Posts Tagged ‘students’

Visit to St John the Evangelist, Brixton

An educational visit to St John the Evangelist, Brixton


St John the Evangelist, Brixton

Thursday morning towards the end of the summer holidays and what a wet day it was. Julian, Daniel and I visited St John the Evangelist Church in Brixton to talk to children and young people of various ages about the Islamic faith. Upon arrival, we noticed that the parish had constructed a large tent outside the church to accommodate the carers and children who were playing outside. We were kindly greeted by Revd Rosemarie who shepherded all the young people into the tent and seated them at tables which were each assigned a continent.

Julian began the event by introducing himself and explaining briefly the work and goals of the forum, followed by Daniel who gave an insight into his work in the forum alongside his beliefs and likewise I introduced myself and stated my beliefs and work within the forum.

Julian began a dialogue between himself and Daniel by asking Daniel an array of questions about Islam. Julian often emphasised his Christian beliefs prior to asking about Islam due to the fact that the school was a Christian school. Daniel responded by giving a detailed answer often followed by a run-up question by Julian.

Prior to the dialogue initiating, Rosemarie had told the children to pay careful attention to the answers as they would later be taking a quiz to determine which table (continent) paid the closest attention on the topic of Islam.

After the 20 minute dialogue between Julian and Daniel, the floor was open to questions. Many students raised their hands, keen to get answers to questions they had thought of during the dialogue. Many of the girls were keen to have answers about the issue of burqas and hijabs, wanting to know if they are compulsory within Islam or optional. After the cluster of questions, the children were given a booklet of questions which they had to answer within their assigned group.

After writing down their answers, Rosemarie began giving the correct answers and reviewing answers from the various groups. After taking the Islamic test, the children were given a Christianity test. Some children were accused of cheating but these hilarious issues simply added to the festive mood.

Overall, the visit was enjoyable and it was great to interact with the children not only on an educational level but also on a religious and social level. I trust we destroyed many stereotypes (if any) that the young people had in their minds and hearts regarding Islam and I hope that our visit to educate children and young people will be the first of many.

Hussain Bapulah
Christian Muslim Forum

Local Christian-Muslim Friendship

On Sunday 23 May 2010 a group of Muslim students from Newcastle University made their way to St Thomas’ church in the Haymarket, for a meeting and conversation with members of the congregation, under the banner of the Christian Muslim Forum. When they arrived, the congregation were enjoying a cup of coffee and some Birthday cake (Pentecost is the church’s Birthday, after all), so they joined in. Friendships were started at this point. It seemed almost a shame to call the group to order, to sit down in a circle; but the more formal session that followed was well worthwhile.

Catherine opened the proceedings with a welcome to St Thomas’ church, a 5 minute exposition of Christianity, and of her own faith. Turki then spoke for a few minutes, echoing how pleased he was to be present. The floor was then open to questions and discussion. Some quite challenging issues were raised:  “What about the Trinity?” “How do Muslims manage conflict in their community?” “What do Christians say about sex before marriage?” as well as some more light-hearted questions: What is an Archbishop? The focus on this occasion was more on Christianity than on Islam – that will be reversed at the return visit planned for October.

Daniel Edge, from the Christian Muslim Forum, chaired the proceedings, and all felt able to contribute. Once again at this point it seemed a shame to move on, but there was a substantial amount of food laid out, and it would have been wrong to waste it. So conversations continued over lunch, and the basis of a relationship forged.

The scheduled return visit is booked for Sunday 10 October. Although this date will fit well with the new academic year, those present felt it would be wrong to wait as long as October for the next stage in the process, so Daniel, Turki, and Catherine will be looking to see what can be arranged in the mean time.

The stated aims of the meeting were: to learn more about one another, to confirm our faiths’ commitment to peace and friendship, and to celebrate the continual process of engagement and dialogue that exists, as well as to have something to eat. All of these were achieved, and we are committed to continuing, and extending, the process.

Anybody is welcome to ask more about this, and if interested, please do get in touch. Two photos taken on the day can be seen in our gallery.

Our booklet on Mosque-Church Friendship.
Daniel Edge, Christian Muslim Forum
Revd Catherine Lack, University Chaplain and “Master” of St Thomas’ Church
Turki Abalala, President, Newcastle University Islamic Society

Other brief news items

Another one to challenge perceptions – an article written by a Muslim (Dawud Bone) on ‘Christians – A Religious Minority? Has political correctness led to the rejection of Christianity?’ Published by our friends at emel magazine and follows on from the BBC’s Easter programme – ‘Are Christians Being Persecuted?’. Some of the points touched on are raised in our ‘Christmas statement’.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Building Bridges Seminar has just taken place in Georgetown.
Following lack of take-up due to cost our Friends and Neighbours event will now be non-residential, please click on the link for more details (updating soon) or email us.

Please support our ongoing work – events, training, resources, new-sharing – with a donation, or  get in touch to get more involved.

Julian Bond

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