Discussion guide available for Muhammad: the Story of a Prophet and Reformer

The Faith Development Office of the Unitarian Universalist Association is publishing a three-part, free, online discussion guide for the new Skinner House book, Muhammad: The Story of a Prophet and Reformer, by Sarah Conover.

The book offers younger readers and those who read with them “an encounter with a man quite different from the Muhammad often seen in Western popular culture,” according to publicity for the book. Conover relates the story of a radical prophet who challenged the rich and powerful, guided his community of followers through a dangerous time of persecution and exile, formed alliances with people of different beliefs, and preached “love for humanity what you love for yourself.”

Part One of the discussion guide is available now. It includes a 75-minute workshop for people aged 10 and up, using art and discussion to build knowledge about Islam and compare it to Unitarian Universalism.

Parts Two and Three of the discussion guide will be published later this fall and will be designed for combined groups of youth and adults. Part Two will explore contemporary stereotypes of Muslims. Part Three will examine interfaith relationships, including the interfaith roots of Unitarianism.

Conover is also co-author of Ayat Jamilah: Beautiful Signs: A Treasury of Islamic Wisdom for Children and Parents.

‘Acts of Faith’ discussion guide ready

The discussion guide for Acts of Faith, the 2011-12 “Common Read” of the Unitarian Universalist Association, is available now from the Ministries and Faith Development Staff Group as part of its online Tapestry of Faith resources.

In Acts of Faith, author Eboo Patel shares his faith journey as an American Muslim. He discusses how he was called to found the Interfaith Youth Core. Acts of Faith explores the appeal of religious fundamentalism to young people, noting that their spiritual hunger is tied to their desire to make a mark on the world. He encourages support of young people, helping them ground themselves in a faith that fuels their passions and inspires them to work across faiths to create a better world.

The discussion guide, available free online, is suitable for youth, young adult, campus, adult, and cross-generational Common Read groups. It offers materials for a single ninety-minute session or for three ninety-minute sessions, each expandable to two hours. It also provides the option of splitting the single ninety-minute session into two shorter sessions for those congregations that want to use it in a regular Sunday morning forum or discussion group.

Contact Gail Forsyth-Vail, the UUA’s Adult Programs director, for more information. Acts of Faith, published by Beacon Press, is available through the UUA bookstore with discounts for multiple copies.

UUA’s 2011-12 Common Read is ‘Acts of Faith’

Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, a memoir by Eboo Patel, is the 2011–2012 Unitarian Universalist Common Read. The Common Read project invites Unitarian Universalist youth and adults in all congregations to share a common reading experience, and to engage in reflection and action about that book.

In Acts of Faith, Patel shares his faith journey as an American Muslim who comes to believe in religious pluralism. Patel founded the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a nonprofit focused on building an interfaith youth movement. Patel invites those who believe in religious pluralism to support young people, helping them ground themselves in a faith that can equip them to work across faiths to make the world a better place.

Gail Forsyth-Vail, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Adult Programs director, said the book was chosen with an eye to both the tenth anniversary of September 11 and to the work of building coalitions as UUs prepare for General Assembly 2012, a “Justice GA” focused on immigration issues, in Phoenix.

The discussion guide will be published in October and will offer materials for a single 90-minute session or three 90-minute sessions, each expandable to two hours. The guide will provide the option of splitting the single 90-minute session into two shorter sessions. Download a flyer for Acts of Faith. The UUA Bookstore is offering the book for $14, plus a discount for multiple copies.

The UU Common Read last year was The Death of Josseline, stories about crossing the Mexico-Arizona border.

Fellowship hosts interfaith night

A journey of multicultural understanding can begin with a single invitation. The 31-member UU Fellowship of Hidalgo County, San Juan, Texas, through its Community Outreach Committee and an interfaith group, People for Peace and Justice, invited members of the local Muslim community for an evening of conversation at the fellowship.

More than 40 people from various faith traditions gathered on Sept. 25 to share food and watch the film Amreeka about a Palestinian family that immigrates to the U.S.  There was discussion after the film. Participants also created a “friendship banner” by writing words of hope and friendship across it. The imam of the local mosque spoke for about 10 minutes through a translator.

“The purpose of the gathering was to promote solidarity from people of different faiths, with a specific focus on our Muslim brothers and sisters,” said Caren Smith, former president of the fellowship. She added, “We’re proud of our members and friends who spend their time and energy keeping the light and wisdom of Unitarian Universalism shining in our community.”

San Juan is on the border with Mexico, near McAllen, Texas. The fellowship was organized in 1959.