newsletter august 2009

Dear friends,

 

Salaamat and greetings to everybody. This is the summer newsletter of the muslim-christian marriage group. 

It’s a week into Ramadan already so warm Ramadan greetings to all.  Barak ‘alaykum al-shahr! 

 

Welcome to the group

Every month more people get in touch with us so here’s a quick recap for newcomers about what we are:

 

In some ways we’re a very diverse group of people: basically we aim to provide a place of support and connection for anyone who is at any stage of a Muslim-Christian marriage or relationship or thinking about one or connected through their family to one. 

Our core is in the UK and we meet in Southall, West London twice a year, but there are many of you who may never be able to come to a meeting and we’d like to be there for you too. You are in different parts of the UK and Eire, in Scandinavia and other European countries, many of you are in North America, Africa also Australia, parts of the Middle East and Asia, this newsletter actually goes out to people who’ve asked for it on every continent!

We overlap and work closely with the Interfaith Marriage Network www.interfaithmarriage.org.uk  which exists to support people in all kinds of mixed faith relationships, everybody here too is in a mixed faith relationship themselves.

 

You get in touch for various reasons: sometimes because you have questions about how to manage differences of faith and or culture or because you want to learn more about your partner’s world. Sometimes you may be looking for practical or emotional support where there is opposition to your relationship or you are feeling isolated. Some of you may be going through a tough time in your relationship or family life and want to talk it through in confidence with people who understand the context. Or it may be you just want to belong to something that acknowledges both aspects of your life as a couple and family, and to know what’s going on.   We respond to everyone, though not always immediately! 

We don’t have all the answers, in fact quite rightly when these are questions of faith and identity and relationships your answers will be different – and it’s your own answers that matter. There is a lot more we would like to be able to do for all your different requests but we do endeavour to give appropriate help to every one who contacts us and to keep building the network  – as many of you have said – it helps just knowing there are other people ‘in the same place’, dealing with the same things.

 This group is for you, your input helps create it –however you might wish to be involved, whether it’s by sending a short contribution or information for a future newsletter, posting on the interfaithmarriage network, thinking about befriending people locally or offering skills you have to help us make the service better.  

Thanks to everyone who has sent info to share:

 

Some Listings :

 

Monday September 14th 6.30 PM Heythrop College London

Faiths Together film launch

The films record the experience of a programme of study called Faiths Together sponsored by Heythrop College.  They are intended as discussion starters for use by inter-faith groups, local faith forums, schools and colleges – and by anyone who cares about social cohesion and the place of religion in our society. 

If you plan to attend e-mail j.flannery@heythrop.ac.uk

(The films will be available on the Heythrop website and can be downloaded FREE together with the study guide by accessing www.heythrop.ac.uk and following the links).   

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London Presence and Engagement Network is offering Saturday morning seminars in September and October (starting September 12th) on different aspects of ministry in multi-faith contexts : issues like social justice, caring for each other, sharing faith, praying and worshipping at various locations across London.

More info at  http://1048812.test.prositehosting.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/pen-autumn09-events-2.pdf

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This year’s Bray lecture (organised by SPCK in memory of its founder) is being given by Revd Dr Sathi Clarke of Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, USA. (Dr Clarke is an eminent Indian theologian) The title is ‘Fundamentalism’. The lectures will be in the Gary Weston Library, Southwark Cathedral at 4.pm on Tuesday 20th October and again at 4pm on Sunday 25th October in Westminster Abbey.

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The Joseph Interfaith Foundation has two events in November aimed at 6th formers and students; one on Confronting Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS and one entitled Young British and Believer at Regents Park Mosque see www.josephinterfaithfoundation.org for dates, times, cost and booking forms.

(Thanks Suzanne for these details)

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3-4th November Christian Muslim Forum residential event in the East Midlands: Challenges of Citizenship

“How do we live together as Christians and Muslims in the region? How do religion and citizenship fit together? Are we friends or rivals?” These are some of the questions we will answer together with leaders, influencers and future leaders from across the region.

