Hi friends, if you’re in London youre’ welcome to join us at the Interfaith bring and share family picnic which is on Sunday 23 June 2013 2pm-5pm Again everybody welcome, the more the merrier. If weather is bad then we have an alternative indoor venue. pm me for directions ,hope to see you there !

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February 2013 Next Muslim Christian and Inter faith marriage support meeting reminder

Dear Friends,

Salaams and greetings to all! This is a reminder that the next Muslim-Christian Interfaith Marriage Group meeting in Central London is on Sunday 24 February 2013 from 12.30 till 4.30
12.30pm – 2.30pm: AGM and lunch
2.30pm – 4.30pm: support meeting
All welcome! This is an exciting time in the life of the group: if you can make the AGM we would value your your input to making it work even better for couples and families as we grow.
Further Info, directions and RSVP via the support group page, to request to join go to http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/185782491456844/

Best regards Heather

MCM newsletter December 2012

Dear Friends,

This is the last newsletter of 2012. It’s been a year of changes for our group. Our memories of Southall, its samosas and above all Michael Barnes’ welcome has a special place in the hearts of many of us, but we’ve survived the move as a group from Southall to Fulham and we’re hugely grateful to the hospitality we’ve received in both places.

The last few months have kept a lot of us busy with Inter faith couples activities. You may have seen some of the media coverage of the Christian Muslim Forum launch of guidelines for pastoral care of interfaith marriages, but if this is all news to you, you can read about them and get copies of them here http://www.christianmuslimforum.org/index.php/news/130-inter-faith-marriage-guidelines

Thankyou also to the group members who came along on the day of the launch. For anyone who would like to see more you can catch a glimpse of us all at the launch on ‘Westminster Abbey’ at 21.00 on BBC2 tonight, Friday Dec 21st http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p68kf

It’s been a really exciting and actually moving experience to be working on this with the Forum: it’s showed us that even in both faith communities there is much more inclination to engage with and understand the experience of inter faith and cross-cultural couples. Plenty more to be done but a real start has been made thanks to our tireless friends in the Forum, in particular Julian Bond, Akeela Ahmed and Nick Ryan.
More media coverage is in the pipeline, but here are links to some print articles on the guidelines and what they mean

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/how-christians-and-muslims-can-marry–the-official-guide-834895

Christian-Muslim relationships in particular can cause tension in families and communities, so pastoral support is important
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/nov/26/mixed-faith-couples-religious-leaders
http://onbeingboth.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/supporting-muslim-and-christian-couples-and-the-rest-of-us/
As Susan K Miller comments in her blog: ‘This collaboration between an interfaith dialogue group, clergy from more than one religion, and interfaith families strikes me as important. Too often, high-level interfaith dialogue has avoided the subject of interfaith families as too controversial, rather than supporting interfaith families and even drawing on their experiences with communication across religious divides.’
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Scotland group

Another development in recent months has been the foundation of Muslim Christian couples Scotland
http://interaleea.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/muslim-christian-couples-support-group-scotland/
It has been really well thought through and planned and already has a number of members (and a great blog!) and is a really fine resource for couples north of the border.
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There are all sorts of ways anyone can get involved and share. Christine and Mohamed told their story here http://goldenroom.co.uk/issue/decmeber-2012/article/my-story-christine-and-mohamed
or you can have conversations with others on our closed couples only Facebook group, apply to join here
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_185782491456844
here’s also an open page Muslim Christian and Inter faith marriage support where we put up posts of general interest. : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Muslim-Christian-and-Interfaith-Marriage-Support/197079873647699#!/pages/Muslim-Christian-and-Interfaith-Marriage-Support/197079873647699
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Meeting dates
Next year will insha’Allah be a lively one for the group. We have provisional dates for meetings in 2013, and we particularly encourage anyone who would like to get involved in the running of the group and improving what we can offer to couples with varying needs whether here in the UK or elsewhere If you can, it would be fantastic of you could join us at the AGM on February 24th.

2013 provisional meeting dates.

