluralistic values embraced by its citizens that enables me, a Muslim, to speak at a church service.

At the end of the service we all sang the following touching hymn:

In Haiti, There is Anguish
("Beneath the Cross of Jesus")

In Haiti, there is anguish that seems too much to bear;
A land so used to sorrow now knows even more despair.
From city streets, the cries of grief rise up to hills above;
In all the sorrow, pain and death, where are you, God of love?

A woman sifts through rubble, a man has lost his home,
A hungry, orphaned toddler sobs, for she is now alone.
Where are you, Lord, when thousands die-the rich, the poorest poor?
Were you the very first to cry for all that is no more?

O God, you love your children; you hear each lifted prayer!
May all who suffer in that land know you are present there.
In moments of compassion shown, in simple acts of grace,
May those in pain find healing balm, and know your love's embrace.

Where are you in the anguish? Lord, may we hear anew
That anywhere your world cries out, you're there-- and suffering, too.
And may we see, in others' pain, the cross we're called to bear;
Send out your church in Jesus' name to pray, to serve, to share.

Tune: Frederick Charles Maker, 1881
Text: Copyright © 2010 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Permission is given for use by those who support Church World Service or Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Upcoming Inter-Faith Network of Calgary meeting at Calgary Buddhist Temple

The next meeting of the Inter-Faith Network of Calgary (IFNC) will be hosted by Calgary Buddhist Church (207 6th St. NE) on Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.

Our theme for this year is: 'How is your faith tradition responding to the challenges of life in 21st century Calgary?'

Sensei James Martin will be speaking on the topic: Dynamics of Faith in Religion.

IFNC is an informal and grassroots group of Calgarians, belonging to several faith traditions, who have come together to promote goodwill and mutual understanding.
We believe that this objective is best achieved by interaction and dialogue among the followers of different faiths. This belief is based on our conviction that while the general tendency is to highlight the differences among different faiths, a deeper study would reveal that we have more in common than is generally believed.

We hope that through these gatherings, we will encourage mutual respect and peace in our community.

We meet once a month to discuss questions related to our personal spirituality and religious practice.

The venues of the gatherings rotate among the places of worship.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pray for the Baha'is

Dear friends and colleagues in faith,

Please refer to the press release below. In response, the Baha'is in Calgary have organized a number of prayer gatherings in the city, starting Sunday afternoon.

You are encouraged to join in prayer, on your own, with your congregation, or by participating in a prayer gathering at 7:30pm Monday evening, January 11 2010. This time of prayer will be in a home. For exact location and directions, or for more information, please contact Romina (details below).

With sincerest thanks,

Glen Little
Assistant Secretary
Calgary Baha'i Assembly
Press Release:

False Allegations Against Baha'is as Trial of Seven Baha'i Leaders Looms in Iran

Calgary, January 10th, 2010 - Members of the Baha'i community of Calgary are organizing prayer gatherings as the trial of the seven Baha'i leaders in Iran is set to take place on Tuesday January 12th, 2010. The Baha'i Faith is the largest religious minority group in Iran and has been under growing pressure over the years through systematic persecution and government lead harassment.

The charges against the Baha'i leaders are believed to carry a death sentence and in advance of the trials the Iranian government has been falsely accusing Baha'is on state run media of involvement in recent demonstrations and several other Baha'is have been taken into custody on false allegations.

The Baha'i International Community today categorically rejected new allegations by the Iranian government. "Without doubt, these are baseless fabrications devised by the government to further create an atmosphere of prejudice and hatred against the Iranian Baha'i community. For more than a century Baha'is have suffered all manner of persecution in Iran and have not resorted to armed violence, and everyone knows this. Unfortunately, the Iranian government is once again resorting to outright falsehoods to justify its nefarious intentions against the Baha'i community. It should know that these lies will have no credibility whatsoever", said Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community's representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

The Canadian government made a strong statement this week expressing its concern. The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs stated:

“Canada remains deeply concerned by Iran’s ongoing arbitrary detention of seven Bahá’i community leaders. It is deplorable that these individuals were detained on the sole basis of their faith and have been denied a fair trial."

“Furthermore, Iranian officials have recently made statements linking the seven to political unrest. These are unfair accusations, and cause concern for the safety and well being of the seven Bahá’is and of all those unjustly detained in Iran. The Iranian government’s unrelenting targeting of the Bahá’i and other religious and ethnic minorities, particularly after the country’s June 12 presidential elections, is a troubling trend."

Meanwhile hundreds of Baha'is in Calgary continue to focus their prayers and thoughts on their fellow believers in Iran and hope for the safety of those wrongly imprisoned members of their worldwide community.

Link to Canada's recent statement can be found here.

Link to direct reports and updates by the Baha'i community can be found here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

University of Alberta's Calgary Centre Lecture - The Contemporary Muslim World and the West: Dialogue or Clash?

The Contemporary Muslim World and the West: Dialogue or Clash?
Speaker: Dr. Ibrahim Abu-Rabi, Chair in Islamic Studies, University of Alberta

Date: Thursday, January 21 2010
Location: University of Alberta Calgary Centre (120-333 5th Avenue SW)

Opening Reception: 4:30-5:15 pm
Lecture and Q&A: 5:15-6:30 pm
Closing Reception: 6:30-7:00 pm

The contemporary Muslim world is made up of over a billion people in several cultural zones around the world. The Islamic faith is diverse and only vaguely understood in many parts of the West. Join Dr. Abu-Rabi as he uncovers the complexities of the Islamic faith around the world today and provides rare insight into interfaith and intercultural understanding.

Dr. Ibrahim Abu-Rabi holds the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities Chair in Islamic Studies at the University of Alberta, the first academic research Chair of its kind in Canada. He is also the editor of the well-known journal The Muslim World and the author of 19 books on contemporary Islam.

To attend, please RSVP by January 15, 2010:
p. 403-718-6375

For more information on Professor Abu-Rabi, please visit:

For more information on the ECSM Chair in Islamic Studies, please visit: