newsletter october 2010

Dear Friends,

This is the muslim-christian marriage support newsletter for October. Hope you and your families are all well. There’s a lot coming up in the interfaith calendar at this time of year, so hope some of it is of interest to you.  To find out about Interfaith week events in your area check out http://www.interfaithweek.org/

 

In particular we have these dates for your diary:

Sunday 21st November launch of the Birmingham interfaith couples group 2-5pm

Sunday 5th December Southall Muslim-Christian marriage support group meeting.  11.3—3.00

You are very welcome to join us at either of these.  RSVP for more details.

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News from the group:

Congratulations on getting married to Sarfraz and Bridget, whom some of you met in Southall last year.    Sarfraz is a journalist and did a moving and honest piece about his family’s response to it in the Guardian which finished up on a hopeful note: ‘ The day after the wedding I rang my mother. “Everyone was so friendly,” she enthused. “The food was so good too. I had a very nice time.” I don’t yet know whether my family will, in the end, come to love [my wife] as I do. …. I know that, when I asked my mother how she felt after the wedding and whether it had changed anything, she said simply, “The anger has gone.” And I know that once the anger has departed, there is always a hope that love and acceptance can take its place.

You can read the whole article here

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/sep/29/family-boycott-wedding-day

 Sarfraz Manzoor’s essay White Girls is featured in Granta 112: Pakistan,which is just out

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I am contacting you about a new oral history collecting project which I am working on at the Museum of London called Mixed, which aims to record the personal narratives of people who work or live in who have a mixed cultural heritage

The main focus will be in-depth interviews collected through the use oral history methods to document the experiences of the participants, and to consider how far this mirrors attitudes towards communities, race and identity.. It would also look at the particular contribution that this group has had to the shaping of the cultural diversity of modern London and how people of mixed heritage cut across cultures, religions, regions, nationalities, histories and ethnicities.

Mixed will provide an opportunity to give a voice to people of mixed or dual heritage who have been marginalised in society, whose stories have not been documented or made publicly known and who are unrepresented in all the Museum’s collections.

We hope that the new material which is collected, will also offer a platform to consider the rich and varied contributions of people of mixed and multiple heritage to London’s diversity over the past 60 years.

I am approaching you as I wondered whether you would be willing to take part in the project? Or perhaps you might know of others who would be?

I would be very interested in speaking to you about your experience of being from a mixed or bi racial background and learning about how this has informed your everyday experience, your identity and your work.

I would be very keen in speaking to you further, and hope that you are interested and will email me or phone me on 0207 814 5756 (Mon- Weds)

Warm wishes

Sarah Gudgin Curator Oral History and Contemporary Collecting

sgudgin@museumoflondon.org.uk

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Birmingham Half Marathon 2010 – Sunday 24 October

 

When I started training for the half marathon back in January, 21km didn’t seem a particularly great distance.  With just over 2 weeks to go before the race, it appears quite daunting.  The major incentive to complete the race, however, will be the money I hope to raise for two worthy causes.

 

I would be extremely grateful if you felt able to contribute to either (or both) of my chosen charities, the DEC Pakistan Floods Appeal and The Camphill Village Trust.  I have set up pages on the JustGiving website at http://www.justgiving.com/acurrah and http://www.justgiving.com/acurrah2 which allow secure and speedy donations to be made to the respective causes.  There are links on each page to the other page (the website allows giving to only one charity per page) as well as further details about the charities.

 

I recognise the other demands on our charitable giving, and understand (and apologise for troubling you) if the timing is not right or this is just not for you.

Thank you for your support.

Andrew

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Oxford Christian-Muslim forum family group meets the third Saturday every month at 2pm East Oxford Community centre.  (Mixed couples welcome)

November 20th. Christian and Muslim parents and schools. Sign up via www.christianmuslimforum.org

 

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Ilse asked me to circulate this: sorry it’s a bit late but good to know about it- wish we could join you in Istanbul!

Invitation to European URI Assembly in Istanbul/Turkey

 

“WALKING THE TALK -BRINGING INTERFAITH ACTION TO EACH TOWN IN EUROPE”

 

October 27-31, 2010

Dear Interfaith friend,

it is with great joy that we invite you to the upcoming European URI Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, October 27-31, 2010.

