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Leaders of deadliest terrorist groups
October 28th, 2013
03:56 PM ET

Terrorist attacks and deaths hit record high, report shows

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog co-editor

Washington (CNN) – As terrorism increasingly becomes a tactic of warfare, the number of attacks and fatalities soared to a record high in 2012, according to a new report obtained exclusively by CNN.

More than 8,500 terrorist attacks killed nearly 15,500 people last year as violence tore through Africa, Asia and the Middle East, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

That’s a 69% rise in attacks and an 89% jump in fatalities from 2011, said START, one of the world’s leading terrorism-trackers.

Six of the seven most deadly groups are affiliated with al Qaeda, according to START, and most of the violence was committed in Muslim-majority countries.

The previous record for attacks was set in 2011 with more than 5,000 incidents; for fatalities the previous high was 2007 with more than 12,800 deaths.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Afghanistan • Africa • Crime • Fatwa • Foreign policy • Iran • Iraq • Islam • Islamic law • Middle East • Muslim • Nigeria • Pakistan • Terrorism

October 16th, 2013
11:38 AM ET

In Syria, Muslims struggle to celebrate holy day

By Saad Abedine. Hala Gorani and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

(CNN) – Muslims throughout the world have been marking Eid al-Adha, but in war-torn Syria there is nothing to celebrate. Most people are struggling to meet the most basic of needs: food, water, and shelter.

Their plight has been highlighted by Arabic media reports which cite a fatwa, or religious ruling, by a local imam which allowed people who are desperately hungry to eat dogs and cats.

Eating dog, cat or donkey is forbidden under Islamic dietary laws.

The imam in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in the capital, Damascus, reportedly said at a mosque Friday that dog, cat and donkey meat could be eaten "after reaching a desperate need and the stores of food were inadequate to feed the population under the siege."

Yarmouk has been besieged for months by Syrian government forces seeking to flush out rebel fighters.

During the Eid al-Adha holiday, considered one of Islam's most revered observances, many Muslims around the world sacrifice a sheep and share the meat with the poor. It corresponds with the height of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that annually draws 2 million Muslims.

Outside Syrian, Muslims held more plentiful Eid al-Adha celebrations.

MORE ON CNN: Photos: Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Eid al-Adha • Faith • Food • Holidays • Islam • Islamic law • Islamic law • Middle East • Muslim • Syria • Traditions

Five takeaways from Pew’s comprehensive study on Islam
April 30th, 2013
03:33 PM ET

Five takeaways from Pew’s comprehensive study on Islam

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – A Pew Research Center study released Tuesday takes an in-depth look at Islam, including how Muslims around the world view extremism, sharia law and the meeting of religion and politics.

The study is a four-year effort by Pew, which conducted 38,000 face-to-face interview in 80-plus languages for the survey. In total, 39 countries and territories were included, all of which had over 10 million Muslims living there.

Here are the report’s five major takeaways:

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Faith Now • Islam • Islamic law • Polls

October 1st, 2012
04:30 PM ET

Explainer: Pakistan's blasphemy laws

By Reza Sayah, CNN

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) – It has been more than a month since a teenage Christian girl was charged in Pakistan under the country's blasphemy laws . Her accusers say she burned pages from the Quran, Islam's holy book. Amid twists in her case, including changed statements by witnesses, she is facing life in prison.

On Monday, CNN reported that three witnesses whose testimony could absolve the 14-year-old Rimsha Masih have changed their statements, a potential setback for her. She has denied the charges.

The case has drawn the country's complex laws about blasphemy into the spotlight. Here is a primer on those laws.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Faith Now • Islam • Islamic law • Pakistan • Quran

August 20th, 2012
11:40 AM ET

Girl held on Pakistan blasphemy charge

By Katie Hunt and Nasir Habib, CNN

(CNN) - An 11-year-old Christian girl has been arrested and detained on charges of blasphemy for allegedly desecrating pages from the Quran in the Pakistan capital Islamabad.

According to a statement released by the President's office on Sunday, the girl, identified as Ramsha, was accused by a local resident of burning pages of the Muslim holy text after she gathered paper as fuel for cooking.

Local media reports said the girl has Down syndrome. CNN was unable to confirm these reports, however Qasim Niazi, the police officer in charge of the police station near where the incident took place, said the girl did not have a mental disorder but was illiterate and had not attended school.

The accused girl had told him she had no idea there were pages of the Quran inside the documents she burnt, he added.

Niazi said that 150 people had gathered on Friday where the neighborhood's Christian population lived and threatened to burn down their houses.

"The mob wanted to burn the girl to give her a lesson," he told CNN.

