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01 December 2023 / 18. Jamaad-Ul-Awwal 1445

'Know Your Muslim Neighbour' Initiative

Wessex Jamaat held the 'Know Your Muslim Neighbour' programme on Monday 17th November, 2014. This is an annual event where Religious Education trainee teachers from the University of Chichester meet with the youth and members of Wessex Jamaat to gain a practical insight on Islam and Muslims in the U.K.

In addition to the University’s RE Coordinator, Dr Ruth Mantin, Wessex Jamaat was also honoured to host Professor Clive Behagg - the Vice-Chancellor of the University,Dr Mark Mason - the Deputy Dean, Dr Graeme Smith - Head of the Theology, Philosophy and Religious Studies department and Rev Dr Colin Lawlorthe-  Chaplain at University of Brighton.

The Wessex community was also delighted that Dr Asgarali Moledina, President of World Federation of KSIMC, was able to attend. In his address, he commended Wessex Jamaat for the event and complimented the links developed with the University of Chichester, re-iterating the importance of interfaith programmes.

Following the recitation of verses from the Noble Qur'an and their translation, Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, Resident Alim of Wessex Jamaat, set the context of the programme.The actual business for the day was conducted in group discussions around tables where the guests had an opportunity to engage in conversations with the community members.

This gave the Religious Education trainee teachers a good opportunity to hear and see first-hand how Muslims live and practice Islam, their religion, as a way of life. The guests also posed questions on varied issues such as upbringing, commitment, the role of women and other contemporary issues and got to hear answers first hand from Muslim voices.

Each guest was then requested to give their feedback on their discussions. They were unanimous in highlighting the hospitality, humour and openness of their conversations.  They also said that the honest dialogue was inspirational,uplifting and provided great insight.

The guests shared what new learning they were taking away from their dialogue, and what thoughts they were leaving behind.

The programme came to an end with a vote of thanks by Haji Shabir Walji, the Vice President of Wessex Jamaat. He expressed deep appreciation of Dr Ruth Mantin's support and friendship with the Jamaat - dating back to Marhum Mulla Bashir Rahim's leadership as Resident Alim over 15 years ago.

He acknowledged the donations towards Al Mahdi Centre made by the students of Chichester University - including written moral support to Winchester City Council towards the planning application process  and development.

He ended by sharing the hadith of Imam Ali (as) on the two types of brotherhood i.e. men are either brethren in faith or brethren in humanity.  This is the relationship that binds us all as humans without boundaries or borders!

Acknowledging the link between Chichester University and Wessex Jamaat, Dr Clive Behagg remarked, “It has been an evening of openness and warmth that I will long remember.”

After the event, Dr. Asghar Moledina sent an encouraging email stating as follows:

“It is heartening to note that the Wessex community is reaching out to our Non-Muslims as well as Muslim brothers.  I was fortunate to join a dedicated young (with a few seniors) team at Al Mahdi Centre in Portsmouth for a discussion on the theme 'Know Your Muslim Neighbour'.

"The discussions were led in a very intelligent and effective manner by Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo and I felt that the visitors went home with a much clearer picture of our faith and practices.

"Well done, Wessex Jamaat and keep it up! The enthusiasm among your youths was electrifying. I will ever remember this wonderful evening!

"Thank you for giving me an opportunity to take part in the dialogue. It was a learning experience for me.”

Wessex Jamaat looks forward to hosting this event again next year, InshAllah.

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