Muslims stand with Christians, raising money for burned churches. Beliefs in action are beautiful.

"ALL houses of worship are sanctuaries, a place where all should feel safe, a place we can seek refuge when the world is too much to bear."

With eight black churches burned in the South in the wake of the Charleston shootings, many have raised their voices to stand in solidarity.

So far, three are under investigation for arson.


One group amid the thousands of voices demanding justice might appear on the surface to have little in common with Southern African-American churches.

But dig a little deeper and you'll find a community with shared values and a shared piece of the American experience, whose support and solidarity makes perfect sense. Who is this group?

Muslim Americans.

Using online crowdfunding platform LaunchGood, a handful of Muslim American groups started a campaign to raise money for burned black churches.

So far, the campaign has raised over $60,000.

Why are they providing so much support (besides the fact that they're compassionate Americans who want to see an end to hate, of course)?

"We want for others what we want for ourselves: the right to worship without intimidation, the right to safety, and the right to property."

Muslim Americans have faced their fair share of struggle to worship free of hate and violence. And in turn, they're showing solidarity for all those who gather in the name of goodness. Because you don't stomp out hate once and for all by getting religion-specific. As a Muslim leader close to this campaign, Imam Zaid Shakir, points out:

"The American Muslim community cannot claim to have experienced anything close to the systematic and institutionalized racism and racist violence that has been visited upon African Americans. We do, however, understand the climate of racially inspired hate and bigotry that is being reignited in this country. ... We want to let our African American brothers and sisters know that we stand in solidarity with them during this dark hour."

The beauty of this campaign isn't just about the generosity and kindness.

This simple, warm act of solidarity demonstrates the values of Islam in America.

Image in public domain.

I spoke to religious scholar Najeeba Syeed about the practical lessons this movement is teaching. She was quick to point out a few interesting tidbits about Islam that this awesome gesture illuminates.

Here are four facts that explain why Muslim-Christian solidarity for justice (and this campaign in particular) makes so much sense:

1. Many Muslims in America are actually African-American.

That's right. All black religious people aren't Christian and all Muslims aren't Arab-Americans. The African-American Muslim community has been a part of the American landscape for centuries. This act is a reminder of the diversity and richness of the history of overlapping identities.

2. Modern Islam in America values the sanctity of ALL spaces where the name of God is spoken.

"We stand with these churches not just because of interfaith solidarity but because it's a place where the name of God is spoken, so we have a responsibility for the protection of these spaces."
— Najeeba Syeed

From Quran 22:40: "monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques - in [all of] which Gods name is abundantly extolled."

3. Timing matters. This campaign falls during Ramadan, a Muslim season of service.

Ramadan is a 30-day religious period where Muslims from all around the world reflect on their faith ... but it's also a hugely significant time of service, humanitarianism, and charity.

4. The "Theology of Neighborliness."

The Prophet Muhammad said, “He is not a believer whose stomach is filled while the neighbor to his side goes hungry."

"The idea of being a part of the community in service and giving beyond the Muslim community has a strong theological basis from the many traditions and sayings of Prophet Muhammad. In Ramadan you give to one's neighbor no matter who that neighbor is. You don't ask if that neighbor is Muslim, you just give. "
— Najeeba Syeed


Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images

How beautiful is that?

An act of hatred and a moment of tragedy have created the space for interfaith service — and a teachable moment for a country that consistently marginalizes and misrepresents Muslim Americans.

If you want to donate, there's time! Head on over to the LaunchGood page for #RespondWithLove and give what you want. Or just read about it!

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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