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Friday, February 18, 2011

Understanding Islam: The First Ten Steps - Reading now

About the book:
"The faith of a billion Muslims today, developed over fourteen centuries, is sympathetically and skillfully presented in this marvelous introduction. Hewer's extensive knowledge and contextually sensitive presentation yield an exceptionally rich and faithful account, presupposing no prior knowledge of the traditions, without orientalist, Western, or Christian biases. Includes diagrams, glossary, and easy to follow references to the Qur'an."

What others say about this book:
"Understanding Islam is a model in the genre. --Yahya Michot, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford University

"This is a clearly written and well-organized book that is a fine introduction to Islam. The author ably shows how the rich heritage of Islam is celebrated and expressed in the faith lives of Muslims." --John Kaltner, Rhodes College, author of Islam: What Non-Muslims Should Know.

Written by a Fellow in Christian-Muslim Relations (St. Ethelburga's Centre, London) with twenty years' experience, Understanding Islam is an introduction to Islamic theology, customs, philosophy, worldview, culture, scholarship, and history, accessible to lay readers of all backgrounds and featuring a fair amount of black-and-white photographs. ... Understanding Islam is as unbiased as humanly possible in its straightforward presentation. Enthusiastically recommended particularly for public libraries, and also as a detailed primer for anyone from lay people to scholars seeking to educate themselves about Islam and the people who practice it. - By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)[source:]
Related links:
  • C. T. R. Hewer, Understanding Islam: An Introduction
  • Presence & Engagement Network: Understanding Islam Course: A ten-week course offered free throughout Greater London
  • Review by Burkhard Weitz, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Wntr, 2008
  • More reviews, here
  • Understanding Islam by Dr. Chris Hewer, Fortress Press (2006, fourth impression: 2010), 244 pages.

    Chapter One: The wider picture: creation from a Muslim perspective
    Chapter Two: Muhammad, the last in the chain of Prophets
    Chapter Three: The Qur’an, the Revealed Word of God
    Chapter Four: An overview of Islamic history
    Chapter Five: The central beliefs of Islam
    Chapter Six: The principal practices of Islam
    Chapter Seven: A Muslim life
    Chapter Eight: Living constantly remembering God
    Chapter Nine: Islam and other faiths
    Chapter Ten: Muslims in Britain and Western Europe
    Further reading
    Each salat (the five times each day ritual prayer) is made up of number of cycles of prayer, called rak'at.
    ... Each rak'a comprises recitation of the Qur'an, bodily postures and prayers, said aloud or silently (p. 102).
    Previous posts on the same shelf:
  • Reading now: Do I Kneel or Do I Bow?
  • Did the Jews pray as Muslims do ?!
  • Friday, February 11, 2011

    Online religion and social media - The Church of Facebook

    The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community by Jesse Rice, David C. Cook; (2009)

  • Overall it is very well researched and offers good insights that show whats-up in terms of the emotional and spiritual dynamics of Facebook (albeit, limited to Christian perspectives):
    CPA - Continuous Partial Attention - This is the impulse to constantly check Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. It's motivated by the desire to not miss anything. It creates an artificial sense of crisis. It can cause a person to become over stimulated and unable to focus on what's right in front of him. (P 102)

    "In affect the hyperconnection of Facebook changes the nature of our relationships by turning our friends into audiences and us into performances... Our actions are often based on what we think our invisible entourage might like best." (P 112)

    People can become dependent on Facebook for their identity, self-worth, and decision making. (P 145, paraphrase)

    "[Genuine] community is less about `best-friendship' and more about intentional engagement with the people in our lives... maybe it's not the increasingly online nature of our relationships that is affecting our relationships most. Perhaps it is our `relational consumerism' that needs changing." (P 172 & 173)

    "Life can all to often feel like little more than a knee-jerk reaction to urgent emails, phone calls, meetings, and decisions." (P 190) -- extracts courtesy: Paul Steinbrueck "" (Safety Harbor, FL)
  • It shows the how Facebook is also allowing the open society to turn closer to God (this book is not about evils of Facebook)

  • Misleading title: For those who want to see the vertical religious resources (such as, Online Access to God, Online Temple, they have to go elsewhere); See my book: Cyber Worship in Multifaith Perspectives and then go to the cited links for an online Temple, For a Online Ritual),
  • The book is simply about communitas (borrowing a title of scholarly book on online religion); but here communitas is just about the horizontal connection between the people (not necessarily faithful; and not necessarily congregational get-to-gether-ness)