February 24th group meeting plus AGM
April 28th
June 23rd ( picnic in the park )
Sept 22nd
and Nov 24th
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just time for a couple of postings :

Annual Joint Lecture, Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies, Oxford
Time & Date: 5pm, Tuesday, 26th February, 2013
Venue: The Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford
Title: Democracy and Muslim-Christian Relations in the Middle East
Speakers: His Grace Bishop Angaelos & Tariq Ramadan
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of The Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom: The Democracy of the Middle East
Tariq Ramadan, HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies, Oriental Institute, Oxford: Building democracy: the challenge ahead for Muslim-Christian Relations
All Welcome
and lastly

for those of you for whom working out how to mark Christmas in a way which satisfies all is still a work in progress I thought this fatwa from the Grand Mufti of Egypt addressed to converts to Islam of Christian background might be of interest , he reiterates that despite the real differences in belief in relation to Jesus between Christians and Muslims, there is no Islamic impediment for Muslims to celebrate Christmas and family life with their friends and family :
http://ali-gomaa.com/?page=scholary-output&so_details=180 “There is no legal impediment to participating in celebrating the birth of Jesus (peace be upon him). Islam is an open system and its followers believe, respect and honor all the prophets and messengers, and treat the followers of other religions with kindness in accordance to the words of God the Almighty:

And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except in the best way. [Al-‘Ankabut, 46]

…For Muslims… celebrating the day of the birth of Jesus is an act of belief regardless of Christian convictions in his regard. Therefore, participate in your friends and family’s celebrations, eat with them and refrain from eating pork and drinking alcohol with tact and civility. Do not pay any attention to anyone who wants to ruin the relation between you and your family and others in the name of Islam because Islam is free from all of this.”

Christmas greetings to those who celebrate Christmas and many blessings to all, wishing you a happy and peaceful 2013 .
from Heather and also from my husband Ala’a and family

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

September 2012

Aside

Dear Friends,

Greetings!  Ramadan, Eid, Summer holidays, and all the excitement and inspiration of this year’s Olympics, Paralympics  and Jubilee have come and almost gone:  it’s time to remind you of the Muslim Christian couples’ support meetings we have coming up this autumn in London :
The dates are Sunday September 16th
and Sunday November the 18th.
The time from 1 till 5pm

To help cover the cost of room we are asking for a minimum donation of £5 per couple.
There’ll be some snacks, and drinks:  tea/ coffee and soft drinks, simple food contributions to share also welcome.   Above all it’s an opportunity to meet and share with others who are in a muslim -christian, interfaith or inter cultural relationship or marriage in a safe and supportive setting.
We’re a diverse group in which everyone is welcome and respected .  We’d be grateful for a quick RSVP so we know what numbers we have and what topics are important to you.

If you can’t join us in London but would like to be involved in the life of the group, you might like to join our facebook group for couples:  membership by request only at Muslim-Christian and Interfaith Marriage Support  https://www.facebook.com/groups/185782491456844/
You can also contact us confidentially through the inter faith marriage website http://www.interfaithmarriage.org.uk

There’ll be lots more news in the forthcoming newsletter, but for now Best wishes and salaams to all,  look forward to seeing you in London!
Heather

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

 

Dear Friends,

Hi ! Salaams and Greetings to everyone.
welcome to  the february-march 2012  newsletter: first up is   this year’s   London meeting dates:    

Sunday 25 March 2012


Sunday 27 May 2012

Sunday 16 September 2012

Sunday 18 November 2012

from 1-5pm 

At The Star Centre 


St Andrew’s in the Fields

Greyhound Road

London 
W14 9SA

(Nearest tube: Barons Court for District and Piccadilly lines)

Free on street parking in local area on Sundays

RSVP if you think you would like to join us.   thanks to Amy and Takie for  their work on arranging the venue . 

If London is too far  you may like to know there are also  small groups  in  Birmingham, and Oxford , and  trusted friends of Muslim Christian marriages in Bedford,  Edinburgh, Leicester  & Nottingham   .          
Plus there’s the    facebook group for muslim christian and interfaith couples  (membership by application only)  at    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_185782491456844    

 The interfaith marriage network http://www.interfaithmarriage.org.uk/   is getting an overhaul  and  should soon be much more interactive, making it easier to  communicate, get or give  support through that medium :
 Have you any stories you’d like to tell (anonymously is fine) or pictures we could use? (harder to escape being recognised!). Please pm Rosalind or Heather..  

