newsletter december 2010

Dear Friends,

 

Welcome to the last newsletter of 2010 of the Muslim-Christian marriage support group. Many thanks to all of you who have e-mailed, phoned, come to meetings and supported others over the year: you yourselves are an inspiration, and you really do make a difference.

We hope next year will bring blessings to you and your families,and we hope with your help   to continue to be there for people who live with both communities and faiths in their homes and relationships.

 

Since the last newsletter the Birmingham group has had its first meeting- there will be more – so if you’re in the Midlands and would like to be part of its future you are welcome to join.

Southall meetings have meanwhile gone from strength to strength, thanks in no small measure to our host Michael who makes us all feel at home, respected and safe.

Here’s what some of the people who were at the last meeting had to say about it:

 

“Thanks for the meeting on Sunday. It was great to know that I wasn’t alone in my situation, and to know that differences can be worked out if you really try. I am happy to know that people wish the best for me, rather than judge me as others have done.

 

To see how other work through their struggles really made me appreciate how good my family are in supporting me. That I would be able to find a church if I search hard enough who would accept me rather than criticise me or feel like I’m going against God.

I am very much looking forward to the next meeting. I will definitely be there and will certainly bring my partner if he is in the country!

If anyone is thinking of going but is unsure please know that it is a very friendly, informal and welcoming environment.  It is good just to know there r others out there! Good discussion topics, very relevant and helpful input from all.” G.I.L

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“My wife and I have been coming for over a year now and we will continue doing so. We came like here, like many others looking to find an Imaam would perform the Nikha ceremony without my wife having to give up her faith and convert to Islam. We did not find an Imaam and to be honest it hasn’t affected our relationship one bit. We still love each other and talk to each other about how we feel and what we are concerned about. Together our marriage grows stronger and stronger. In a way we have been ‘lucky’ in that both families see us as their children, but this was not always the case. It took a while for my parents to accept my wife but I had some great help and support from my sisters.

 

Being in a mixed faith relationship is not going to be easy but then are any relationships easy!

 

Come along to the group and you will find that you are not alone. Eveyone who comes has a different story and experience to share. Some come on their own, as a family or as a couple and everybody is always welcomed and we are all here to listen to what you have to say. We are not here to judge. The group is a warm and safe place where everybody is free to share their story, experience and knowledge in being in a mixed faith relationship.”

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Dates for your diary

 

Muslim-Christian marriage support Meetings in Southall  2011 :  Sunday February 20th 2011

                                                      And Sunday May 8th 

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Wednesday 09 February 2011 the next in an interesting ongoing series of panel discussions on effective interfaith dialogue at the Dialogue society in London  http://www.dialoguesociety.org/

Making dialogue effective:  skills in dialogue cultivating effective listening and empathy.’     with panellists Justine Huxley, St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace Lisa Cumming, Programme for a Peaceful City, University of Bradford and Dr Jill Adam, Executive Director, Level Partnerships;

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Plans for next year?

We are planning to develop our befriending service: with improved support for befrienders and some funded training for those who feel able to offer this kind of support to others.

We’d like to do more for the different generations in our families- a support group/befrienders for parents of couples ?  We would appreciate your ideas about whether ‘knowing they are not the only ones’ could help families adjust and cope with the changes involved for them.

In addition we want to explore how we can better address the needs of the next generation. If you are a parent raising children in a Muslim-christian relationship, – what would you like to see us do? Could you help us do it?

 

N. who is a mum of two in North London wrote ‘Unfortunately I cannot make it to the meetings but I would  welcome any contacts you have in North/ NW London. Perhaps we could set up a little group too!! I am especially interested in MC couples with primary school children. 

Let me know if you would like to be put in touch with her and help get this group going.

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A 24 year old asian woman in a mixed race relationship in the North west of UK – expecting a baby soon, would really like to talk to other asian muslim-background women who understand where she is coming from. Could you help?

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New London christian-muslim meet up group :

Imtiaz who some of you will know from Southall meetings is forming a new meetup group in London  for people like you !   Find out more about it here :

http://www.meetup.com/christianmuslims/

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Congratulations to Chantal and Farhan on your recent wedding !

