Stephanie Caspelich

Reporting the news that matters.

Archive for the ‘Covering Religion’ Category

Nation of Islam

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The activities and message of the Nation of Islam have garnered much controversy over the years. Minister Louis Farrakhan’s appearance at UC Berkeley on March 12 sparked protests because of the “provocative” and “divisive” nature of his speech. His impersonation of an Asian person in relation to a point he was trying to make about immigrants taking away jobs from African-Americans was a classic example of rhetoric that has been denounced by critics for decades as bigoted, homophobic and anti-Semitic.

Although differences amplified in the news have influenced the public’s perception of the religion, ministers like Brother Jason Muhammad focus on the uplifting and restorative nature of the faith, and the similarities between the Nation of Islam and traditional Islam that lie in the “unifying thread” of their root and foundation.

Since it was established in July 1930 in Detroit, Michigan by Wallace Dodd Ford, generally regarded by members as Master Fard Muhammad, the Nation of Islam has been a theological source of community and pride for marginalized African-Americans.

“When you have a group of people who have been destroyed mentally, physically, morally and spiritually, as our people have, and someone comes along to give a word and that totally reverses the condition…well, he’s doing a job nobody else can do,” said Brother Jason, 36, assistant director of the Muhammad University of Islam at 7351 South Stony Island Ave. “We didn’t see value in ourselves until Master Fard Muhammad came for us. Because of his guidance, his servant the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and now with Minister Louis Farrakhan, they have given us from God, just that, value.”

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Written by Stephanie Caspelich

May 2, 2012 at 11:21 am

Khemararam Temple: Strengthening the Cambodian Community through Buddhism

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The United States has provided a safe haven for more than 150,000 Cambodians who fled their country at the end of the communist Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. They brought with them not only the painful and terrifying memories of genocide but also the promise of healing and transformation provided by their Buddhist faith.

From 1979 to 1985, various religious organizations assisted in the settlement of large groups of Cambodian refugees in Chicago. While some chose to convert to Christianity and Islam, over 90 percent of Cambodians remained practicing Theravada Buddhists.

The Khemararam Temple was established in 1985 by the Cambodian Buddhist Association to provide renewal and strength to all those struggling with the crippling effects of war and tyranny. Its location at 1258 W. Argyle St. is central to Cambodians who have made their homes in Uptown and Albany Park.

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Stephanie Caspelich

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