Michael Barnes our host  at the de Nobili centre in Southall has  always been an inspiration to us and will inshallah continue to be so for many years to come. We’re thinking about how best to mark our gratitiude to him for his open-hearted generosity and support over the years,  in the menatime  you   may be interested to know he’s  just brought out a new book on Inter religious learning http://www.amazon.co.uk/Interreligious-Learning-Spirituality-Christian-Imagination/dp/1107012848 

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One of the most frequent requests we get from new members of the group, is for us to recommend an imam or a minister who is able and willing to conduct a marriage ceremony for an inter faith couple. All of us who’ve been through this are aware of how vulnerable and anxious couples can be at this time, and how important good advice and pastoral care based on respect and support for both partners can be in helping them and their families too get off to a good start.  If your experience at this time was positive, would you consider recommending your imam or minister to add to those we can recommend to couples? We’re not going to make this info public and embarrass anyone, but we would like to be able to suggest local contacts to couples who ask us and be sure that they will be treated with care at this important time in their lives. If you could spare a minute to pass on good contacts please do drop me a line, and many thanks for your help! Heather 
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A message from Lucy in Birmingham  :
Salaam alikum I was just wondering if anyone knows of any good childrens books,showing an English/White mummy and an Asian daddy? My mum gave us “Ambers other grandparents” which is lovely, but mummy is Asian and wears a Sari so a bit different.
Many thanks
lucy
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LISTINGS :

Islam Awareness Week March 12th -18th 2012
Coming up soon is this years’ Islam Awareness Week. This year the theme is LOVE, events near you listed at http://www.iaw.org.uk/pages/page.php?id=home
“Every year, during Islam Awareness Week, we take the opportunity to try to bring to light various aspects of Islam that are misunderstood or unknown to most people. In the times that we live, we often find ourselves explaining that Islam is a religion of justice and peace. Many are increasingly curious about what Muslims stand for and what is important to them. The theme of IAW in 2012 is one that is perhaps overlooked by many, it is the concept of Love.”
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Tuesday 6th March 2012 6.00pm for 6.30pm (Refreshments available from 6:00pm) A recital of Turkish Love poetry (with readings in the Turkish original and English translation) and Turkish and English songs and instrumental music played on traditional instruments (Turkish “ud” and English “lute”).Programme presented by the Anglo-Turkish Society, but open to all.

Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centre, 10 Maple Street, London, W1T 5HA (Off Tottenham Court Road, between Goodge Street and Warren Street underground stations.)

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Lectures and a conference organised by  the Centre for Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue, Heythrop College, University of London Kensington Square London W8 5HQ
Comparative Theology Public Lecture and Conference Series
The Centre for Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue is pleased to invite you to a series of seminars and public lectures on themes in comparative theology, leading up to a summer conference exploring the nature of contemporary and classical forms of comparative theology. The seminar and public lectures are open to all and free of charge.  There is no need to book, but to register interest and for further information please contact Dr Martin Ganeri, Director CCID at m.ganeri@heythrop.ac.uk

Saturday 3rd March 11am – 2pm “Dialogue between Muslims and Christians in Difficult Times”, a talk and discussion led by Dr Daniel Madigan SJ SeniorFellow of the Al-Waleed Center for Muslim-ChristianUnderstanding of Georgetown University,  at the Hurtado Jesuit Centre, 2 Chandler Street, Wapping, E1W 2QT (nearest stations, Wapping and Shadwell). Entrance is free but donations are welcome; please bring some lunch with you..

7th March, 6.00pm Double Belonging  A public lecture by Professor Catherine Cornille, Boston College. Prof Cornille’s publications include:  (ed.) Many Mansions? Multiple Religious Belonging and Christian Identity. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2002
30th May, 2.00 pm Bishop Appasamy and Comparative Theology in India Today A public lecture by Brian Dunn, Oxford University and Friends of the Church in India

14th June, 11.00am – 4.00pm What is Comparative Theology? CCID summer conference:
With Professor Francis Clooney SJ Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology at Harvard, author of Comparative Theology: Deep Learning across Religious Borders (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).
Professor Keith Ward, until recently Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Oxford,  currently Professorial Research Fellow, Heythrop College, London.  Dr Michael Barnes SJ, Reader in Interreligious Relations at Heythrop College  plus Dr Martin Ganeri OP, Director of the Centre for Christianity and Interreligious Relations at Heythrop College
The conference is open to all.  To book a place contact the Dr Martin Ganeri, Director CCID, at m.ganeri@heythrop.ac.uk
There is a charge of £15 for this conference to cover costs of refreshments and lunch.
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Come to the Edge: Christian and Muslim Women critically thinking together : a women’s only residential,  organised by the Christian Muslim Forum on 19/20 March 2012 at King’s Park, Action Centres UK Ltd Kings Park Road, Moulton Park
Northampton, NN3 6LL
Date: 19th & 20th March 2012
Arrival day 1: 10:45am
Departure day 2: 4pm
• Are community relations becoming harder?
• What is women’s contribution to community building?
• How can women move from the private to the public sphere?
• ‘Culture’ versus ‘religion’: What does this distinction represent?

