committed to the course
Monday 24th July 2017 at Abrar House
First session, 10 am
Father Laurence Hillel (London Inter Faith Centre)
I want to start by reflecting on the phrase Interfaith.
People understand that all faiths essentially have the same meanging. We aim to reach the spiritual. All paths lead in the same direction.
It is viewpoint of a certain school of faith. The problem is that it neglects our differences.
We agree that we leave each other and we want to live peacefully together. But how do we live and work together with differences which may cause conflict.
How do we become conscious of our own prejudicial and hostile attitudes to the others.
How do we view the other in positive light?
How do I understand interfaith.
I want to understand that I am Christian and priest. I want to come to interfaith with my Christian identity, how I understand the nature of God. At some level I will engage with them as Other. I expect differences. The challenge is if I can find common grounds. How might I allow the other to be other and retain their identity without forcing them to accept myidentity.
I need to ask different questions from the other.
My approach extends the motto of our centre. The other stays other.
What I mean by my Christian identity is not fixed in stone. May be we understand world differently as we grow.
As a child brought in late 1950’s in Roman Catholic church I understood that the only way of salvation is to follow Catholic church. The others are partly in error because they split from it.
Followers of other faiths need to convert to Christianity. I paid money to support the mission.
I travelled to Europe, studied at SOAS to undo this.
Collapse of colonialism, church started to change their understandings of others.
In 1964 Nostra
In our time when mankind is drawn nearer church examines its approach to others.
For myself my parents were jewish converst to Christianity. Blaming jews for christ’s death is part of anti-semitism.
In 1970s the prayers that blame jews changed
There have been key changes in approach to other world’s religion.
Present pope refereed to Christians and muslims as brothers and sisters.
In spite of change there are still obstacles in inter religious dialogue.
But these changes take long time to reach the people. There are still prejudices.
As preacher it is constant challenge. It is difficult to teach without openness to other
There are different views within Christianity. Some Christians say that we must convert everyone. Proclaiming Christ is what needs to be done.
For others it is about discerning Christ and sharing the values. Cross gi
How do I make sure I respect the other while keeping my faith.
I spoke about institutional debate and how to share Christ.
The theological challenge. For Christians God is revealed to the world through scriptures. The word as revealed in the person of Jesus and the world that was manifested through holy spirit.
Major area of debate within church is uniqueness of Christ.
Muslims and Christians would not understand the incarnation of Christ as god and man.
Understanding this is crucial to approaching others.
There r ways of understanding incarnation that allows for dialogue.
- First I understand incarnation as God’s will to represent himself in man
- If your behaviour are modelled on way of Christ then we are drawn closer together.
- Uniqueness of Christ is that God is revealed to us in midst of failure and weakness. We have to tell others that we need to live with spirit of love.
Archbishop of Canterbury at Khoei apologised for Christian failings with muslims
There are efforts to interpret incarnation in ways acceptable to jews and muslims
Rowan Williams said at Cairo said the muslims and Christians agree on tawheed.
God is source, then we may be drawing nearer.
He took similar line at Islamic University in Pakistan in 2005. He was explaining what Christianity thinks.
Rown Williams said Jesus is human being. Divine authority that his human life is direct effect of God’s acting in him. This is similar to Mohammad and that he spoke on behlf of God.
We call him son of God. But we do not mean that God has physically part of him. The one God is source of everything. The light coming from him is not different from him. Sometimes it is his wisdom, son, spirit. God is both father and son. Guiding human being to wisdom of God.
God is source of all that Christians understand as revelation of God.
Tqwfiq Kacemi (Muslim Welfare House)
Muslim Welfare House was established in 1968 by students from Middle East
For past 19 yrs we have had dialogue with our neighbours from various faiths.
There is good grass root work
I am part of Interfaith forum, Muslim Christian Forum
We are more than colleagues, brothers and sisters. We visit each other’s houses.
In difficult times this work proved useful.
When had the attack in Finsbury Park we had good solidarity from everyone. We are one. An attack on one community is an attack on all.
This is possible because of the long relationship
This is what is needed. We are members of one family.
We have so much in common that we do not need to talk of differences.
Last years with Christian Forum, we had small budget and we thought doing something. So we decided to talk to the youth. We brought them , the Cuncil and business and held a conference. WE had 120 of those youth who were ignored.
The conference resulted in 20 people getting employed on that day.
What will God do burning people in fire?
There is theology that God will take people to paradise after a while.
We are one family and have many things in common
We have to be tolerant. God could have created similar like photocopies.
Why do we need to be the same?
We have to be tolerant, تعالوا الى كلمة سواء
We have to respect each other’s opinion.
This is common message among us
Why do we need to raise the matters of difference?
Poverty is problem, environment needs to be protected.
In 2013 we had Festival of Light.
In 2015 we had EDL who wanted to protest outside Finsbury Park mosque. The religious union in Islington rejected that and stopped them
We had a jewish man in 2013 who called for killing all Muslims, WE managed to neutralise the situation through Christian activists.
