Author Archive

An Inclusive Christmas

With the approach of Christmas this year, as the Christian Muslim Forum, we wanted to celebrate the way Christians and Muslims come together at this time of year and how traditions associated with the Christian festival have been adapted by other faith communities in this country.

We have produced a short booklet, An Inclusive Christmas, which can be found here.

An Inclusive Christmas Booklet

We hope it inspires new inter faith encounters and encourages deeper dialogue between Christians and Muslims during the festive season.

Merry Christmas
Bishop Paul Hendricks and Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Co chairs, Christian Muslim Forum.

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A New Year message from one of CMF’s trustees, Imam Qari Muhammad Asim MBE:

“On the start of new decade of 2020, it is time to reflect and call for a renewed spirit of unity and caution against ultra-nationalism, racism and hatred.

As we make personal #NewYearResolutions, let’s also consider some national and global challenges, which directly or indirectly affect us. Of course any year brings its challenges. But the real test is not whether challenges come; it’s how you face them. One of the ways to tackle these challenges is to focus on Reconnecting in 2020: Reconnecting with Yourself, Communities, Earth and Humanity.

1. Reconnect with Yourself – Reconnecting to ourselves is made up of slowing down, listening, learning, exploring, playing, wondering, and being interested in and being inquisitive about what’s going on inside us. Everyday aim to connect with your heart. For people of faith, rediscovering oneself / connecting with the heart will help to connect with the God Almighty. In Islam, therefore, self-care can be turned into an act of worship. Self-care is the discipline of taking care of your spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and relational well-being. It’s a global approach to becoming the best version of yourself. It’s energizing, inspiring, and most of all, it feels right as it connects you to yourself!

2. Reconnect with Communities – The year 2020 could be seen as a “make or break” year for our communities in terms of divisions in our society. With #Brexit, we are heading towards a new cycle in our nation’s history. Brexit can be seen as a story of discontinuity, disconnection, and the evolution of a society and economy in which feeling ‘left behind’ has become an endemic, complex and structural problem.

The year 2020 and the decade that follows is a time to focus on the social changes that underpin differences and divisions, the political economy (and social movements) that drove Brexit into being, and the role of individuals, institutions, political, corporate and religious leaderships, networks and social capital in supporting a positive future for our communities is going to be extremely critical.

In year 2019, we have also seen growing intolerance in our country, terrorist attacks, growing racism, alarming rise in Islamophobia, continued increase in Antisemitism (and persecution of Christians abroad), as well as politics of hatred. We may be more divided than we’d like, but perhaps we are less divided than we’re told we are. There is so much common ground that we share – building a more socially-connected society is something we can achieve. So, let’s enter the new decade with optimism.

3. Reconnect with the Earth- The cries of the Earth are real; the harm caused to the planet by us human beings is shameful, and in 2020 we must do everything humanly possible to tackle the climate crisis for the sake of our own existence. We have the capacity, the resources, the innovation to put an end to climate crisis, let’s resolve to make meaningful changes in our lifestyles and let’s urge politicians to demonstrate their political commitment to do so.

4. Reconnect with Humanity- Across the world, the cries of human beings must also be heard and responded to – from Kashmir to Uighurs, from Yemen to Rohingya people, Syria to part of Africa- the list of people suffering because of their faiths, beliefs and lifestyles continues to grow with each passing year. Elimination of violence and confronting extremism of all forms must continue to be a priority for all of us.

We pray and hope for peace, justice and compassion for everyone who is vulnerable, oppressed, hurt, going through a hard time or caught up in a conflict or war.

Let’s move forward into a bright new year with deep conviction in our beliefs, multiple identities, diversity and optimism.”

Qari Muhammad Asim MBE

Deputy Chair, Government’s Anti Muslim Hatred Working Group
Chair, Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board

Twitter: @QariAsim
Facebook: ImamQariMuhammadAsim

Muslims & Christians welcome refugees

Mosques in North-East London with Churches and Christian groups are working together to sponsor a Syrian refugee family who arrived this summer to start their new life in the UK.

The Redbridge Community Sponsorship project – a partnership between South Woodford Mosque, Balfour Road Mosque, Ilford Methodist Church, Ilford Salvation Army, St. Thomas of Canterbury RC Church and Wanstead Quakers – was initially formed in 2017.

Read more about the sponsorship project from the Muslim Council of Britain,

Al-Andalus: the Legacy

Al-Andalus was the 800-year period of Muslim rule in Spain, ending in 1492.

BBC Radio 3 included a reflection by Andrew Hussey during a day of programmes exploring the music and culture of Al-Andalus. He journeys through Spain searching for its legacy today in politics, art and architecture.

“Professor Andrew Hussey is an expert on Spain and North Africa but the period known as Al-Andalus – the 800 years when Spain was under Muslim rule – remains a mystery to him.

He sets out to find out what it was and to search for its legacy today in politics, culture and architecture.

Al-Andalus is often seen as a Golden Age of civilization in a corner of Europe whilst the rest of the continent was still deep in the Middle Ages. Great discoveries were made in the fields of science and medicine and some of the most beautiful architecture and poetry in Europe was being created. It is also, rightly or wrongly, credited as a time when different religions co-existed peacefully.

Reconquista – when Catholic rule was asserted across the country – was completed in 1492. This was followed by the Inquisition, a period of repression of the Jews and Muslims who remained behind, many of whom converted to Catholicism. The myth of modern Spain was born: Christian, homogeneous, and definitely not tainted by Al-Andalus.

