Cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity is profoundly important in diverse communities such as New York – especially when it comes to issues of faith. Ensuring positive interfaith relations on institutional and interpersonal levels can result in a more positive, charitable community for all. In this series of blog posts, Catholic Charities explores the many dimensions of interfaith relations and the ways in which social services organizations can take a leadership role in this area.
By Richard Bertin
While we might traditionally associate February with Black History Month, Valentine’s Day, and the honoring of past presidents, religious traditions are also central to this time of year. On Feb 3, many Muslims celebrated Mawlid-al-Nabi, the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, while during the middle of the month Catholics began the Lenten season with Ash Wednesday.
We all know how important it is to learn about the past and celebrate the diverse cultural groups that contribute to our community – which of course includes religion. Never before have people worldwide been more connected to each other as they are today and yet there is still a pressing need for different cultures to understand each other, particularly in the politically polarizing realm of religion.
This past month, a partnership between Catholic Charities and the Interfaith Center of New York (ICNY) took action on this very issue.
After the success of the Archdiocesan-wide Feeding Our Neighbors campaign, which collected enough food and funds to supply 575,000 meals to replenish local food pantries, 2,500 lbs of that bounty were donated to the Muslim Women’s Institute Community Food Pantry at in the Bronx.
Thanks to the support of the GHR Foundation and ICNY, Catholic Charities has formed interfaith partnerships with Muslim food pantries that are also suffering from food shortages and decline in public funding. By joining together to reach a common goal of helping neighbors in need – despite cultural and religious differences – more food is available to all New Yorkers.
Did you know?
- Only 20% of the world’s Muslim population lives in the Middle East. (60% are found in Asia)
- Calling a person or group “Islamic” is inaccurate. To describe someone who follows Islam, it is better to use the term “Muslim.” The word “Islamic” is an adjective used to describe objects or ideas that connect to ideals of Islam, such as “Islamic art.”
- China has more Muslims than Syria. (One-fifth of the world’s Muslim population lives in countries where Islam is not the religious majority.
- “Arab” is not a racial or religious classification; it’s an ethnic classification. (There are 22 Arab nations)
- 63% of Arab Americans are Christian. (24% are Muslim)