It is nice to see positive work, The Great Get Together, which took place few days before attack on Finsbury Park Mosque. We celebrated our unity. This is the spirit that needs to be elevated.
Do not spread hate
Father Ishaq Tuza (Priest at the Syrica Orthodox Church)
Don’t pay anyone evil for evil.
Live in peace with everyone.
Can Christians restrain religious radicalisation?
What do we want from this dialogue?
It is good to say to the world that we have common factors more than disputes.
Christianity considers us as son of one one father.
If someone says he loves God but hates his brother he is liar.
Jesus Christ had dialogue with Jewish scholars, divorce, tax, washing hands before prayers.
Diversity of birds, plants, birds, waters, minerals and human kind.
We can hear and understand perspectives of others.
To narrow the gap we have to cooperate.
If we build faith on sound foundation, respecting others, have courage to say no to offence then life will go in harmony
Silence towards what is wrong is wrong.
I visited Mosul city two months ago. It is second largest city in Iraq and is multi cultural and religious.
Some members of Sunni sects tried to plant culture of hate.
After US invaded Iraq in 2003, they started to kill and kidnap others.
In 2014 when ISIS invaded, large part of population welcomed them. After three years they regret that.
ISIS stole, killed, tortured and kept people in fear.
Many women were forced of adultery because they criticised ISIS Amir.
Mosul paid high price; no one knows how much.
Thousands have been killed, probably up to 150,000 in addition to more than 200 billion dollars destruction.
I talked to many people, one of them owner of a shop, next to a mosque. The Imam insulted christains and others. The butcher protested
We should learn form Mosul disaster to avoid further disasters. WE have to abide by one stand to stop them
PM of Iraqi raised many suggestions to prosecute those who stimulate hate and the media haters.
Can dialogue stop extremism?
Let us say no to hate culture.
Bonnie Evans-Hills (Anglican Inter faith Network pf the Anglican Communion).
Our cause is important.
I saw an ad at underground about lottery: Who wins if you win?
One said: my husband, my husband, my friends.
I though this is real shift.
This shows how people think of one another
I was invited at UN Newyork about faith leaders of all faiths and convictions.
This is plan of action
Case of refugees is used to create fear
Simon Kease said: means of war are sophisticated. Means of peace are about people meeting one another, having conversations
We are here today sitting, listening
Several years ago an organistation called “Parents” in Palestine about children killed in conflict
One woman lost her son who was believer in peace.
He was killed at a check point. She was devastated.
Time went on, She met Palestinian father whose son was killed. They realised that worst thing that can happen is to lose a child.
Towards the end of May I went to Israel with Jewish and Christian leaders. We went to settlement, spoke to defence force, spoke to Fath people. One of the places we visited is called Hand in Hand established 18 years ago. They brought their children, muslim, Christian, jews. The principle is that the children and teachers and parents talk about the conflict and how it affects you.
How does this conflict affect me.
We met a 16 years old, her voice was powerful. She spoke of growing up in Palestine and how conflict affected their daily lives.
They did not have hope for future.
Their fear is from the army. Israeli jews always go to army. The jewish girl said she would not go to army because she would not bear arms against her friends.
We heard from Muslim Israeli student. Her father is member of defence force. He thinks that joining army is to keep peace. His family are angry. She supports what her father was doing.
The third girl is Palestinian Christian. We told them they many not have hope, but we told them we have hope in them.
There was summit which emphasised role of women in peace and humanitarian work.
Why is it important to include women and young people who are most vulnerable in any crisis. Young children are forced to become child forces.
They are first people to step in t help.
Young people are going to Calais to help refugees.
We had acts of terror, four of them. We also had horrible fire in Grenfell tower.
In each of these events I was struck that people just run to help.
Mosques, synagogues, churches opened their doors.
There is a book called Happy City with index of happiness. It is not wealth, but parity and equal acees to employment, health care and housing. There is not great disparity between rich and poor. People have access to these things to live decent life. There is a lack of fear, this is vital to happiness
If you introduce fear then happiness does down.
I am believer in journalism and good media. We need good journalist, strong freedom of speech.
What makes bad journalism is when there is attack on individual or group of people. Many are intimidated and denied freedom of speech. We can fight intimidation by freedom of speech.
Good challenge is needed to make good journalism.
Going to Calais is positive phenomenon. People are leaving home to find happy life.
I visited Iraq and attended conference in Karbala. There was refugee camp with 150000 people.
A girl called Amal who comes from Ninawa/ She saw her father and brothers taken away and killed, highly traumatised she does not speak.
35 million of young people are refugees.
Few weeks back I was contacted by a mum to put together some goods for refugees back in my town of Kenton.
This is the hope for the future, young children
Qaisra Khan (Freelance Chaplain)
Lecturer on Islam in Tottenham.
We are good and committed people. When our neighbours in need we go out to help them. My father went through the partition of India
We all have history, He remembered by another muslim mob because he shaved his beard.
Great people in history told us how to be good.
How many people use other people’s religion to help us control our anger?