URI Europe (United Religions Initiative Europe) wants to expand its network of interfaith circles which work across Europe for promoting peace, justice and healing. Therefore we will be happy and honoured to welcome approx. 50 interfaith activists from European countries who want to join up and help. The URI Europe Assembly will have the title “Walking the Talk – Bringing Interfaith Action to Each Town in Europe” and will take place at the Artemis Marin Princess Hotel, located on the seaside in Kumburgaz, near Istanbul.

You are cordially invited!  –

We are looking forward to bringing together

a)        new interfaith activists who want to start their own interfaith group as well as

b)        outstanding long-term interfaith leaders of URI CCs or other interfaith groups, experts in their respective fields, who are prepared to seed and mentor new interfaith groups.

The aim of the conference is to help the foundation of new interfaith groups, which will enhance the work for peace, justice and healing in Europe. For this purpose participants will receive training and coaching by distinguished experts in the interfaith field. The new interfaith groups will be able to benefit from URI as a vibrant worldwide peace network of currently over 400 organisations and groups in 75 countries worldwide

(Europe: 30 groups/organisations in 14 countries) and at the same time enrich the network.

Following this aim there will be two conference tracks:

 

*            one for new interfaith activists who want to found their own interfaith group – they will receive training by experts, guidance, tools and coaching while moving forward, so that they can pursue their ideas efficiently and successfully,

*            the other track is for expert members of strong URI interfaith groups (or other strong interfaith groups new to URI), who are prepared to seed/support new interfaith groups and activists, share their knowledge and experiences and act as coaches and mentors.

 

Participants are asked to submit your idea how to form a new interfaith circle with your application.

URI is able to give some financial support for selected participants who would otherwise be unable to attend. A selection committee will meet on an ongoing basis and make the selection based on the ideas for founding new interfaith groups and the applicant’s profile.

You can also download the materials under the following links:

<http://www.uri-europe.eu/docsfordownload/invitation-istanbul.pdf>

http://www.uri-europe.eu/docsfordownload/invitation-istanbul.pdf and <http://www.uri-europe.eu/docsfordownload/Application-URI-Istanbul.doc>

http://www.uri-europe.eu/docsfordownload/Application-URI-Istanbul.doc

As October is around the corner, please apply immediately, by sending your registration form to Aminah Bach (info @ birgitbach.de), so that your place can be secured. The space is limited to approx. 50 participants. We will inform you as soon as your application is accepted, so that you can book your flights. Earlier applications will be given priority in the selection process.

The regular cost is EUR 350,- in a single room and EUR 250,- in a twin room / double room per person. This price includes four overnight stays, all meals and coffee breaks and the conference fee (Wednesday evening till Sunday lunch).

 

Note: URI Europe has limited funds in order to financially support active interfaith leaders who would be otherwise unable to attend.

Istanbul is a special place, as it is located on two continents, bridging Asia and Europe. It is a European Cultural Capital 2010. It is the perfect location for coming together for exchange, inspiration, mutual learning and forward planning. We are convinced it will be an inspiring and enriching event. Please join us. It will be a joy meeting you in Istanbul!

Best wishes to you,

Patrick Hanjoul, URI Europe President, Antwerp, Belgium – Karimah Stauch, URI Europe Coordinator, Bonn, Germany -Semsettin Türkan, SIRF CC, Ankara, Turkey -Deepak Naik, Conference Programme Manager, Minorities of Europe CC, Coventry, UK -Louis Mentens, URI Europe Treasurer, Belgium Kiran Bali, Faiths2Faiths CC, United Kingdom – Sheikh Bashir Ahmad Dultz, DMLBonn CC / URI Germany CC, Germany – Martin Gurvich, Convictions in Dialogue CC, Belgium – Elisabeth Lheure, UNESCOCat CC, Catalonia/Spain – Patrick Nickisch, URI Global Youth Ambassador, Hungary/Germany

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I am a member of the national Christian Muslim Forum which yesterday launched a new website http://www.myxencounter.org. One of the main aims of the Christian Muslim Forum is to work with young people, we have therefore produced this website which contains useful videos, training sessions and ideas for young people and youth leaders. We aim to use the website to:

·         Train leaders

·         Inspire and encourage young people, their parents and religious leaders

·         Create a national network of ‘MYX’ groups bringing together Christian and Muslim young people to learn about each other, build relationships and do practical things together

Please visit the website, have a look and:

·         Get in touch for some training yourself on one of our ‘Cross, Crescent and Cool’ courses

