newsletter november 2009

Dear Friends,

 

Welcome to the autumn newsletter of the muslim-christian marriage support group.

Our next meeting is on Sunday November 15th 11.30-3.00 at the usual venue in Southall, West London. 

Everyone in a muslim-christian relationship or family is really welcome.

This time alongside the usual mix of food, support and conversation in a safe and friendly environment we’re providing  a drama workshop specially for children.

Hope you can join us!  e-mail heather@al-yousuf.freeserve.co.uk    or  call 07958 184039  for directions RSVP or more info.

 

Interfaith week in England and Wales

Our meeting is at the beginning of interfaith week in England and Wales, the only one we know of which is specifically for  mixed couples and families, but there are many interesting interfaith events happening all over the country, amongst them:

  • A sea of stories’ week of storytelling from different faiths and at different faith venues across London sponsored by St Ethelburga’s  Centre for Reconciliation and Peace   www.stethelburgas.org/stories
  • Interfaith Eisteddfod in Cardiff
  • West Midlands Faith forum launch in Central Birmingham (Saturday 14 November 5pm)
  • Interfaith Volunteer Challenge at 16 universities where students from different religious/non-religious backgrounds will volunteer together, in total completing 1000 hours of volunteering (to run an event at your uni, email

laura.griffiths@interact-uk.org.uk, or at 020 7482 4020)

  • Comedy performances and theatre workshops by Alif Aleph and Muju at several University campuses

To find out what’s happening  and what organisations there are in your area see  http://www.interfaithweek.org/events.htm for all the regional listings

 

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New muslim-christian family support group starting up  in Manchester:

Are you in the North West?  Would you like to be involved in a new group for Muslim-Christian couples and families there?  Bethan in Manchester is ready to act as a hub for this, so if you’re in the North why not join us in geting a local support group going?  (Thanks Bethan!)

 

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Want to start a group in your area?  Looking for a speaker or workshop provider on mixed faith marriage? We can help!  

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Members’ messages

 

“thanks for your reflections on policy and mc relationships.  That is really where I feel I am at, that the debate that rages on around us bears no relation to the reality in which we find ourselves.  As a family we are acutely affected by immigration policy and feel pain every time the media makes broad and sweeping statements that personally affect us.  Add this alongside the day to day issues we are grappling with means that we are living a life disticntly different from that of other people around us and yet are very much part of that life. I’m not sure if I am making sense!!  Anyway it really helps to know there are other people out there dealing with the same issues.”

Ed. comment : Rosalind and I recently had a very positive initial meeting with Baroness Warsi, (shadow minister for communities and local government) about policy areas relating to mixed couples and families: watch this space….

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“I am 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 house hold we are already asking ourselves how we will manage the demands of these two religious months, 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 orientated. Wonder if anyone has had to find their way through this issue before and if so, what did they do?

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I am a Christian woman and my fiance is Muslim. We are searching for an Imam or otherwise suitable person to conduct a Nikah for us. We are having considerable difficulty. If someone would please point us in the right direction, we would really appreciate it.

Additional Information: We live in the U.S. but are willing to travel to England for this purpose. We also need male Muslim witnesses. I am uncertain who should be my Wali, since I have never met my father and have no other male relatives to ask.

Thank you for any help!

 

If you have feedback on these you could share it on the interfaith marriage website? www.interfaithmarriage.org.uk

 

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Ten thoughts on closeness and distance in muslim-christian couple relationships:

 

  • “When we met we both felt we had so much in common. The way that Muslims and Christians are seen as being so separate just made me feel closer”.
  • Arguing isn’t a bad thing, so long as you learn to manage the damage and use it constructively. An honest argument is part of getting to understand each other better.
  • If you’ve got to compete, try competitive listening. Which of you is better at hearing and reporting back the other’s point of view?  Needs lots of practice!
  • Instead of being angry, tell your partner what you are scared of.   Ask them to do the same.
  • Everybody needs to feel close and connected sometimes, and separate and independent sometimes, in a long-term relationship you need both,  The thing is to recognise that your needs are the same but not always at the same time.
  • It’s a balancing act: family, partner, community, all pulling different ways. I’ve found it helps if you tell people what that feels like, and that you don’t always get it right but that you’re trying.
  • Remember what brought you together in the first place?
  • Imagine your relationship is a shared project. Try drawing a ‘Mr and Mrs plc’ building site plan. What bits of the project is your partner taking care of already, (anything you hadn’t noticed?) What’s being done by outside contractors? What details would you each like to add?
  • Draw each others’ last three generations of family tree. What patterns are there ?
  • Sometimes the way we see identity is more about holding a position than about belief.   If the position I’m holding doesn’t work so well, can my beliefs help me shift to a more useful  position?

