Sunday, 29 June 2014

An invitation to an interfaith women's lunch ---- Lajna Imalliah Victoria, the women's auxiliary of Amadiyyah Muslim Association ---- Saturday 23 August 2014

Ballarat Interfaith Network (BIN) has received an invitation to lunch.  :Please note it is a women only lunch.

The invitation comes from Lajna Imalliah Victoria, the Women's Auxiliary of the  Amadiyyah Muslim Association of Australia.

At the moment BIN is considering two options to enable attendance at the lunch from Ballarat people.

  •  Firstly, if there are sufficient numbers we would consider hiring a bus.  There would be a financial contribution required from attendees if this option was tajken.
  • Secondly, if numbers are few we would be car-pooling.
Needless to say, for either option we would need you to be in touch for this.  You can do this by emailing  

It is suggested that, if you are coming to the lunch, you follow the RSVP instructions in the flyer published below"

RSVP by 10 August 2014.
Contact: Khola Usman on 0449 665 263 or Sabia Waheed on 0450 156 180

and be in touch with us at the email address above.  Further information about Amadiyyah is published below so that you can be well informed prior to the lunch.

If you can't see the flyer,
please click on the title bar and it will come up.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

A Christian shares in the practice of Ramadan ---------- Dave Andrews

Dave Andrews tells us about Ramadan
from the perspective of a Christian with Muslim friends. Many thx to Dave for his permission to publish his Facebook post below.

My Reasons For Fasting As A Christian With Muslim Friends In Ramadan
I don’t know a lot, but let me tell you the little bit I have learnt about Ramadan over the last few years. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It is a period of prayer, fasting, reflection, solidarity, accountability and charity.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars (religious duties) of Islam. It is a time of self-examination and increased religious devotion Fasting occurs during daylight but meals can be eaten when the sun is down. It is common to have a pre-fast meal (suhoor) before sunrise and an evening meal (iftar) after sunset during Ramadan. Groups of people, including the chronically ill, mentally challenged, and the elderly who cannot participate due to health reasons, are exempt from fasting.
Muslims are encouraged to read the Qur'an often during Ramadan. Some Muslims recite the entire Qur'an by the end of Ramadan through special prayers known as Tarawih, which are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a section of the Qur'an is recited. I have one Muslim friend, MK, who knows the whole of the Qur’an by heart and can recite it all by himself.
Muhammad Nazreen says ‘Ramadan has created a stream consciousness for us to rethink the system. For instance, consumerism becomes a major hindrance for the development of the marginalised poor. Ramadan gives us chances to sober up on how the poor are mistreated by the inequalities of the economic system. During this fasting month, we are encouraged to give more and get less. Perhaps, this might be an implicit message that we can learn from Ramadan.’
Ramadan is a time for Muslims to remember the hungry as they go hungry and many Muslims donate to charity by participating in food drives for the poor, organizing a collection or charity event, and other voluntary activities. During Ramadan our friends from AMARAH (Australian Muslim Advocates for the Rights of All Humanity) join us in our community meals with the ‘marginalised poor’.
The Oxford University Islamic academic, Tariq Ramadan, says: ‘Human beings must undertake the fast in a spirit of seeking nearness to the Unique, of equality and nobility among their fellows, women and men alike, and in solidarity with the downtrodden. The core of life thus rediscovered is this: to return to our hearts, to reform ourselves in the light of what is essential, and celebrate life in solidarity.’
I may not always fast during Ramadan, but I have wanted to fast and pray as a Christian with my Muslim friends during Ramadan in the last few years because it's a joy to fast and pray with friends, we remind ourselves once again of the priority of loving God and loving our neighbor, we demonstrate our solidarity as brothers and sisters in the Abrahamic families of faith, we reflect on the cruel limitations and contradictions of the consumerist capitalist system we inhabit and we remember the plight of the ‘marginalised poor’ being forced to go without food involuntarily whom we are called to serve.

Interfaith blogging

Beside the Creek, the blog of the Ballarat Interfaith Network, is but one of many interfaith blogs across the planet.  Here is another, Project Interfaith.

The building of two mosques - and a tale of two close-by communities

More about the building of Mosques in Bendigo and Ballarat - and demonstrating the contrast of communities


Anti-mosque campaign sparks hate concerns

24 Jun 2014By Phillippa Carisbrooke
  • Duration00:03:45
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The proposed mosque for Bendigo (IAM)

Some fear the battle against Bendigo's first mosque may incite religious hatred.
In the regional Victorian city of Bendigo, a legal challenge is being planned against a city council decision to grant planning permission for a proposed $3 million dollar mosque.

A lengthy and fierce battle is expected, which some fear may incite religious hatred.

