Dear Friends,

Welcome to the October-November 2012 issue of the muslim christian marriage support group.
news of groups :

London group
If you’re in or can reach London you are warmly invited to join us at the central London group on November 18th 1-5, at the Star centre which is attached to St Andrews Church in Fulham http://www.starcentre.standrewsfulham.com/

There’ll be drinks and snacks and a warm welcome for anyone in a Muslim Christian inter faith or intercultural relationship whether you want to explore an issue, get support, meet others or just listen. For more details or to confirm your place RSVP to Amy or me. Donation asked of £5 per couple to cover room hire. See you then!

New Scotland group

Hello, My name is Ilse and I am looking for MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN COUPLES in SCOTLAND who would be interested in meeting up in a relaxed, confidential atmosphere over a cuppa to discuss any aspects of their interreligious / intercultural lives and possibly share some of their experiences.

I have been married to a Muslim for some 5 years and have always found meeting others in a similar situation interesting, enriching and… fun. A recent visit to Heather has inspired me to try and build on the brilliant work she and Rosalind have done in England and take the Muslim / Christian Marriage Support Group up North to Scotland, where I live with my family.

There is no set agenda or formal structure to the meetings (yet) – it will very much be what we all want to make it! So if you are interested, please do not hesitate to get in touch by dropping an email toilse.alim@gmx.de . I am hoping we will be able to generate enough interest to schedule a first meet-up before long. Everyone is most welcome!

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Documentary: My Secret Heart is an independent documentary which tells the stories of British Muslim women who have had, or are having, relationships with non-Muslim men. It is being made by first time filmmakers Zara Afzal and Adam Ryzman and experienced producer Christopher Hird. The film is aimed at a wide general audience. It aims to challenge stereotypes within and outside the Muslim community and, by showing the very real and tender struggles between individual desires and familial attitudes, it aims to increase cultural understanding in Britain.

For most Muslim women, marrying a non-Muslim man is the unthinkable. A relationship with a man outside the faith and culture is the ultimate taboo, and going against this convention is often punishable by intimidation, ostracism, or in rare cases, death.

It’s a portrait documentary that chronicles their lives, telling the heart-rending story of their struggle between individual desire and the constraints of cultural, religious and familial identity.

We have so far two protagonists in the film and are looking for more couples ideally were the partner is a Muslim woman to share their stories.

We totally understand the nature and sensitivity of the subject and the issues that come with it. Adam and myself are independent filmmakers and are not affiliated to any broadcast channels and neither want to sensationalise this subject or make any particular group/persons look bad. We want to present very real tender stories of the struggles both parties face in the culture/faith cross-divide.

If you would like to share your personal experiences on this please feel free to contact me on zara.afzal@gmail.com.
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Inter faith week this year will be November to find out what activities will be happening in your area go to http://www.interfaithweek.org/
at the end of Inter faith week comes the launch by the Christian Muslim Forum of its new Ethical Guidelines for the pastoral care of inter faith couples :
The Christian Muslim Forum http://www.christianmuslimforum.org fosters meeting, dialogue and understanding between Christians and Muslims from a range of traditions and stances. We’re delighted that the Forum has engaged with the need of inter faith couples and their families for good quality and ethical pastoral care, when they come into contact with faith institutions, often at vulnerable times. With the support of a range of Muslim and Christian leaders and thinkers in the UK we’re developing a set of ethical guidelines, aimed at faith instituions and leaders which will be launched at Westminster Abbey on November 26th .
The guidelines are still in draft form, but a version will shortly be available for view and comment on our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_185782491456844

your comments and suggestions at this stage. would be welcome. The aim is to publish the guidelines with a shortish report which will illustrate good and less good examples of pastoral care to learn from , so if you have experience of Mosque Church or community you’d be willing to share (cases will be anonymised) , or if you could recommend individuals or institutions who have supported you, we’d like to include your input so we can make this a useful resource for couples as well as encouraging best practice in faith communities.
We hope this will be a significant milestone in changing the discourse around inter faith marriage in faith communities, by focusing on the real pastoral needs of couples and individuals of both faiths rather than a more general argument on the rights and wrongs of inter faith marriages from a faith community’s point of view.

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Could you help the Interfaith marriage network grow ?

We have two urgent vacancies for a volunteer treasurer/fundraiser and for some IT assistance Do you think you could help?
If you would like to volunteer in these roles, or if you might be interested in being a contact for people in your area, or would like to help improve what we do for couples and families in other ways we’d be glad to hear from you: it’s your network , why not help make it better?