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Christmas is coming : Have you got your Muslim-Christian Christmas worked out and would like to be media stars this Christmas? We’ve had this  request from the Daily Mirror for a good news story-

“I am a reporter at the Daily Mirror and am interested in doing a positive human interest feature looking at a family with parents of different faiths and how they approach the Christmas period. The story would look the practical aspects for a family celebrating Christmas when one partner is Christian and the other Muslim. I am also interested in exploring issues around parenting and faith when mum and dad have different religions.  We would like to include a picture of the family in the article. The family would need to be able to spare just half an hour for a chat and picture.
Please contact me if you are interested on 07875 304 950 or tom.pettifor@mirror.co.uk
Thanks,
Tom Pettifor “

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And for those who may be still working on the details of a Muslim-Christian festive season, some seasonal tips, with thanks to the Salvation Army:

  • Seek to understand more about how your family and partnership works. Once you understand more about it (and the part that you play in it) it will be easier for you to objective about it. Emotional reactivity is not helpful.
  • Remember there are some things that, in the bigger scheme of things, are not worth making an issue of.
  • Avoid digging up the past.
  • Christmas may not be the best time to confront or expose problems. There may be better times and better ways to do that.
  • Be assertive about what you need, but not aggressive. Being assertive means that you can say what you need, think, feel and want, in a way that is respectful of the other person. Being assertive also means that you exercise choice over what you say and what you don’t say.
  • Plan together what is going to happen over the Christmas period and make sure both of you feel ok about what is happening. If either of you feels you have been dragged along with something that you really don’t want to be a part of, you are more likely to be resentful. It’s OK to give each other space and time out to be yourselves, participate in your own way.
  • Christmas is a time to look for the best in your family, friends and each other. Look and speak to the very best in them.
  • Laugh, dance, get lots of hugs, give lots of hugs and go to church (or let your partner go!) .  That way you won’t lose your perspective of what Christmas is meant to be about.
  • Learn from what’s been difficult: if you’ve felt excluded, or taken over, or disappointed or conflicted about difference to do with faith and culture in your shared life can you use the feeling to understand how your partner and others sometimes feel?    Through using this most valuable gift of empathy you become experts, not at fighting your corner, but at understanding and solving conflict.
  • Remember –every relationship and every family is a work in progress..

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The Christian Muslim forum has a  joint Muslim and Christian statement on Christmas

and on halal labelling .   You can also check out their ongoing programme of events up and down the country. http://www.christianmuslimforum.org/index.php/working-together/news/celebrating-christmas-confidently>

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And finally here’s some very practical Christmas ideas from one of our Southall regulars :

“Having a halal christmas!

 

Christmas is a time for families to come together but this can generate all sorts of problems for interfaith couples not least of which is the issue of what food to prepare! My wife and I do celebrate Christmas but we want to have a celebration that’s fairly traditional but also as inclusive as possible.

 

This year we are going for a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. We’ve managed to source a supplier of free range halal turkey that delivers to our area. (www.surreyturkeys.co.uk.)

 

If you are interested in a halal turkey and live further away you may want to check with your local halal butcher as they sometimes take orders for turkey over the festive season. I previously ordered a turkey from The Turkish Food Company (TFC) who have a number of outlets around the UK (www.tfcsupermarkets.com)

As an alternative how about a leg of lamb, roast beef or duck? Once again check with your local halal butchers but a reputable company that does UK wide delivery is Abraham Natural Produce (www.organic-halal-meat.com/). Our local Chinese supermarket (Wing Yip in Croydon) stock frozen halal duck from germany and another of our favourite shops in South London (Freezeland in Tooting) sell halal smoked turkey rashers and beef cocktail sausages (along with just about everything else you could want) so its useful to keep your eyes peeled!

 

On to our menu! We have decided on a menu that reflects our cultural backgrounds and those of our guests too. So we’ll be having Indian samosa starters, halal English turkey with vegetarian stuffing and roast potatoes, German swabian noodles and red cabbage, followed by Polish cheesecake for dessert and a selection of Scottish cheeses and oatcakes afterward. A truly inter-cultural christmas. We cant wait! “

 

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And finally thanks to Shereen for this last item. An inspiring  story about goodness and humanity that challenges stereotypes about honour codes :

Holocaust’s untold heroes:
Their story is rarely told, but Albanian Muslims took in fleeing Jews during World War II, saving thousands of lives. Norman Gershman is an American Jewish photographer who has documented the history of Muslims in Albania and the Jews they saved in a remarkable book, Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II. With collaborator Stuart Huck he has also produced a 90-minute documentary about the heroism of Albanian Muslims. people who at great personal risk sheltered Jews and protected them in their homes and did so out of a religious obligation. While Besa is an Albanian word, it is seen as part of Islamic culture and teachings.  Besa is an ancient code which requires people to endanger their own lives if necessary to save the life of anyone seeking asylum. To this day, Besa is the highest moral law of the region, superseding religious differences, blood feuds, and even tribal traditions.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y61RAP4joWU
  Wishing you and your family  a happy and peaceful festive season

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