Archive for December, 2009

Campus Encounter, Kings College London

On Tuesday 8th December, in partnership with the Christian Muslim Forum’s Campus Encounter project, the newly formed King’s College London Inter Faith Network held ‘A Winter Celebration of Faith’ event. Over 30 students attended the event which involved stalls relating to Hanukkah, Christmas and Eid. The students were invited to sample traditional foods relating to each festival and filled themselves up on delicious doughnuts, mince pies and baklava, as well as learn about the symbols and practices relating to each festival. Please see the fun had at the gallery here Campus Encounter.

Representatives from the Islamic society, Catholic society and Jewish society gave short presentations about the festivals, which also included a demonstration of a traditional Islamic song about Eid. The evening was rounded off with an Interfaith quiz where all participants readily mingled and assembled themselves into teams, each including members of different faiths to aid with answering questions. The quiz was completed with a friendly competitiveness and was a resounding success. The winning team were very pleased to receive their prize and all agreed that they had learnt something new and that they were very much looking forward to future Interfaith events.

Campus Encounter is a project that the Christian Muslim Forum hopes to establish in various universities throughout the UK, starting primarily in London. It is rooted in the firm belief that the university campus is an environment that plays a key role in the development of a student’s identity (including religious identity) and how they engage with people of other faiths. There is sometimes a lack of creative dialogue between Christian and Muslim groups on campus and tension can arise when proselytising activities take place without the understanding that is gained through inter faith dialogue.

Christians and Muslims share many similar concerns, especially with regards to social issues. It is a great shame then that tensions exist between Muslim and Christian groups and that this can lead to misunderstanding and contributes to religion being perceived as a problem and not a solution.

The Christian Muslim Forum intends to continue its aim of forging strong relationships between Muslims and Christians, building bridges through practical projects and initiatives such as the King’s College winter celebration that was led by students, for students. It is a great example of how people of different faiths can work creatively together when sharing their faiths with others.
Daniel Edge / Peace Worker

Who do you say I am?

Christian and Muslim answers at Christmas

Jesus asks this question in the Gospel, there were various answers, but he wasn’t satisfied until Peter said, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’. Christianity still stands by this answer, as do the Christian members of the Christian Muslim Forum. The question is often used today by evangelists but it is not often wrestled with as it was in the time of Jesus.

But this December emel, is asking, ‘In a world of divisions, can the man both Muslims and Christians call the Messiah, have the potential to be a bridge? The Muslim understanding of Jesus is simple. He was a man, born of a virgin (the account in the Qur’an’s third chapter very similar to the gospels). He was given prophethood by God from birth and performed miracles during his life by God’s leave. Muslims do not believe in the crucifixion; and the majority orthodox belief is that he did not die and will one day return. In a nutshell, that is it. But there is more.’ The article goes on to ask, ‘How is it possible to accept his virgin birth and yet reject him as divine?’

Muslims recognise the religious importance of Christmas for Christians and are opening up a dialogue and challenging the perceptions of many who are unaware of Jesus’s place in Islam. There is also an article in a recent edition of the New Statesman, while the Barnabas Fund addresses it in their January/February magazine. Muslims engaging with Christians about Jesus is an encouraging development, even if it has its own difficulties. I remember an ecumenical Lent group where we talked about a Radio 4 series – people of different religions were reflecting on Jesus. One of my friends crossly said, ‘I don’t want to hear about Jesus from a Buddhist!’

We can’t be Muslims and Christians and agree entirely about Jesus, though we can try to convince each other of the rightness of our own beliefs, in the best possible way. When we don’t handle our differences honestly we end up fudging or being perceived as compromising each faith’s distinctives. This is one of the concerns which many Christians have about some conversations between Muslims and Christians about Jesus. Our work in the Christian Muslim Forum depends on there being difference between us so we should be in a good place to explore the different opinions. So let’s ask ourselves, as Christians and Muslims, ‘Who do we say Jesus is? Is emel right that can he be a bridge?’

Christian Answers, Julian Bond

Muslim Answers, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad and Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra

So where does this leave us? We are still different, we have not accepted each others beliefs. Some conversations about Jesus become unhelpful and unconvincing arguments about who is wrong and who is right. The best conversations are those where we listen patiently to each other and seek to understand, and hope that what we are trying to do is share what is important to us while giving space for ‘the other’ to share in the same way.

With greetings of Peace this Christmas,
‘Christmas statement’
Julian Bond, Abdal Hakim Murad, Ibrahim Mogra
with grateful acknowledgments to emel for the use of their image and their article

Climate Change hotting up

Young British Muslims and Christians hand over climate change statement to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State David Kidney MP.

In the lead up to the all important UN Climate Change Summit which will begin in Copenhagen on 7 December 2009, representatives of the Christian-Muslim Youth Forum on Climate Change (CMYF) handed over their statement on climate change to the Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy & Climate Change, David Kidney MP.

The CMYF was created by the Christian-Muslim Forum and MADE in Europe to give young people a voice in the climate change debate.  On 15 October 2009, 30 young Christians and Muslims met at Lambeth Palace and, hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, developed a statement on climate change. The statement has been supported by nearly 760 individuals from across the UK and internationally and endorsed by many faith and community organisations including Three Faiths Forum, Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), WasteWatch and Eco-Chip.

At the statement handover event on 1 December 2009, David Kidney MP applauded the initiative taken by the CMYF to put pressure on the Government to play a leading role in Copenhagen. He noted that faith communities throughout history have often taken the lead in tackling global issues and urged the young people to continue to raise awareness in their communities and to lobby the government.

Representatives of the CMYF will be travelling to Copenhagen with MADE in Europe where they will join campaigners from many other countries and demonstrate to the world’s leaders that people from diverse backgrounds have come together on this issue to demand justice.

Christian-Muslim Youth Forum on Climate Change (CMYF) has been set up by MADE IN Europe and the Christian Muslim Forum to give young British Muslims and Christians an opportunity to inform the climate change agenda in the run up to the UN Summit in Copenhagen, which will take place in December 7-18th 2009.

The Wave

Don’t forget The Wave on Saturday 5 December.

Our partner

We are pleased to be working with MADE in Europe (Muslim Agency for Development & Enterprise), an innovative UK-based organisation working to tackle global poverty. Made in Europe’s mission is to inspire and enable a grassroots European Muslim youth movement of faith in action for tackling global poverty, injustice and inequality through activities such as volunteering, campaigning and fundraising.  MADE in Europe also provides capacity building services for Muslim NGOs and support for cross-faith initiatives in international development.

Sarah Atkinson, MADE and Julian Bond, Christian Muslim Forum