The inter faith marriage website http://www.interfaithmarriage.org.uk with its downloadable resource pack is being updated and it would be really nice to include more real photos . Would you let us have a digital copy of any suitable photos illustrating life as it’s lived in a Muslim -Christian couple and family that you would be comfortable sharing on a public forum ( wedding scenes , ordinary life, pics from trips to home countries, possibilities are many) ?
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A selection of recent media articles about inter faith marriage covered different aspects of the phenomenon
a couple’s story in the magazine Emel,
http://www.emel.com/article?id=105&a_id=2823

a challenging reflection on ‘casual conversion’ in the context of marriage in the Spectator

http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8667291/till-faith-do-us-part/

and thoughts on the latest statistics on non-aligned identities in the context of inter faith marriage by Susan Katz Miller on her blog from the perspective of Jewish Christian inter faith families : always worth a read
http://onbeingboth.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/interfaith-marriage-and-the-rise-of-the-religious-nones/

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EID SPECIAL IN BIRMINGHAM

SAAUM would like to present our second interfaith event Celebrating World Pilgrimages: Saturday 3rd November 12-3 cost £15 venue la favorita :

Eid al-Adha special with guest speaker Kristiane Backer (author of MTV to Mecca)
This event follows on from the success of the Interfaith Iftaar: Fasting and Feasting with the Faithful and the demand for more similar event.
more info http://interfaithenabler.blogspot.co.uk/

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#COMETOGETHER – Contemporary Artists from the Edge of Arabia

25 established and emerging artists from across the Arab world exhibiting in London .

Dates: 7th –28th October 2012; every day 11am-6pm | Thurs 11am-9pm

Venue: Old Truman Brewery, 81 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL

Admission free // http://www.edgeofarabia.com

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And The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Presents the NOUR FESTIVAL OF ARTS 2012 and other events celebrating the culture of the Middle East and North Africa region

01 October 2012 10:00am – 01 December 2012 10:00pm

Various venues

http://www.arabbritishcentre.org.uk/

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Message from Chris Hewer who runs well-respected Understanding Islam courses: You may be interested in a new website that I have created called http://www.chrishewer.org on which you will find resources written by me: various articles, a couple of books and hopefully in due course documents relating to the work. There are also some audio-visual resources available there: links to some TV programmes that I have done with Ahl al-Bayt TV and some educational resources with the “Seeking the Spirit of Islam” project. Understanding Islam courses still run as intensive three-day residentials and there are some follow-up courses either as single days or residentials; all such that are open to everyone will be listed under my Calendar on the website

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On the Cordoba foundation website :

‘Victoria and Abdul’: thought it;’s another couple, turns out it’s a book about Queen Victoria and her faithful servant Abdul, a friendship ahead of its time.

http://www.thecordobafoundation.com/index.php
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St Ethelburgas is running an authenthic communication series in November about good listening, asking the right questions and disagreement success. If we cannot disagree successfully, how can we come to terms properly with a world characterised by diversity, difference and division? Is it possible to develop curiosity about how and why other people do not share our values and ideas, and see disagreement as an opportunity for growth? Without this, disagreement failure results in conflict and polarisation. So what might disagreement success look like?
talk to Simon at St Etelburgas to see if this might be appropriate for you.

http://www.stethelburgas.org.uk

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‘A Common Word’ five years on:

Leading Christians and Muslims consider the impact of this groundbreaking document on Muslim-Christian relations Centre for Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue

You can find information about events around UK and the world here http://www.acommonword.com

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Invitation to a public lecture

In conjunction with Heythrop College, University of London, Oasis cordially invites you to a public lecture and discussion, with the president of Oasis, his Eminence Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan.

The Religions, Plurality and the Common Good: The Proposal of the Oasis Foundation

on 15th November 2012, from 3.00 to 5.30pm

Loyola Hall, Heythrop College, Kensington Square

London W8 5HN

Entry is free, but if you wish to attend, please book a place with Annabel Clarkson at a.clarkson@heythrop.ac.uk, or ring 0207 795 4203 by 15th October, 2012.

The Oasis Foundation (http://www.oasiscenter.eu/en/) exists to encourage mutual understanding and opportunities for encounter between Christians and Muslims in contemporary societies.

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Churches Together videos on relating to Islam http://www.youtube.com/user/ChurchesTogether?feature=mhee

And a date for our friends in the US:

24th October 2012

10.00am – 4.30pm,

Loyola Hall

http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/publications/campion-hall-seminar-papers-on-christian-theological-engagement-with-islam
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A thought exercise to end on…

Think of one way in which you are different from your partner or hold different views, (doesn’t need to be a major one: remembering that every couple is a mixed couple ! )

1. . Which of you would tend to think it would be be more comfortable if this difference were resolved ?
2. Which of you may be more inclined to enjoy aspects of living with this difference, (which aspects?) and feels more comfortable tolerating the occasional drama it brings?
3. What have you found challenging about the other position (1. or 2.)? What could you say you have learned from the position your partner is representing?
4. What has your partner found challenging about the position you are representing ? If you asked them what do you think he/she might say she/he has has learned from it?
5. When would you be most likely to view this difference in the other way? ( ie wish it resolved or enjoy aspects of the difference?)
6. When would you be least likely ?
7. When and on what topic have you ever switched your positions ? (wanting differences to go away or enjoying aspects of the difference).

With best wishes to you and your family

Heather