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"What I like about Religion X"

A Muslim, a Jew and a Christian say what they like about the others’ religions.

15 November 2020

On Sunday 15 November, we held an innovative event to mark the UK’s national Interfaith Week, chaired by our Co-Chair Cllr Heather Fletcher. 41 people attended.

Three speakers each said what they liked about one of the other’s religion, covering the religions in chronological order. They were recorded and can be watched below.

Mohammed Amin on Judaism

Co-Chair Mohammed Amin, who is a Muslim, talked about his deep respect for Judaism, which began when he read the Hebrew Bible in full, in English translation, as a student.

He talked movingly about the way that Judaism was so different from all of the pagan religions of the Middle East 3,000 years ago, and the wonderful stories, such as that of Ruth and Naomi, which are found in the Bible.

June Rosen on Christianity

Forum Executive Member June Rosen, who is Jewish, recounted the early history of Christianity, starting with Jesus of Nazareth. She reminded the audience that Jesus was an Orthodox Jew who taught the religion he knew in synagogues.

She went on to explain her appreciation for the beauty of church buildings and their history as places of religious devotion. She reminisced about the repairs to Manchester Cathedral after the bomb damage it suffered during World War II. While most of the cathedrals she admired were of traditional design, she had been struck by the beautiful stained-glass windows of the modern Coventry Cathedral.

As a child, although Jewish herself, June appreciated the way that Christianity ran through everyday life with special observance on Sunday. At boarding school, she was exempt from the religious education classes but as a prefect had to test junior pupils on their understanding of the Christian creed, so she had to learn it anyway!

Rogers Govender on Islam

The Very Reverend Rogers Govender MBE, Dean of Manchester Cathedral, spoke about Islam.

At school in South Africa, he had Muslim friends and learned about Islam from them, just as he learned about Hinduism and Buddhism from other friends. He reminded the audience that Islam was the second largest religion in the world. He was particularly interested in the Five Pillars of the Muslim faith, and the way that they led to orthopraxy (correct conduct) which he was much more concerned about than orthodoxy (correct belief).

Revd Govender explained how he loved the inclusivity of Islam, with no distinction being made in mosques between people of different ethnicities or nationalities. Every year, Manchester Cathedral holds a Youth Iftar as part of promoting the leadership development of young people in Manchester. He also shared with the audience how much he loves the poetry of the Sufi Muslim poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi.

Afzal Khan - vote of thanks

The formalities were closed by Afzal Khan CBE, MP for Manchester Gorton, who in 2005 was Co-Founder of the Forum.

He was delighted by the way that the Forum had developed over the last 15 years, and its success in bringing Greater Manchester’s Muslims and Jews closer together. He stressed how much he had enjoyed listening to all of the speakers.

Mohammed Amin on Humanism

There were several Humanists attending the event, so Mohammed Amin took the opportunity of making a short additional contribution by saying what he liked about Humanism.

Participants' feedback

Anne Isaac, who is a Muslim, said:

“I was looking forward to this event.  I really enjoyed it.  I think it is very important for everyone to look at each other's rituals and to compare them with their own.  That is when you realise there are more similarities than differences, and you then start showing more respect and interest to each person as we are all going in the same direction.”

Statutory Deputy City Mayor of Salford Cllr Tracy Kelly, who was attending in a personal capacity, said “Thank you for this evening, it truly enlightened me.”

Cllr Rabbi Arnold Saunders said:

“Thank you to the organisers and speakers for a wonderful and collegiate evening. It brought out how much unites us as opposed to what divides us. In that way, while we should feel free to express our differences, this event has shown is how much we have in common.”

 

 

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The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Greater Manchester

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