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Blogs and websites

http://onbeingboth.wordpress.com/

for the offspring of Jewish-Christian marriages, based in the US- but much about the process of exploring identity and firm or loose definitions is similar for the offspring of Muslim-Christian families. Interesting. http://www.interfaithfamily.com/relationships/marriage_and_relationships/Subtle_Parenting_Choices_in_Our_American-Palestinian_Jewish-Muslim_Family.shtml  this site has a selection of narratives by muslim-jewish couples: this one by norah murad is particularly honest and thoughtful about life in a jewish-palestinian muslim family.

http://nifcon.anglicancommunion.org/digest/index.cfm the anglican communion’s network for interfaith concerns has a useful monthly digest of christian muslim relations around  the world. http://interfaithenabler.blogspot.com/2009/09/christians-reading-quran.html Rev Ray Gaston thoughtful account of Christian readings of  the Qura’n

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Reviews

Inter-Religious Marriages among Muslims – Negotiating Religion and Social Identity in Family and Community. Editor: Abdullahi An-Naim. Publisher: Global Media Publications, New Delhi. Year: 2005. Pages: 302.

This book brings together three studies of Muslim male and female intermarriage with non-Muslims in different contexts: metropolitan Mumbai, Senegal and Istanbul. As an-Nai’m says in his introduction the fact of marriages taking place against received rules of normative shariah suggests that Muslims who enter into such marriages have their own, alternate understandings of Islam, which need to be explored.
In an increasingly inter-connected world, such cross-community marriages are on the increase, and this calls for new, contextually relevant understandings of shariah on the subject to be developed that, contrary to traditional notions, are firmly rooted in gender equality and a more accommodative approach to people of other faiths.
You can read a more detailed review at http://www.qantara.de/webcom/show_article.php/_c-478/_nr-453/i.html

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Contextualising Islam in Britain

A group of leading British Muslims from across the spectrum of islamic theological positions produced this report last month in response to the question ‘What does it mean to live faithfully as a Muslim in Britain today? You can download the whole report here   http://www.cis.cam.ac.uk/CIBP.html

Or you can read Asim Siddiqui’s review here http://www.commongroundnews.org/article.php?id=26579&lan=en&sid=1&sp=0  in which he broadly welcomes the report, which he says doesn’t shy away from some ‘hot potato issues.’ He says that “ with this report, it seems that religious scholars are playing theological catch-up as new and changing contexts emerge, rather than pre-empting change. But, that said, if the panel reflects where mainstream British Muslim thinking is today, then it is more progressive than many Muslims and non-Muslims would have thought.”

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Research

here you can read more about Warwick University RE project on Investigating the religious Identity formation of young people in mixed faith families (ongoing)

http://www.re-net.ac.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?ContentId=15765

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US event

Saturday, November 14th – 7:30pm Georgetown University Washington DC
The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding Invites you to attend A Comedy Event on Campus:
“Stand Up for Peace” Rafik B. Hariri Building – MSB Auditorium

What began as a series of comedy benefit shows for Seeds of Peace, the summer camp in Maine that brings together Israeli and Palestinian teenagers, “Stand Up for Peace” has grown to more than 75 shows at colleges, theatres, Jewish and Arab Community Centres, and Temples across the United States.

Comedians Dean Obeidallah and Scott Blakeman bring their hilariously entertaining and critically acclaimed comedy routine, “Stand up for Peace,” to Georgetown to foster greater understanding and encourage a dialogue in support of a peaceful, political resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. “We hope that our comedy can bridge the gaps between Arabs and Jews and help foster understanding. Over the past five years, our show has proved to be a highly effective way of bringing communities and campuses together.” – Dean Obeidallah   For tickets, directions, or questions regarding the show please contact:David Dietz – dpd25@georgetown.edu

Tickets are limited in number. Please Make sure you purchase your ticket ahead of time
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add your voice to the message to be presented to the UK Negotiators at the United Nations Climate Change Summit, Copenhagen, December 2009 
Sign up to The Christian-Muslim Youth Statement on Climate Change http://www.cmyf.org/

 

 

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UK listings :

6th November: 6.15pm – 9pm  Toynbee Hall, 28 Commercial St, London E1 6LS
Charity dinner with 3 course buffet Indonesian meal Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES) presents:
LAUNCH OF GREENING INDONESIA – PLANT A TREE AND THE REWARD IS CHARITY with
Fachruddin Mangunjaya (Conservation International)
H.E. Yuri Octavian Thamrin, UK Indonesian Ambassador
Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad (Cambridge)

The Prophet (saw) said, “Muslims will always earn the reward of charity for planting a tree..” (Bukhari).
Indonesia is one of the most bio diverse regions in the world. It is facing a massive threat from logging operations which could destroy the habitat of endangered Sumatran  tigers, orang-utans, elephants and a myriad other species mostly unknown to the outside world. Between 1985 and 2007, the island of Sumatra alone lost 12 million hectares of natural forest; a 48 percent loss over 22 years. The point is, as a carbon sink Indonesia’s forest reserves are a valuable asset to the entire planet and it is in all our interests to protect it. It will clearly be seen internationally as a contribution by a Muslim country to reverse
the processes of climate change.