But just 130-kilometres south of Bendigo, in Ballarat, work is quietly and peacefully progressing on another mosque.

Phillippa Carisbrooke reports.

(Click on audio tab to listen to this item)

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Anti-semitism on the rise in Europe?

A scene from The Death of Klinghoffer … The New York Met has cancelled its global telecast of the op
A scene from The Death of Klinghoffer … 
The New York Met has cancelled its global telecast of the opera.
 Photograph: Tristram Kenton

The New York Met this week cancelled its planned global telecast of John Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer, the opera that portrays the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship by the Palestinian Liberation Front in 1985. While emphasising that the work itself is not antisemitic, the Met's general manager, Peter Gelb, said that he recognised concerns among Jews "at this time of rising antisemitism, particularly in Europe". Regardless of one's view of either the opera or the Met's decision, Gelb is unfortunately spot on about Europe.
survey of global attitudes towards Jews conducted by the Anti-Defamation League recently found that 24% of people in western Europe (37% in France, 29% in Spain, 27% in Germany, 69% in Greece) and 34% in eastern Europe (41% in Hungary, 45% in Poland, 38% in Ukraine) harboured antisemitic views. By this it meant they agreed with six or more classical stereotypes about Jews from a list of 11 including "Jews have too much control over the US government", "Jews are responsible for most of the world's wars", and "People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave".

To read more, please go here.

Please note:
Links have been inserted by the Beside The Creek editor.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Methodist Church in Fiji comes out in support of a free West Papua

Good news from Fiji.
The Heads of the Methodist Church In Fiji and Rotuma, the largest religious organisation in the country, have decided to publicly support self-determination and freedom for the people of West Papua and now wear special Black and Red ribbons in solidarity.

Photo and information credit to Fiji Times Online

The West Papua struggle for independence from Indonesia is one the church has long supported.

And this latest show of support comes in the same week that Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was hosted by the Pacific Islands Development Forum in Fiji.

"The Methodist Church in Fiji is a committed member of both the Pacific Conference of Churches Secretariat (PCC) and the Fiji Council of Churches," church spokesman Reverend James Bhagwan said.

"As such we support the call for the end of human rights abuses in Tanah Papua (West Papua), for their social, economic and political empowerment and for self-determination.

"We stand in solidarity with our brothers, sisters and children of Tanah Papua (West Papua).

"We have received their cry and we will echo it and speak this truth to power."

He also said they supported the work of PCC on the West Papua issue and looked forward to working in partnership with them to enable self-determination in its fullest sense for the people of Tanah Papua (West Papua).

To all Fiji Church Leaders, thank you very much for your incredible support and compassion for our suffering people.

We continue to encourage and thank all Pacific Churches and all supporters around the world for all the outstanding wave of support we are receiving for this struggle for self-determination and freedom for the people of West Papua.

Thank you all very much

These ribbons and bands are reportedly available from PCC or PANG (PacificNetwork on Globalization) office.

In the picture: Front line .... (from left) Reverends Jeremaia Waqainabete, Immanuel Reuben, Deputy General Secretary Rev Epineri Vakadewavosa and Finance Director Livai Tuisaravere with the ribbons in support of West Papua.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Initiatives of Change and the Caux Conferences

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) - and a controversial decision

The largest U.S. Presbyterian church narrowly voted Friday to divest from three multinational corporations that it said supply Israel with products that promote violence in occupied Palestinian territories.
The divestment, vehemently opposed by many of the nation's prominent Jewish organizations, and hailed by many pro-Palestinian activists, passed by seven votes after hours of tense and complex debate. It means the Presbyterian Church (USA) will sell its shares of Motorola Solutions, Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard, worth about $21 million.
The vote at the church's biennial General Assembly, meeting this week in Detroit, was 310 to 303. It makes the 1.76-million member church the largest religious group to vote for divestment, an issue that has been fiercely debated in recent years among mainline Protestants. The Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America both have rejected divestment. Presbyterians have discussed divestment for a decade, and a similar vote was narrowly defeated two years ago at the last church assembly.
There was an audible gasp on the floor in at the COBO Center in downtown Detroit after the motion passed. "In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish brothers and sisters," Heath Rada, the church assembly's moderator, told the assembly afterwards.
But opponents described it as exactly that.
For more on the topic of BDS (Boycotts, Sanctions and Divestments) please go to the links below:

Friday, 20 June 2014


With so many countries in turmoil it’s easy to understand how the U.N. refugee agency counts more than 45 million refugees and displaced persons in the world. What’s not always clear is where they will go and who will help them.

On the front line of aid for many of these people are religious groups who help refugees not only out of sympathy for their plight, but also because of commandments in sacred texts.

These paragraphs are from Dale Hanson Bourke's article in On Faith.

