Heartbeats align during an Islamic ritual, new study finds

Researchers found that the hearts of Sufi devotees harmonized as one during a mystical practice. And this isn't the first study to show heart synchronization between people.

  • Anthropologists at the University of Connecticut discovered that the heartbeats of Sufi practitioners synchronized during an important ritual.
  • Sufism is a mystical component of Islam that emphasizes coming to know God through direct experience, like trance.
  • Other studies have also found that individuals who are closely connected emotionally and socially experience physiological alignment.
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Why the de-faithing of Islam is a threat to all America’s religions

Some say Islam is not a religion. Here's why all faiths should contest that.

Photo by Scott J. Ferrell / Getty Images.
  • Asma T. Uddin explores religious freedom -- or the lack thereof -- in her new book, When Islam Is Not a Religion: Inside America's Fight for Religious Freedom.
  • She identifies and dispels myths surrounding Islam that attempt to weaken the rights of Muslims, such as the idea that Islam is a monolith, or is not a religion at all.
  • It's important to understand that religious freedom primarily involves a relationship between the government and religious individuals or organizations. This differentiates it from religious pluralism or tolerance.
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Photo credit: Joe Amon / The Denver Post via Getty Images
  • A new poll by PPRI found that nearly a quarter of Americans say it's okay to not serve atheists on religious grounds.
  • The pro-discrimination number was even higher regarding gays and lesbians.
  • Bias against Jews, Muslims, and African Americans is also increasing.
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God is not a man with a beard on a throne in the clouds

Symbols are often used to help people get an idea of higher, often ineffable, truths.

  • A good story has the ability to transform its readers — it speaks to our psyche, and, in doing so, has the ability to change how we perceive the world.
  • When trying to understand the adherents of the world's major religions, Joseph Campbell advises to try to look at mystical experiences through the lens of the founders. In doing so, we can better understand the context of their messaging.
  • When we talk about God as an old man on a throne in the clouds, when seen as a metaphor, the imagery helps us understand the divine — the beard expresses great age, the throne symbolizes its supremacy, and the clouds signify that it presides over all of us.

America has outgrown its ‘Judeo-Christian’ label. What’s next?

At one point, America needed to be called a Judeo-Christian nation. Now, with growing populations of Muslims, Evangelicals, Sikhs, Atheists, and other faiths, what should America call itself next?

  • America wasn't always known as Judeo-Christian nation. Rather, it used to be considered a Protestant nation.
  • As Jews and Catholics began to represent a larger share of the nation, activists realized that America needed to reinvent itself if the voices of these growing groups were to be heard. In this way, the "Judeo-Christian" label was conceived. Today, that label doesn't quite fit anymore. What does?
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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