Venue: Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Alfreton, Derbyshire, DE55 1AU

The Christian Muslim Forum in partnership with key East Midlands organisations: Karimia Institute, Nottingham and the St Philip’s Centre, Leicester. We have a vision for strong relationships between Christians and Muslims in Chesterfield, Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Mansfield, Northampton and Nottingham. We are planning to get together with local people in Derby/Nottingham, Leicester and Northampton before the event, please get in touch if you would like to be part of a local group http://www.christianmuslimforum.org/subpage.asp?id=345

 

 

26th September

Eid celebrations in London’s Trafalgar square : 

 

Nottingham’s interfaith council is holding an Eid event

http://www.bluecoat.nottingham.sch.uk/InterFaith/

 

and soon after Eid- our next meeting-

watch this space….

Advance notices:

Coming upMonday 19 – Sunday 25 October 2009  Family and parents’ week
Join in and celebrate the Changing face of Families

15th – 21st November 2009, http://www.interfaithweek.org/

 

 

Wish I were there! this weekend’s Cheltenham Greenbelt Festival :

Christian festival, a  lot of Muslim speakers: including Dilwar Hussain, Humera Khan, Hussam Zolot, Sultana Begum  http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/festival/2009/lineup/talks

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MECO in Oxford welcomes Muslims and non-Muslims to a collective iftar. Starting at 7:45 pm on Sunday, 30th August 2009 in Summertown Hall.  Guest speaker is Sayyid Yusuf Khoei, who will deliver a presentation entitled: THE MORAL AND SPIRITUAL DIMENSIONS OF FASTING IN ISLAM.
If you will be attending please e-mail admin@meco.org.uk

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Ramadan resources

It may be the happiest and holiest time of year for you, or it may be that fasting is something you haven’t got your head round. Like Christmas, Ramadan is a time when religious belief and practice is most apparent, so difference is most apparent too. In mixed households we have to decide what to do. If your partner is Muslim and you are not, do you fast too and enter wholeheartedly into the atmosphere? Or do you not fast, but pamper and worry about your partner – especially during the long daylight hours of summer?   In either case here’s a link to a guide about healthy fasting.

http://www.communitiesinaction.org/Ramadan%20Health%20and%20Spirituality%20Guide.pdf

 

 

If you’re fasting, particularly if you’re in a predominantly non-fasting environment how do you find it? Fasting alone is a very different experience from when you are in the midst of a community, but are there compensations or things to be gained from experiencing it differently? 

On the other hand do you ever feel you need to compromise with timetables unrelated to Ramadan : by for example by breaking fast for Grandma’s eightieth birthday party as happened in our house!  How do your children approach Ramadan?   If you have stories or tips to share during the month we’d love to hear them on the ifm site and we’ll be sharing our own over next weeks.  

 

Ramadan nights:

Ramadan is about spirituality : reading the whole Quran, I’tikaf at the mosque.  But there’s a lighter side too: all those exquisite and special dishes, and lots of opportunities for get-togethers with family and friends for iftar. 

 

In the Middle East TV programming  tends to be particularly good during Ramadan.  A soap opera that was popular last Ramadan in Syria revolved around the story of a Christian-Muslim couple, in love but unable to marry since the law there (as in most of the Middle East) simply does not permit mixed marriage without conversion.  

The show ‘Laisa Saraban’ (It’s not a Mirage) was remarkable for the way it handled what is still for many in both communities a taboo. 

 http://www.syria-today.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=496:faith-and-marriage&catid=73:society&Itemid=49

Notwithstanding social conservatism a Facebook site in favour of civil marriage in Syria has attracted almost 1000 members. In neighbouring Lebanon as many as 21000  have signed up.

http://www.facebook.com/Civil.Marriage.in.Lebanon

 

Ramadan Iftar in the Christian science monitor

http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0923/p01s04-wome.html

 

The City circle has a beautifully spiritual Ramadan blog from Istanbul ..

http://www.thecitycircle.com/blog2.php?cann_id=1135

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Resources from the Christian Muslim forum

a statement by Musharraf Hussain OBE, DLChair, Christian Muslim Forum on need for action against the persecution of Christians in Pakistan see 
http://www.christianmuslimforum.org/subpage.asp?id=347&mainid=20&
 