These questions emerged from listening exercises conducted for women of both Christian and Muslim faith in London, Birmingham, Leicester, Bradford and Burnley. They will be discussed and explored at the residential conference.
The listening exercises have helped us to understand local issues at a neighbourhood level and inter faith/cultural interactions. Stories, experiences and issues from the listening exercises will inform the conference, as well as the work of the Christian Muslim Forum in the future.

Speakers: Aina Khan, Senior Consultant Solicitor,   Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, Julie Siddiqui, Chief Executive of the Islamic Society of Britain, Prof Tina Beattie, Director of the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Catholic Studies at Roehampton University

Workshops: Conversations for the Soul, facilitated by St Ethelburga’s. Christians and Muslims dialogue and relationship. Being active locally: Near Neighbours grants. Interactive and creativity workshops. Drama

For more info Tel:             01604 493111                  01604 493111       or             0207 820 0444                  0207 820 0444       or contact  zahra@christianmuslimforum.org 
In cases of need bursaries are available. Prices include refreshments, lunch, dinner and overnight
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WESTMINSTER FAITH DEBATES   We are delighted to invite you to a series of debates on religion in public life, running from February to May 2012 at RUSI, 61 Whitehall, SW1A 2ET, Wednesdays fortnightly, 5.30-7pm.
Between 2007-2012 £12m was invested by two research councils, the AHRC and ESRC, in the largest-ever funded research programme on ‘Religion and Society’. In this series leading academics will present findings arising from that research, for response by public figures. Together they will open up debate about the place of religion in public life today. The series is organised and chaired by the Rt Hon Charles Clarke, Professor Linda Woodhead and Dr Rebecca Catto, in co-operation with Theos.  1. 8th Feb  RELIGIOUS IDENTITY IN ‘SUPERDIVERSE’ SOCIETIES   Trevor Phillips, Dominic Grieve, Kim Knott, Therese O’Toole
2. 22nd Feb WHAT’S THE PLACE OF FAITH IN SCHOOLS?  Richard Dawkins, John Pritchard, Jim Conroy, Robert Jackson
3. 7th March WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED ABOUT RADICALISATION? Mehdi Hasan, Ed Husain, Mark Sedgwick, Marat Shterin, Mat Francis
4. 21st March WHAT ROLE FOR RELIGIOUS ORGANISATIONS IN AN ERA OF SHRINKING WELFARE? David Blunkett, Peter Smith, Adam Dinham, Sarah Johnsen
5. 18th April WHAT LIMITS TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM? Lisa Appignanesi, Maleiha Malik, Peter Jones
6. 2nd May WHAT ARE THE MAIN TRENDS IN RELIGION AND VALUES IN BRITAIN? Aaqil Ahmed, Cole Moreton,  Linda Woodhead, Grace Davie
Please email  p.ainsworth@lancaster.ac.uk to register for the debates you would like to attend, and visit http://www.religionandsociety.org.uk/faith_debates for further details.
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Lectures at the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK , Cardiff  (Lecture Theatre 0.36, Humanities Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU). 

Tuesday 6 March, 7.00pm – Dr Sean McLoughlin 
Holy Places, contested Spaces: British Muslim experiences of Hajj. 
Tuesday 13 March, 7.00pm – Dr Serena Hussain 
Are Britain’s Muslim communities dispersing? 
Tuesday 20 March, 7.00pm – Dr Andrew Petersen 
The Archaeology of Islam in Britain.
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Friends of BibleLand Lecture, Co-operation not Conflict,
to be given by HRH Princess Badiya bint El-Hassan of Jordan  at6.30pm on Wednesday, 2 May 2012 at St James’s, Piccadilly, W1J 9LL.
Tickets are free but should be booked in advance on                         01494 897933                  01494 897933             or via email info@biblelands.org.uk
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On 4th and 5th May for two performances only, The Ramallah Theatre Company will perform Richard II in Arabic at Shakespeare’s Globe. Don’t miss this unique opportunity for your students to see a Shakespearean performance in Arabic and support the company who are travelling from Ramallah to perform here. http://www.shakespearesglobe.com