Celebrating the end of Ramadan on Saturday July 19? Do it the Aghan way....

Thursday, 19 June 2014

World Peace and Prayer Days - 19 to 22 June 2014

From Global Indigenous Initiative:

World Peace and Prayer Days take place June 19 - 22, 2014, with a globally synchronized meditation with communities around the planet. GII's#HiddenSeeds supports this beautiful tapestry of people, worldwide, coming together in a spirit of unity and love for Source, the planet and one another.

Visit #Unify ( for more information about the globally synchronized meditation. And, read this great article, "Honoring Sacred Sites, World Peace and Prayer Day" by Jacob Devaney:

URI - The Global Indigenous Initiative

For more about this, please go to the Facebook page of the Global Religious Initiative

Buddha Teachings on Twitter

Monday, 16 June 2014

Celebrating Ballarat's new Mosque #1

This report was published in The Courier, Balliarat's daily newspaper, over the week-end.  I am expecting photos to come to me which should help in providing a broader report.

Ballarat's first mosque helps build community

BALLARAT has ushered in a new era with the first dedicated prayer space for its growing Muslim population nearing completion.
Construction of the city's first mosque is due to be finished within two months.
The Courier was given a tour of the near complete Elsworth Street mosque on Saturday.
Once open, which could be as soon as August, the mosque will have the capacity to hold about 150 people and will be open every day from dawn.
Aisha Aboulfadil, a Muslim living in Ballarat for the last seven years, said the mosque represented more than just prayer.
"It can feel really disjointed here in Ballarat... it can feel like 'well I'm a Muslim and people accept that but why don't we have anywhere to pray?," she said.
"This is huge for Ballarat, it will bring people together, it will build our community, it will offer the chance to meet others of the same faith... it is so much more than just a place to pray."
A local 17-year-old Muslim refugee, who fled brutal conflict in Pakistan in 2012, said the mosque would make life in Australia without his family a little easier.
The teenager, who didn't want to be named, said he often travelled to mosques in Melbourne to pray.
"I pray everyday... but I've never had the chance to pray at a Mosque in Ballarat," he said.
"This means a lot for me, and it means a lot for Ballarat... it's a very big thing."
Ballarat's Muslim community, which includes about 70 families and a strong contingent of students, currently pray from home or use a dedicated space at the university for collective prayer on Fridays.
A topic of debate and anger in many communities around the country, the construction of the mosque in Ballarat has so far been smooth sailing.
Ballarat Islamic Society board member Mehfooz Ahmad said the group wanted to thank the people of Ballarat for their "overwhelming support".
"At the beginning there was a little bit of resistance... but now we can't thank the people of Ballarat enough for their support," he said.
Mr Ahmad was quick to denounce some of the myths surrounding mosques, including concerns about the traditional 'call to prayer' being played over loudspeakers.
"That will not happen here because it simply isn't required," he said.
He said many Islamic countries played the call to prayer over loudspeakers to remind people to pray, adding it wasn't required in Ballarat because of the small number of Muslims and the fact they would know prayer times at the new mosque.
While not a residential area by any means - the mosque is mostly surrounded by industrial buildings - the mosque is neighboured by two homes.
Mr Mehfooz said those occupants had also been supportive and co-operative.

Religion and women after trauma and violence

Religion is two-edged sword for women after trauma and violence

Religion is two-edged sword for women after trauma and violenceLeft to right, Dr. Silka Spahic Siljak and Dr. Susan St. Ville

13 June 2014
Religion is a double-edged sword for women healing from violence and trauma, say two scholars whose work investigates and analyses the area.

Dr Susan St. Ville teaches in and directs the master’s programme at the Joan B. Krock Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, U.S.A., while Dr Zilka Spahic Siljak, a Bosnian scholar, serves currently as a visiting lecturer in Women’s Studies and Islamic Studies at Harvard Divinity School.

The two theologians visited the Ecumenical Centre while facilitating the weeklong workshop on “Women’s Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace—Inspired by UNSR1325,” sponsored by the Ecumenical Institute Bossey, the educational engine of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

The seminar was developed by the WCC programme Just Community of Women and Men (formerly Women in Church and Society) led by Dr. Fulata Lusungu Moyo, programme executive, and  focussed on making accessible UNSCR1325 to religious women.

UNSR1325 is the UN Security Council resolution that mandates focus on and involvement of women in post-conflict arrangements for peace-building and reconstruction, a key asset for developing or restoring gender justice in war-torn areas that have witnessed large-scale gender violence.

