Posted by: azizabusarah | December 23, 2015

What should Muslims do for Christmas?

 

christmas pic

Muslim Cleric shaking hands with a priest (Jordan)

In the recent weeks, Muslims in America have been accused of treason, celebrating attacks on America, being anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and the list can go on and on. However, despite the fact these accusations have no basis, many people in the U.S are falling prey to these lies about Muslim Americans.

So, how should Muslims respond to these attacks?

How about going to a Mass on Christmas Eve?

I grew up in a Muslim conservative family in Jerusalem. Despite that, we always enjoyed Christmas. When I was 15 years old I asked my mother if we can have a Christmas tree and without hesitation she said, “Sure!” This is a woman who wears headscarf, prays five times a day and has done the pilgrimage to Mecca multiple times. Since my teenage years, my friends and I loved to go to Bethlehem to celebrate on Christmas Eve. Actually, every Christmas you will find Muslims enjoying the birth of Jesus in Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and other places.

Imagine, if millions of American Muslims visit churches all over America to celebrate Christmas with their Christian neighbors. They can learn about the Christian tradition and share Muslim beliefs about Jesus. Many will be surprised to know that religious Muslims hold Jesus in high regard as a prophet, always say “Prayer be upon him” after saying his name, believe in the virgin birth, believe in the second coming.

Another idea would be volunteering for a soup kitchen, distributing gifts to the poor, or visiting nursing homes.

Learning to celebrate with one another and appreciate cultural differences is the best way to overcome ignorance and hatred. The Quran says “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.”

Posted by: azizabusarah | December 2, 2015

Aziz’s interview from the documentary ‘Human’

Posted by: azizabusarah | February 20, 2015

TED TALK: For more tolerance, we need more … tourism?

Posted by: azizabusarah | December 3, 2013

Conflict Zone – Syria

 

Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution in March of 2011, children have been among those most greatly affected by the violence. According to the latest UNHCR report, over 115,000 Syrians have been killed, 5 million are internally displaced, 2 million have fled to neighboring Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq, and 6 million are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. Over four million Syrian children are affected by the violence. Only 100,000 children have continued their schooling despite efforts within the refugee camps and only one fifth of them have received counseling.

Last year, With the help of generous donations, we at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict resolution held the pilot summer workshop for Syrian refugee children in August 2013, reaching over 400 children. The goal now is to grow these efforts to reach thousands of children. Nousha Kabawat and a team of volunteers will be holding multiple summer camps for Syrian refugees. If you interested in helping check out http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/empower-syria-s-refugees-project-amal-ou-salam

Just over a year ago I started filming for a web series produced by National Geographic. My goal was to highlight the conflicting narratives and the different points of view while inspiring hope. As Obama is visiting the region, I no longer believe that he or other leaders will bring an end to this conflict. It must be people who lead the leaders. However, I have found that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians are indifferent and ineffective. Indifference is the greatest enemy to peace and justice. In this series, I try to understand why this conflict is still going on. I try to examine the narratives and perspectives. But most importantly I also explore the effect of interactions between the sides.

This special online 4-part video series, Conflict Zone, follows Aziz Abu Sarah, a cultural educator, a native of Jerusalem, and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer who works in international conflict resolution. 

Part 1: Uneasy Coexistence
This first segment shows Israelis and Palestinians trying to lead ordinary lives, but the complications of living in a conflict zone can be extraordinary.

Part 2: Israel Defense Force
This segment features the Nabi Saleh protest from the Israeli military’s point of view.

Part 3: Palestinian Protesters
This segment features the Nabi Saleh protest from the Palestinians’ point of view.

Part 4: A Space to Talk
This segment highlights the process of creating safe places for dialogue among people who are on opposing sides of a conflict.

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