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2012 Middle East Festival: storytelling, a Moroccan Hafla , songs from Kurdistan and a Desert Wisdom two day retreat : just a few of the many events in Edinburgh’s Middle east festival : for details of these and other events organised by Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace, – see main events at Middle East Festival Website: http://www.mesp.org.uk
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The 11th Building Bridges Seminar
if you would like to attend please email Tess Young (tess.young@lambethpalace.org.uk) along with your postal address.
Public Lectures – 23rd April 2012
King’s College London, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS
Death, Resurrection and Human Destiny
in Christian and Muslim Perspective
0900* Death, Resurrection & Human Destiny in the Bible – The Rt Revd Prof Tom Wright, University of St Andrews
* Death, Resurrection & Human Destiny in the Qur’an – Prof Mona Siddiqui, Edinburgh University
1100 Break
1120* Death, Resurrection & Human Destiny in the Christian Tradition – The Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell, Diocese in Europe
* Death, Resurrection & Human Destiny in the Islamic Tradition – Prof Asma Afsaruddin, Indiana University
1300 Break
1400* Dying Well: Christian Faith and Practice – The Revd Dr Harriet Harris, Edinburgh University
1600* Dying Well: Muslim Faith and Practice – Dr Sajjad Rizvi, Exeter University

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And A FEW RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:


  • Prof Nazeer Ahmed writes about some eras of  democracy and pluralism in Islamic history, noting  the impact of their marriages with Hindu and Christian women  on the vision of some  Mughal Emperors. http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_251_300/democracy3.htm
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  • The guestbook project at Boston college on interreligious hospitality  http://bcm.bc.edu/issues/spring_2009/features/world-fare.html
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  • Lapido media’s review of new magazine Critical Muslim :http://www.lapidomedia.com/critical-muslim
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  •  a story out of Qantara. De about a muslim family with a long tradition of looking after a christian church in Palestine. http://www.silent-heroes.net/home/?q=node/247&page=0,0
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  • and  Susan Katz Milleer’s blog  ‘On Being Both’ always an inspiration to those who are trying in various ways to honour both faiths and identities in their families:
  • http://du112w.dub112.mail.live.com/default.aspx#!/mail/InboxLight.aspx?n=20110651!n=857445662&fid=1&mid=3fb80e8c-61d3-11e1-9811-00215ad9bc86&fv=1
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  • Reflections on pilgrimage and inter faith pilgrimage to the Holy Land:
  • You may have been to or read about the current Hajj expedition at the British  Museum in London: a great opportunity for non-Muslims to engage with this pillar of Muslim faith  and experience.  But could we imagine shared  pilgrimage to places significant in the faith and imagination of Muslims Christians and Jews?
  • Reflections on interfaith pilgrimage to the Holy land  by Christian Muslim and Jewish scholars at a Jerusalem symposium of the Elijah Interfaith Institute: http://www.elijah-interfaith.org/index.php?id=1097   .
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Only connect-
Family life means connecting, it can be more complicated when there are distances involved, or anxieties or bitterness about difference , but it seems to me as time goes by and we all experience losses and new arrivals in our families,  the experience of connecting is in the end the most important thing – even when it comes with pain – for families like ours –just as it is for others. Even  those  angry feelings that may come about in some mixed faith families- if you look under the surface-   are usually something to do with sadness or fear of loss- in other words they arise out of feelings of attachment and  love rather than the absence of it.

Maybe if we could see how ‘the big picture’ is made up of all our smaller pictures  we could appreciate our part in bringing the world closer, not just virtually ‘at our fingertips’ but in our flesh and blood  connections  as  couples, parents,  families and friends , across both faiths, in different countries and  different continents, even through time in  the connection between the living with those we love who have passed away.
If it isn’t easy in your family now I hope with time it will become so.
Maybe one best kept secret of inter faith couples is the experience we have of being profoundly involved at the centre of life events – the hatching matching and despatching – of our families and loved ones in  two different  faith traditions  and cultures .  Our dual belonging can mean holding them all in mind at once, and that sometimes keeps us very busy-  but it’s the best kind of busyness! I wish all the blessings of love and connection through the years to you and  all those you love.

Peace and Salaams to all
Heather