REV JANET TREVITHICK: Asking questions about each other's faiths
The curate of St Peter's Church, Titchfield, on a visit to a recently-opened mosque
More than 40 women from churches in Titchfield and Wickham had an enlightening visit to our local mosque recently.
The worshippers, from St Peter’s, Titchfield, and St Nicholas, Wickham, were hosted by our Muslim friends at the Al Mahdi Centre on Fontley Road, which was purpose-built only a few years ago.
The imam, Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, showed us around the centre and explained the concept of their building.
Money had been raised and the land bought, and the building was designed to blend in and compliment the surrounding area, partly modelled on Titchfield Abbey.
The Christian and Muslim women then had refreshments and conversation together.
We were able to ask questions about each other’s faiths and learn some of the traditions and challenges that Muslim women have living in the UK today.
There were plenty of questions about Ramadan. We learned that fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and a way of learning self-control and will-power and exercising a spirit of charity.
We talked about our lifestyles, faith, traditions and understanding of stories from the Bible and Qur’an.
It left us feeling connected, and helped to eradicate misconceptions about each other.
We also appreciated the wonderful food we were offered during our visit. Sharing food and conversation is a wonderful way to make new friends, and in coming together as two faith communities to talk about the ordinary everyday things like recipes and family life, we opened up conversation about some of the deep realities in which we all share.
It’s very easy to assume things about other faiths or cultures, rather than to take the time to find out what people actually believe or think. Many of our women were genuinely surprised to discover that some of their preconceptions were wrong.
We are so grateful to our Muslim hosts for such a memorable and enlightening, warm and friendly visit to the Al Mahdi Centre.
We hope to organise a visit for the Muslim women to come to Wickham and Titchfield next year.