Archive for November, 2009

Eid Mubarak 2009

Today is the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, the Eid of al Adha (Eid of Sacrifice). For those on Hajj (pilgrimage) they will be coming to the end of their pilgrimage and Muslims throughout the world will be remembering the way of Abraham and celebrating Eid with family and friends. All of us at the Christian Muslim Forum would like to extend our sincere prayers for a successful Hajj, and Eid Mubarak.

Eid al Adha is of particular relevance to the Christian and Muslim traditions, because the story of Abraham is shared by both faiths. Abraham’s way is one that we are all encouraged to follow as Christians and Muslims. It is a story of trust, reliance and patience, shared by both faiths. ‘When his son was old enough to walk with him, he said: ‘O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offering you in sacrifice to Allah), so see what you think!’ He said: ‘O Father! Do that which you are commanded, insh’allah (if Allah will), you shall find me of the patient.’ (Surah 37. 102)

All of the three monotheistic faiths know the story and its outcome. When Abraham and his son submitted themselves to God’s will and prepared for the sacrifice, God stops them: ‘Verily that indeed was a manifest trial. And we ransomed him with a great sacrifice (i.e. a ram). And We left for him a goodly remembrance among generations to come in later times’. (37.108) Our trials as Christians and Muslims are very different today! But we are often reminded as people of faith of the virtues of facing our difficulties with patience and trust in God.

‘O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley with no cultivation, by Your sacred House (the Ka’ba at Mecca); in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayers perfectly, so fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks.’ (14.37)

Christians remember figures like Abraham as Advent approaches (this weekend) and they prepare for Christmas and its message of sacrifice and peace. As we celebrate our own festivals we can celebrate each other as worshipping communities, remembering to pray for places where there are tensions and violence between Christians and Muslims.

We also take this opportunity to reissue our ‘Christmas statement’, which includes an article on Christmas from a Muslim perspective.
From the staff of the Christian Muslim Forum: Daniel Edge (writer), Julian Bond (editor), Nicky Minford, Nadeem Javaid. See Daniel’s Inter Faith Week Diary

Other statements
Sign up to our Christian-Muslim Climate Change statement
Ethical Witness guidelines

Inter Faith Week Diary

Inter Faith Week was a very eventful week for me, and found me in Exeter on 16 November and Newcastle on 18 November. Both events were confirmations of the fantastic inter faith work being done in Exeter, Newcastle and around the UK. It was a real pleasure to be part of it.

Exeter ‘Educating Ourselves and Our Children’

This multi faith event was organized by Devon Faiths Forum, Plymouth Centre for Faiths and Cultural Diversity, Torbay Inter Faith Forum, Exeter Inter Faith Group and Totnes Inter Faith Forum. Held at Exeter Library Music room, it not only included some great music and Qur’an recitation but also some wonderful traditional homemade food from the different faith groups involved.

It was a great opportunity to learn about the different faiths in Devon and the existing inter faith relationships between communities. Although not intentionally, the Christian Muslim Forum stall ended up between local Muslims from Exeter mosque and the local church inter faith group. I received a great deal of interest in the Forum’s Ethical Witness guidelines from both Muslim and Christians. It was a great chance to elaborate on what the witness guidelines mean and consider the merits of our Christian-Muslim Friendship Project. We will be developing the Friendship project in Exeter in the coming weeks, working with the local mosque and church.

After a chance to meet individual representatives of various faiths we retired to the library music room for a beautiful recitation of the Qur’an by a member of Exeter mosque which was translated into English. This was followed by my, and others, first lesson on wearing a Sikh turban. Martyn Goss from Devon Faiths Forum graciously volunteered to demonstrate the wearing of the turban. When the cloth was unravelled it was nearly as wide as the room that we were in! We were introduced to the significance of the turban and given the opportunity to ask questions about the Sikh faith.

From the Hindu community we were entertained by a wonderful dance accompanied by a traditional and modern South Indian music. The Exeter inter faith choir followed with Christian, Pagan, Jewish and Hindu traditional songs. This event was a truly wonderful celebration of the existing inter faith relationships in Devon. I look forward to working with the various communities in Exeter and developing further strong and sustainable relationships between Christians and Muslims.

Newcastle ‘A Multi-Cultural Experience’

People in Newcastle take pride in being helpful and courteous and I can confirm this through my experiences of being lost in Newcastle and seeking help! Individuals certainly go out of their way to help in general and this is certainly extended to people of other faiths and among the different faith groups in Newcastle. I was very pleased to be invited to an inter faith event held at Knop Law and Milecastle Primary School organised by the ‘Outside in’ Holy Nativity community project and the Newcastle Council of Faiths as well as individuals active in inter faith work. Key speakers from Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Jain, Bahai and Hindu communities gave their thoughts on the value and power of inter faith relationships, peace and social cohesion. All spoke powerful words of love, reconciliation and peace.

