Moving beyond intra-cultural and cross-cultural misunderstandings among diverse Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
The need for greater understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims is not new; however, since the 9/11 attacks on this country and the growing anger and even hatred projected upon Muslims by non-Muslims worldwide, there is an urgent and tremendous need to not only foster understanding, but also engage in direct restorative dialogue for a deeper sense of healing between peoples. Current polls show that the majority of Americans lack an understanding of Islam, and in turn are fearful of and uncomfortable with Muslims. Anti-Muslim sentiment in recent years has included preconceived notions of Sharia law and fears of Sharia law expanding in the United States, with the implication being serious negative consequences for American culture. To complicate matters, many Muslims also disagree about the application of Islam in daily life, at the same time many non-Muslims mistakenly perceive that all Muslims align with extreme points of view and action. Local communities throughout the world where Muslims and non-Muslims co-exist can point to ongoing evidence of growing violence in this environment of fear.
Moving beyond misunderstandings through restorative justice dialogue is a tangible step forward to realize cross-cultural relationship building, peacemaking and understanding. Substantial information is available on Islam, yet very little is available on the convergence of Islam and restorative justice practices, including the use of restorative dialogue to improve understanding among diverse Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking aims to fill this gap.
The Center has initiated restorative dialogue among diverse communities in response to hate crimes, intolerance, and political violence. This involved partnerships with Somali-Muslim leaders in Minneapolis, the Mideast, and among American Palestinians and Jews, as well as the larger USA Muslim community. The Center plans to expand these initiatives moving forward.
View this PowerPoint for the basics on Restorative Justice and Islam
Islam and Restorative Justice: An Introduction [PPT 97-03]
Video interview with Dr. Saeed Fahia, executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota