26 December 2008

Extreme rightists attack Muslims in Christmas message

The fringe right-wing website Tulsa Today, which claims to be a "local news service", has made use of its alleged Christmas greeting to label Islam "the only modern faith founded by a murderer." This is a website, mind you, that was noted for continuing to claim as late as 24 November that Obama was not a "natural born" US citizen.

So why would I bother to comment on the ravings of a site which has nothing to do with "news", local or otherwise? Well, because ridiculous claims such as these can, unfortunately, be insidious and persisting. If repeated a sufficient number of times, they acquire the air of general knowledge.

So I think it's important to say, to those who would sully their own holiday with venom against another religion: Shame on you.

Now playing: Jaromír Nohavica - Dokud Se Zpívá
via FoxyTunes

Happy Hanukkah!

I'd like to wish all my Jewish readers a happy Hanukkah. May the candles you light in celebration remind us of the light of monotheism bestowed on Jews and Muslims alike.

Earlier this month, my wife and I visited the Shaare Zion synagogue here in Montreal for an informative and entertaining evening, where Jewish, Christian and Hindu speakers discussed their respective winter holidays associated with light -- Hanukkah, Advent and Diwali -- and the synagogue's cantor, Boaz Davidoff, led his band in some exciting Hanukkah music in Hebrew and English. We need more of this sort of event, I tell you.
Now playing: North Sea Gas - Will Ye No Come Back Again
via FoxyTunes

25 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

A merry Christmas to all my Christian readers!

Last week at the mosque the imam reminded us of the Islamic story of the birth and infancy of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him). It is related in the Qur'an, in verses 19:16-36. This holiday is certainly a time to remember how much Muslims and Christians share, both in beliefs and in the call to perform good deeds and strive for justice.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures of Christmas celebrations at the place where it all reportedly began, Bethlehem (from the Louisville Courier-Journal).

Now playing: Orpheus Chamber Orchestra - Handel: Water Music Suite #1 In F, HWV 348 - Ouverture
via FoxyTunes

15 December 2008

Visitor profiles, 15 November to 14 December 2008

Welcome to the fifteenth installment of Notes on Religion visitor profiles!

This month (15 November to 14 December 2008):

This month, Notes on Religion received 359 visits.

Visitors came to Notes on Religion from every inhabited continent, alhamdu lillah. The largest number of visitors (38%) came from the United States. Canada was next with 18%, while the United Kingdom came third with 8%. In sha' Allah, I'll quote all monetary amounts (if any are discussed) in US dollars along with Canadian dollars over the coming month.

In the US, the largest number of visitors (14%) came from New York.

In Canada, 22% of the visitors' ISPs were in Quebec.

The largest number of visitors this past month (45%) were referred to Notes on Religion by Google. The most common Google search term that brought visitors to the blog was 'russian neo-nazi beheading video'.

The most popular browser this month was Firefox (48%). 89% of the visitors were Windows users.

Since the founding of the blog (15 March 2007 to 14 December 2008):

The total number of visitors during the year and ten months was 5,094. The average number of visitors was eight per day. A big thank you to everyone who visited and took this blog above the 5,000 hit mark!

The largest number of visitors (44%) came from the United States. The second-highest number (19%) came from the Canada. The United Kingdom came third with 7%.

In the US, the largest number of visitors (14%) came from California.

Quebec accounted for 44% of the visitors' ISPs within Canada.

The biggest proportion of visitors (41%) was referred to the blog by Google. The most common search term entered by visitors who were referred to Notes on Religion by Google was 'neo nazi beheading'.

The most popular browser was Firefox (46%). 90% of the visitors were Windows users.

Now playing: Scott Tennant - O'Carolan's Farewell To Music
via FoxyTunes

Blair explains conversion delay

Tony Blair has explained why he decided to defer his conversion to Catholicism until he left office. In his view, discussing religion while he was prime minister would have entailed the danger of people calling him a "nutter". He added, "Maybe I was too sensitive... but I just came to the conclusion that if I started talking about God it was going to be difficult."

Before becoming a Catholic in 2007, Blair had attended Catholic services for 25 years. Moreover, he had brought his children up as Catholics (BBC).

There's not much about Blair's words that is surprising. Certainly, there is a great deal of intolerance in Britain to public discussion of religious beliefs. However, why would Blair necessarily have had to talk about his conversion publicly? People already knew very well where his sympathies lay. I think that, beyond religion being a difficult issue to address in British politics, it's a question of the country not being ready for a Catholic prime minister. I think that one day the UK will travel the road the US did decades ago with John F. Kennedy, but the time, I suppose, is not ripe yet.

Now playing: Omar Faruk Tekbilek - Laz
via FoxyTunes

10 December 2008

Olmert calls attack on Palestinias a "pogrom"

Ehud Olmert has declared the recent rampage by Israeli Jewish settlers in Hebron a "pogrom". At a meeting of the Israeli Cabinet, Olmert told his ministers,

As a Jew, I was ashamed at the scenes of Jews opening fire at innocent Arabs in Hebron. There is no other definition than the term 'pogrom' to describe what I have seen. We are the sons of a nation who know what is meant by a pogrom, and I am using the word only after deep reflection.

Olmert also described a settler riot in a Palestinian village in October as a pogrom (BBC).

Meanwhile, one of the Jewish settlers suspected of taking part in the Hebron rampage, Zeev Braudeh, has been released from custody after an Israeli court in Jerusalem ordered the police to let him go. Braudeh is suspected of shooting at two Palestinian stone-throwers, injuring them. The court called the actions of the Israeli police, which had arrested Braudeh but not the stone-throwers, "blatant discrimination" (AFP).

It's obvious that the attitude of the Israeli courts will take a while to catch up to that of Olmert. If arresting an aggressor and not arresting a defender of one's land is discrimination according to this particular court, then the police are certainly showing themselves to be much more enlightened than the court.

Eid mubarak!

I'd like to wish all the Muslims of the world a blessed Eid. Eid al-Adha commemorates the readiness of the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) to sacrifice his son (pbuh) to God, and the willingness of his son to be sacrificed to God. When the two prophets had proven their faith and devotion, a ram was sacrificed instead. May this lesson of obedience to God inspire us always.

Since this story, in its essential features, is shared by Muslims, Christians and Jews, I would like to extend my best wishes to the People of the Book on this joyous occasion.

Here's an excellent article from Gulf News (ma sha' Allah), explaining the meaning and origin of Eid al-Adha.

05 December 2008

Moscow patriarch dies

Patriarch Aleksiy II of Moscow and All Russia has passed away at the age of 79. Born Aleksei Ridiger in Tallinn to a Baltic German father and a Russian mother, Aleksiy rose through the ranks of the Russian Orthodox Church with the backing of the KGB. His role in the pre-Gorbachev era consisted of helping the Soviet state keep the Church under its firm control. He was elected Patriarch in 1990. Aleksiy was an outspoken supporter of Orthodox unity, but was much more ambivalent towards the unity of the Christian churches (BBC).

In particular, he clashed with the Catholic Church over the issue of the latter's proselytisation of Russians, claiming all Russia and Ukraine to be the "canonical territory" of the Russian Orthodox Church. Alexiy also provided Church backing for the process of integration between Belarus and Russia launched by Aliksandr Lukašenka and Boris Yeltsin.

I'm back, yet again

It's be too long, but I'm back. In sha' Allah, I'll be posting at least once a week from now on. I have an incredible backlog of things that I'd like to write about from the past six months, but those might have to wait and come out gradually (if at all) while I handle more recent news. A big thank you to everyone who's been checking in every once in a while.

Something Even More Magical

In other news...