Sunday, August 26, 2007

Engaging Muslims in Anchorage

Alaska Pacific University (APU) is putting on an extensive community study program this year on engaging Muslims. This weekend Dr. John Borelli a Catholic Scholar and Assistant for interreligious initiatives for the President of Georgetown University. This was a solid, academic talk - quite different in tone from Donald Johanson's 'science for the masses' presentation. Borelli got into Vatican political details in discussing the Catholic church's opening of dialog with the Muslim world. There was standing room only. The APU website describes the program this way:

Engaging Muslims: Religion, Cultures, Politics
A Community Education Project
Sponsored by the Cardinal Newman Chair of Catholic Theology at Alaska Pacific University

Global issues mandate that Americans gain a better understanding of Islam. This is especially true as we face the upcoming national presidential election. Islam is now the second largest religious community in the United States. Anchorage is now home to over 2000 Muslims.

Under the direction of the Cardinal Newman Chair, Alaska Pacific University is spearheading a project to foster a respectful understanding of Islam that recognizes the diversity in Islamic cultures as well as internal struggle within the contemporary Muslim world.

There was a series of exquisite handpainted pages from the Quuran outside the auditorium at Grant Hall. (I'm still trying to figure out how to get more control over photo sizes in iPhoto08, so this picture will be big enough to read the translated verses if you click on it.)

And as I neared home after the short bike ride from APU at 9pm the sky was dazzling.


  1. I too attended the Engaging Muslims lecture on Sunday. I however had a different impression, perhaps influenced by my extensive reading on the subject lately.

    There is so much material available now using the Internet as an library, no one has an excuse for ignorance of what the Quran teaches.

    With such a plethora of information concerning, for example, the absolute difference between the Jewish/Christian God, Yahweh and the spirit behind Islam, Allah--I tend to limit my question to that. If Muslims tell me that "we are all believers in the God of Abraham", I have to strongly point out the monstrous error in that basic point.

    If you're interested, I too have a newly-born blog on the subject that has links to some very good sites on the truth about Islam.

  2. oops, my blog is

  3. Snowman, I've looked at your blog and some of the links. Basically it was all pretty much about how evil Islam is and how Islam is the main threat to the Western World.

    You write in your comment here that perhaps you have been "influenced by [your] extensive reading on the subject lately." How long ago did you start this reading program? When you say extensive reading, does that mean you read a lot from one basic viewpoint or you read literature reflecting a wide variety of viewpoints on the meaning of Islam?

    I ask, because what I read on your blog had no hint of the possibility of the existence of good Muslims. Instead it only had rhetoric like this:

    "Dr Sultan said Islam was a "political ideology" that was wrongly perceived to have a moderate and hardline following.

    "That's why the West has to monitor the majority of Muslims because you don't know when they're ready to be activated. Because they share the same basic belief, that's the problem,"" (from your link to here)

    While I grant there are Muslims who are ready to kill in the name of Allah, we too have "Onward Christian Soldier." I think the language of websites like LGF that you link to is just as ideological and its readers (judging by their comments) would be just as willing to wage a Holy War on Satan.

    These blanket condemnations of Muslims as the source of all evil are reminiscent of what all despots do (including those in the Muslim world) to stir up the masses to support their wars. Hitler used the Jews for this.

    I personally know several Muslims I would trust with my life. I'm sorry you haven't met the kind of Muslims I have. But I also don't generalize from those few examples to say all Muslims are wonderful. But we need to go to them from a position of knowledge, not pseudo-knowledge.

    So that is why I'm curious about how long you've been spreading the anti-Muslim warning and whether your 'extensive' reading really means, reading a lot of stuff from the same perspective.


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