Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet

Fourteen hundred years ago, a humble merchant who could not read or write changed the face of Arabia. This is the story of Muhammad, the merchant, husband, father and warrior whom Muslims consider the final prophet.

Three years in the making, this film by Alex Kronemer and Michael Wolfe brings to life the seventh-century prophet who changed world history in 23 years, and continues to shape the lives of more than 1.2 billion people. Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet unfolds not only in ancient Middle Eastern sites but in the homes, mosques and workplaces of some of America’s estimated seven million Muslims.

A tribute to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

” – the documentary is well worth watching both as the first serious attempt to tell the story of Muhammad on television and also as a testimony to the hypersensitivity of our times.”
– Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times

“Though this biography offers viewers fresh insights into the spiritual foundations of Islam, what proves even more rewarding is the program’s introduction to Americans who are faithful Muslims.”
– Henry Herx, Catholic News Service

” – right on cue is the two-hour Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, a candid, thoughtful, flowing, visually stunning film – that is as timely as documentaries get.”
– Howard Rosenberg, Los Angeles Time

What’s Right with Islam: A new vision for Muslims and the West – Feisal Abdul Rauf

Book Review
By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is Founder and CEO of the American Sufi Muslim Association (ASMA Society) and Imam of Masjid Al-Farah, a mosque in New York City twelve blocks from Ground Zero. He has dedicated his life to building bridges between Muslims and the West and is a leader in the effort to build religious pluralism and integrate Islam into modern American society.

Imam Feisal is also the architect of the Cordoba Initiative, an interreligious blueprint for improving relations between America and the Muslim world, and he is on the board of One Voice, a group pursuing peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He is the author of Islam: A Search for Meaning and Islam: A Sacred Law, What Every Muslim Should Know About the Shari’ah. He has spoken at many churches, synagogues, seminaries, and interfaith centers about what unites all of the world’s religions.

In this ambitious work, Imam Feisal points out what went wrong in the relationship between Islam and the West and discusses the common ground that can serve as a launch pad for a renewed relationship based on an abiding respect for the fundamental values of a pluralistic, free society. He provides a succinct look at the life and work of the Prophet Muhammad, describes the five epochs of Islamic history, and notes the five principles affirmed by all divine revelations. He also explores the reasons for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and explicates the condemnation of terrorism in Islamic law.

Islamophobia is rampant in American society with many people describing Muslims as enemies of civilization, extremists, militants, or terrorists. Imam Feisal reminds us that early Muslim societies were far more tolerant of other religions than were the communities of European Christendom. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity as Abrahamic religions have received two great commandments: to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors (no matter what their race or religion) as we love ourselves.

Imam Feisal believes that many Muslims admire the liberty, equality, and fraternity enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights and would embrace their own brand of democratic capitalism. “The world wants to like America,” he states, yet in many parts of the world, “hostility toward the United States is the rule rather than the exception.”

It is time for Jews, Christians, and Muslims to work together in “a renewed vision of what the good society can look like,” especially since these religions share a passion for justice. Imam Feisal calls America back to its older function in the world, one that takes a different path that it is currently pursuing through the fields of fear:

“It ascends the highlands of trust and faith, conveying us to a place where America acts as the Great Conciliator — instead of the Great Policeman — for the world’s family of nations. This is the path of cooperation, of multilateralism, of dialogue, of building friendships. On this path, America sleeps well because it has many friends and few enemies.

This is the path of hope. Americans must outgrow the unbecoming arrogance that leads us to assert that America somehow owns a monopoly on goodness and truth — a belief that leads some to view the world as but a stage on which to play out the great historical drama: the United States of America versus the Powers of Evil.”

The author firmly believes that this vision is possible once both Muslims and Americans reconnect with “faith in the basic goodness of humanity and trust in the power of sincerity and dialogue to overcome differences with our fellow human beings.” Given the entrenched views of original sin held by the majority of Christians and the reigning dualistic view of the world as divided between the good guys and the bad guys, this new paradigm seems to us a long way off, but we have to join Iman Feisal in saying, God willing, it will come to pass.

