LONDON PRAYER TIME DAWN: 06:15 SUNRISE: 07:58 ZOHR:: 11:55 MAGHRIB: 16:07
Interfaith event on Future of Faith in the UK
Faith in the Future
Sheikh Hanif presented the idea that in the West the role of religion is declining because religious people are affected by secularism as a new religion, which claims to be universal with ideas permeating religious dialogue. To promote religion you need to look at the psychology of people who now seem to want concrete proof and experiences. In Christians and Muslims the spirit of mysticism practise is on the increase where people find things they believe in by experiencing them and if you cannot experience them then they find people who can. The Prophet said, ’The people are asleep and wake up when they die, die before die so you can witness things”. When a person dies they are cut off from the world. Fasting are important preliminaries to ascetism.
We should try to rediscover our mystical paths to see the realities that have been taught to us.
Spirituality and social action unite us. Every human is spiritual.
Catriona Robertson, Acting Director of the Christian Muslim Forum asked, ”What kind of secular society are we talking about? “ She quoted that in the last census three quarters identified with a world religion so as a majority we can say that we are religious. Linda Woodhead in a report stated that people have a spiritual life but it may not be institutionalised.
Catriona regards herself as a “Secular “person as well as being a Christian. Gone are the days when Christianity held a control over people. Public space needs value based voices, how we live what is important to us including the secularist voice. Sometimes senior public servants think the religious institutions are chaotic! We bring together our history we each have complex heritage which matters to us. Below the radar, there will be at least one Islamic Centre and one Church and if something goes wrong who do you go to? You turn to communities of hope and love. If spirituality is lived out so we are bothered about hate crime migrants poverty and do something then we have a living faith. If spirituality is not lived out it becomes dry and dusty.
Dr MA Shomali
In this brief presentation I am going to share with you some of reflections on today’s theme, that is, “Faith in a Secular Society” which is a very important theme. There is something of value in the concern of some of the people who call for secularism and that is they are afraid of religions being imposed on people or influencing decisions made by governments just because they are coming from religious authorities and think that it does not serve the interest of people or are divisive.
We accept that religion should not be imposed and religious practices should not be imposed and as far as Islam is concerned, there is no ambiguity here. In the Quran, there is a clear instruction in the verse 2:256: ” There is no compulsion in religion.” Unlike what some people have suggested that this verse was revealed in Mecca and later when Islam became stronger in Medinam it was abrogated, this verse was revealed in Medina when Islam was very powerful and established. According to some sources, the verse was revealed after a person whose children had converted to Christianity from Islam was asking the Prophet for help and intervention.
There should be no compulsion in religion as a belief, as a belief system or a code of practise but at the same time we should bear in mind few points:
1. There is however a positive role that religion can play especially when it comes to social life and public life. We all know of the positive role of religion in people’s lives and this is what even many secular people would not object.
2. What religions can contribute to social life is much greater than what they contribute to the development and prosperity of individuals.
3. Unfortunately sometimes being faithless and being disrespectful to religion is imposed on people, maybe consciously or unconsciously. What we observe in some secular societies today is not that the governments or institutions are neutral to religion, we observe policies coming in are against religion and are not neutral against certain values or norms that we adhere to and find important to human prosperity.
Today what we face is that in the name of freedom, religion and beliefs we are going through a pressure from people who do not believe in religions. Those who are irreligious or even antireligious are not only very free, but they also use the political power and public funds to promote their own ideas and even they expect religious people to come along with them and endorse what they do and expect them to do this religiously and this is the problem.
The Quran tells us about a great ‘Trust’ that was presented to the mountains and skies and they refused to take it because it was too big for them but mankind accepted His 'Trust':
Indeed We presented the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, and were apprehensive of it; but man undertook it. Indeed he is most unfair and senseless. (33:72)
One aspect of that trust was to be vicegerent of God on earth. Two problems occurred when mankind exhibited ignorance and also injustice and all other problems go back to these two. So how without religion can we face and get rid of these two problems? If we deprive ourselves from religious guidance, from revelation and scriptures then how can we face ignorance? Ignorance is not just being unable to read or not to know physics or maths. When it comes to socio-political life a great part of ignorance can only be overcome when we refer to revelation and guidance received from God. Injustice is a 'zulm'. If we disconnect our socio-political life from accountability before God and encourage people to just do what they like and desire, this is not going to stop injustice. Injustice is caused by the ego, by some people that have so much greed.
The only factor that can humble human beings and make them really serve other people is to see themselves as servants of God and act in a godly way. So if we deprive our socio-political lives and ourselves from religious guidance and serving the children of God then it means that we choose to remain partly ignorant.
Religion has been some times misused and some of the big tragedies sometimes happened and may happen in the name of religion. However, some people try to present that all the wars happened because of religion and this is not true! We have to accept that those who are unjust and ignorant can misuse anything powerful that unites and mobilises people.
We know that many times weapons are used unjustly and people fight for unjust causes. Why are there not calls to free the world from weapons and armies? When it comes to courts that may not be handled properly and sometimes justice is not exercised in many parts of the world. Why there is no call for abandoning all the courts and judiciary systems? Why when it comes only to religion do some people want to use some misuse of religion as an excuse or as an argument against all religions and call for banning religions from being active in social political life? Despite all the difficulties that we face, religious people can do a lot not to serve ourselves and not to serve our religious ideas only but to serve humanity. Religion has come to serve and benefit us and we want to give this service to anyone who is interested to be given a fair presentation.
