newsletter june 2009

Dear Friends,

Salaam.  This is the May-June edition of the muslim-christian marriage support group newsletter.  Welcome!

 

Your News:  Can you offer help or ideas to these members?

 

 Anybody in an m/c marriage in Philadelphia Pennsylvania? a Muslim-Christian couple would like to know about local groups or contact other couples there.

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India: can anyone recommend contacts in Muslim or Orthodox Christian community who might be able to be support a Muslim-Christian couple who are planning their wedding this summer?

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UK Any Pentecostal Christians in an interfaith marriage? Were you able to organise a ceremony at your church? I do not know where to begin and after all this time I would hate to find out that I can’t have my marriage blessed by God in the way that I want it.  any ideas?

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I’m asking for feedback on the following, as we appear to have a clash of cultures/ religions about to happen at Christmas this year when Christmas and Moharram fall at the same time. In our household we are already asking ourselves how we will manage the demands of these two religious months,(and it’s only May!)  one where there is no celebration or expression of joy of any kind, dark, somber and sacred. The other full of light, joy and wonder at the birth of the new Messiah, and very child oriantated. Wonder if anyone has had to find their way through this issue before and if so, what did they do? How would you handle it?

(the first ten days of the Islamic month of Moharram  are when Shi’i Muslims in particular commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his family)

there’ll be some feedback on this in a future newsletter. 

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Current on the interfaith marriage board :

An imam in the Netherlands?

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Professor Thomas ‘ inaugural address at Birmingham University on Muslim-Christian relations.

http://www.interfaithmarriage.org.uk/forum/

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Websites you like (recommended by members) :

 http://muslimahmediawatch.org

a forum where women, and in particular Muslim women, can critique how Muslim women appear in the media and popular culture. You can read articles, blogs debates and raise your own voice about the way the media reports on Islam and women.

http://interfaithenabler.blogspot.com 

Ray Gaston is an Anglican and Methodist minister in Birmingham and an interfaith tutor and enabler.  This is his blog

 

http://nifcon.anglicancommunion.org/digest  The Christian Muslim Digest

Digest of information from english speaking press in areas where Anglicans and Muslims regularly meet. Factual coverage of stories involving Anglicans and Muslims to show a)what is happening in relations, and b) how the stories are handled in the media. Occasional detailed area reports. Analysis and opinions from wide and authoritative range of commentators.

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LISTINGS

 

Islam in English Law

Two public discussions at Temple Church, off Fleet Street, London EC4Y 7BB  each cost £10; free for all students of the Inns of Court and Universities, and for University lecturers. Booking at

www.templemusic.org

 

1. Thursday 4 June 2009, 5.30

Shari’a and Secular Democracy: Is Islamic Law compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights?

A discussion between Professor Dominic McGoldrick, Liverpool University and Professor Mashood Baderin,

School of Oriental and African Studies:

“All human beings form one family whose members are united by their subordination to Allah and descent from Adam. All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the basis of race, colour, language, belief, sex, religion, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. The true religion is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human integrity… All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah. The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.” –Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, 1990, Articles 1 (a), 24, 25.

“Woman is equal to man in human dignity, and has her own rights to enjoy as well as duties to perform, and has her own civil entity and financial independence, and the right to retain her name and lineage”. – CDHRI, Article 6 (a)

“Shari’a ‘clearly diverges from Convention values, particularly with regard to its criminal law and criminal procedure, its rules on the legal status of women and the way it intervenes in all spheres of private and public life in accordance with religious precepts.’”– Majority Judgment, Refah v Turkey [2001] European Court of Human Rights 491, para 72.

 

 ‘The appellant came to this country as a fugitive from Shari’a law….. This system was described by counsel during the argument as arbitrary and discriminatory. So it is, if it is to be measured by the human rights standards that we are obliged to apply by the Convention. The mutual enjoyment by parent and child of each other’s company is a fundamental element of family life. Under our law non-discrimination is a core principle for the protection of human rights. The fact is however that Shari’a law as it is applied in Lebanon was created by and for men in a male dominated society. The place of the mother in the life of a child under that system is quite different under that law from that which is guaranteed in the Contracting States by article 8 of the Convention [ECHR] read in conjunction with article 14. There is no place in it for equal rights between men and women.’ – Lord Hope EM (Lebanon) v Sec of State for Home Dept [2008] AER (D) 206 at paras 5-6.The European Convention on Human Rights:

http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/Treaties/Html/005.htm

 

2. Wednesday 8 July 2009 6.00

Should the UK adopt a Pluralistic Legal System?

 The Hon. Marion Boyd, former Attorney General of Ontario, Canada in discussion with Professor Shaheen Sardar-Ali, Warwick University

We will air, robustly but courteously, the hopes and concerns of those who value Sharia Law and of those who fear in it a challenge to the social cohesion of the country and to the equality of men and women; and we ask what inequities can arise in a pluralistic system – by giving the more powerful parties in a dispute an opportunity to choose the system more advantageous to themselves – and  how, if at all, such inequities could be overcome. 

