vendredi 26 mai 2017

As people of faith (Guest post from Sarah Ager)

Ramadan is starting tomorrow, Saturday 27th, 2017. Here is a guest post from Sarah Ager - a Christian UK girl who converted to Islam and is now happily married to a Muslim man and lives in Italy - who is the curator of Interfaith Ramadan (this text was written in 2016, but I kinda lost her text until this week when I found it by accident on my computer... God moves in mysterious ways):

le coran image

As people of faith, we sometimes act under the assumption that ours is the only way of perceiving God. We hold this view even though Muslims make up only a seventh of the world's population. We sometimes forget that we live in a multi-cultural world alongside people of many diverse beliefs and faith backgrounds, who have their own unique ways of approaching and perceiving the Divine.

There are many lenses through which people perceive the world – the Bible, the Torah, the Qur'an, the Bhagavad Gita – to name just a few. There are a wealth of religious and non-religious texts which guide people in their daily lives – just as the Qur'an acts as a moral compass for Muslims.

In our increasingly globalised world, constant contact with other backgrounds and faiths make it imperative to learn more about the diversity of our neighbors because we are all an intrinsic part of the communities in which we live. Developing mutual respect, rather than merely tolerating one another, is not something that can be learned overnight. Through reaching out and speaking openly we can begin to nurture genuine appreciation for the ways others express their faith.

Without education, we can all too easily develop an irrational fear and mistrust of those we deem to be 'other'. This is especially true between people of different faiths, and when political groups, individuals, and certain factions of the Media so often seek to divide by exploiting and exaggerating religious difference.

Fear and mistrust of people based on assumptions of race or faith are at the core of countless acts of discrimination. To overcome this problem, we need open and constructive communication – the foundation of all positive relationships.

Through interfaith, an all-encompassing and inclusive way of interacting with one another, we endeavour to transcend human-made boundaries and make personal connections with people from all faith and non-faith backgrounds. Interfaith invites us to come as individuals with personal stories rather than being burdened with collective responsibility and representation of an entire faith community. Through sharing we gain greater understanding and become more inclusive in our interactions with the people around us.

As a Muslim from a predominantly Christian family, my inspiration for promoting interfaith is not only social, as a means of strenghtening ties with family and friends, but also deeply spiritual. Interfaith is not a foreign concept to Islam, it is in fact an intrinsic part of our faith. Within the pages of the Qur’an, we are called to protect “cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of God is oft commemorated” (Qur'an, 22:40). In his lifetime, Muhammad 
 encouraged and was actively involved in interfaith.

On one such occasion, Muhammad 
 met with a delegation of Christian Chiefs from Najran and together they signed a peace treaty which included the terms;
No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet.”

Alongside the promise that the Christians of Najran could worship freely, the treaty also included the understanding that “their Churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants,” meaning they would be able to uphold their faith tradition alongside Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula.

It is clear that building strong communities by taking care of all those within it is an integral part of Islam and should be considered the duty of Muslims who strive to please Allah. The fighting we see between faith groups,  and even within them, hurts the whole community and goes against the golden rules of each faith, from the Christian concept of loving our neighbour and the Islamic principle that doing harm to another human being is as if you have hurt the whole of mankind, symbolising our intrinsic interconnectness.

Present day examples of interfaith in action include the iconic images of Muslims protecting Coptic Christians in Egypt during the 2011 Arab Spring and more recently, Christians providing refuge for persecuted Muslims in the Central African Republic despite the serious risk to their own lives. On a smaller but no less significant scale, there are regular and heartening stories of religious groups coming together to help other groups in times of need, from churches providing safe spaces for Muslims to pray during far-right protests in various European cities, to Muslims looking after synagogues in Kolkata.

On a more local level, Interfaith helps us to develop new and comprehensive ways of speaking in our daily lives that respects differences, and brings people together based on shared values. This inclusivity feeds into all our relationships, with family, friends, co-workers etc, and is particularly relevant for converts who have non-muslim family members or those in interfaith families. The tools of interfaith can also aid us in much needed intrafaith dialogue, creating stronger ties between different groups under the umbrella of Islam.

Although Interfaith dialogue invites us to share our personal experience of faith, we should remember that interfaith is not about throwing a net to catch potential converts. Critics of Muslim-based interfaith initiatives have argued that it's cleverly disguised dawah of the "creeping sharia" variety. Similarily, many Christian websites have written articles which recommend interfaith dialogue as a way of proselityising and essentially going undercover to gather information about how best to convert members of certain religious or secular groups. It is important to recognise the fine line between education and evangelism. Trust is crucial for open dialogue but it cannot develop if we suspect the other party is trying to boost their own numbers. Instead, interfaith offers us a safe space where we are able to come together, explore our similarities, change stereotypes, and build relationships based on constructive communication.

