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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Catholics, Muslims begin to value how much they share across faiths

Catholics, Muslims begin to value how much they share across faiths
By Dennis Sadowski
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In the days following the Sept. 11 attacks, Dalila Benameur and her Muslim friends in Bridgeview, Ill., were afraid to leave their homes even when their pantries ran low and their refrigerators emptied. The women felt threatened by the handful of intimidating drivers who would cruise past the town's mosque waving Confederate flags and shouting anti-Muslim epithets.

That's when Andreatte Brachman and her friends from St. Fabian Catholic Church stepped in.

Brachman and company offered to accompany the women on errands as a sign of solidarity to alleviate growing concerns that Muslims hated America...

Of course, it helped that the St. Fabian women had gotten to know their Muslim neighbors before the attacks as part of the Muslim-Catholic Women's Group that had evolved from the two faith communities several years earlier...

In their discussions the women have explored what jihad truly means to Muslims -- an internal struggle to serve God -- and how each religion views Jesus. For Catholics, Jesus is the Son of God and the savior of the world; for Muslims he is a wise prophet who helps reveal God. At the group's Jan. 9 meeting, the women shared their common concern for the poor, rooted in the tenets of their two faiths, when they volunteered at a local shelter for homeless people...

Three official Catholic-Muslim dialogues have been occurring since the 1990s: on the West Coast, in the Midwest and in the mid-Atlantic. These annual meetings have been sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Muslim leaders, particularly the Indiana-based Islamic Society of North America and the Islamic Circle of North America in New York...

Father Francis Tiso, associate director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said emphasizing the common beliefs and shared values in the dialogues is fruitful, but just as much can be learned by participants acknowledging and discussing differences.

"When dialogue is about differences there is a certain high relief that emerges that enables both sides to appreciate one another precisely for the differences," said Father Tiso. "There's an appreciation process ... when you really listen to the other side, what they're really saying or trying to communicate...


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