‘It might be possible to think in terms of what [Ayelet Shachar] calls “transformative accommodation”: a scheme in which individuals retain the liberty to choose the jurisdiction under which they will seek to resolve certain carefully specified matters, so that “power-holders are forced to compete for the loyalty of their shared constituents”’ (122). – The Archbishop of Canterbury, Islam in English Law, Foundation Lecture, 7 Feb. 2008.

 

‘I would be very concerned about sharia courts applying in the UK.…At some stage in the future I do not rule out the possibility that the Muslim diaspora in this country may be advanced enough. But now is not the right time…There is unequal bargaining power between [Muslim] men and women in this country; women can be abused and persuaded to do things that they shouldn’t have to do.’ – Sadiq Khan, MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Communities and Local Government, in The Sunday Times, 12 Oct. 2008.

 

 ‘Sharia law has no jurisdiction in England and Wales and there is no intention to change this position…. Any order in a family case is made or approved by a family judge applying English family law.’ – Bridget Prentice , M.P. (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice), Written Parliamentary Answer, 23 Oct. 2008.

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Fri 05 Jun 2009, 6.45-8.30pm

The City Circle hosts Dr Reza Aslan discussing his new book, ‘How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror.

At Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place, London W1H 4LP

 

‘A cosmic war is a religious war. It is a battle not between armies or nations, but between the forces of good and evil. The ultimate goal of a cosmic war is to vanquish evil itself, which ensures that a cosmic war remains an absolute, eternal, and ultimately unwinnable conflict. Cosmic wars are fought not over land or politics but over identity. There can be no compromise, no negotiation, no settlement, and no surrender in a cosmic war. The Jihadists who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001 were fighting a cosmic war. According to Reza Aslan, by adopting the same religiously polarizing rhetoric and cosmic worldview in the so-called War on Terror, the U.S. is also fighting a cosmic war… a war that can’t be won.

How to Win a Cosmic War provides both an in-depth study of the ideology behind al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and like-minded militants throughout the Muslim world, and an exploration of the tradition of religious violence found in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Surveying the global scene from Israel to Iraq and from New York to the Netherlands, Aslan argues that religion is a stronger force today than it has been in a century. At a time when religion and politics are increasingly sharing the same vocabulary and functioning in the same sphere, Aslan writes that we must strip this ideological conflict of its religious connotations and address the actual grievances that fuel the Jihadist movement.

How do you win a cosmic war? By refusing to fight in one. Join us for a fascinating discussion.

All Welcome. Free Entrance.
For more information, contact Dr. Rabia Malik on rabia.malik.cc@gmail.com or
07733 932134

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London Interfaith walk

Thanks Habib for this info :

‘Greetings to you all.
I have been sent information about this year’s  interfaith walk organised by  Westminster Interfaith and thought some of you might be interested. I have gone along in the past and thoroughly enjoyed not only a wonderful day out(particularly when the sun is out) but an informative one too.In my view it really is an invaluable learning experience.It seems that this year,for the sake of convenience ,there are 3 separate starting points(Oxford Circus, West Ealing and Holloway)where you can choose to meet up .From there you will visit different places of worship along your route as set out eventually with all three groups  converging on the Zoroastrian Temple in Rayners Lane for lunch .Thereafter the walk continues  till late afternoon.You can of course join anywhere along the route.Hope you are all well. Habib

 Further details from Westminster Interfaith Office 020 8457 6532 or email:

westminsterinterfaith@rcdow.org.uk 

The London People of Faith for Peace is a group committed to inter-faith harmony and understanding. We are people who believe in the power of religious faith to bring peace and not division. All religions are represented, either in the groups of pilgrims or in the places of worship that we visit.

This is the twenty-fourth time we have made an annual pilgrimage. We will stop for prayer, conversation and refreshments at several different places on the way. The route and approximate times are on this leaflet.

You are very welcome to join us in this simple act of co­operation across the religious divide. If you cannot come with us then say a prayer with us during the day – and pray also for all those, in this country and throughout the world, who are suffering from discrimination on account of their race or religious beliefs.

 

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Saturday, 6th June 2009 7pm Oxford, MECO Monthly Forum
Irshad Manji, Muslim feminist and author will present her PBS documentary FAITH WITHOUT FEAR and lecture on Islam and Reformation. For more details and to reserve place e-mail admin@meco.org.uk
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Monday 8th June 11.00-2.30 at Youth Encounter Centre, Moseley Birmingham B13 9NY. Cost 20pounds to include lunch.

