Posts Tagged ‘Archbishop’

Archbishop hosts encounter between local Christians and Muslims

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, hosted an event at Lambeth Palace which brought together 50 imams and clergy from 25 local areas to encourage and strengthen local interfaith relationships.

The Revd Mark Fisher, Andrew Stunell MP, Bishop Richard Cheetham, The Archbishop of Canterbury and Maulana Shahid Raza

The event was supported by Mr Andrew Stunell, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Communities and Local Government who spoke to the participants:

“Across the country, Christians and Muslims are making huge contributions to their communities in countless churches and mosques, charities and community groups. But, because they are often working towards similar goals, there is great potential for them to collaborate more.

“That is what this conference is about – challenging ignorance and building effective, friendly working relationships, not only between clergy and imams but also between their congregations. Inter faith activity is an important component of the Big Society we want to build, in which people work together for the common good and to tackle shared problems.”

The programme sought to celebrate and publicise the fruitful work done by these local dialogue groups, which are run by both mosques and churches in the local areas as well as in prison and hospital chaplaincies.

One example of the practical outworking of this is the Springfield Centre in Birmingham, a children’s centre that serves both mosque and parish church, as well as the rest of the community. The centre provides holistic support for children’s development and support to families with young children, as well as helping to foster local interfaith engagement.

The event, organised by the Christian Muslim Forum, provided an opportunity for many men and women from local churches and mosques to share their experiences of working with each other, and explore areas where they can work together locally on issues of shared concern.

The Christian Muslim Forum has brought together over 200 local leaders of both faiths since 2006 and will run the event in partnership with the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) and Churches Together in England (CTE). Participants have drafted a letter to go out to churches and mosques, encouraging leadership and congregations to meet and learn from each other.

Archbishop’s visit to Dawoodi Bohra Mosque

During two days of inter faith visits on 6 and 7 May, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams visited the Dawoodi Bohra Mosque, Northolt, and the Jain Temple at the Oshwal Centre, Potters Bar. These visits gave the Archbishop an opportunity to recognise the large contribution these two small religious groups have made to the wider faith community, and to society as a whole. The Christian Muslim Forum gratefully acknowledge the generous financial support of the Dawoodi Bohra community from 2006 to the present.

On Thursday the Archbishop visited as guest of honour, Al Masjid al Husaini, in Northolt, the largest Dawoodi Bohra Mosque in the western world and beautifully constructed in the Fatimid style. This was preceded by a visit to the local parish church of St Mary and St Nicholas, in Northolt, where the Archbishop admired the recent restoration work.  The vicar, the Revd Greville Thomas accompanied the Archbishop on his visit to the masjid along with the Rt Revd Richard Cheetham, Bishop of Kingston and Chair of the Christian Muslim Forum.

On arrival he was welcomed by His Highness Prince Ezzuddin and His Highness Prince Badruddin, sons of His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohras.  His Holiness was himself able to be present to greet the Archbishop, being on a visit to the United Kingdom from the community’s centre in India. Dr Williams was also introduced to dignitaries and trustees and members of the community by the President, Dr. Zainuddin.

The Archbishop gave an address, during which he recognised the strong contribution of the Dawoodi Bohra to good relations with other faiths and particularly to the Christian Muslim Forum, and to British society generally. ‘It has been a great grace and blessing to once again meet His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.  It has been an inspiration to see signs of his work, his teaching and his example in his immediate family and his wider family which is the community here. I hope and trust that we shall continue our friendship based on the love that God has shown us.  A love that allows us to enrich one another with the gifts God gives us.’

The Archbishop visited the Madrasah which provides religious and cultural education for the community’s children where he met current students and teachers.  He then attended an exhibition in the courtyard displaying key areas of interest highlighting the Islamic Faith, the community’s main infrastructure and the cultural and social activities intrinsic to the Dawoodi Bohra community.  He was also invited to plant a tree in the grounds.

As part of his ongoing support of smaller faith communities represented in the Inter Faith Network for the UK, the Archbishop will be visiting the Zoroastrians in October.

More about the Dawoodi Bohras

  • The Dawoodi Bohras number approximately 1 million worldwide, roughly 6,000 of whom live in the UK, with over half living in London.
  • As an honoured guest of the Mosque, the Archbishop was presented with a traditional shawl in recognition of his visit.
  • The Bohras are under the spiritual leadership of His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin,  based in Mumbai but who visits the UK regularly.
  • The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited Al Masjid al Husaini in February 2009.

Meeting God in Friend and Stranger

Fostering respect and mutual understanding between the religions

On St George’s Day, 23 April 2010, Christian and Muslim members of the Christian Muslim Forum attended the launch of ‘Meeting God in Friend & Stranger’ by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales at the Archbishop of Westminster’s House.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols said, ‘This is a most important document addressing the theme of dialogue between the faiths. It, therefore, addresses many points of great significance for our society, not least for those who, at this moment, do not appreciate the importance of religious faith. I hope it receives widespread attention.’

We hope that many Christians, Muslims, and people of other faiths and beliefs will take the time to read this document which begins some key texts from the Christian Scriptures.

  • ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him (Acts 10:35)’
  • ‘From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him – though indeed he is not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)’

Other themes covered are:

  • Prayer and worship
  • Interreligious marriage
  • Local relationships
  • Catholic examples

Other Inter Faith Documents


Other News and Events from the Christian Muslim Forum

23 April, Death threats against a Muslim leader involved in inter faith dialogue
11 May, Social Attitudes Seminar, Issues about Religion in Today’s Society, London
15 May, Cross Crescent and Cool, dialogue training event for youth workers, London
4-6 June, Men’s Retreat, In the Footsteps of Abraham, Wales

30 June, 1 July, Friends and Neighbours, developing relationships between Christians and Muslims across the West Midlands, Coventry

Triple First for Forum!

The first week of Spring was the impetus for three events organised by the Christian Muslim Forum which took us from Lambeth Palace to Oxford via Brixton.

Scholars Dialogue

We began the week with a seminar kindly hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Christian and Muslim scholars looked at whether dialogue can really deal with differences without avoidance or compromise. Is it critical for a society of many faiths, a waste of time, or impossible for those who are committed to their own faith? The key speakers were the Archbishop of Canterbury and Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad of Cambridge University. The Archbishop asked whether in dialogue questions are being asked that we wouldn’t have thought of asking ourselves. He went on to say that, ‘Every human face is worth attending to, every human voice is worth hearing … how much more so when we see another human face and hear another human voice turned towards God?’ He described really listening to each other as ‘dialogue at its best’.  Dialogue can be a ‘God given means of discovery’, we can ‘start questioning our own questions’. He said that it is not easy to find a space that we can inhabit together. This last observation inspired us for the rest of the week.

We are currently working on a fuller version of this event and on publication of the speeches and discussion.

Bread and Soup in Brixton

Inspired by Christian Aid’s ‘Super Soup’ Lent campaign we held our first local event in London to meet with our neighbours, learn about Christian-Muslim relationships and find out how the Forum could be useful. Donations from the day are being divided equally between Christian Aid and its partner Islamic Relief, they have been working together for a number of years to enable them to better provide aid and support to all those who need it. Before the food we opened with the inspiring film ‘The Imam and the Pastor’, a story of inter faith violence and reconciliation from Nigeria. After delicious Eritrean food, we were excited to learn of a number of South London initiatives: ‘Faithful Friends’ (a continuing group of those who have taken the Understanding Islam course), ‘Conversations of the Soul’ and South London Citizens, bringing together Christians, Muslims and people of other faiths . A range of people – Christian, Muslim and Buddhist – were interested in building better local relationships and friendships, especially between young people. There was much interest in being part of an ongoing initiative and in the Christian Muslim Forum’s Mosque-Church Twinning project.

Family Matters

The picture was even more mixed in Oxford where a number of people who joined us for lunch and conversation were in mixed faith marriages. There was a real bustle as people queued up for lunch at our first Oxford event. Inspired by our 2008 family conference, led by our Family specialists – Humera Khan and Heather al-Yousuf – we broke into smaller groups to explore:

  • Faith and mental health
  • Faith and caring for the elderly, the vulnerable, and the lonely
  • Bridging the generations
  • Faith: “too hot to handle”, divisive or a reminder of what we share?
  • Faith, fear and stereotypes
  • Oxford connections – local resources, local action

Some of the interesting discussions were around:

  • Polygamy and living together outside marriage
  • Does religion help or hinder mental illness?
  • Being more aware of young people’s needs
  • The importance of breaking stereotypes
  • Talking about dying and the role of carers
  • How can we extend our neighbourliness?

Our concluding reflections highlighted the ‘happy blend of friendship and issues’ and how together we should find ways of developing and exploring both.
Comments from Oxford friends:

  • Very open, sincere and hopeful environment
  • I enjoyed it a lot – loved the stimulus of meeting new people and focusing on ‘issues’
  • A very rare opportunity to listen to people who clearly break the mould of stereotypes

We look forward to developing all three of these initiatives both nationally and locally. Thanks to everyone who took part and supported us during the week.

Next Event

Our next event, in London, is on Saturday 17 April 2010 at the Loughborough Community Centre in Brixton. Dr Chris Hewer will be leading a study day on ‘Understanding Islam’. We hope to run an Understanding Christianity course soon. Please get in touch if you would like to attend, or get involved in any other way, or if you would like to support our work with a donation.

Julian Bond

A Tribute to Shaykh Tantawi

The Christian Muslim Forum is deeply saddened by the passing of Sheikh Mohammed Sayyid Tantawi, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque and Head of Al-Azhar University. We express our condolences to the people of Egypt and Muslims all over the world. His wise leadership will be missed by all who work to create a better understanding between the peoples of the world.

It was at a dinner in honour of the Sheikh in 1997 that former Archbishop Carey publicly stated, ‘It has long been my opinion that, for the sake of the health of this country in the next century and beyond, we need to find ways in which members of our two communities can meet regularly together in a more structured way than has been possible up to now.

It is because the issues facing us are so pressing that I am convinced of the need to establish a fuller bilateral dialogue between the Christians and Muslims around the country. … And here, if I may Your Excellency, I would like to enlist your support and that of those gathered here tonight.  Between us we represent a wide cross-section of leadership within our communities.  I would value the views of all my guests and your views in particular how this might best be done.’

This public appeal and the shared Christian-Muslim work that followed led to the creation of the Christian Muslim Forum.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has sent a letter of condolence to the Grand Mufti of Egypt.

Condolences from the World Council of Churches

“Indeed to God we belong and indeed to Him we return.” May he rest in peace.
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra and Julian Bond