Religion: friend or foe of women?
While recent Gallup Polls, for example, still demonstrate the ongoing influence and authority of religion in people’s lives, says Siljak, it varies wildly in different contexts. In post-socialist regimes of Eastern Europe and during the Bosnian war, for example, religious institutions and church bodies proved not helpful to women. “Religion is not helpful if politicized or manipulated” as a tool of nationalism, she said. “But personal religion was helpful for women who had been victimized by violence as a means of coping with trauma and moving on to reconstruct their lives.” In the end, she said, their faith in God can help women heal.

Against a backdrop of institutional indifference, Siljak noted, women have created “alternative spaces” and faith-based organizations to address their concerns. Ironically, she said, the work of secular organizations can sometimes provide a platform for and impetus to religious women to organize.

Still, in many contexts “churches have been real resources for resilience,” said St. Ville, citing work in East Africa, particularly Uganda, where she has seen religious women create effective programmes for counselling and post-trauma life-support for women after 20 years of war.

Practice trumps and validates theory
Although at the forefront of recognizing and engaging diversity and the role of practice, feminist theory and theology still struggle for legitimacy in academic settings and are often seen as too abstract, both scholars affirmed.

“The WCC functions well as a partner in this dialogue” between theory and practice, said Siljak, since it provides access to a global infrastructure of women active in religious settings around the world, both individually and in powerful movements on the ground. “Women’s movements are feminist theory in practice,” said St. Ville, and theologians can “use the great religious infrastructure” to inform their theologies and support real change. To stay relevant, she said, theologians “should not allow theories to discount practice.”

Frontiers of feminist reflection
After a generation of pioneering feminist theology and historical work, and of feminist theory, where is the feminist engagement with religion headed?

Siljak finds inspiration in on-the-ground women’s movements, especially in Roman Catholic communities of women religious and in Islamic communities. There she witnesses women working with, through, and around religious traditions to find affirmation, respect, and authority. In nonreligious NGOs, too, Siljak experiences helpful inter-religious encounters of Christian, Muslim and Jewish women.

For St. Ville, the feminist quest still centres around the question, “How do women get agency?” whether in situations of violence and trauma, in creating movements for social change, or in the academic disciplines.

Although for post-trauma women “the theodicy question is huge,” she marvels at how, despite the checkered legacy of faith communities in relation to women, “People find their way through it in different ways, through their personal faith journeys.” Attending to how women actually cope as individuals and in movements, she says, is the privileged site of new learning, because “People find their way out of pain in amazing ways.”

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2013 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 140 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.

Visiting address: 150 route de Ferney, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Pope Francis says "World economic system is 'madness; "

The article below is republished from Australia's ABC News website.

Comment from The Editor of Beside The Creek:  And so say all of us???

World economic system is 'madness', 

puts money ahead of people, Pope Francis says

Updated Sat 14 Jun 2014, 1:36pm AEST
Pope Francis has launched a sweeping attack on the world's economic system, saying it discards the young, puts money ahead of people and survives on the profits of war.
The 77-year-old leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics said some countries had a youth unemployment rate of more than 50 per cent, with many millions in Europe seeking work in vain.
"It's madness," the Pope said in an interview with the Barcelona-based Vanguardia daily's Vatican correspondent Henrique Cymerman.
"We discard a whole generation to maintain an economic system that no longer endures, a system that to survive has to make war, as the big empires have always done," he said.
"But since we cannot wage the third world war, we make regional wars.
"And what does that mean? That we make and sell arms. And with that the balance sheets of the idolatrous economies - the big world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money - are obviously cleaned up."
Pope Francis says there is enough food to feed all the world's hungry.
"When you see photographs of malnourished children you put your head in your hands, you cannot understand it," he said.
"I think we are in a global economic system that is not good."
The Pope says the people's needs should be at the heart of the economic system.
"But we have placed money in the centre, the god of money. We have fallen into the sin of idolatry, the idolatry of money. The economy moves by the desire to have more and paradoxically it feeds a disposable culture," he said.
The pontiff said the young were discarded when "the birth rate is limited" and the old were discarded when they no longer were considered productive.
"By discarding children and the old, we discard the future of a people because the young will pull us strongly forward and the old will give us wisdom," he said.

The World Cup and Ramadan

The stifling Brazil heat has already ensured there will be drink intervals at the World Cup, yet several footballers could also be affected by Ramadan, the Islamic period of worship, during the finals when the contest enters the knockout phase.  For more please go to this link

Threatened animals from the Book of Genesis

The EPA recently announced its most aggressive plan ever 
to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the United States: 30% by 2030. 
Cutting the poisonous greenhouse gas is the first of three objectives outlined in 
Obama's Climate Action Plan (CAP)
 and forms part of what Obama calls 
"a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that's not polluted." 
According to The Nature Conservancy, if climate change continues at its current rate, 
a quarter of the earth's species could be extinct by the year 2015.

Saturday, 14 June 2014