As our Holidays & Festivals columnist Stephanie Fenton reports, 2021 is the second straight year with pandemic-required limitations on the worldwide Muslim pilgrimage known as the Hajj. Nevertheless, this is an annual time of family celebrations and spiritual reflection in Muslim communities around the world. It’s a perfect time to ask Muslim co-workers and friends about their customs—and to wish them well.
Please Meet the Neighbors
For an engaging, real-life story of how Muslim families experience daily life in the U.S., you’ll enjoy Victor Begg’s memoir, Our Muslim Neighbors: Achieving the American Dream, An Immigrant’s Memoir.
“We need stories of our Muslim neighbors like Victor Begg to break down the walls that separate us and to educate us about those who might seem so strange, at first, but might become heart friends if given the chance,” writes the Rev. Daniel L. Buttry in the book’s Preface. “Along the way, we might discover some true American heroes. Victor is just such a hero: selfless, ordinary, but willing to risk to make our nation and our world a better place.”
That’s appropriate because Buttry also is one of our authors—a global peacemaker who is dedicated to sharing true stories of pacemakers from many religious traditions, including Islam. In the four books we have published with Dan, he always includes what he likes to call
interfaith heroes from all of the Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Dan also reaches far beyond those three faiths—but, these days, he regularly talks about the importance of combating Islamophobia.
In one of his online columns, he writes:
With refugees and immigrants filling the news as well as the shrill voices of fear and inhospitableness, we need to increase the voices of the counter-narratives and ethical challenges for hospitable responses.
We agree with Dan.
Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers!
We have worked closely with the Michigan State University School of Journalism to include 100 Questions & Answers about Muslim Americans in their popular MSU series of guides to cultural competence.
This guide has sections on culture, language, religions, social norms, politics, history, politics, families and food. The guide is intended for people in business, schools, places of worship, government, medicine, law enforcement, human resources and journalism-anywhere it is important to know more about communities. Since its publication, this book has been used by individuals and groups nationwide.
Some of the 100 questions are: What is the difference between Islam and Muslim? Who is Muhammad? What are the fundamental components of Islam? What is the Quran? What does Islam say about Jesus? How are Islam, Christianity and Judaism connected?
How Are We All Connected?
What do the three Abrahamic faiths share? The MSU book, mentioned above, includes a short answer to that question among its 100 questions and answers.
Then, thanks to peace activist and author Brenda Rosenberg, we published a book-length exploration of the connections—with proven ideas for actually bringing Jews, Christians and Muslims together.
In fact, the news story about the launch of Brenda’s book in January 2019 quickly became one of the most-read stories in our ReadTheSpirit magazine. Since that story was published, Brenda has continued to work with Girl Scouts to expand interfaith programs for young women.
Her book is designed with a focus on youth, so it unfolds through short, easy-to-read sections that describe the model for interfaith relationships that Brenda has built over the years. In 2021, this book continues to guide her work with young people of all faith traditions.