September 8, 2011
Imam Abdul-Malik Ryan is a founding member and past president of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network. He holds a bachelor’s in African-American Studies from DePaul University and is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center. Imam Ryan has been working as an attorney for children in Chicago’s foster care system for more than 10 years, and serves as Muslim chaplain at DePaul University. He has also been actively involved in Iftar in the Synagogue, an annual event of JCUA’s Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative.
Imam Abdul-Malik Ryan
By Imam Abdul-Malik Ryan
Are human beings basically all the same? Are we different? Are our differences merely superficial and unimportant or are they real and significant? If they are significant, what do they mean? What is their origin and what are we supposed to do when faced with difference, should we ignore it? Should we celebrate it? Should we fight about it?
The Qur’an’s answer to this question is pretty clear. In the 49th Surah (chapter) of the Qur’an, God says “O Humanity! We have created you from a male and female and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may know one another.” The ayah (verse) starts by telling us that all humans do indeed share the same origin and are literally part of the same human family.
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July 28, 2011
By Jillian Katz
Or Tzedek Participant
On July 17 I attended a Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative (JMCBI) text study on “Addiction, Dependency, and Autonomy.” The event was led by Abdul-Malik Ryan from the DePaul University Muslim Life Center and Rabbi Ruven Barkan from Chicagoland Jewish High School who presented, respectively, Muslim and Jewish texts focused primarily on alcohol consumption and gambling.
We began with Rabbi Barkan presenting a section of Talmud on who is not permitted to be a witness. According to the text, one who “plays the dice” (later explained to be one who has no career besides gambling) cannot be a witness. Next, Mr. Ryan read from the Qur’an about the Muslim prohibition from alcohol. Both leaders also told stories from their faiths and presented other texts and materials, including the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step plan to overcoming addiction.
Afterward we held a discussion based off of the religious texts, explanations, stories and other areas. We considered, among other topics, the effect addictive behaviors have on families and communities, Illinois’ controversial casino expansion bill, and one’s ability to prevent themselves from engaging in or cease participating in addictive behaviors.
JMCBI text studies, tied to current social or political issues, are always informative and engaging. The study environment is welcoming and respectful to people of all backgrounds. Perhaps most importantly, the sessions provide a unique opportunity to examine how two seemingly diverse religions actually have similar and complementary principles.
To learn more about JMCBI and to find out about upcoming events, visit www.jmcbi.org.