FaithWorld

from Photographers' Blog:

Religious Imam, reality TV star and dream son-in-law?

When a friend told me about the "Young Imam" reality TV show, I thought it must be just another 'preaching and nagging' religious program.

But when another friend of mine jokingly said "the young imams are dream son-in-laws", I decided I should take a peek into this phenomenon. While I could understand why Mawi became a heartthrob of teenage girls after he won the Malaysian version of American Idol but, a religious TV program doesn't usually catch on in Malaysia.

After locating "Imam Muda" ("Young Imam" in Malay) on one of the our cable TV channels, I found it to be interesting.

"Ultimate Young Imam" candidate, Asyraf, a contestant in a Malaysian reality TV competition to find the country's best young Imam, is silhouetted as he prepares to rehearse ahead of the final in Kuala Lumpur July 29, 2010.  REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad
(Click on the image above for an audio slideshow)

It began with 10 educated and professional candidates. They came from various backgrounds - a bank officer, an entrepreneur, a farmer, a religious teacher and a graduate student, among them. The imam muda recited verses of the holy Koran, prepared the dead for burial, slaughtered animals in a halal manner, following the Muslim ritual, and counseled young Muslims.

Contestant of Malaysia's "Young Imam" cable television program, Asyraf, preaches before the Friday prayer during the show's recording in Kuala Lumpur July 16, 2010.   REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad

From that moment, I started to keep up to date with who was eliminated each week.

from Tales from the Trail:

Poll shows Americans are confused on Obama’s religion

USA-POLITICS/OBAMAA year and a half  into his presidency, Americans appear to be growing more uncertain about Barack Obama's religion.

A Pew Research Center survey shows that nearly one in five Americans -- 18 percent -- believe Obama is a Muslim, up from 11 percent in March 2009.  Meanwhile only about one third of Americans surveyed correctly describe Obama as a Christian, a sharp decrease from the 48 percent who said he was a Christian in 2009.

The survey was completed in early August, before Obama backed the controversial construction of a proposed mosque and Muslim cultural center near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York.

from Good, Bad, and Ugly:

Last rites?

Zsa Zsa Gabor asks for last rites

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 15 (Reuters Life!) - Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, a fixture in Hollywood for six decades, asked that a priest read her the last rites on Sunday, following hospitalization two days earlier due to complications from hip surgery.

PEOPLE-GABOR/You are a little out of date - there is no longer a sacrament of the 'last rites.'

The sacrament is called Sacrament of the Sick. It's sad to see an organization such as yours providing incorrect information.

Christian-themed TV shows spark complaints in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon

saudi tv 1Television shows with Christian themes have sparked complaints in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon in recent days, but from different groups and for different reasons.

In Saudi Arabia, a popular sitcom has drawn the ire of conservative clerics over an episode portraying Arab Christians in a positive light after the kingdom sought to sell itself as a leader of dialogue between faiths. (Photo: Saudis watch a religious programme during Ramadan, 15 Sept 2008/Fahad Shadeed)

A two-part episode of the sitcom “Tash Ma Tash,” which has aired during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan for 17 years, showed the two main Saudi characters, both Muslims, being advised by their dying father to visit the brother of their deceased Lebanese mother.

Saudi royal order says only appointed clerics can issue public fatwas

saudi fatwasSaudi King Abdullah has ordered that public religious edicts, or public fatwas, be issued only by clerics he appoints, in the boldest measure the ageing monarch has taken to organise the religious field.

Timid efforts by the absolute monarchy to modernise the deeply conservative country have led to a profusion in fatwas from scholars and mosque imams in the country, who use the Internet to publicise them as they fight what they perceive as the westernisation of the country. (Photo: Saudi King Abdullah, 30 July 2010/Ali Jarekji)

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah gestures during his meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah at the Royal Palace in Amman July 30, 2010.

Israel Museum takes a new look at the history of the Holy Land

jerusalem museumA new Jerusalem exhibit displaying a million years of history in the Holy Land offers Bible buffs and skeptics alike a chance to say: “I told you so!”  The Israel Museum, fresh-faced after a three-year, $100 million upgrade, offers an unparalleled look into the development of monotheistic religions, while leaving plenty of room for both science and faith. (Photo: A statue of the Emperor Hadrian at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem July 20, 2010/Baz Ratner)

The museum’s more devout visitors may feel vindicated by a collection of three-thousand-year-old weapons used by ancient warriors in the Battle of Lachish, verifying the fighting as depicted in the Bible.  The scientifically minded can point to a set of 1.5 million year old bull horns on display around the corner, by far predating Earth’s creation as described by the book of Genesis.

A new exhibit features the reconstruction of a church originally built about 400 years after the time of Jesus. It has daunting similarities to a synagogue of the same period reconstructed alongside.  The influence can also be seen in later Islamic relics on display nearby.

Young Americans more loyal to religion than Baby Boomers

religion survey Younger Americans, between the ages of 36 to 50, are more likely to be loyal to religion than Baby Boomers, according to new research.

In a study published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Philip Schwadel, of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said this was true even though they were less likely than previous generations to have been brought up with a religion. (Photo: A young woman sings in a choir at Redemption Camp in Floyd, Texas, June 17, 2009/Jessica Rinaldi)

He said the trend “is good news for those who worry about declining religious adherence.”

from Global News Journal:

Religious leaders and the EU take tentative first steps

religion

Top European Union officials held talks this week with religious leaders, part of a policy of holding consultations with religious groups that was enshrined in the EU's Lisbon reform treaty, which came into force last December. But not everyone supports the move.
 
More than two dozen Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders -- joined by a representative each from the Hindu and Sikh communities -- met  the presidents of the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council on Monday to discuss how to fight poverty and social exclusion.

It was the the sixth such consultation since 2005, but the first to take place in the context of the Lisbon treaty, the EU’s latest collective agreement.  Article 17 of the treaty commits the EU to maintaining "an open, transparent and regular dialogue with ... churches and (non-confessional and philosophical) organisations".

But opponents of the guidance say that because many Europeans are secular and an increasing number practise non-Christian religions, churches should not have special rights.

from The Great Debate UK:

Interfaith centre at New York 9/11 site sparks controversy

- Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of several books, including ‘Who Moved my Job?’ and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’.  The opinions expressed are his own. -

Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but every terrorist who attacked the U.S. on 9/11 was a Muslim.

That’s the kind of aphorism being bounced around the Internet because of the news that a nineteenth-century building located close to Ground Zero in New York may be demolished to make way for a community and cultural centre aimed at improving relations between Islam and the West.

Afghan Hindus and Sikhs grapple with uncertain future

kabul view (Photo: Kabul, December 30, 2009/Marko Djurica)

They thrived long before the arrival of Islam in the seventh century and for a long time dominated the country’s economy, but Sikh and Hindu Afghans now find themselves struggling for survival.

“We have no shelter, no land and no authority,” says Awtar Singh, a senator and the only non-Muslim voice in Afghanistan’s parliament. “No one in the government listens to us, but we have to be patient, because we have no other options,” says the 47-year-old Sikh.

In a brief idyll in 1992, after the fall of the Moscow backed-government but before civil war erupted, there were around 200,000 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan compared with around just a few thousand today.