We have entered a new era and in my view the paradigm has shifted. If so far religions such as Christianity and Islam and other world religions have been doing well by themselves and on their own we have reached a point that our future will only be guaranteed when we work together in the face of secularism and materialism. May be in the pat we were seeing other religions as “the other.” That was for the past. Now the paradigm has changed. Our success lies in working together. We will see in furtre partnerships of religions that work for unity and the happiness of mankind.
We will face two major challenges: firstly challenges coming from secular and material liberal life as well as those who want to promote it and secondly from pressure from our fellow religious people, fellow Muslims or fellow Christians who would not want us to work together for unity.
We will have partnerships, some Jews, some Christian, some Muslims all working for the same cause and then they will be challenged either by their fellow religious people or by people who have no religion at all. Then you will see how these people who are against religion and the extremists will support each other and how they will give arguments and excuses to each other in order to strengthen the position of each other.
We need to set up a good example of unity and brotherhood of being together and call other people to the beauties of faith. Despite all the difficulties we face we religious people can do a lot to serve humanity.
The morning session can be summarised that the term secular and secularists promote the ideology of Godlessness.
We have to work together for common good and spirituality should be lived out otherwise it becomes rusty. There is positive role that religion can play in social life.
There are two major issues that prevents reaching full human capacity, that is ignorance and injustice.
In both Islam and Christianity we both feel responsible to share the gift of God. If a person wants to live a life of piety and become conscious of God responsibilty is a main priority. As a Muslim we should help people of no faith to become Christian. Through social action and unity there is a need to love our neighbour’s religion as our own.
We have to take initiative, by introducing people to each other.
Christian Aid formed after the wars, we have faith based charities like Islamic Relief and we need to do more of that.
Dr Damion Howard of Heythrop University described how “Faith and secular “ are two words with lots of baggage. The New Testament described how Jesus believes in God. What is faith? In the Gospel of Mark:
Jesus went walking on a lake and asked Peter to take courage and said,” It is I, do not be afraid Lord if it you tell me to come on water. ‘Peter came towards Jesus and cried out, ”Save me.”
Jesus said,”You of little faith why do you doubt?”
Faith is not just the belief that God exists but that He saves. Even when I am strong there is not a moment when we do not need God to save us.
The signs of times are that we are going to need faith to deal with the challenges which include:
· Pluralism- in London and Europe, its not easy to get to know each other. There is a lot of work to do!
· Global justice- there is the situation that people are demanding to part of prosperous Europe- God will save us.
· Care of this common planet and how we are addicted to gadgets.
God will save us! We can address problems calmly because God will save us!
I am just going to have fun and leave the mess to someone else attitude.
When I catch myself moaning, a reality check is that in modern life there is a very ambiguous mixture as to how is it that godless has anything good?
Secularism is not foremost of not believing in God, it is a symptom and not a cause as it is very hard to believe in God . In the last 500 years there is something profoundly different about individualism, since before people were deeply connected to others .
What happens is that the barrier between me and everything else outside and is disconnected and is the heart of secularism .
500 years ago everybody accepted the law of Christianity, but now people have to come to religion on own terms since faith is a journey.
***** More to come
Finally Sister Dhanji practising Muslim woman with faith in the UK at a social level .
Lived amongst the first generation of Muslims displaying faith in public growth with pride and a resilience in Islam as faith was on the increase in cosmopolitan areas. Global religions futures project not only a decline in religious affiliation, growing spiritual areas but not as a religious movement.
Aside from mosques and churches to say ‘G’ word one can’t say God and faith is not relevant.
People of faith can remedy to keep faith.Places of worship offer a sense of community. The appeal of the community is dwindling.
People of faith cannot gravitate together. People don’t need places of worship we have to be active can’t continue and expect to attract youth. Aid organisations are good examples of faith. Godliness fuels our caring unconditional as state retreating faith based groups mobilise skills in welfare net. These are opportunities to get involved in public support, social action in delivering services, charities faith groups can expand the PR of faith .
Traditions appreciate anyone and everyone. It’s purpose is to increase knowledge and reduce detriment. The people of faith must stick together and build on a common ground. Peaceful co existence solidarity of people of faith compassionate justice.
What if secular non religious people are right?
Try to imagine if there was no God how would my life change?
People could say, ”If I wasn’t religious I would be having a great time”
Imam Ali said, ‘If I obey God out of fear that is a religion of a slave, if a person obeys out of reward that is worship of a merchant and if someone prays out of love that is worship of a free person.”
There are lots of people who think religion is taught through fear.
To be happy is a natural condition of human being.
The Quran mentions how the souls were questioned,’ Am I not your Lord ?”
That means, are you not a relationship with me?
There is in every single human being, a vacuum filled by divine guidance when it comes to him or her they feel at home.
How do we evaluate Islamic teaching? Then if truly teaching about Islam it should reverberate in the hearts.
St Augustine said you made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until we rest with you.
There is no religious gene this is natural condition of all human beings. Prophet Muhammed came in order to lead people to a happy life and paradise .
In Christianity there is an understanding of being filled and growing into divine nature. Transformation into fullness of humanity. In every being there is the divine to be awoken is there to be turned on.
There was something our great religious figures something so appealing about Jesus.
People aught to be looking and saying there is something fascinating.
St Fransis travels through Muslim lands and writes a set of instructions first thing keep mouth shut or ridicule what Muslims find holy live subject to their norms serve those most in need. Seek to live a life that your life evoked questions and make a real sense of religion as a biting force.