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Apr 21st, 2005 - 21:10:55 


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Arts & Letters

Big Spirit, Small Press: Islam from a Quaker Perspective

Anthony Manousos' Powerful Pamphlet Is Bigger than the Format

By Lois Barton

Posted on Jan 25, 2003

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Islam from a Quaker Perspective
by Anthony Manousos
18 page pamphlet 2002
published by Friends Bulletin
and Quaker Universalist Fellowship Friends Bulletin
to order e-mail or write
Friends Bulletin
3303 Raintree Ave.
Torrence, CA 90505

St. Francis and Sultan Malik al-Kamil of Egypt, courtesy of the Franciscan Cyberspot from the Codex No. 1266
Anthony Manousos is editor of the Friends Bulletin and also helped edit a Quaker inspired anthology of writings by Soviet and American writers called The Human Experience.

After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Anthony felt led to do something to help deal with feelings of grief, anger and confusion, and decided to fast one day a week. Incidental contacts at the time sparked his interest in Ramadan. In November that year he began to observe Ramadan, an Islamic holy period. This observance lasts for a month and is somewhat equivalent to Advent and Christmas for Christians.

This report shares experiences with local Muslims in their homes and mosques. Anthony began the practice of reading the Qur'an as well as daily prayers. He learned an opening prayer in Islam which compares to Christians' use of the Lords Prayer. The report is filled with details of contact with Muslim families. Each day ends with prayers and a feast, some of which he shared with such families

The pamphlet is organized into sections. Part II , "Are Muslims 'Friendly?' A Theological Overview" looks at links and differences. Anthony, a "liberal" Friend, found it a challenge to pin down Friends' faith and practice to Muslims whose basic faith and practices are relatively easy to describe. He listed Friends testimonies with a brief commentary for each one, noting similarities and variations in basic understanding.

Part III is "Quaker/Muslim Relations: some Historical Background." Early Friends missionary activity is touched on. Establishment of the Friends School in Ramallah is noted, plus American Friends Service Committee work in the Middle East and individual efforts such as Gene Hoffman's "compassionate listening" project.

The final page looks at visioning a future without war. Anthony says "What observing Ramadan taught me is that by reaching out to those in a different faith tradition we can begin to take those small but necessary first steps that can bring us closer to peace."

He quotes Fatma Redo, "Peace is achieved one person at a time, through a series of friendships." The conclusion states "This work will probably not be completed in our lifetime. Observing Ramadan, and seeking to understand that (which) inspired it, can be a small Friendly step in this direction."

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