:  ‘Our Stories, Our Lives’ edited by Wahida Shaffi

In the early years of the 21st century, a number of Muslim women have achieved positions of influence. Women who care about the society in which they live and bring up their children are increasingly finding a voice and working together to make things happen. There’s some way to go in harnessing the potential that lies at the heart of this change, but there is plenty of evidence that Muslim women are paving the way forward in new dynamic, challenging and creative ways. This book is all about women who have shown courage, dignity and strength; pioneers who have recognized their potential in the public and private realms of society, who have struggled, made sacrifices, taken pride in their multiple identities and who are committed to positive and peaceful change in the UK. http://www.christianmuslimforum.org/subpage.asp?id=346&mainid=20&

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http://www.bibleandkoran.net/

Courtesy of  IKON (the Ecumenical Broadcasting Company of the Netherlands) and Radio Netherlands Worldwide.   By making accessible the texts of the Christian and Islamic holy books, BibleandKoran.net hopes to encourage study of both sources and promote mutual understanding.

And it’s endorsed by Prof Tariq Ramadan!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pr_VvKppMWg  see also http://www.scripturalreasoning.org.uk.html

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The Gifford lecture series 2008 given by Prof Diana Eck in Edinburgh were on the theme of the age of pluralism. You can hear some of them via this link  http://www.hss.ed.ac.uk/giffordexemp/2000/details/ProfessorDianaEck.html

“ Religious pluralism is not only a fact of global and local encounter of religious communities, but it is increasingly part of the lives of people in many parts of the world who identify with more than one religious tradition. The phenomenon of multiple religious belonging is part of families in which parents affiliate with different religious communities; it is part of the inner landscape of students and seekers who find significant meaning and direction for their own lives not only in their tradition of birth, but in other traditions and spiritualities. How is this fluid border-crossing transforming the “religions,” so often thought of as separate?” (From Lecture 6: The Pluralism Within)

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Media and other Requests:

 Be an International Climate Champion! 

Got an innovative idea for tackling climate change?
Want to join a network of over 1000 young people across 30 different countries passionate about changing the way we think and act about our environment?

In partnership with the British Council, MADE in Europe is offering the opportunity for young Muslims (aged 18-35) to become International Climate Champions.

You will work part-time with your community for 1 year starting from September 2009 implementing a project which you have designed.  As part of your experience, you will receive training, meet international specialists, visit projects and attend events on climate change.

Time commitment is negotiable and you can take part in this project even if you are working full-time.   The deadline for applications is 31st August 2009.
For more information about the British Council’s work onclimate change see www.britishcouncil.org/climatechange.For an application pack email sarah@madeineurope.org.uk

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 “We are in the early stages of developing an exciting new television series that will not only celebrate inter-faith weddings but also offer advice on how to navigate some of the complex issues that can arise when people of different faiths decide to get married. We feel that this subject is hugely relevant to so many viewers, but to date has been largely ignored on television.

A leading broadcaster is very interested in the idea and has asked us to make a non-broadcast pilot for them. As part of the pilot we are looking for a couple in an interfaith relationship who would be happy to talk on camera with their parents about inter-faith marriage. Ideally we are looking for a couple who is having to educate their family about their partner’s faith, perhaps because of a simple lack an understanding of the religion or maybe it’s because they actually disapprove of the relationship.  It would only take a couple of hours and will not be broadcast on television, as it is for internal purposes only at this stage. If you know of anyone who might be interested in finding out more please contact me on 020 8222 4463 or isobel.briggs@endemoluk.com and I’ll be more than happy to explain the project in more detail.

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Can Silence change your life?

Tiger Aspect Productions are making a new documentary series for BBC2 about silence. We’re looking for people willing to embark on a journey that sees them try and put silence into their every day, busy lives, and learn what to do with it when it is there. You should be genuinely open to exploring Christian spirituality on a personal level. The process will involve an 8-day supervised retreat in a Christian study centre. There will be a period of ongoing guidance by your spiritual mentor once you return home, and attempt to translate what you have learnt into daily life. This series is being made by the producers of ‘The Monastery’.  Please contact silence@tigeraspect.co.uk or 0207 544 1633 to find out more.

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And to end two recommendations of ancient and modern Muslim and Christian sacred music in the UK that might surprise you – both have become personal favourites, thanks Habib !

http://thegrandburdah.co.uk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMqKxpq6QAE

Best wishes to you and yours 

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