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Faith & Hope

27/08/2010
Green Lane Masjid, a mosque, on Green Lane, Sm...

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Last night, I was among the guests for a Grand Ifthar at Green Lane Mosque. It was an enjoyable experience, albeit unusual for a Brummie boy like me.

Apart from when I go to watch rugby at Moseley.  I am not used to being at large events that are so predominantly male, nor am I used to being in a room with quite so many policemen, firemen and representatives of different public services – although that says more about me than it does about them, I fear.

The large uniformed presence and the number of service providers attending was linked to the work that has been done by the mosque to build links and educate local agencies about moderate Islam.

We were given a splendid overview of the Mosque and an introduction to Ramadan from the imam, who had attended the mosque as a child. Contributions also came from the Deputy Chief Constable as well as from an inspiring Inter-Faith Officer from West Midlands Fire Service. Stars of the evening, though, were two twelve-year-old boys, who gave extremely sensitive and mature recitations and presentations. I am sure I wasn’t alone in learning a great deal from the occasion.

Ifthar is the breaking of the fast each evening during Ramadan, and I felt very nesh and soft to be eating my meal after only a few hours without food. Most around me had not eaten since before dawn, some seventeen hours earlier!

Like many centres of faith, Green Lane Mosque is open and welcoming to local people of all faiths and backgrounds. The difference is, they are rapidly gaining a reputation for leading the way and showing how to build a community of faiths within this city.

Much of this is down to a vibrant younger generation of professional, home-grown leaders who have made the effort to reach out to the different faith communities and service providers across the city.

Seated around our table, last night, were a representative mix of modern Brummies. Half of us were natives, albeit some of us back here after traveling, and the others were settlers, brought here by work or university.

Of course, we represented a mixture of different faiths and services, some of which have – in other places and times – been opposed to one another. But the things we had in common – our humanity and the fact that we were trying to build a better Birmingham – was what drew us together last night.

In particular, it is a source of great hope for us all that there are Muslims and Jews in Birmingham who are prepared to draw on our massive realm of common ground in order to build a productive and supportive collaboration here in Birmingham, irrespective of what our coreligionists are doing to each other elsewhere in the world.

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From → Communities, Practice

4 Comments
  1. Pauline permalink

    I enjoyed reading this well-written, thoughtful piece.
    As we approach the Jewish New Year (next week), I wish you (and your readers of all faiths) a happy, healthy and peaceful period ahead.

    • Just a thought: as part of English Heritage Open Day (12th September), Birmingham Hebrew Congregation -otherwise known as Singer’s Hill synagogue – opens its doors to the public. This is Britain’s oldest Grade II* listed daily working synagogue.
      Why not go along next weekend. and see this beautiful ‘cathedral-style’ synagogue?
      It was built by popular subscription in the mid-19th century and it is fascinating to look at the names of all the major donor, listed in the foyer. It confirms how important religion and culture was then, as it is now, for migrant and outsider communities as a form of social binder or glue.

  2. You did not report if this is a Sunni or Shiite mosque – or if it is in use by both branches of Islam.

    We have been traveling Iran for the last few days. Even this short time has opened my eyes. As limited as my experience here is, I learned humility – we know so little about Islamic cultures.

    What I find here is that most Iranians are not anti-West. Governments think of war; the people opt for peace – if they have a chance. You can read my report from here:
    http://members.authorsguild.net/fleckenstein/blog.htm

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D., physician, author.

    I

  3. Historically, this mosque has connections with the Saudi Wahabis, and had a notorious low-point when it was ‘exposed’ in a British TV Dispatches programme in 2007 for having extremist anti-semitic imams and visiting speakers.
    But there has been a change of leadership at the mosque and newer, more moderate religious and community leadership is trying to develop links with other organisations.
    As we try to initiate genuine formal and informal collaboration between mosque and synagogue, there is a long path ahead… but each journey starts with just such a step…

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