SHAFAQNA – Open Discussions in association with Gulf Cultural Club marked the birth anniversaries of Prophets Mohammad (pbuh) and Jesus (pbuh) s part of a Faith in Action programme in Abrar House, London.
The speakers included Alan Murray, Anfal Al Mousawi and Reverend David Tuck Ashur Shamis who all focused on personal experiences in religious social works and argued the case for their aspirations for more spiritual, less material world.
Open Discussions Chair, Sayed Shabbir Razvi, said “This is a time when people of faith need to feel proud of their religious identities. As Christians await Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Muslims will have celebrated the birth of Mohammad. Both religions have abundance of rich traditions, spirituality and moral values. It is the time for their followers to come together and share these valuable treasures. The seminar was a get-together event to exchange ideas on commonalities, shared spiritual experiences and aspirations for a better future for the human race.”
Alan Murray who chairs the Trustees of All Faiths And None, an educational programme and resource primarily for further education said ” interfaith dialogue is important but working together is what builds deeper human relationships which will last the rest of our lives. Over the last ten years in Britain we have seen more people suffering from poverty than ever before in most living peoples memories and we started up soup kitchens in our Churches and during our meeting with the local Mosque they too wanted to provide the service so we did and this working together has deepened our bonds.”
In his role at AFAN Alan works for dialogue and mutual understanding and against discrimination and intolerance at national and local levels, in educational and community contexts, exploring the ‘Big Questions’ in life within the diverse multi-faith belief traditions of our society. Murray is also Chair of the European Network on Religion and Belief, based in Brussels, and he was the Churches’ National Adviser on Further Education at the Archbishops Council from 2003-2008.
Anfal Al Mousawi is a Muslim media personality with experience as a producer and presenter who recently took part in distributing ten thousand roses to non Muslims in rhe streets of London as part of the ” Love Mohammad (pbuh) ” initiative said ” Islam is about good actions not just rituals” and quoted the Holy Quran to underline her point that Allah (swt) addresses not just Muslims but all believers and all humanity in so many verses that its obvious that His love s for all mankind. The Prophet Mohammad of course (pbuh) said his primary purpose was to perfect the whole of mankinds morality and in hus lifetime he confirmed this through acts of forgiveness and as a ruler in the Constitution of Medina, too, in which he protected the fundamental human rights of all Jews Christians Sabeans and other citizens.
Jesus (pbuh), of course, demonstrates this Prophetic compassion for mankind too throughout his life and Christians like Reverend David Tuck, a parish minister for most of his working life both in Norfolk and in Greater London, said he was privileged to be a judge at this years Muslim Excellence Awards for whom he was currently reviewing a hundred nominations. He added ” I was very moved and inspired by the enormous number of great contributions by Muslims to British society in so many fields including medicine, education and the charitable sector.”
Although Reverend Tuck has formally retired in 2001 he has continued his life of extremely active service as Curate at the Parish Church of St. Alban, North Harrow. He is active in interfaith circles and often visits and lectures at mosques and other faith centres. He also lamented that the Christian festivals had been secularized and clarified that in the Christian scriptures Christmas, which is now undoubtedly the most commercialized festival, is not mentioned at all.The Festival of Epiphany celebrating the coming of the wise men from te East is the biggest celebration in early Christianity”
As Muslims and Christians living an increasingly material Western society Reverend Tucker emphasized that love was key to how we dealt with the world around us, even for those who hated us saying” we share the same ethics the golden rule and on judgement day this will be the only criteria by which we would be assessed “.The Chair reminded us all that, according to Abrahamic scriptures, whilst love was indeed a big criteria for the Lord – justice was also a virtue ethic that would not be neglected by the Divine.
Perhaps Prophets Muhammad and Jesus (as) would want all faith communities today to struggle for social justice in a world of rising neoliberal materialist fascism represented primarily by usurious moneylenders, as well as religio fascists like the violent s ocalled Bhuddists in Myanmar, Hindutvas in India, Wahhabists anong Muslims, Christian Zionists in the West and Jewish Zionists of Israel increasingly threatens to hijack the true message of the Prophets.
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