In this video clip, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf combines the teachings of the Qur’an, the stories of Rumi, and the examples of Muhammad and Jesus, to demonstrate that only one obstacle stands between each of us and absolute compassion — ourselves – Lose your ego, find your compassion

Three Faiths, One God: Judaism, Christianity, Islam [updated]

Three Faiths, One God: Judaism, Christianity, Islam captures a fascinating interreligious dialogue on film. The documentary explores the similarities between scriptural texts and religious practices as well as the historical conflicts and differences between the three faiths, and the crisis of the fundamentalist approach to religious pluralism. The bottom line: Individuals of the Abrahamic faiths share basic, human values.

As Karen Armstrong, author of The History of God, states at the opening of the film: “Jews, Christians, and Muslims have developed markedly similar notions of the divine though often working in isolation and hostility with one another.”

The filmmakers highlight the many different ways that the Islamic way of life parallels the Jewish way of life, the fact that all three religions worship a compassionate deity and that all adhere to the Ten Commandments.

The lively dialogue also focuses on common misperceptions amongst practitioners of these religions. A major stumbling block for Muslims, for example, is the Christian belief in the Trinity. To many Muslims, this connotes a Christian belief in three Gods.

There are many illuminating references to history. The Golden Age of Spain under Muslim rule involved true collaboration between Christians, Jews, and Muslims in commerce, art and academia. Maimonides philosophized in both Arabic and Hebrew and, when the Jews were exiled from Spain, many sought to dwell in lands ruled by Muslims.

Judea Pearl, father of Danny Pearl, the Wall Street Journal investigative reporter who was murdered in Pakistan by Muslim extremists, calls in Three Faiths, One God for interfaith efforts to reach the Muslim teachers who train students in the teachings of the Koran. He notes that interfaith dialogue with fundamentalists needs to be based on Islam.

Karen Armstrong adds: “If we wish to neutralize the fundamentalists of any religion, we need to guarantee them a place under the sun.”

A partial list of the distinguished participants in this dialogue include: Bishop John Chane, National Cathedral, Diocese of Washington, DC Dr. Krister Stendahl, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Divinity School Dr. Marc Gopin, Director, Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution, Akbar Ahmen, Chair of Islamic Studies, American University, Dr. Diana Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion, Harvard Divinity School, Rabbi Irving Greenburg, Former Chairman, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, Dr. Maria Menocal, Professor of Medieval Studies, Yale University, Eboo Patel, Executive Director, Interfaith Youth Core, Chicago, ILL, Dr. Jane Smith, Hartford Seminary, Dr. Reuven Firestone, Author of Children of Abraham: Introduction of Judaism for Muslims, Bishop Kenneth Cragg, Church of England, Alma Abdul Hadi Jadallah, Institute for Conflict Analysis, Washington, DC, Rev. John Mack, United Congregational Church of Christ, Washington, DC, and Imam Feisal Rauf, Author of What’s Right with Islam.

Reuven Firestone, Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College notes that “The film does not shy away from discussing the tensions between our competing religious systems. It does not try to paper over real differences. But it treats these in a non-polemical way that encourages real consideration of how the great monotheistic religions have interrelated with one another over centuries and millennia.” As Chaplains who minister to these three faiths, you will be drawn in.

Part 2

From Science to God – Peter Russell

The Mystery of Consciousness, from both scientific and mystical perspectives. Selections from Peter Russell’s DVD, From Science to God.

“How is it that something as unconscious as the matter of the brain ever gives rise to something as immaterial as an experience?,” muses Peter Russell in Peter Russell: From Science to God, a beautiful meditation exploring spirit, science and the miracle of consciousness.

Science cannot explain the fact that humans are conscious, says Russell, and he calls the human capacity for inner experience “the great mystery.” According to Russell, who studied mathematics and theoretical physics before he delved into experimental psychology, humans are locked into the view that consciousness itself is somehow created by the brain. He believes that we need to question that basic assumption.

Russell tries to always notice “what is, as it is, without thinking about it,” and observes that “our experience of the body is always in the present moment, but our thinking about it takes us out of the present.”

Religions seek to open us to the inner world of the spirit, which Russell views as the inner world of the mind. Western science has proved very successful in explaining the world and advancing technology, but Russell’s concern is that science has not provided humans with a value system. He calls for integration of scientific understanding with the wisdom of spiritual traditions. “The next great frontier is not outer space,” Russell concludes, “it’s inner space.”

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