September 15th, 2013
07:54 AM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorFollow @BurkeCNN
(CNN) - Heaven and Earth are said to meet atop Jerusalem’s sacred mounts, but the city’s stony streets have seen more than their share of violence.
King David subdued the Jebusites, the city's Canaanite founders. The Babylonians and Romans routed the Jews. Muslims booted the Byzantines. Christian Crusaders mauled Muslims and were, in turn, tossed out by the Tartars.
The Ottomans followed, then Britain, then Jordan, before finally, in 1967, the city came nearly full circle when Israel annexed East Jerusalem. That sparked another cycle of violence, this time between Israelis and Palestinians.
“It’s easily the most contentious piece of real estate in the world,” says Anthony Bourdain, who visits Jerusalem in the season premiere of “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown,” which debuts Sunday night on CNN.
“And there’s no hope - none - of ever talking about it without pissing someone off.”
September 11th, 2013
09:24 AM ET
Opinion by Nathan Lean, special to CNN
(CNN) – The attacks of September 11, 2001, were unthinkable, and are rightfully memorialized with the somber reflection that marks other tragedies of our nation’s past.
From the Oval Office that Tuesday evening 12 years ago, President George W. Bush addressed the stricken nation with a message of hope.
“Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America,” he said. “This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace.”
Sadly, though, out of that dark hour came more darkness.
September 4th, 2013
01:10 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - How did Syria go from an internal uprising to a wider clash drawing funding and fighters from across the region?
In a word, Middle East experts say, religion.
Shiite Muslims from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran have flooded into Syria to defend sacred sites and President Bashar al-Assad's embattled regime. Sunni Muslims, some affiliated with al Qaeda, have rushed in to join rebels, most of whom are Sunni.
Both sides use religious rhetoric as a rallying cry, calling each other "infidels" and "Satan's army."
"That is why it has become so muddy," said professor Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. "The theological question has returned to the center."
September 1st, 2013
03:26 AM ET
Opinion by Jeffrey Weiss, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Pope Francis surprised Israeli and Palestinian leaders last month when he invited them to a special prayer ceremony at the Vatican this Sunday - not least because religion has often been the source, not the salve, of the region's conflicts.
Still, Pope Francis offered his "home" - the Vatican - as the perfect place to plea for some divine assistance, and Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dutifully agreed to attend.
"The Pope has placed it in this perspective: Prayer is like a force for peace,” Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin told Vatican Radio.
"We hope that there, where human efforts have so far failed, the Lord offers to all the wisdom and fortitude to carry out a real peace plan."
But Sunday's special ceremony at the Vatican raises an interesting question: When Francis, Peres and Abbas bow their heads in prayer, will they be talking to the same God?
After all, Jews, Christians and Muslims all trace their faiths back to a fellow named Abraham, whom they all claim was chosen for special treatment by the Almighty.
August 9th, 2013
02:00 PM ET
From CNN affiliate KPRC
Houston - New signs posted outside a mosque in Spring Branch, Texas, have sparked outrage from Muslims nationwide.
In black letters, the signs reads, "No Muslim parking in the Westview Shopping Center. Your car will be towed."
The posters lined the street near the El Farouq Mosque, where Muslims heading to worship services said they were were offended.
"I feel sorry for the person who wrote it," Ahmed Hassan told CNN affiliate KPRC. "This is what comes to mind because obviously he has a lot of hate."
July 11th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – The Transportation Security Agency has issued an advisory about the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, telling its workforce and passengers that they may observe Muslims fasting, carrying prayer beads and whispering prayers on planes and in airports.
Ramadan begins this week, though the exact date varies depending on locale. It is the holiest month of the year for the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, during which many fast during daylight hours and dedicate more time than usual to praying and reading the Quran.
"Whenever the TSA is trying to create an environment of understanding, we welcome that," said Haris Tarin, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council's Washington office. "At the same time, it highlights certain actions that can make the American Muslim population seem almost alien."
April 28th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – An angry outburst at a mosque. The posting of a suspicious YouTube video. A friendship with a shadowy imam.
Those were just some of the signs that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused of masterminding the Boston Marathon bombings, had adopted a virulent strain of Islam that led to the deaths of four people and injury of more than 260.
But how else can you tell that someone’s religious beliefs have crossed the line? The answer may not be as simple you think, according to scholars who study all brands of religious extremism. The line between good and evil religion is thin, they say, and it’s easy to make self-righteous assumptions.
“When it’s something we like, we say it’s commitment to an idea; when it’s something we don’t like, we say it’s blind obedience,” said Douglas Jacobsen, a theology professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.
April 21st, 2013
03:30 PM ET
(CNN) – Tamerlan Tsarnaev died early Friday, and according to the rules of Islam, he should have been buried by now. But his severely wounded body is still being held to determine a cause of death.
"We are waiting for more information," said Terrel Harris, spokesman for the Boston Medical Examiner's Office. He wasn't sure when a cause of death would be released.
Tsarnaev, 26, had so many penetrating wounds when he arrived at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center early Friday that doctors could not tell which ones had killed him. He'd engaged in a ferocious battle with police in which more than 200 rounds of gunfire was exchanged. He and his brother Dzhokhar, 19, also allegedly hurled improvised explosive devices and handmade grenades at officers. FULL POST
April 20th, 2013
07:39 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
Washington (CNN) - Muslim leaders in Boston and elsewhere have distanced themselves from the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, condemning the deadly terror attack and saying they feared reprisals against their communities.
"I don't care who or what these criminals claim to be, but I can never recognize these criminals as part of my city or my faith community," said Yusufi Vali, executive director for the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the largest mosque in the Boston area.
"All of us Bostonians want these criminals to be brought to justice immediately. I am infuriated at the criminals of these bombings for trying to rip our city apart. We will remain united and not let them change who we are as Bostonians." FULL POST
April 4th, 2013
03:34 PM ET
(CNN)–Is her job at odds with her faith? CNN's Alina Cho reports on Muslim bikini model Maryam Basir.
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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.