·         Share it with young people in your area

·         Forward this message to interested friends

·         Ask for more information, either through me (Heather) or with the Christian Muslim Forum

www.myxencounter.org

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Hello,

 

My name is Naomi Riley. I’m a former Wall Street Journal reporter working on a book about interfaith marriage in America. I completed a large national survey this summer about attitudes toward interfaith marriage and this fall I’ll be traveling the country, interviewing couples, religious leaders, marriage counselors and others about the subject. I saw your website and I was wondering if you could help me find some couples in Muslim-Christian marriages to interview either over the phone or in person.  I would like to ask some basic questions about religious practice, how couples have decided to raise their children and just find out generally about the challenges and rewards of interfaith marriage. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

Sincerely,

Naomi Riley

naomisriley@gmail.com

www.naomiriley.com

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God and Community Cohesion – Help or Hindrance?

TUESDAY, 09 NOVEMBER 2010 18:45

Where: Dialogue Society, London
With Canon Dr Alan Billings

http://www.dialoguesociety.org

The dialogue society founded by British Muslims of Turkish background

Telefon+90 212 885 90 00

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Centre for Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue with the Committee for Relations with Other Religions (Catholic Bishops’ Conference)

Wednesday 10th November Heythrop College, University of London, Kensington Square, London W8 5HN

Meeting God in Friend and Stranger: Reflecting on the 2010 teaching document of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales on interreligious dialogue (includes section on interfaith marriage) .

11.00am- 5.00pm Arrivals from 10.30 am. This day is open to all and there is no charge, but please

email the Director, if you wish to attend: m.ganeri@heythrop.ac.uk. Refreshments

and lunch will be provided, for which a £5 donation will be requested.

Speakers: include Archbishop Kevin McDonald, Chair of Committee for Relations with Other Religions, Catholic Bishops’ Conference, England and Wales.

Dr Martin Ganeri O.P, Director CCID, Heythrop College (Catholic Church)

Revd Canon Guy Wilkinson, Advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury on Interfaith Affairs (Church of England)

Dr Jonathan Gorsky, Lecturer in Judaism, Heythrop College (Judaism)

Dr Jabal Buaben, Lecturer in Islam, University of Birmingham (Islam)

Mr Ramesh Pattni, Chair of Hindu Forum U.K. (Hinduism)

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Salaam Arts Festival: Inspiring Women’s Talents

Saturday 20 November  The New Art Gallery Walsall 11am – 4pm

Salaam Arts Festival: Inspiring Women’s Talents is a unique event showcasing the artistic talents of Muslim women and young people and their contribution to the British cultural life. This free event will include visual arts workshops, talks, displays, spoken word performances and an art market. IWT has been deployed by The New Art Gallery Walsall in partnership with Mosaic, a HRH Prince of Wales charity. The event is also being supported by a wide range of grassroots organisations and womens groups including Hear My Voice, Muslim Women’s Network UK, Surestart and the local education authority.

One of the key aims of the event is to identify and nurture creative and artistic talent amongst women, young people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds.  We will be conducting workshops, activities and seminars to support emerging artists as well as encouraging and supporting more well known and established artists. The Gallery will be transformed into specialised zones – a souk for amateur, semi/professional artists to display and market their work, a theatre space for performances and activity rooms where members of the public can try their hand at a new medium with the supervision of experienced arts professional.

For further information, please contact Ioannis Ioannou, Audience Development Curator, on 01922 654404 or email ioannoui@walsall.gov.uk

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The Inter-Faith Committee of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Council [MINAB] would like to invite you to a symposium to be held as part of Inter-Faith Week on Sunday 21st November 2011 at the Islamic Cultural Centre, Regents Park Mosque, from 1:00pm to 4:30pm.

 

We hope the event will bring together faith leaders, activists and laypersons from all faith and no faith communities in the spirit of sharing and exchanging ideas and concerns in a mutually respectful environment to discuss a matter of concern to us all.

 

The focus of the evening will be a brief presentation on ‘Faith and Phobia in modern Britain’ (Click on the links for further details) by Fuad Nahdi, Director of the Radical Middle Way and Member of the Executive Board of MINAB. This would be followed by a response from four faith leaders including Revd Canon Guy Wilkinson (Christian), Mr Sanjay Jagatia (Hindu), Rabbi David Hulbert (Jewish) and Dr Inderjeet Singh (Sikh).
There will be an opportunity for participants to be involved in the deliberations. Refreshments will be provided.