Other Christian families living in the area have fled fearing a backlash, he added.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Faith Now • Islam • Islamic law • Pakistan • Quran

How religion has been used to promote slavery
Moses led the Israelites out of slavery, but he and other religious giants accepted slavery for others, scholars say.
March 29th, 2012
09:19 AM ET

How religion has been used to promote slavery

By John Blake, CNN

Editor’s note: The CNN documentary 'Slavery's Last Stronghold' airs on CNN International TV March 29, 30, 31 and April 22. Check local listings for times.

(CNN) - Which revered religious figure - Moses, Jesus, or the Prophet Mohammad - spoke out boldly and unambiguously against slavery?

Answer: None of them.

One of these men owned slaves, another created laws to regulate - but not ban – slavery. The third’s chief spokesman even ordered slaves to obey their masters, religious scholars say.

Most modern people of faith see slavery as a great evil. Though the three great Western religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – disagree on many matters, most of their contemporary followers condemn slavery.

Yet there was a time when Jews, Christians and Muslims routinely cited the words and deeds of their founders to justify human bondage, scholars say.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Church and state • Egypt • History • Islam • Islamic law • Islamic law • Israel • Jesus • Moses • Muslim • Uncategorized

Muslim campaign looks to repair Sharia’s reputation
The organization’s PSA features Rais Bhuiyan, a man who was shot in the face as part of a revenge shootings post 9/11 but went on to lobby for the right of his shooter.
March 2nd, 2012
05:00 AM ET

Muslim campaign looks to repair Sharia’s reputation

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – A major American Muslim group is embarking on a national campaign Friday to clarify a word it says has been given a bad name by recent global and domestic politics: Sharia.

The Islamic Circle of North America says its effort is aimed at “educating Americans” on what it says is the noble meaning of Sharia through conferences, billboards, and TV and radio PSAs.

The group is also launching a national hot line to answer questions about Sharia and Islam.

For more than a billion Muslims around the world, Sharia describes a way of life, from dietary laws to a code of moral life. For some conservative American critics, the word is sinister – connoting a draconian legal code that they contend threatens to subvert American law.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Faith Now • Islam • Islamic law • Sharia

February 1st, 2012
10:51 AM ET

Islamist or Islamic?

(CNN)–CNN's Erin Burnett examines two recent cases of violence against women. Were they the product of religion or culture? Is there a difference?

In this video essay Burnett discusses her own experiences in the Middle East and speaks to an awarding-winning journalist, Deborah Scroggins, the author of "Wanted Women: Faith, Lies & The War on Terror," to try and answer the question "Islamic or Islamist?"

Read more about the issue of "honor murders" here and here on the Belief Blog.

And don't miss all the latest on Burnett's show from the Out Front Blog.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Culture wars • Faith Now • Islam • Islamic law • Quran

Pastor's possible execution reveals nuances of Islamic law
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani preaches in a file photo.
October 7th, 2011
06:55 PM ET

Pastor's possible execution reveals nuances of Islamic law

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) – The possible hanging of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for converting from Islam to Christianity has exposed a division among Islamic jurists on whether Iran would be violating Islamic law by carrying out the execution.

According to some of these scholars, the Quran not only outlaws the death penalty for the charge of apostasy, but under Sharia law, conversion from Islam is not a punishable offense at all.

"Instead, it says on a number of occasions that God prefers and even demands that people believe in Him, but that He will handle rejection of such belief by punishing them in the afterworld," wrote Intisar Rabb, an assistant professor of law at Boston College and a faculty affiliate in research at Harvard Law School, in an e-mail to CNN.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Faith Now • Iran • Islam • Islamic law

Ahmadinejad praises woman who pardons attacker
Ameneh Bahrami, who was blinded in both eyes after having acid hurled in her face, at her home in Tehran, on July 31.
August 4th, 2011
11:25 AM ET

Ahmadinejad praises woman who pardons attacker

By the CNN Wire Staff

Tehran, Iran (CNN) - Iran's president is lauding a woman for pardoning a man who blinded and disfigured her in an acid attack, a gesture of forgiveness reflecting the spirit of the Muslim month of Ramadan.

"The act of altruism that occurred is an honor for us and the Iranian nation and caused many to learn a lesson from this move and to change," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told acid victim Ameneh Bahrami on Wednesday, the president's office reported on its website.

An Iranian court convicted Majid Movahedi in 2008 of pouring a bucket of acid on Bahrami, after she had rejected his unwanted advances for two years. She had asked for retributive justice and the court ruled the attacker should be blinded with acid.

Read the full story here
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Courts • Faith Now • Holidays • Islam • Islamic law • Ramadan

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.

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