Cross, Crescent and Cool : a training day looking at how Christians and Muslims should help build bridges between young people of the two faiths with Wahida Shaffii and Dr Andrew Smith of the Christian Muslim  Forum  to book or for info call 07702 831090 or e-mail Andrew@scriptureunion.org.uk

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Tue 09 June 7.00 pm
Talk : Mughals In Kilts – How the Scots Adapted to India
William Dalrymple FRSA, FRSL  (author of White Mughals –a fascinating true story of a muslim-christian marriage in 19th century India) at the Nehru Centre.

 http://www.nehrucentre.org.uk/Programmes.html

Indians sometimes refer to the officials of the East India Company as ‘the English’ forgetting that many of the most brilliant, intelligent and attractive of the Company officials were Scots. William Dalrymple unearths the previously untold tale of the Scottish love affair with India. It was the Scots who tended to get posted to the more remote and less Anglicised parts of India, and who had a much better record of joining in with, and becoming part of, the India they first traded with, and later ruled.

The Mughals in Kilts included men like Sir David Ochterlony, from an old Perthshire family, famously used to escort thirteen Indian wives around Delhi, each on the back of her own elephant. A miniature survives depicting an evening’s entertainment at the Delhi Residency at this period. William Fraser from Inverness, who fathered ‘as many children as the King of Persia’ was also a serious scholar, who mapped the ruins of Delhi, created a magnificent collection of Mughal miniatures and became intimate with the great thinkers of Delhi.

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June 24th Christian Muslim Forum launches ethical guidelines for Muslim and  Christian witness in Britain ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

2.00pm Wednesday June 24th Christian-Muslim relations in the Holy Land today.  A seminar with Father Jamal Khader, Cardinal Hume Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Bethlehem University

at the Centre for Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue, Heythrop College, University of London, Kensington Square, London W8 5HQ This seminar is open to all. There is no charge and no requirement to book.

 For details of further speaking engagements by Father Jamal during 22-28 June, please see the Living Stones website http://www.livingstonesonline.org.uk

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Question: Nottingham, Slough, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester, London: What have they got in common?

Answer: They are all hosting asian melas (fairs) this summer!  More info at BBC Asian Network  http://www.bbc.co.uk/asiannetwork/events/melas/2009 

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News

http://www.minab.org.uk   10 May 2009 launch of MINAB. Muslim community comes together to facilitate good governance in mosques through system of self-regulation. The MINAB has so far been joined by nearly six hundred mosques and Imam training institutes located in all parts of the UK and from all sections of the Muslim communities, Shia’s as well as Sunnis living in Britain.

Khurshid Drabu, the Project Director and Election Commissioner of the MINAB said, “The launch of MINAB is an historic event not just for the Muslim communities in the UK but for the whole of the society. The MINAB has set an exemplary standard in community development and co-operation. It commits the membership to a structured programme for addressing the practical needs of the Muslim communities. The MINAB aims to be an enabler- not an enforcer. It will assist mosques to function as community hubs and as centres of community cohesion

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Some thoughts on policy and Muslim-Christian marriage: 

For most of us our relationships and the family and identity issues that come with them are private and personal matters:  but as the election of President Obama in the US has shown -when you bridge the Muslim-Christian divide, the personal starts to seem political, however much we’d prefer it not to be.  What we’re doing every day in our lives is just so topical.

Everyday we see many examples good and bad of how society around us is dealing with the challenges and opportunities of the encounter between Islamic and western Christian cultures. In the UK we get used to hearing phrases like ‘community cohesion’, but at the same time we also find that the kind of personal cohesion we live everyday people find difficult to talk about, or understand. There are a lot of misconceptions and fears around interfaith relationships (including in our own families). This can make us even more inclined to stay invisible. It’s not surprising these feelings sometimes affect how we think about ourselves. It can be hard to rock the boat- when group faith identities appear ever more fixed and distinct, it’s easier to keep our heads down, and get on with our lives.

Meanwhile policy decisions that affect us and the future of our communities and families are being made, often without our input.  

I wonder how you think about the policy-making debates that are going on? -about law, or foreign policy, about community cohesion, about families, faith and school communities. What do you think we as muslim-christian couples and families might contribute?

Even if you don’t feel you have all the answers: it seems to me that if you’re in a m-c relationship or family you have been learning through your own experience what matters for Muslim and Christian cohesion. You have learnt what works, what doesn’t and what can’t be ignored. You know how adjusting to change has felt for you and for your wider families. You know better than most pitfalls, joys and sometimes solutions of negotiating different systems and certainties.

The debate about Muslims and Christians in wider society is often still stuck on being fearful or angry, utopian or just politely distant about difference especially where religion is involved . People in mixed marriages are already way beyond that. Wouldn’t it be great if your perspective could be part of what makes a constructive difference?  If what you’ve already learned could be taken into account?

What do you think?

Best wishes to you and all those you love 

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