 

To confirm attendance or for more information please RSVP secretary@iccuk.org or telephone Siddika on 020-7725-2223.

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Books:

 

Sharing Mary, Bible and Qur’an Side by Side. by Marlies ter Borg

The book is available via Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Sharing-Mary-Bible-Quran-Side/dp/1451583133/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279790148&sr=1-7

 

‘A balanced and non-partial anthology, symbolized on the front cover by Mary, revered as mother of Jesus, both in Christianity and Islam. Presented Side-by-Side: All the figures Bible and Qur’an have in common: Adam – Noah – Abraham – Joseph – Moses – David – Solomon- Job – Jonah- Zachariah – John- Jesus. The stories from Creation to Judgment Day, Heaven and Hell. Controversial topics, – women, war and violence. Shared human values and attributes of God and Allah. The book is non partial and balanced in its careful selection of verses from Bible and Qur’an and in the choice of contributors, both from a Muslim, Christian and secular background. Compiled by Dutch philosopher Dr Marlies ter Borg With reflections by Prof. Khaled Abou el Fadl, UCLA An introduction by Prof. Andrew Rippin, University of Victoria, Canada Prof. Mehmet Pacaci, Muslim, Turkey Prof. Barbara Stowasser, secular, USA Prof. Herman Beck, Christian, the Netherlands Prof. Martha Frederiks, Christian, the Netherlands Dr. Moch Nur Ichwan, Muslim Indonesia Karin Bisschop, New Muslim, Canada NO CONCLUSIONS! The book invites readers to draw their own conclusions.. “A timely, unique and astonishing anthology, both because of its organization and presentation and because no one thought to do this before!” John Esposito

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Becoming the Other, Being Oneself: Constructing Identities in a Connected World by  Iain Walker
The island of Ngazidja lies at the southern end of the monsoon wind system and its inhabitants, the Wangazidja, have participated in the trading networks of the Indian Ocean for two millennia. The enduring contacts between the Wangazidja and their trading partners have subjected them to a variety of social and cultural influences—from the Swahili coast, from the African hinterland, from the Arabian peninsula, from Indonesia and, more recently, from Europe.

This is an academic book exploring the idea of authenticity in the culture of an island  community which has been constantly in contact with and influenced by other cultures , At its heart is an anthropological study of a cross-cultural wedding which you can read about in this link .

http://www.c-s-p.org/Flyers/Becoming-the-Other–Being-Oneself–Constructing-Identities-in-a-Connected-World1-4438-2337-6.htm

 

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An African Answer`: the Spirituality and practice of Christian – Muslim Interfaith Peacebuilding

This is the Oxford premiere of the new documentary on the peacemaking methodology of `the Imam and the Pastor` from Kaduna, northern Nigeria, James Wuye and Mohammed Asafa. Made in Kenya during the post-election violence, this film is aimed both at a general audience and to train grassroots peacebuilders. Voice-over by Rageh Omar. Pastor James and Imam Asafa will personally introduce the film and lead discussion The UK launch of An African Answer will take place 8-12 November, in the presence of the film’s protagonists Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye, film director Dr Alan Channer and producer Dr Imad Karam.

 

The UK premiere will be at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), London at 6.30pm on Tuesday 9 November. It will be chaired by Sir Richard Jolly, former Assistant General Secretary of the United Nations, who is Honorary Professor and Research Associate of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.

 

The first screening for the general public will be at Friends House, Euston, at 7pm on Friday 12 November. Private screenings will also be held at St John’s College, Oxford University and Her Majesty’s Young Offenders Institution, Rochester – where Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye will facilitate a workshop with inmates on tackling gang violence.

 

An African Answer depicts a dramatic bid by Pastor Wuye and Imam Ashafa – former militia leaders turned peace-makers from Nigeria – to bring reconciliation in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province, following communal killings. It is filmed in the district of Kenya worst hit by the post-election violence of early 2008, when around 1000 people were killed and tens of thousands were displaced from their homes and farms.

 

Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, describes it as ‘A very important film. We need to learn, indeed, from Imam Ashafa and Pastor James’ says Annan, ‘and multiply in a thousand places their experiences of healing and reconciliation.’

