MLKing & Eid Al-Adha: Ten Anti-War Days in January

Philadelphia Area Interfaith Peace Network 12/27/2004

Dear Friends,

This coming January, Martin Luther King Birthday weekend, the Re-Inauguration of our War President, and the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, marking Abrahams near-sacrifice of his son Ishmael — all come during the period from Friday January 14 to Sunday January 23.

(Specific dates: MLK real birthday 1/15, official birthday 1/17, the Inauguration 1/20, and Eid is observed for a four-day period that will include 1/23)

This could become a time for joint action by Christians, Jews, and Muslims to oppose the Iraq war.

The basic message is this: The three Abrahamic traditions Jewish, Muslim, and Christian all teach that in spiritual surrender, we offer to God what is dear to us. - As Abraham learned at the last moment when he prepared to offer the death of his son, the offering we are called to make is for the sake of life, not death.

As he slaughtered the ram instead of his son, so we learn to feed the poor, instead of killing our children.

Today the Iraq war carries out precisely the reverse of this teaching. Through the Federal budget, the US government is robbing the poor in order to kill our children.

Before going into more detail on this proposal for January, we also want to point out that next October, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Jewish High Holy Days, and the Christian Saints Day for St. Francis of Assisi all coincide. This could also become a time for joining in prayer, study, and action. We will be writing about this later.

The Philadelphia Area Interfaith Peace Network has developed the following plan for addressing the issues of the Iraq War. We are horrified by three kinds of killing created by the war:

  • Needless deaths of Iraqis (about 100,000) and Americans (about 1100).

  • Destruction of whole cities in Iraq.

  • Deaths of Americans caused by robbing us of the money that could go to schools, health care, environmental protection, police and fire protection but is being used instead to pay for the war.

We can take the whole period from January 14 to 23 to say loud and clear: We must stop killing our children. We must stop starving the poor.

On the weekend of MLKing's Birthday (Jan 14-17), we encourage churches, synagogues, mosques to focus on Dr. King's teaching of April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church, exactly one year before he died that racism, militarism, and materialism were "triplets," three great dangers to America.

They still are.

He called on the American people to end a war that the US had initiated against Vietnam.

And here we are again.

He spoke of how public policy had abandoned the poor.

And here we are again. Still.

He was speaking as a leader of Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel stood with him. They chose to work together across the barricades and boundaries of different religious communities, learning from not losing their specific richnesses.

And here we are again or can choose to be. This time, with the added richness of Islam.

Some congregations may choose to focus on the "racism" element of King's message. Each congregation will of course make its own choice. We hope simply to make prayer and study materials available to assist those who choose the "Triplet" theme.

Dr. King's speech at Riverside Church on 4/4/67 is posted here

This focus on the three dangers through sermons, prayer, Sunday school, adult ed will go on in each congregation according to its own practice, WITH AN INTENTION TO PREPARE PEOPLE FOR THE FOLLOWING: ---

On the weekend following, Jan 22-23, the Muslim community will be observing Eid al-Adha, the memorial for Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son (Ishmael, in Muslim tradition).

We hope to gather in ONE place for the observance of Eid al-Adha, in a mosque, on Sunday January 23, making clear that the medium is the message. Rather than war between the US and Islam, we choose peace between and among Judaism, Christianity, & Islam.

The story of Abraham and his son describes God's decision NOT to demand the death of our children. Instead, in Muslim tradition, Abraham not only offers a ram instead but provides its meat to the poor. Muslim communities do this into our own generation.

In spiritual surrender, we offer what is dear to us for the sake of life, not death.

We feed the poor, with the energy that would have gone to killing.

Today the Iraq war is precisely the reverse of this teaching. We are robbing the poor in order to kill our children.

As an anti-war theology, this Muslim approach calls us to the same sensibility as the themes of Dr. King's great speech.

These callings ask us to see the Iraq war not as an accidental eruption from nowhere, but a flowering that is rooted in these three great dangers::

Racism: poured out not only on the Black and Brown communities, but now also on Muslims and Arabs.

Materialism: Pushed on us like an addiction by, among others, the Drug Lords of Big Oil. The obsessiion of our officials with controlling the sources of oil instead of turning to healing, conserving, and renewable sources of energy.

Militarism: Placed now at the heart of American economy, polity, and culture. So powerful that the Pentagon can, to protect its own turf and money, defeat an Intelligence Reform bill that is supported by the Preasident, leaders of both political parties, and the overwhelming majority of the public.

The two weekends, MLK's real and official birthdays and Eid Al-Adha, will "surround" the Inauguration on Thursday, Jan.20.

Such issues as the money spent on death and killing in Iraq and thereby taken from the poor, from the children, the schools, the earth, health care will be on the table in Washington as the Inauguration happens and we move toward the State of the Union and the Budget speeches.

Not only will we be making clear that Muslims, Christians, and Jews can work together we will be showing that issues like the war, poverty, etc., raise MORAL and RELIGIOUS and SPIRITUAL questions.

We welcome comments on, concerns about, and suggestions for this plan.

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