Phoenicians Partner for Peace

September 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nidah Chatriwala

11

8426551As the nation united to peacefully acknowledge the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, Arizona State University (ASU), held an interfaith service, inviting Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Partnering For Peace was a program encouraged by President Obama for schools to participate in an interfaith worship in remembrance of 9/11 and ASU was one of them to accept.

The service was held at Tempe campus of ASU, attracting a large diverse crowd, which sung along the chorus or stood silently in respect to religious recitations performed.

The event began with Sue Ringler introducing TEAM-Tempe Interfaith, who organized the service, saying their mission used to be limited to collecting and donating canned foods but 9/11 changed everything, and they began giving hope through service of love in the community.

Partnering for Peace was also represented by a group of young adults called iMagine, who shared their goal of breaking down interfaith barriers to help teach each other the richness of diversity.

Soon the chorus sang “Where Can I Turn for Peace” on a candlelit stage with an enlarged photograph of a glittering white dove, represented peace in the background. 

The audience was encouraged to stand in silence as the three Holy Scriptures: Bible, Torah and the Holy Quran’s title covers were displayed on the screen, followed by each person reciting excerpts from them.

Rabbi Dean Shapiro read Isaiah from the Torah, then Pastor Chris Gonzales read Luke from the New Testament and Ayman Alhadheri recited verses from the Quran, which were translated by Elena Coassolo.

To help the interfaith audience understand the meanings of the holy recitations, three speakers shared stories of peace from their Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions.

Susan Schanerman performed her Jewish tradition story called “A Talmudic Tale of Peace” as she created pictures with her hands and directed audience’s mood to various tones of her voice.

Following Schanerman’s performance, Doug Bland connected his Christian tradition story of “The Saint and the Sultan” to the Muslim influence of building Christianity and extracting the greeting “peace be upon you” from Muslims to saying it among Christian followers as well. He credited Islam’s teachings, especially to be more merciful to each other, to improving Christianity’s message among its followers.

To build on Bland’s story, Saiaf Abdallah told the “Musa and the Good Things to Come” Islamic story about Moses and Khidr’s journey of seeking knowledge through patience. At the end of the story he added that we must learn to see wisdom in atrocities such as 9/11 that united us all.

As the event came to a close, iMagine group members painted a rainbow representing Jewish, Christian and Muslim unity, as the audience stood up arm-in-arm chanting freedom and peace.

13-38

Koran by Heart: A Documentary

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Siddiq Ather, TMO

movie_11594_posterIsn’t it amazing when you see s small child reciting the Koran (Qur’an)? Isn’t it even more amazing when young children memorize the entire Koran? What if there was a competition with the best young reciters from around the world? What if someone made a film out of it? Done.

Koran by Heart is an HBO documentary directed by Greg Barker that premiered August 1st, 2011. Koran by Heart is a film about the journey of a few participants chosen for the world youth Koran competition in Cairo, Egypt. Simply put, it is the Olympics of Koran recitation.  There are from everywhere; the main characters in the documentary are from Tajikistan, Maldives, and Senegal. The international Koran competition takes place in Ramadan, so this is the perfect holiday-film to watch. 

In a documentary film, in a sense God is the director. It is natural. It is real. That is why it is beautiful. Koran by Heart is a family friendly film, ideal to view during Ramadan. The film is laced with beautiful recitations of the Koran mixed with top-notch cinematography and covered in a deep and moving storyline.  

It is a story about the competitors just as much as it is about the competition. Questions are raised regarding the political and religious states surrounding the competition and the competitors. Who decides what Islam is the ideal Islam. In every nation people breathe in Islam, and breathe out culture.  Different countries have different ways of conducting similar Islamic practices. Analogous to the cultural medley, there are also mixed views as to the degree of traditionalism practiced with varying Muslim countries, and subdivisions within those countries.

Factors such as economic situation, culture, and history all affect the story of these young individuals. You may laugh, cry, or just happen to fall off the edge of your seat in anticipation during the final scene.  Characters like Nabiollah, Rifdah, and Djemal are lively, determined, and in the end, just kids. Each character has his/her own story, and challenges.

The one story that I feel was the most powerful was that of Rifdah, a girl and also one of the younger participants in the competition. She is a bright child, excelling in all subjects, with loads of energy and sparks of genuine curiosity that you can’t help but smile at. However, she is growing up in a household with mixed views regarding women working. Nabiollah, another young competitor, has different challenges; his father wasn’t able to finish his education because of political turmoil that erupted in the region, and the area they live in at the moment does not have a certified school that teaches secular studies.  Nabiollah and his father both want him to have an education.

Koran By Heart is the film to watch this Ramadan. It is an amazing film that may even inspire you to pick up the Koran and read a few chapters. 

13-33