For people of faith, learning about other religions allows us to gain insight into how others worship and, ideally, helps us to deepen our connection with God while honouring our own faith tradition. Interfaith dialogue and hands on engagement provides us an opportunity to gain insight into our own tradition as we explain our beliefs to others and in turn learn how how faith is viewed through the lens of other faith traditions. In his book 'The Good of Religious Pluralism, Austrian-American sociologist Peter Berger states that 'pluralism influences individual believers and religious communities to distinguish between the core of their faith and less central elements'. As a result of pluralism, Mormon writer Daniel Peterson believes that we not only gain intellectual benefits from engaging with other but  we also 'become better by interacting with people different from ourselves.' People of diverse faiths share a common journey as learners and as seekers towards a better self and a better faith community in which we are a part.

Although we may be strolling down different paths, we are all on journeys seeking to find meaning in our lives, be our best selves, and for those who have faith, grow closer to our Creator. Interfaith dialogue reminds us of how much richer our lives can be when we strive towards these goals hand in hand.

dimanche 21 mai 2017

Creative Kids Cultural Blog Hop - May 2017

Welcome to the May 2017 Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids. We can't wait to see what you share this time!

Created by Frances of Discovering the World through My Son's Eyes, the blog hop has now found a new home at Multicultural Kid Blogs.

This month our co-hosts are:

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place for you to share your creative kids culture posts. It's very easy, and simple to participate!
Just follow these simple guidelines:
  • Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook. Please let us know you're following us, and we will be sure to follow you back.
  • Link up any creative kids culture posts, such as language, culture, books, travel, food, crafts, playdates, activities, heritage, and holidays, etc. Please, link directly to your specific post, and no giveaways, shops, stores, etc.
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
  • Please grab the button code above and put it on your blog or the post you’re linking up. You can also add a text link back to this hop on your blog post. Note: By sharing your link up on this blog hop you are giving us permission to feature your blog post with pictures, and to pin your link up in our Creative Kids Culture Feature board on Pinterest.
  • Don't be a stranger, and share some comment love! Visit the other links, and comment. Everyone loves comments!
  • The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop will go live on the 3rd Sunday of the month. It will run for three weeks. The following blog hop we will feature a previous link up post, and if you're featured, don't forget to grab the button below:
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

The post I have selected for this CKCBH has a real meaning for me : 

6 tips for communicating with grand parents who live abroad

Well, we live in Germany and all my kids' grand-parents are in France. It's not far away and at the same time, we can't see them as often as we would like. We are already doing some of the things listed, however I know many other people would be interested in those ideas!

Thank you for linking-up, and we can't wait to see what you've been up to!

vendredi 19 mai 2017

Non je ne suis pas morte! / No I'm not dead!

Text in English below

Bonjour à toutes et tous!

Comme c'est étrange pour moi de revenir sur ce blog. Tant de choses se sont passées depuis septembre 2016.

Je pensais bien à écrire sur La Cité des Vents, je ne voulais pas le terminer mais prendre une pause pour trouver un équilibre avec mon travail et ma vie de famille. Et puis, les semaines et mois passant, comme écrire dans mon blog personnel n'était plus dans mon planning, je n'ai même plus essayé de trouver du temps pour cela.

C'est grâce à mes amies de Multicultural Kid Blogs que je remet le pied à l'étrier maintenant. Elles m'ont fait prendre conscience que si on ne fait pas l'effort d'ouvrir son blog et de commencer à écrire... et bien, on ne le fera jamais! Même si on a le temps, si on a plein d'idées, il faut avoir la volonté pour réaliser des choses qui ont de l'importance.

Voilà pour ce jour mon conseil: mettez-vous au travail dès maintenant pour réaliser vos projets, ne reportez pas à plus tard car plus tard se transforme très vite en "jamais". En effet personne d'autre que vous ne peut le faire à votre place.

Bonne journée mes chères lectrices et mes chers lecteurs!
A très vite!

Durant ces mois d'absence sur mon blog, ma famille a vécu beaucoup de choses! Je vous en parle bientôt!
In all those months of non blogging, my family lived many things! I will tell you soon about some of them.

Hello everyone!

It's so strange for me to come back on this blog. So many things have happened since September 2016.

I thought often to write on La Cité des Vents, I didn't want to stop, I just wanted to take a rest to find a better balance between my work and my family life. And then, weeks and months passed by, and as writing in my blog wasn't anymore in my schedule, I didn't even try to find time for it.

It's thanks to my friends from Multicultural Kid Blogs that I'm coming back! They helped me to see that if we don't make a conscious effort to open our blog and begin to write... well, no one will do it for you! Even if we have time, many ideas, we need the will to make important things happen,

So here is my advice for today: set yourself to work right now to realise your projects, don't postpone because later will become "never". Indeed no one will do it in your stead.

Have a nice dear my dear readers!
Write you very soon!


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