This idea has travelled through the centuries, endorsed by the Franco dictatorship in the 20th century and embraced in the 21st by the new far right party Vox. At the same time, violent Islamist groups like Isis and Al Qaeda lay claim to Al-Andalus, for them a lost paradise.

Andrew embarks on a quest to find out what is truth and what is myth about Al-Andalus. He visits the great wonders of the Alhambra in Granada and the Mezquita in Cordoba but also looks for traces of Al-Andalus in the culture today. He hears how both Reconquista and Al-Andalus have been weaponised by different political groups. And he explores Spain’s sometimes uneasy relationship with its Islamic past.”

BBC Radio 3

Listen to the programme here.

A perfect way of discovering the causes that you are truly passionate about

“For me, volunteering extends beyond developing practical and social skills. It is a perfect way of discovering the causes that you are truly passionate about.

It is a platform to educate yourself on the many issues surrounding the world, and on the ways to create change whether it be large or small.

Lastly, it is a way to give back to various communities that are in need of support.”

Sara, Jesuit Refugee Service UK

Pictured: Sara and Aidan who work together at the Jesuit Refugee Service in East London.

CMF visited the JRS Refugee Centre earlier this month. Legal support, accompaniment, destitution services, advocacy and music are offered, along with a day centre which brings a warm welcome & a hot meal to asylum seekers.

Sara, Centre Adminstrator, writes about her work in the JRS Blog and how volunteering has played an important part in her life since her teenage years.

The Centre welcomes volunteers from different faiths and backgrounds. Have a look at the volunteering opportunities available at the moment. If you’d like to run the London Marathon for JRS, find out more here.

Times journalist speaks about Christian-Muslim fostering story

“In August 2017, The Times published a piece with the headline ‘Christian child forced into Muslim foster care’. The story was front-page news the next day as well – and the next – but was it right?”

BBC Corrections

In an extended programme, the BBC’s Corrections series has looked at how three front page stories in the Times newspaper about a fostering placement, heavily criticised for stoking divisions, came to be pubished in August 2017.

CMF issued a statement at the time and the press regulator, IPSO, later upheld a complaint.

The programme includes the first interview since 2017 with the journalist, Andrew Norfolk, on this topic. He regrets in hindsight that he may have “pushed to the fore certain aspects” of the story.

Archbishop Justin and Professor Mona Siddiqui in conversation

The Archbishop of Canterbury invited the Christian Muslim Forum to Lambeth Palace to talk about Public Faith and the Challenge of the Spiritual Life. Professor Mona Siddiqui, Scholar-Consultant to CMF, talked with Archbishop Justin about the importance of prayer in their personal lives and in their respective faiths.

Guests of the Archbishop at Lambeth Palace

The Archbishop and Professor Siddiqui spoke about the value of Christians and Muslims meeting together.

‘Wonderful to discuss prayer with @monasiddiqui7 and @ChrisMusForum. As Professor Siddiqui puts it: “Prayer is really about what makes us human.”

My main take-away is the hunger for encounter with God that was common to everyone in the room.’

Archbishop Justin

The conversation widened to look at the role of faith in public life, with contributions from an invited audience.

‘I think we need more of this kind of exchange … when we are affected by something, we take that back to our families, our places of work, and that’s how change happens in society.’

Professor Siddiqui
Archbishop Justin, Professor Siddiqui and guests at Lambeth Palace

Dr Joshua Ralston, University of Edinburgh, offered some thoughts towards the end of the conversation.

Watch the video here and read through the programme for the day here.

Islamic New Year 1441

Wishing a happy, healthy, prosperous and fulfilling Islamic new year to all Muslims here in the UK and around the world. 

A message from Imam Qari Asim MBE, Leeds Makkah Mosque & CMF Trustee:

We ask Allah Almighty for goodness, wellbeing and prosperity in the New Year 1441 AH #Hijra.

May the 1441AH be a year full of happiness, kindness and healing, in particular for those suffering abuse and injustices in the world. The people of #Kashmir are in our thoughts and prayers. 

The Ashura- the tragic events of Karbala fill our hearts with sorrow but also inspire us to stand up with those who are tackling injustices in the world. Let us remember Imam Hussain (may Allah be pleased with him), the highest of martyrs, the lord of youth of paradise who gave his life and the lives of his family and companions to preserve the fundamental principles of Islam. Let us send our greetings and regards to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and his family and companions (may Allah be pleased with all of them).

We are leaving behind another year of our life. It is an opportunity to review our mistakes, to repent to our sins, to make new and correct decisions, to open immaculate pages of our lives.

The new year does not signify a simple change in the calendar but it also signifies opportunities for bringing about positive changes to make your life and eventually the world around you much better.

Imam Qari Asim, MBE

Centre for Media Monitoring

The Centre for Media Monitoring, a project of the Muslim Council of Britain, was launched at the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday.  Its purpose is to promote fair and responsible reporting of Muslims and Islam.

CfMM’s aim is to engage constructively with the media and empower communities to make a change.

“Academics and specialists across the world recognise that mainstream media reporting of Islam and Muslims is contributing to an atmosphere of rising hostility towards Muslims in Britain. CfMM’s vision is both to highlight negative trends in the media as well as promote good practice.”

Miqdaad Versi, CfMM’s Executive Director, has been working for some time to draw attention to poor reporting and inaccurate journalism. Read a profile written about him in the Guardian last year.

Check out CfMM’s website and follow them on social media to keep up to date.