 

An African Answer is available on DVD from FLTfilms, price £15.99 (inc p&p)

Tel – 020 7798 6020   www.fltfilms.org.uk

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St Ethelburga’s is hosting ‘An Evangelical-Muslim Dialogue’ on Tuesday 23rd November at 7.30pm. Dr Chawkat Moucarry and Rashad Ali will be in conversation. www.stethelburgas.org  for more details.

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In Reading, Churches Together in Berkshire are hosting a Youth Inter-Faith Conference on Thursday 25th November from 5.30 until 9.00pm. Dr Eleanor Nesbitt is the keynote speaker at ‘Who Am I? Religious Identity and Young People’. Venue is Friends Meeting House, 2 Church Street, Reading RG1 2SB. emailctberks@btconnect.com or call Richard Christopher 0118 966 850 for more details.

 

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Getting through the conflict of certainty trap

 

At our September Southall meeting we had a really interesting discussion around the topic of authenticity.   It set me thinking about how much  ‘authenticity’, being true to ourselves  matters in mixed faith relationships. Often right from the start of a relationship it’s the feeling people say convinced them this was ‘it’- the right choice for them.

But most of us also experience times when our need and desire to  be authentic brings us right up against our partner’s similar need. Whether it’s about one or both of us bring true in a particular way to what our religion teaches, or is ‘just’ about culture in some aspect of daily life, the  close-up nature of relationships can sometimes make compromise with a partner’s difference feel like being asked to sacrifice who we are and who we really believe we should be.

It isn’t only mixed couples that sometimes need to find a route through their conflicting certainties, in fact it isn’t only couples – struggles over ‘authenticity’ between children and parents can be just as heartfelt.

 

Is religion itself to blame  for making otherwise reasonable people inflexible and intolerant?   , It may look like that from the outside but as the Qura’n teaches (2:256) La Iqrar fi’ ddinn, there can be no external compulsion in belief : the need to feel authentic and ‘in line’ with what we value and take seriously comes from us ourselves, it’s a basic part of who we both are and both need to take account of in each other if the relationship is to flourish and help us flourish as people.

 

So how do we deal as couples with those moments and issues when they occur and what advice would we give to others when they find themselves in a bit of a certainty trap? How do we construct a path of compromise, but one that doesn’t do damage to either partner’s authenticity ?

 

I came up with a few ideas in answer to that question. Would you like to add to them?

 

  • Let time do its work: the great thing about long term relationships is that we have time to adjust to change and get to feel at home living alongside what was unfamiliar or strange about each other. The issues that worry us will also change.  Sometimes it makes sense to “let go and let God” and take the long view.

 

  • Make space for both of us to do our own thing in terms of religion and other areas of life. Changing routines a bit, being spontaneous, can allow different moods and perspectives to surface.

 

  • Be with other people as well as each other. Even family and community gatherings can give  a couple ‘time- out’ whilst still feeling pleasantly connected to each other- such as when males and females in a family or friendship group socialise in separate spaces.   (and it’s not only in Muslim families this happens believe me!)  We all need both distance and closeness.

 

  • Not every low point in the relationship is a failure, when you think about what you have learned through it about how you interact, what’s fair and what’s not and how you might do ‘the steps in the dance’ slightly differently next time.

 

  • Get in the habit of sometimes really listening to each other without interrupting.

 

  • Pay attention to all the messages we are giving: most of the communication that goes on in a relationship is not in words at all.

 

  • Talk about the ways our relationship already helps us feel ‘at home’ and safe but also the ways in which it is flexible enough for us not to tread on each others’ toes.

 

  • Pay attention to the context we’re living in: if either of us feels we have our back to the wall, feels humiliated or lonely then it’s more likely we’ll want to take a particularly strict  line on protecting identity and authenticity.  In a couple this can often elicit a similarly defensive response.     Are there small changes in context that might help soften us both and relieve the  need for quite such defensive rules and boundaries?

 

  • Allies: seek out other people who are on the side of our partnership: amongst family, friends, other couples. We all need a net.

 

  • Remember that blame may sometimes be very satisfying but it’s not that useful !

 

  • Celebrate breakthroughs and connections:  our ‘star moments’.  (thankyou Caroline for that phrase!)   These are a reward and a gift and maybe  the gift mixed couples bring to the world in general.

 

  • Make each other welcome and recognise when we are welcomed.

 

  • Respect each other as human beings

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks so much to all of you for your news, wisdom and community.  You are a very special bunch of people

Hafizkum Allah  love to all and to your families

And if you can,  see you in Southall or Brum

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