I received a very positive response to the mosque-church friendship project and hope to work with the local church and mosque in the future. As in Exeter, I discussed and outlined the importance of longstanding relationships between Muslims and Christians, and discussed the Ethical Witness guidelines. It was good to meet with people familiar with the Christian Muslim Forum and our work. The President of the mosque has a strong relationship with the Christian community and is part of Newcastle Council of Faiths. This relationship has been vital when challenges have occurred in the past, as in other communities in the U.K.

By far the most powerful demonstration and value of inter faith community was represented by the very talented children, who sang and danced contemporary and traditional faith songs, they were certainly the stars of the evening. I very much share the sentiments of the Sheriff of Newcastle when she mentioned the pride she had in the children’s understanding with regards to people of other faiths and their ability to teach us all what it means to live with faith in a diverse multi cultural community.

Daniel Edge
Peace Worker

Reflections on Inter Faith Week

The Launch

Inter Faith Week is not yet over but today seems a good time to reflect on what has happened so far. For me, and many others, Inter Faith Week began with a launch event on 12 November in London, many regional and national organisations had displays. There was a tremendous sense of energy and celebration as we shared our stories and details of our events. Some of the other organisations with an interest in Christian-Muslim relations are: St Ethelburga’sThree Faiths ForumUnited Religions InitiativeSt Philip’s Centre.

The highlight of the event was a series of brief speeches by young people of different faiths sharing their thoughts and experiences of inter faith which were truly inspirational and filled us with hope for what the next generation might achieve.

Faith Leaders Meeting

The second event I attended was a meeting of faith leaders and trustees of the Inter Faith Network at Lambeth Palace on 16 November. A statement was agreed and signed, these are the key points:
  • We believe that good inter faith relations are a vital part of a harmonious, just and respectful society.
  • We pledge, today, to deepen our work to increase understanding about and between our faiths and to strengthen our cooperation on social issues.
  • We renew our commitment to developing effective and long term ways of dialogue and mutual learning.
  • While our great religious traditions are distinct in belief and practice, there is much that unites us.
  • We will work to tackle with renewed determination the challenges of poverty, ignorance, injustice, crime and violence, and social fragmentation and to help shape a society where all feel at home; all are valued and justly treated; and all have a chance to thrive.

Interfaith Day

The most ground-breaking event of the week took place at London Central Mosque (Regents Park). The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB), in collaboration with Lambeth Palace, organised an Interfaith Day. A central mosque is a mosque for the city, perhaps having a role similar to a cathedral, it is an open and welcoming space. The event itself showed the commitment of the Muslim community to improving inter faith relations by highlighting how this modern idea is integral to Islam since its earliest days. Some extracts from speeches by Muslims:
  • Maulana Mohammad Khan – ‘Islam lived in an inter faith community and started out by respecting other communities, our faith is not complete if we do not respect other beliefs, their scriptures and symbols.’
  • Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin – ‘Inter faith is not a hollow and secular initiative, it cannot be faith-less, we should learn from what other faiths have to offer, we cannot be adversarial. All faiths bring an enormous value to our lives. Christianity is a defining force for this civilisation. Differences of religion are the plan of God and it will remain so forever.’
  • Said Ferjani – ‘Dialogue is the engine of all the prophets – Jesus dialogued with everyone – it is the pillar of any genuine faith.’
  • Sayyed Mohammed Mousawi – ‘Islam is based on the best inter faith foundation, the Prophet Muhammad, who said, “be good to every human being”. Inter faith is the way of true religion, we need a movement of inter faith and should invite people to our mosques. We need to make inter faith a lively truth in our lives.’
  • Dr Ahmed Al Dubayan, newly appointed Chair of MINAB’s interfaith committee and Director General, London Central Mosque – ‘We need to build more bridges of understanding and dialogue. The alternative is misunderstanding, hate and ultimately terror.’
  • Fuad Nahdi, Radical Middle Way – ‘Listening is OK but dialogue is more advanced, it is not just tea, cucumber sandwiches and samosas. It is time for convergence not conversion.’

We look forward to telling you about our own Peace Worker’s experiences during Inter Faith Week next week.

Another ongoing initiative

Please sign up to our Christian-Muslim statement on climate change.

Julian Bond