Posts Tagged ‘Jain’

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.

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