IFEES is part of the Green Indonesia movement in Indonesia and the proceeds and pledges of this dinner will go towards a tree planting programme at the base of which will be the huge network of madrasas (over 10,00) spread throughout the length and breath of the country. Working with them known as pesantrens, Ulema (Scholars) and local Government and the support of UK schools, we hope
to plant as many trees as possible in denuded forest areas and nurtured them for years. All welcome but limited spaces only To BOOK or for more information please contact:
Tel: 0779 160 2107 Website: www.ifees.org.uk  Donate: www.justgiving.com/GreenIndonesia

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Nov 8th  The MUJU upSTARTS Festival The MUJU Crew present upSTARTS Festival 2009 in partnership with Three Faiths Forum., 2pm-9pm
Tickets: £4 (half day), £8 (all day incl. evening show and special guests)
A one of a kind festival showcasing new talent from our communities, performing side by side and in partnership. An amazing line up of artists already confirmed; including live theatre, comedy, film, spoken word/hip hop, scriptural illumination, fashion and much more..

We are also pleased to welcome David Baddiel and Omid Djalili for a conversation with MUJU on their upcoming comedy film, Infidel http://infidelmovie.com/ Muslim and Jewish themes).
Come along for a few hours or the whole day to eat, laugh, be entertained and take part in a truly amazing day of celebration and collaboration. Dont miss the evening where top notch comedians and 2 brand new plays from MUJU will be performed on the main stage.

Confirmed artists include: Special guests: David Baddiel, Omid Djalili; Comedians: Joe Borr,  Ayesha Hazarika, Imran Yusef; Musicians: Spoken Word/Hip Hop MCs: Sarah Sayeed MC, Wasim Hussain; Musicians: Lines of Faith; Musician: Laoise Davidson in collaboration with Poetic Pilgrimage; Artist: Sarah Lightman; Illuminists/Calligraphers â€Unaiza Karim, Diane George, Avielah Barclay; Architects: Daniel Leon, Ali Mangera Writers: Alia Bano, Jonny Berliner; Film makers: Yoav Segal, Ali Rafi.
www.muju.org.uk

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Sunday 8th November, 4.00 PM
The Tricycle Theatre <http://www.tricycle.co.uk/ > , 269 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 7J

We are experiencing days of religious turmoil, of fundamentalism and the breakdown of spirituality through technology and reason. After the collapse of the piety that was rooted in myth, cult, occult, and ancient religions, Peter Rodger asks, “What is God?”

The screening will be followed by a discussion with Rabbi Jonathan Romain, Fuad Nahdi from the Radical Middle Way and Simon Keyes from St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Tuesday 10 November 7:00pm Oxford: The University Church, St Mary the Virgin

One earth, many faiths’ and International Interfaith center  Low Carbon Oxford forum for Copenhagen Welcome by the Lord Mayor, Mary Clarkson

Speakers: Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.Dr Myles Allen, Head of Climate Dynamics Group, Dept of Physics, Oxford University,Nigel Winser, Executive Vice President, Earthwatch,John Strickland, Founder, The Green Valley Oxford Patrons: Dr Ian Curtis, Head of Development for ECI; Sam Bickersteth, Head of Policy Oxfam; Martin Chilcott, Founder of Melt Water Ventures; Imam Monawar Hussain; Rabbi Jeffery Newman, UK Director of The Earth Charter; Martin Palmer, Secretary General of Alliance of Religions & Conservation; The Rt Revd John Pritchard, The Bishop of Oxford; Tim Stevenson, The Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire; Charanjit Ajitsingh, Chair of International Inter-faith Centre; Sir Crispin Tickell, Director of the Policy Foresight Programme, The James Martin, 21 Century School, Oxford University.  Advisors: Tracy Camilleri, Associate Fellow, Said Business School; Dr Barbara Hammond, Low Carbon West Oxford; Jonathon Lloyd-Jones, Partner, Blake Lapthorn

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Saturday 14th November 9.30-1.00 Greater London Presence and Engagement network for Christians in multifaith contexts:

Seminar on the topic of praying and worshipping, including shared space for prayer and reflection in the work place and civic occasions and collective acts of worship . London Inter Faith Centre 125 Salusbury Road NW6 6RG (Nearest Station; Queens Park, Bakerloo line and mainline)

contact Susanne Mitchell pen@theology-centre.org
0207 780 1600 if you are planning to attend

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That’s all for now!

Best wishes to all and hope to meet you in Southall, Manchester or the world wide web.

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