9 May 2018
Toddler Joao Bento wears a pope outfit during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 9 May. (photo: CNS/Claudio Peri, EPA)
8 May 2018
The Rev. Alan Dietzenbach listens to Adib Kassas, acting imam at the mosque in Dubuque, Iowa, speak about Arabic calligraphy and the decoration around the arch. The artwork was a gift from Catholic parishes in Dubuque to the center as a sign of friendship. (photo: CNS/Dan Russo, The Witness)
Artist Donna Slade had never set foot in a mosque before beginning work on the intricate calligraphy in Arabic that now decorates the arch above the central point in the worship space at the Tri-State Islamic Center.
“I really enjoyed it,” Slade said of the experience. “It was great working with them.”
Slade, a member of Church of the Nativity in Dubuque, collaborated with Fayez Alasmary, a young member of the mosque, and Adib Kassas, a member of the mosque’s advisory board who serves as an imam. The trio perfected the curved lettering that expresses a verse from the Quran, the Muslim holy book.
The artwork was a gift from the Catholic parishes of Dubuque to the Islamic community. Muslims have been present in the city for years, with the first permanent worship space opening in December 2016.
“This is a gift from them expressing their welcome to us, and expressing that they are interested in building a relationship and cooperating together,” said Kassas, a physician who arrived in Dubuque from Syria about 13 years ago. “I really feel it’s a great gesture for them. Muslims have loved this gesture, accepted it and welcomed it.”
Aref Khatib, Islamic Center president, explained that the gift has a deep significance for both communities.
“It means to me bringing everyone together and realizing we should not be discriminating and we should not be judging one another. That’s God’s job, not our job,” Khatib told The Witness, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.
“When you look at the universe, everything is different color and different shapes, just like human beings are and that’s the beauty of Allah’s creation. We should embrace the diversity,” he said.
The idea for the gift came from the Rev. Alan Dietzenbach, parochial vicar at St. Raphael Cathedral and St. Patrick Parish.
“I’ve always been inspired by my confirmation saint, St. Francis of Assisi, who during the height of the Crusades, crossed Christian and Muslim battle lines to meet the sultan and seek to be an instrument of peace and understanding in the midst of conflict,” Father Dietzenbach said. “When we look back at the history of Christianity and Islam, we tend to focus on the times of contention and overlook all the times when these two religions coexisted and faithful Christians and Muslims worked and peacefully lived side-by-side.”
The effort grew from the relationships built by John Eby, associate professor of history at Loras College and a member of the cathedral parish, through his work with the Children of Abraham. The organization encourages dialogue among Jews, Christians and Muslims.
“This is a great example of how to love your neighbor as yourself and to show hospitality and inclusion,” Eby said. “An important concept in Islam is ‘ihsan.’ It means to beautify your actions and beautify the world. Not only is this [art] beautifying this space, it’s literally taking this action of hospitality and making it the most beautiful expression of hospitality.”
The verse painted over the archway from the Quran translates in English to read, “Oh, people. We have created you from a male and a female and made you into branches of humanity and different gatherings into nations so that you may come to know each other. Behold the most honored among you in the eye of God is the most deeply conscious of him. Truly, God is all-knowing, all-aware.”
Kassas called the Catholic community’s gift “an example and an application of this verse.”
“What this passage talks about is that we all come from one origin,” he said. “People divide themselves into groups and isolate themselves from others, thinking that they are better than them, but the truth is, God said we have made you into that kind of division to get to know one another.”
Father Dietzenbach hopes the art will serve as a lasting symbol of cooperation between the two groups.
“I hope that this gift is a sign of solidarity and love and a reminder that religious freedom is a right we hold together as we strive to make our own community a place of peace, understanding, and kinship,” he said.
7 May 2018
Tags: Muslim United States Muslim Americans
Young men crowd around to watch the monthly quiz in the yard at Shano Prison in Ethiopia. To learn how lay people are ministering to these young men, offering them guidance and direction, read ‘For I Was in Prison’ in the March 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)
4 May 2018
Sister Femily of the Sisters of the Destitute in Marayoor, India, leads a self-help group for adults. Discover how she and other sisters are Breaking the Cycle of addiction and alcoholism in Kerala in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)
3 May 2018
Tags: India Sisters
Nermine, part of a group of young Iraqi refugees in Jordan, hopes one day to return to her homeland. Learn how she and others are being supported and helped by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, who are Inspiring the Faithful in Jordan, in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Nader Daoud)
2 May 2018
Tags: Iraqi Christians Jordan Iraqi Refugees
Kindergarteners participate eagerly at Rosa Gatorno Kindergarten not far from Boditi, Ethiopia. Read about their teachers in The Habit of Learning in the March 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)
1 May 2018
Tags: Ethiopia Children Sisters Catholic education
Religious brothers sit in the library at St. Francis Theological College in India. Learn how India is helping form The New Priests in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Meenakshi Soman)
30 April 2018
Tags: India Seminarians
Sister Frehiwot oversees students filing into the school after morning assembly in the school yard at Rosa Gatorno Kindergarten, located about nine miles outside the town of Boditi, Ethiopia. Discover how Sister Frehiwot and other young sisters are helping youngsters get in The Habit of Learning in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)
27 April 2018
Tags: Ethiopia Children Sisters Catholic education
Georgian children study English at a Caritas youth center. Read about the work of Caritas in A Letter From Georgia in the Winter 2016 edition of ONE. (photo: Antonio di Vico)
26 April 2018
Tags: Georgia Caritas
A Christian pilgrim gestures after dipping in the water at the baptismal site known as Qasr el-Yahud on the Jordan River near the West Bank city of Jericho. Israel is in control of the area and is working with Halo Trust to remove land mines near the baptismal site. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)
Tags: Middle East Christians Jordan