May 2012 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Salaam and Greetings   This is a quick Muslim Christian couples support newsletter for May 2012.

You’re welcome to join us at the next London meeting on Sunday May 27th from 1pm  at St Andrew’s Church Centre in Fulham,  http://www.starcentre.standrewsfulham.com/    RSVP to me or to Amy on Facebook (let me know if you’d like to join the closed site) .

 Plus a note for your diaries: our  future dates this year are September 16th and November 18th .

Also happening next weekend in London is the Westminster Interfaith 27th annual Multi-faith pilgrimage for peace from 9.30 am -6pm on Saturday May 26th  starting from St Ethelburgas www.stethelburgas.org a nd heading to places of worship in East London ( including  Temple, Mosques (Sunni and Shi’a) Church and Gurdwara  with Buddhist drumming accompaniment and refreshments along the way.    For further details and booking form, contact: Jon Dal Din,Westminster Interfaith, Westminster House, Watford Way NW4 4TY Tel: 075 2775 8729 Email: mailto:jondaldin@rcdow.org.uk.

Interfaith walks are just one way of celebrating the multi faith character of London – and there are plans for more of them in the capital during the weekend 14th and 15th July ‘when the global Olympic spotlight is on the city’. You can find out more about getting involved at http://www.southlondoninterfaith.org.uk

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As you will know the Olympics will fall during Ramadan this year.   What might be shared?    Some ideas about sharing the Ramadan spirit of goodwill (and plenty of opportunities for hospitality)  on this website http://www.ramadanfestival.org/?page_id=27

There’s much more about Olympic truce initiatives from the London Boroughs Faith Network http://lbfn.wordpress.com/london-2012/

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Inter faith marriage discussion : If you can reach BBC radio programmes: May 14th  episode of Nihal’s BBC Asian network phone-in was about interfaith marriages: an interesting snapshot of opinion amongst young Asian Britons of all faiths
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01hmzb5/Nihal_Interfaith_marriages./
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Questions , questions…

Most people in an inter faith relationship sometimes get aspects of being ‘different’ commented on by other people. Whether it’s  nice or nasty there’s usually a subtext ‘ How come you two are together? ‘or even ‘are you two allowed to be together? ‘  It can be trickier when the comments focus on children – on their appearance, or even on quite intimate aspects of their identity (‘Did you get him circumcised?’ is not something any adolescent boy wants to hear his parents being asked!)
Even when well-meant it can sometimes feel a bit stereotyping and or intrusive.
So I guess it’s not surprising if we sometimes just want people to understand we are normal , and want to defend our normality, to ourselves and other people- that we’re just a regular couple and family and that no it doesn’t feel strange or confusing  being married to one of those ‘other’ people.
For a lot of inter faith couples  seeing ourselves and our families as normal  feels like quite an important value – challenging just by being ourselves the range of narratives that keep communities in separate boxes.
At the same time I wonder if believing that we are just normal can distract a little bit from a really interesting and perhaps important question it can be useful to ask ourselves at some point  : namely What is it about we two as individuals with different backgrounds and beliefs that we chose to be together?   It’s actually a deeper version of the same question that intrusive strangers or doubtful family members ask – but reflected on honestly, at the right time it does quite a different job.

Answers to that question may cut straight through externals  to information about our personalities, childhood experience, relationship patterns,   to all the complexities of what makes a couple fit. Answers may also help explain our particular relational logic – why it made sense for us both to bond with a person who is not ‘from our community or from a family like the one we originated in –why in fact it is ‘normal’ for us as individuals to be in just this kind of relationship and family.  Answers may challenge us too-– separating personal fictions from relationship facts and : it can help couples who are deciding whether to take the next step in a relationship balance idealism with realism.
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Do you do Interfaith dialogue?

Some couples avoid it: there’s enough to argue about without adding to the list!  Often for interfaith couples life come before dialogue.   At the same time we may develop a kind of reflexivity – an interior  dialogue between the two mind worlds we live in. Maybe this kind of personal interior dialogue really is the invisible inter faith dialogue of our times- and its not just us; given the inter faith encounter that our societies are all engaged in,  it seems to me there are a lot of people ‘conducting a dialogue with the other’ in their heads, alongside all the public expressions -mostly monologues- of Muslim Christian mutual construction in the media and on the net.      Inevitably and tragically some individuals find the challenge of this interior dialogue and the change it calls for too disturbing – and express their inner confusion in violence, rigidity or in projections of shame and self-loathing onto ‘the other’, examples are put before us in the media almost daily.   But living with the deep non-verbal dialogue of life which is an inter faith marriage  we know there are many other responses.  Couples like you who learn through trial and error, through experience,  what’s needed  to  sustain this particular  inter faith relationship lovingly and justly are showing another kind of dialogue.   What would you say your own interfaith dialogue has taught you and what insight would you want to share with others?

With all best   wishes

Heather