Religions cooperate for social work

Different religious communities frequently organize various social projects. There is a general discussion taking place during an ongoing conference how to run these social projects across the religious boundaries. One such unique project has been initiated in Sweden.

Diakonia (ex. The Church’s various forms of responsibility) is a well known concept in the context of churchly activities. But, diapraxis, who knows about that? The word is thrown out several times during the conference session termed “Religion and social work” taking place this week in Stockholm. Here, different religions are discussed in hope of finding ways to cooperate within the framework of shared understanding of social services. The word diapraxis is frequently used as to identify this particular form of cooperation. This cooperation praxis (i.e. diapraxis) has already been established between several religious communities initially supportive of inter-faith dialog. A Swedish Church pastor and the project leader for ‘House of God’ Henrik Larsson points out “when we talk of inter-faith dialogue there is a stage where you must do things together”. The ‘House of God’ project in Fisksätra (Stockholm) is a frequently publicised building project where protestant-catholic church will be built under the same roof as a (Sunni) mosque. Initial inter-faith dialogue has thereby evolved into a practical building project where one building houses several different religious places of worship, albeit separated by a hallway and walls.

Swedish Church Hires Imam

18 March 2011
The Swedish Church has hired an Imam – Othman Al-Tawalbeh – to work with interreligious dialogue. The decision has been debated during the last week, especially amongst members of the church, but also in Muslim communities. While some are positive towards the collaboration, some Muslims have criticized as well the church as Al-Tawalbeh. The most critical voice comes from another Swedish Imam, Mahmoud Aldebe, who commented on the issue in Arabic media earlier this week. Tawalbeh felt Aldebe’s critique was formulated in such a way that it could create a threatening situation for him, and there has been rumors of Aldebe trying to get a fatwa against Tawalbeh from Jordan, his country of origin. Swedish Secret Police has been talking to Tawalbeh and is investigating whether or not there is a threat against him.
Othman Al-Tawalbeh is fairly well known in Sweden. He has been working in different dialogue projects for years. Also Aldebe is well known to the Swedish public, especially for his 2006 letter to the Swedish government asking for adaptations of the Swedish law in issues concerning the Muslim minorities.