Love, love and love
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Baqir (Scholar from Kuwait)
I welcome my brothers and sisters.
There is difference between people and gov policies.
People are peaceful, love peace, cooperation and enjoy life
Adherants of faiths co-existed in peace
In Western societies, where some Muslism have resided and enjoyed good relations with their Christian compatriots. They learnt form them order, honesty. Christians and Jews lived with Muslims.
There is now good communications among communities.
What we need from these organisations, thinkers is how to take people’s voices to governments to change the situation, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.
Politics do not respect any relgion.
What we need:
We need more dialogue among thinkers, activists and influence policies of their countries.
To spread awareness, respect among people
Red Cross, Red Crescent must cooperate
NGOs must also cooperate to serve all
Father Patrick Morrow (Parish Priest, former programmer director, The Council of Christians and Jews)
As Christian I understand that dialogue within faith is more difficult than among the faiths.
When I was studying Christian theologies we used to have Christian theologians on weekends.
I understood that Jewdaism is living religion. The genious of rabbis led to continuing faith.
I said to Muslims: Can you show me your mosque?
I established an interfaith society.
In terms of change that it brought to me.
It made my life richer, deeper and full of beauty.
You see the other as the same sometimes and as different at others.
Few years later I worked for council of Christians and jews which had something to offer. It was formed in 1942.
Christian Jewish relations had been poor for centuries.
This led to bad theology; jews were cursed and bad actions, expulsions,
The first generation was limited, and was involved in apologising and remorsing
The founding of the council was open.
If Christians and jewdaism are different in 9 out of ten cases, there is important work for reconciliation. I am suspicious of easy agreement
The theology tells us that differences are limited.
Today there are three things: dialogue, social action and eduction for interfaith.
For social action; you spread social work and acts of kindness in one day of the year. This year is on 19th Nov
Field of education.
I was involved in training clergy. It is my chance to teach the others.
It is not secret that Christians get jewdaism wrong. It is never been theology that god of
Many Christians do not know what to do with old testament
Jesus is presented as liberal modern
The idea that Jews killed Jesus, is not longer there
The jews are said to share guilt of killing jesus
All curses and warning are for jewish people
Huge amount of theology has been achieved. Even re-writing of prayers.
Covenant with people of Israel is
Jewish studies have appeared.
More Christians are studing Judaism, more jews study Christianity.
There are theological discussion
There is a book on this dialogue
For us theology is not an abstract.
Jews, Muslims and Christians agree that God is one. We do not compare Gods
It is about of finding better quality of disagreement.
We have to revisit our tradition in better way
If we are committed to our religious teachings then we are fundamentalists
Moderation may lead to secularism
We need dialogue
Dr Rebecca Masterton (Academic, researcher, author and activist)
I have not worked in the field of interfaith but worked with people who worked for interfaith
I worked for Press TV and produced Interaith programme
We invited people from humanists, non religious societies.
I invited people from interfaith circles.
There seem to be some factions and some mutual dislikes and competition among people working on this area
Interfaith becomes self-contained and inward looking.
We emphasise sometimes on details not the impact of the work on society
There is awareness in the past that we are the same and to overlook each other’s orthodoxy
Respcting each other’s orthodoxy.
Watering down a bit may harm the work
It is about learning to agree to disagree than trying to merge the two into one.
What impact is it having on the street?
Small handful of people ofen turn out to interfaith meetings.
Media and attitude in the media interfaith is small
After the Finsbury Park attack where religious leaders came out to stress they are united. But what I noticed is that the contempt the main street readers of the religious leaders.
How can these three religions wich have bloody history lecture us on peace?
It is tempting to get along with people of similar mentality rather than dealing with history.
Is is having effective approach to get religious leaders out and to relate to the public while they are not known or trusted.
We live in secular/atheist society which does not like religion or religious leaders.
They see it as irrelevant.
My work is within the Shia community.
In Muharram we commemorate martyrdom of Imam Hussain. Shia try to present this case to the Christians and ask them to share candle lighting.
I was concerned about how the messages are conveyed.
I went to event after event of Muharram, it turned into a peace march and invited Christians and Bhuddists. There were certain rituals familiar to the Shia but not known to the others. I asked the others whether they understood what was happening. It looked nice but the people do not have any idea of what is going on.
These events take place in secluded areas, so how effective is not clear
Are we positinong ourselves outside outselves to see how are we communicating?
This needs to be reflected on. There are many goals of interfaith; what are they? Long term objectives. Are people on interfaith best people to represent their religion.
We love the prophets who brought this message but we have to do our best to convey them.
I wonder to what extent interfaith is engaging on board the economic reshaping of the global economies.
The Chicago school, Milton Freedom who rought up economic free market. How is our life shaped by this? This is huge component in what we live today. We are scratching the surface. It is not sufficient about ISIS and extremism when the whole thing is manipulated by those who want instability in the world.
Iraq has been sold cheap to US corporation. Agricualtual economy has been reduced to ashes. It is not longer self-sufficient.
I have been in areas where youth are mingling with ISIS people. Immense tension in some areas.