    On the same shelf:

  • The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition]
  • When Religion Meets New Media
  • Social Media and Religion @ Facebook
  • Pope Blesses Social Networking
  • Thy Kingdom Connected: What the Church Can Learn from Facebook, the Internet, and Other Networks (mersion: Emergent Village resources for communities of faith)
    Dwight J. Friesen
  • GOD's FACE IN FACEBOOK - A Fascinating True Encounter, Joseph Rubbens
  • Who's In Your Orbit?: Beyond Facebook Creating Relationships That Matter, Mike Muhney
  • Vatican bans confession by iPhone / Vatican bans iPhone 'God app'
  • Tuesday, February 08, 2011

    Cyberspace Personality Who Moved the Hearts of the Chinese in 2010

    Kebab vendor, Updated: 2011-01-28

    Better known as Alim, the 40-year-old had been selected as the "Cyberspace Personality Who Moved the Hearts of the Chinese in 2010" for his decade-long help for needy people.

    When Alimjan Halik touched down at Urumqi, capital city of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, he was feted like a returning hero. Better known as Alim, the 40-year-old had been selected as the "Cyberspace Personality Who Moved the Hearts of the Chinese in 2010" for his decade-long help for needy people.

    During that time, he donated almost all of his earnings - more than 100,000 yuan ($15,000) - from his humble kebab business in Bijie, Guizhou province.

    Born into a poor family with six siblings, Alim left home to earn a living in 1997 with only a kebab roaster. In Bijie, someone reached out and gave him a helping hand. As the city found a place in its heart for Alim, its citizens developed a taste for his lamb kebabs. But he seldom spends money on himself, preferring a simple meal of noodles and bread, sometimes leftover kebabs. He lives in a rented room in a shabby house, his leather shoes rescued from a rubbish bin.

    Over the past decade, Alim has helped more than 200 students from poor families, and 10 of them have entered university.

    On the same shelf:
  • 85 tribal Muslim and Hindu couples tie knot
    Cartoon by China Daily
  • Marriage bells toll in cyber churches
  • Sunday, February 06, 2011

    Gandhi, Akbar among world's top icons: Time Magazine

    Mahatma Gandhi, Mughal emperor Akbar and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama have been named by Time magazine among the world's top 25 political icons.
    Deccan Herald, New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS)
    "Though the country was later divided (and Gandhi assassinated), his role in the bloodless revolution ... paved the way for other social movements including America's struggle for civil rights," Time added.

    The magazine said Akbar helped a fragile collection of fiefs around Delhi to grow into what became the Mughal empire. He presided over a flourishing of the arts, sponsoring artisans, poets, engineers and philosophers.

    Calling him a "canny warlod", Time said that while he was a Muslim, Akbar was spiritually curious and hosted religious scholars from Hindu gurus to Jesuits, besides trying to meld Hinduism and Islam.

    "While the creed no longer lingers, the ethos of pluralism and tolerance that defined Akarb's age underlines the values of the modern republic of India."

    The Dalai Lama, Time said, is "not only the greatest and most public advocate for Tibetan rights and the virtues of Tibetan Buddhism, but also for interfaith tolerance and peace as well to people around the world.

    "To countless Tibetans, the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader and a head of state in absentia. For decades - and from exile since 1959 - he has worked to resolve tensions between Tibet and China.

    "And like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. before him, the Dalai Lama done so in a manner defined by non-violence and tolerance.

    "The Dalai Lama's humility has endeared him to presidents and religious leaders of several countries, affording him the opportunity to raise awareness and drum up support for Tibet on a global scale," the magazine said.

    Top 25 Political Icons
    Feb. 6 marks the 100th birthday of the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Few political figures in recent memory have matched the Gipper's charisma or enduring appeal. We look at other world leaders whose legacies have stood the test of time

    Full List
    Some Famous Folk
    Mohandas Gandhi
    Alexander the Great
    Mao Zedong
    Winston Churchill
    Genghis Khan
    Nelson Mandela
    Abraham Lincoln
    Adolf Hitler
    Ernesto "Che" Guevara
    Ronald Reagan
    Franklin Roosevelt
    Dalai Lama
    Queen Victoria
    Benito Mussolini
    Akbar the Great
    Margaret Thatcher
    Simón Bolívar
    Qin Shi Huang
    Kim Il-Sung
    Charles de Gaulle
    Louis XIV
    Haile Selassie
    King Richard the Lionheart &
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